The start of day 2 was far less eventful than day 1. We actually got sleep, I had all of my gear, we had a fully functioning car, and we picked up a healthy breakfast and lunch from Panera(which doesn't carry ketchup anymore?). Our destination for the day was Loveland Pass which sits right along a stretch of Route 6 between Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin.
Loveland Pass is well known by backcountry skiers and snowboarders. It's very easy to walk a few feet from the trailhead, strap in, and ride down until you hit the road. It's a great alternative to the high priced, crowded resorts on the weekends. As long as you stay within the trees on the North/Northeast side you will funnel out to a small parking lot where you can either hitchhike or have a buddy waiting with a car to get you back up to the top of the pass. Although it is hard to find untracked lines, there is good snow to be had.
Although the North/Northeast facing runs are fun, our objective was to venture out a little further to a run on the South facing aspect of the pass called The Professor. It is a big open bowl facing A-Basin that funnels down into an avalanche runout path before you get back to the road. You can get a good view of The Professor from the top of Pallavicini chair at A-Basin as it is literally across the road. It's not a very technical line but fun nonetheless.
We got to the parking lot around 10 am, did our beacon check, and geared up. The plan was to start with a short hike then switch over to skinning so I had my board strapped to my pack in skin mode. I tend to get very warm during ascents so I usually leave my jacket strapped to my pack which I did that day. We started the hike and immediately realized it was quite cold and windy. The entire approach is pretty exposed so it didn't take long for the jacket come on.
The wind had blown away a considerable amount of snow from the face we were hiking and it simply didn't make sense to switch over to skin mode. The skin track was almost non-existent and there were plenty of exposed rocks. We hiked all the way to the top of UN 12585 where we ducked between some rocks for a breather and took in the view for a bit.
We had realized right below us there was some very tempting terrain with some fun technical chutes. From above they looked good to go. When you spend most of your year on the East coast, especially when you've had a dismal season, you are itching to drop into lines like that. Luckily we didn't jump the gun and came to our senses. This was a week before Nic and I completed our AIARE level 1 course and didn't know how to asses avalanche danger in the field. We had no clue what was under the chutes or whether or not they would slide. This was enough for us to collectively agree to move on towards our main objective which was still The Professor.
On a side note, there is plenty of literature on group dynamics and decision making in the backcountry. Always make sure you are out there with people you are comfortable with and who will make decisions as a group. Nic, Jack and I are good friends who respect one another's opinion which led us to pass up on the chutes. Could we have dropped them safely? Possibly, but there is always the chance it could have ended badly and you should always ski for tomorrow.
From the top of UN 12585 we switched over to snowboard/ski mode and made our way across the ridge towards UN 12293. We went as far as we could until had to unstrap and carry our gear the rest of the way. At the top of The Professor we strapped back in and, as if it was meant to be, the sun decided to come out for our descent!
The snow was varied but was a lot of fun. We made our way down, took a few tumbles and made a hard rider's left towards the bottom to catch the bend in the road. After hitching a ride from a soccer mom we had our lunch in the parking lot atop the pass. We couldn't resist getting some more turns in so we closed out the day by dropping two at a time on the North/Northeast face while the third played taxi. It wasn't a long one but it was another fun day in the books!