July 3, 2013

Skiing in July: Augusta


Words: Alex Stevenson Photos: Alex Stevenson and Julia Van Raalte

So it’s summer, I get it.  But rarely a day goes by that I don’t miss skiing. Lately this website has featured mostly dirt oriented articles so I figured I would drop some knees and a trip report.  For the first time in my life, work is so demanding that I have become a true weekend warrior. That would be unacceptable in the winter but I can deal during summer months.


Alex and Julia on top of Augusta.

Saturday, Julia Van Raalte and I drove out Slate towards Augusta.  The road is in good shape and my bumper can be fixed with a few more zip-ties.  We started the hike by 7:00, wanting to beat the 50% chance of thunderstorms.  The remnants of a mining road make for a mellow approach.  Hiking shoes are sufficient all the way to the summit.  We skied Augusta earlier last spring and the snow route is much more direct.  The extra steps in summer paid off with incredible views and abundant wildflowers.

When we reached the final ridge, it became obvious that a summit ski descent was possible.  We joked along the south-facing hike, that we could link small snow patches to fulfill our June ski.  It was a relief to find that the north-east ridge holds a sufficient wind deposit.


Julia Van Raalte spraying some very old snow.

After a long lunch at the top, we buckled our boots.  Dang, ski boots are uncomfortable in the summer.  Around noon, the snow was still very frozen.  Only the top couple inches had loosened up.  I was amazed at how smooth the surface was with only minimal sun cups and runnels from melt water.  The narrow top section led to a wider bowl with options.  We chose a longer steep descent instead of the cornice huck that fed into mild terrain.  Powder skis do a great job mashing up corn snow.  We made the most of 1500 vert, stopping to snag plenty of photos.

In the valley, we switched out of ski gear.  We crossed the creeks and stayed high left.  For those who still plan to ski it this year, staying high right may be the better option.  We bushwacked and followed animal trails along loose rock for an hour.  But, keeping the cup half-full, it was nice to hike out a different valley than our approach.  Warm beers welcomed us back to the car around 2:00.

For anyone in doubt, it was absolutely worth it.  You should try to ski it within the next two weeks for good conditions.   I’m cooking up plans for another ski this Saturday, so contact us if interested.


Alex taking it all in.

About the Author

1. Ed Dujardin
After moving out west for college, Ed took summer school so he could spend winters in Crested Butte. These days, he coaches the Western State Colorado University Freeride Team, and spends as much time as he can fishing the incredible rivers of the area.