A quick layover in Colorado on the way home to Seward

May 14, 2014 - 2:20pm

This will be my fifth season up in Seward, and I cannot wait to be back.  Since graduating from college, Seward as been the place I feel most at home.  In the last four years I have lived in many places, from upstate New York to New Hampshire to Montana.  Through it all, Seward is the one constant.  Not only it is a beautiful town surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the people of Seward are top-notch! The job isn't too bad either! I'm excited to return home in a few days.  However, on the way to Alaska for the summer season, I am lucky enough to have a week in Colorado to get in some skiing, ice climbing and rock climbing.  

The weather this week has been something else.  I was planning on meeting up with my cousin to go alpine climbing for the week, but mother nature had different plans.  To start the trip, he and I hiked up to 11,000 feet to attempt a 5 pitch ice climb.  However, after hiking for several hours (coming from sea level the day before meant I was pretty slow in the thin mountain air!), we discovered that there was no ice on the route we wanted to climb.  Seeing an exciting looking mixed (rock and ice) line across the valley, we decided to give it a try.  It all started off well, but then the 1 inch of predicted snowfall turned into 8 inches!  Waves of snow were pouring down on us as we climbed, leading us to retreat off of our climb.  It was a fun day up in the mountains, but it was apparent that alpine climbing at 11,000+ feet wasn't in the cards for us this week.

 

 

The next day we decided to go rock climbing at lower elevations and in an area that was on the dry side of the mountains.  This turned out to be only partly true... we topped-out our 7 pitch rock climb just as it started to rain.  Good timing!  We had just beaten the weather.  

 

 

When we returned to civilization, we checked the weather up in the mountains.  The forecast called for 2-3 feet of snow.  All the climbs we wanted to do would have to wait.  The skiing though was looking to be amazing!  So we headed back up to 11,000 feet, but this time with skis instead of ice climbing gear.  We were well rewarded and over the course of two days backcountry skied over 8,000 vertical feet of some of the best snow I've ever experienced.  

 

 

The weather is supposed to improve and for the next two days the rock will be warm and dry.  So two more days of rock climbing in the sun and then it is time for my flight to Alaska.  Guide training starts next week and then the summer season will be back in full swing.  And I for one and happy to be going back home to Seward!