I used to ski every month of the year, but I’ve discovered that August and September really aren’t worth the effort, so I’ve narrowed it down to 10. The nearby mountains of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin offer incredible high altitude terrain and lift assisted skiing from October till June. I’ve skied waist deep powder at A-basin in May, but my favorite type of skiing is to climb a big mountain and ski back down. My favorite mountain to ski is Mt. Toll in the nearby Indian Peaks wilderness area. It involves about ten miles of skiing into a remote basin with frozen lakes and stunning peaks.
The last three miles of the road was not yet open, but it had been plowed, so I started just before dawn and rode my bicycle up the steep paved road with my skis on my backpack. The sun was just starting to show it’s face as I stashed the bike in the woods and started to ski up the gentle valley. The calm air was a bit brisk, but the sky was clear and the Alpenglow on the high peaks was stunning. I had the whole valley to myself, and proceeded up past Lake Mitchell and onward to Blue Lake as the sun gradually warmed the morning air and the snow glistened under its rays.
The path steepened as I proceeded up the east face, and I stopped a few times to catch my breath and gaze in wonder at this empty paradise.
I arrived on the perfectly calm summit at 10 AM and spent a very pleasant half hour eating lunch and resting against a comfortable rock in the warm sunshine. Mountain summits are magical places, and I thoroughly enjoyed the grand vista of the surrounding peaks and lakes while I contemplated my descent. It had been a really wet winter and spring, so I was able to start skiing from the top. The snow was still a bit frozen, so I skied carefully and felt my senses suddenly become enlightened by the pure joy of carving rhythmic turns on this great mountain. The mid day sun was starting to melt the snow, and the thin layer of perfect corn provided excellent conditions as I danced down the majestic peak.
Mt Toll is challenging, but I do not consider it dangerous. The easiest route involves less than 35 degree slopes (with some optional 45+) that start on a spectacular somewhat exposed ridge. This ridge ends at a giant north-east facing bowl, which soon curves again to face the north as it drops into the scenic gorge of the South St. Vrain river. Here the gradient eases, but the skiing is still really fun as I ride the gentle force of gravity all the way back to my bicycle.