Skiing the Flying Dutchman in RNP
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Erie, Colorado resident Joey Thompson. He is a ski patrol member at Boulder’s local hill Eldora and an AMGA Certified Rock Guide. Here is Joe’s tak on skiing the Flying Dutchman in Rocky Mountain National Park…
My partner and I had gotten up early that morning (3am) to meet up and check our equipment to make sure that it was appropriate for our activity. As we drove up to Long’s Peak trailhead we discussed our tour plans for the day leaving our options open. We pulled into the Long’s parking area turning our headlamps on and finishing our last sip of coffee. We hurried to sign in and off we went in slight jog up the trail.
In the morning we found great step kicking up the shaded couloir with my Osprey Mutant 38. The snow pack was fairly firm. We traveled more towards the shade line to find even better snow for our crampons. Clear skies in early am with light North West winds gusting mildly during the day. The temperatures above tree line remained cool.
The snowpack had strong bonding and strengthening in early morning hours. With warming weather there had been an absence of a deep re-freeze. The rapid and intense warming will decrease stability of the looming cornice above. Pin wheeling and wet sluffs were occurring on the interface between new and old snow layers. As rock faces heated, numerous ice and rock fall could be heard around the Long’s Peak area.
10:10am, Tim and I skied Flying Dutchman Couloir (50 degrees + at its steepest) near an elevation of 13310 feet, we had soft skiing conditions with really fun corn skiing at the top.
Melt water was running under the 40 foot 70 degree ice section on the Flying D. We set up our rappel leaving slings and rings for our technical descent. After our rappel over the ice fall, we skied to a breakable chalky crust, mixed with warm surface melt to the bottom of the Flying Dutchman couloir. We had to traverse above Chasm Lake because of the creeping cracks that were starting on the flanks of the lake.
Cloud cover rolled in as we returned to the car at 1:53pm. This wound up being my last ski day of the 2008-2009 ski season. I am now anxiously awaiting the good snow to return…
Colorado Mountain School
For more information about the Osprey Mutant 38 please click here.
For more information please see Joey’s bio page here.