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October Bounty: 8 Days in Heaven

October 18th, 2011
What a spectacular span of 7 days in Colorado. The first weekend of October, I made a quick dash to Aspen for the “Meeting”, a gathering of ski film makers and athletes that come together to share the bounty of their film efforts the previous season. On Saturday, October 1, the weather was perfect and I headed up to Maroon Bells to get in a hike and check out the colors. It was 70 degrees and I was very comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. The colors were spectacular and every trip to the Bells is amazing.

After a solid weekend I came home to Durango and got in a couple great mountain bike rides taking advantage of the tacky singletrack and sunny days. On Wednesday the weather turned and Indian Summer gave way to winter overnight. By Thursday it was dumping and heavy snow was accumulating in the mountains. By Friday, Wolf Creek announced they would be opening Saturday the 8th of October — their earliest ever. Other resorts around the country had yet to fire up the snow guns and Wolf Creek was going to open with 44″ of goodness. John Trousdale and I rallied early and made it to the hill before the contingent of front rangers. Another 8″ of blower snow Friday night teed up truly epic conditions for any month, but off the chart conditions given the date. In the parking lot it was blustery as I pulled on the puffy and inhaled my first crisp air of the season.

Not bad for first turns of the year.

Mining the goods at Wolf Creek

After enjoying the lifts for a full session on Saturday it was time to head into the BC and “Earn some Turns” on Sunday. An early start landed us in Velocity Basin outside Silverton. The objective was Storm Peak and the Grande Couloir. A perfect skin track had been carved into the hillside the day before and our ascent to the heavens was perfectly paced. From the top of the couloir we spied our good fortune.

While surrounding zones looked to have 18″ of snow, our line was caked with 4 feet plus of perfectly textured snow. A dense base layer followed by increasingly less dense layers were layed on a perfectly ramped apron to the lake below. In three turns I was back in the game flying down the hill with big turns and full confidence in the coverage.

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

In 8 days I had been fortunate enough to experience all the things that I love about Colorado: epic Colors, bike rides and over-the-head powder lines. On day 9, I looked at my skis and my bike and had a hard choice to make. Head out for a ride or venture into the backcountry for round 3. After deliberation, I finally opted for the bike as I figured I would never again have two epic powder days in October and shooting for three in a row might be greedy. As I rolled onto the singletrack I looked out at the snow caked mountains and smiled as I felt that there was no place on earth I’d rather be.

Sven Brunso is the typical ski story. Kids grows up in Huntington Beach, California as a beach bum, goes to college at The University of Arizona and goes on to a career as a prolific freeskier. OK, so his story is atypical but true.

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