October 24, 2013

Tom Runcie and Friends’ First Turns of the Season VIDEO


After a couple weeks of a solid winter weather pattern that brought light snow to the high peaks around Crested Butte, winter arrived in a hurry when a big system left us with a few inches in town and several feet in the Irwin and Paradise Divide areas. (Words and video by Tom Runcie)

Elk Mountains Season Opener 2013-14 from Tom Runcie on Vimeo.

Pete Sowar skiing Augusta. Photo: Tom Runcie

Pete Sowar skiing Augusta. Photo: Tom Runcie

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, Rob Dickinson, Adam Buckwalter, Matt Evans, Jack Weise, Mark Mikos, and myself headed out to one of our favorite zones for our first day of the 2013-14 ski season. Fueled by reports of deep snowpacks and mid-winter powder on protected aspects, we made quick work of the 2,500′ skin and arrived on top of a set of lines that we usually don’t ski until at least mid March. Amazed at our luck, we picked the two that appeared the deepest and dropped into couloirs filled with deep, supportive powder with just the right amount of rebound. Lap two yielded similar results, as we arced smooth pow turns along our skin track. We returned to the truck and drove back down valley to a perfect fall day in Crested Butte for a beer on the patio at our summer haunt, the Brick Oven.

Day Two, Sunday the 20th, involved an even bigger hike to even better conditions. Rob, his wife Sydney Dickinson, Pete Sowar, and myself skinned higher in the same drainage, reaching a peak that I have had in my sights for years. The North face of Augusta rewarded our 3,000′ climb with a choice of filled-in chutes, right from the summit. And what’s better than a summit ski descent of a 12,500′ peak in mid October? Right, doing it again. We skied back to our skin track, enjoyed a quick sandwich, and made our way back to the peak. Dropping off the South side this time, we experienced every type of snow conditions as we skied southerly, easterly, and northerly aspects. Another first for me, we sighted a small herd of deer climbing in the area and were able to ski to within a few feet of them (see in video). The final pitch of our descent paralleled a beautiful braided cascade waterfall as we pushed turns into the quicly warming snowpack. Back at the truck, we marvelled at the best first weekend of ski season any of us had ever had.

Here’s to a great winter, may everyone’s turns be deep, safe, and plentiful. Cheers!

Music by The Strokes – Machu Picchu
Shot on Sony NEX-5, NEX-6, and Drift HD Ghost

About the Author

2. Will Dujardin
Will Dujardin is our content editor at West Elk Project. He competes in big mountain competitions and coaches the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team. Skiing is his life and he likes to mix it with other fun things like DH mountain biking and traveling.