#unepicadventures: Heading out into the Telluride Sidecountry, Just Before the Gate Closed

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Hiking out to backcountry ski in the Telluride side country.

By Tim Koehler

Spring season and my wife and I were visiting my brother in Telluride. We were blessed with an end-of-season snow dump, which made the skiing fantastic.

We spent the morning on the slopes at Telluride Resort with great weather and snow. Once things were well tracked out we decided to try the side-country hike in.

My all-too-risky brother really wanted to take us to ski the Bear Creek basin after all the snow was tracked out in the resort, and we were able to make it to the side country gates just before they closed.

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My brother and me, pre hike.

Having made no plans for this earlier in the day, we grabbed our backcountry packs and began the hike. Fortunately for us, the weather turned sour and the clouds dipped. The avalanche forecast for the day was considerable near and above treeline (the majority of where we were going to ski). We did not dig a pit because we knew there was a storm slab on top of varying crust below that we could break through.

The weather was the biggest factor for not skiing in Bear Creek. Having only knowledge of the day’s avalanche report and relying on my brother to navigate us through avalanche terrain safely, we made the decision to hike back out and ski down through the resort since we couldn’t see where we were skiing.

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The whiteout we hiked back though.

Supposedly there are routes through Bear Creek that avoid most if not all slide paths, but I didn’t research enough about the area so our confidence was low relying on my younger and much less risk adverse brother. When we reached the access gate visibility had dropped to under 50 feet.

I’m sure the snow was incredible, the access gate had at least 2 feet of new snow, but it just wasn’t worth it. Even though we missed the likely epic snow, we still had an amazing #unepicadventure to Telluride visiting my brother and being in terrain that is unmatched!

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Natalie in Telluride near the end of the day. Oh well, maybe another time.

Who knows what was down there, but we still lived to drink a beer and share stories of our #unepicadventures at the end of the day!

My all-too-risky brother really wanted to take us to ski the Bear Creek area after all the snow was tracked out in the resort, and we were able to make it to the Telluride side country gates just before they closed. Then the whiteout conditions closed in. Tim Koehler reports.