03-09-2010, 09:29 PM
oot & aboot
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: 8000ft, Twin Spruce Gap, Colorado
Originally Posted by RamblinKevin
starting June 1st, to explore every dirt road in Colorado and Eastern Utah I can find.
June 1st eh?
You bring up another good point.
Here in the Front Range we can pretty much ride year around (with some time outs for blizzards, ice, etc.. but it usually melts off quickly)... but as you climb up that changes.
Every mountain pass can have its own unique calender dependent on the "micro climate" around a specific mountain as well as the shape of the specific mountain.
For example.. Webster Pass is 12,000 feet high. Right beside it is Red Cone which is 12,800 feet. Usually Red Cone will open BEFORE Webster! Why? Because Webster Pass has a wind swept cornice that literally will be 50+ feet deep so even though everything above it has melted off, it is still unpassable.
The view from Red Cone at 12,800 feet looking down on Webster Pass. If you look closely in the bottom right corner you can see a Jeep (tiny dot) to give some perspective. Red Cone is usually open and ride able before the pass below because the shelf road (visible) fills in with a snow cornice each winter
Red Cone is also an experience in fear if you don't like heights.. but more on that later (I think I literally left a 1/2 mile long skid mark on it the first time I rode it )
So back to your June 1st date... that is awfully early in the season to get up really high. Usually I consider late July, August, and early September the "big months" for getting up to the highest stuff.
In fact here is a photo JjustJ posted last July 6th of the exact Webster Pass snow cornice I mentioned above. This is half way down Red Cone approaching webster and you can see the shelf road going to the left is still snowed in (I think we finally got through something like July 24th last year?). The dots on the snow shelf are people!
Moral of the story: Stay flexible and have alternative routes planned for your trip. You might plan on doing a day riding over Hurricane Pass and California Pass only to find they are still snowed in... by being flexible you can re-route yourself easily over to Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass which tend to open up earlier each year (because they plow them )
I'll try to give some idea to when a pass is open as I write about them.. but it really is a crap shoot. In the Rockies Regional forum here on ADV you'll literally see threads where we ask eachother "is this open yet?" when it gets close to the "normal time" for a local.
If you could pick any time to come to Colorado? Mid/late August is ideal for access.. but it can snow on the high stuff literally any day of the year.
...more to come...
Geek screwed with this post 03-09-2010 at 10:00 PM