State of the Backcountry 2014: XIX | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

State of the Backcountry 2014: XIX | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

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State of the Backcountry 2014: XIX | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

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Whether it was early June in Tahoe (Rider: Allison Lightcap)...

Whether it was early June in Tahoe (Rider: Allison Lightcap)…

or the middle of the month on the Eastside, California continued to offer fun backcountry snow sliding in  light of a historic drought.

or the middle of the month on the Eastside, California continued to offer fun backcountry snow sliding late this season in light of a historic drought.

It’s full on summer from coast-to-coast, but that doesn’t mean there’s no snow left to get your shred on. The Pacific Northwest (PNW) Volcanoes are still holding, and you can still find some rippable slopes in snow starved California if you head to Carson, Sonora or Tioga Pass. Lift access via Timberline at Mt. Hood, Blackcomb, B.C., and Beartooth Basin, WY continue to offer easy access to summer turns, and there was even a short window powder session in Utah last week.

To access the start of a lengthly approach hike to the Mount of the Holy Cross, Devon O'Neil, Jillian Raymond and I biked 9.5 miles up a USFS road with some hefty loads. If you head that way anytime soon the gate blocking access to the trailhead is now open.

To access the start of a lengthly approach hike to the Mount of the Holy Cross, our crew biked 9.5 miles up a USFS road with some hefty loads to a gorgeous camp. If you head that way anytime soon the gate blocking access to the trailhead is now open.

In the previous State of the Backcountry the Tetons were the primary destination in search of some late spring fun. For this final State of the Backcountry report for the 2013-2014’ ski season, it seemed appropriate to get out to another state that also enjoyed a huge winter this year- Colorado.

The view from the top of Mount of the Holy Cross shows off just how much snow if left in the Colorado alpine.

The view from the top of Mount of the Holy Cross shows off just how much snow is left in the Colorado alpine.

Devon O'Neil thoroughly enjoyed his time getting walled in one of Colorado's more iconic lines.

Devon O’Neil thoroughly enjoyed his time getting walled in one of Colorado’s more iconic lines.

While I’m perfectly content skiing as much as possible in the Golden State, this was a pretty decent year to get out and explore some other areas that fared a bit better with snowfall totals than the Sierra. However, the first two shots were taken in early and mid June making the most of what’s still left in the Sierra. You have to love that even through such a tough winter, skiers and riders can still score locally if they’re willing to get out and get it.

The Cross Couloir on Mount of the Holy Cross is a classic 14er in a state known for its many peaks that rise to over 14,000'.

The Cross Couloir on Mount of the Holy Cross is a classic 14er in a state known for its many peaks that rise to over 14,000′. The ski is pretty classic too, just be prepared for the approach.

With the spotlight on Colorado, for early summer, the options are as good as you’re going to find anywhere in the present. The state offers a host of easy access options for fun summer skiing, and in places like Loveland Pass and Independence Pass, you can still skin or boot on snow, right from the car. On the flip side, there’s quite a bit of snow up high in the mountains no matter where you’re at in Eagle or Summit County, and if you’re willing to walk, you’re going to end up finding more worthy snow than you’d think, even in July.

There's plenty of snow left  for Ja summer shred on Loveland Pass. Here Jillian Raymond enjoys the wildflowers en route to a shuttle run with Olas and Nieve the dogs.

There’s plenty of snow left for a summer shred on Loveland Pass. Here Jillian Raymond enjoys the wildflowers en route to a shuttle run with dogs Olas and Nieve.

A friend who was recently skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park reported the conditions to be well worth the visit as well. I didn’t make it that far east, but from what I found closer to the Aspen and Summit County areas, the report seems to line up with the solid coverage sampled above 11,000′ feet, with higher quality summer skiing available above 12,000’.

Jillian Raymond skins Independence Pass with Carrie and Jake Down while little Jake gets a quick summer solstice nap in before the decent.

Jillian Raymond skins Independence Pass with Carrie and Jake Down while little Jake gets a quick summer solstice nap in before the decent.

Beyond the easy access at Loveland and Independence Pass there were a couple of recent adventures that involved not-so-easy access. Not surprisingly, those missions to the Holy Cross Couloir near Vail, and the Conundrum Couloir near Aspen, were two of the more memorable adventures of the trip. It just goes to show with the right crew and the right vibrations, as long as you have some skis or a board strapped to your pack, the mission is going to bring a smile to your face.

There's plenty of quality summer  shredding to be done above 12,000' near Aspen.

There’s plenty of quality summer shredding to be done above 12,000′ near Aspen.

Jake Down enjoys the Conundrum Couloir, a line popularized by the greatest ski movie ever made, Walls of Freedom.

Jake Down enjoys the Conundrum Couloir, a line popularized by the greatest ski movie ever made, Walls of Freedom.

It never gets old to junk show out a vehicle and hit the road with a friend or two in search of summer fun, especially when skiing’s involved. Both the PNW and the Colorado Rockies are sizable trips from the Sierra depending on your final destination, but as is the case locally in Tahoe, the other mountain adventures accessible along the journey more than accentuate the primary objective to get some summer turns. The mountain biking, rock climbing, and other summer activities people have been enjoying for months are just as plentiful in places like Washington and Colorado as they are in Tahoe. Sometimes it just takes the right motivation to make a road trip happen, and there’s no time like the present.

There's plenty of snow hanging on in the high country around the Crested Butte area, and if you like to mountain bike, the single track on Trail 401 will not disappoint.

There’s plenty of snow hanging on in the high country around the Crested Butte area, and if you like to mountain bike, the singletrack on Trail 401 will not disappoint.

Once again, it’s been an honor to share these reports with you from the 2013-2014’ ski season. A major thanks to Alpenglow Sports who continues to make these reports a reality, and Unofficial Networks for providing the space to share them. It certainly wasn’t the local winter we were all hoping for, but after three thin seasons in a row I think it’s pretty clear that you can always get your stoke on if you’re willing to go for a walk and seek out whatever snow is out there. The buzz for next season is already building around the American West. Until then, enjoy summer, and whatever outdoor pursuit brings out the most passion in you. I look forward to checking in when the snow drops in the fall. Be safe and have fun out there!

State of the Backcountry” is sponsored by Alpenglow Sports. Established in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in Backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service.

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