January 10, 2020, Loveland Pass Full Moon

1/10/20
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Posted by MW88888888 on 1/16/20 10:39am
January 10, 2020
Loveland Pass, Colorado
Day 19


Full Moon Circus Circus


The drive up at 1030 PM was spooky quiet. I was expecting a flood of traffic, it being Friday night following a storm and all, but there were few trucks and cars before I hit the Loveland Pass exit. And on the stretch to the first switchback, nary a sole. Could my recollection of full moon skiing at the pass be that far off the mark?

Ah - I could see the bon fire long before I made the first turn, and a huge fire it was, surrounded by revelers, the lower lot completely jammed with folks. 11 PM and this place was just starting to hop.

No, my recollection of the party was just fine.

***

My second run was after midnight out onto the south side. I hadn't seen anyone venture out there, and this was enticing. The rides back might be tough, but what the hell.

It was a magnificent night. Colorado was between storms, with a windy beast leaving and a fat snow on the way. The calm before the next storm. And it was cold. The ride up in the back of the pick up was a wicked affair, it was probably -5F with a wind blasting you in the face at 40 MPH, but no one seemed to notice, everyone chipper and jovial, chatting about the night, keeping spirits high. And everyone was probably high. And dressed for the occasion. These were not amateurs.

But the crowd at the bottom of the North side was a little much for my taste. Easy rides to the top. "Ski area runs" with powder shots galore. Fun, but the heavy use was not me really.

The south side, well, that side was empty and I hiked up the spine of the ridge all alone. I turned off my flashlight to conserve energy in the cold, there was no need for it in the bright full moon anyway. At the bench, I could see the lights of Arapahoe Basin ski area burning bright. Almost like day.

I strapped on the board and dropped in, my mag light leading the way.

The snow was wind transported and funky, but I could follow the wind protected areas to mine the best powder. There were no other tracks yet on the bench, which made the skiing kind of weird in the dark as the flashlight dispelled twilight illusions requiring lightning-like reflexes to re-adapt to terrain features.

It was hard, but it was a blast.

At the bottom I pulled up onto the turn and a car was waiting. Two revelers came careening down from the short drop in runs off the road, and they piled into the car.

"Sorry, man, we're headed to Frisco."

***

I waited by the dark side of the road through half of "Hemispheres" by RUSH. I was paying my post midnight homage to my long time drumming hero, Neil Peart, passed away this week I found out over dinner. He keeps entering my mind. On the hike up the ridge I keep flashing back to childhood memories and the band - Brooklyn as a kid with "Tom Sawyer" slashing through the cityscape night, the 80s synth albums and homework at my desk over a tiny clock/FM radio, Getty Lee singing "Take Off to the Great White North"during wild, waste-case weekends (don't ask). They would never be again. First MCA and now Neil Peart? What the hell?

My Lallapalooza reunion show just getting ever more depressing every year.

And speaking of depressed, Sonic Youth will never play again.

Damn. You had to think of that.

Resigned to my fate, I start walking to the top, some mile away or so.

Car lights blinded me as i walked and passed by me on their way down the hill. At the turn below, he made a u-turn and came back up beside me. Two dudes were in the front smiling, the one on the right rolled his window down.

"Hope in, looks like you were going to suffer."

Oh yeah.
Nice end  to a great trip report.😉
2020-01-22 12:43:13
Zap
A quality TR with a great storyline and cool ending.
2020-01-22 14:42:40
filbo
With the wind that you described (and generally inability to see necessary detail in the dark), how do you evaluate avalanche risk before committing?
2020-01-25 14:47:18
johnspeth
Hi John -

I chose that particular slope to ski because of the wind direction and also having skied the north side to confirm suspicions.  I've been skiing Loveland Pass since 1995 so I ski what I know will be safe when conditions require it.

That, and a big ol' pile of cross-your-fingers luck. 

Don't try this at home, kids, or you will be killed.  Colorado is very unforgiving. 
2020-01-27 15:21:45
MW88888888

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2020-01-16 18:39:26