Matt from the Office Heads to Caribou with Friends

Timing Is Everything

After a challenging day on Buffalo Mountain followed by two straight days of shredding Snowmass and Aspen with Mo and crew, I was ready for a rest day. That was until I found out that Nic and Malaina were heading to Caribou the next day. Being that Caribou is mostly low angled terrain with an easy approach, I figured a lazy day in the backcountry beat staying down in Denver for the day.

We arrived at the trailhead late morning with no set plan for the day. After gearing up and petting a few strangers' dogs in the parking lot we set out for the day following 128J until we got out to the clearing near Caribou Creek. From there we took stock of our options.

Caribou CalTopo 4.15.17

We settled on a nice wide open face directly across the valley that looked like we could get some nice turns in on. So we got off the established skin track on 128J and veered skiers right to bushwack across the flat. We took turns leading while trying to avoid losing any elevation on the approach.

Nic and Malaina Leading the Way

As we neared our objective slope we decided it would be best to stay lookers left and skin up to the top of the ridge that we could then follow lookers right for the final approach. This proved to be a bit more tricky than initially anticipated with having to navigate through trees in snow that was rapidly warming. At one point I even had a misstep and the snow gave out below me. I took a nice 20 foot slide using my bare hand as an anchor to stop myself.

Malaina Ripping Down the Mountain 1

At the top of the ridge we assessed the situation and decided it was best to not continue along the ridge and that we should simply drop in from where we were. Our initial plan would have had us descend a south facing slope on a very warm sunny day with rock exposure and slope angles going above 30 degrees. It was a no brainer to quickly axe that idea. Also, we knew that just below to rider's right of us was a nice opening to really rip turns in.

Matt Ripping Down the Mountain 1

With Nic volunteering to go first and get shots of Malaina and myself, we dropped in one at a time. We then traversed rider's right until the terrain flattened out too much for us to continue without switching to skinning. Realizing we were just below where Nic and I had ventured last year, we decided we had enough in us for another ascent and off we went.

Malaina Ripping Down the Mountain 2

We let Malaina lead most of the way as she was still learning the backcountry ropes. From time to time she stopped to ask our opinion on route selection but otherwise killed it. It didn't take too long to reach summit of Klondike Mountain where we quickly prepped to drop in. About 200 hundred feet after dropping Nic and I stopped. We were pretty sure we were very close to the hidden cliff drop we had found last year. Nic went rider's left to check it out and viola, we were right!

Unfortunately there wasn't enough cover for us to drop it this year so we continued on. The upper half of this face was fun with sparse trees and good turns but as we got lower the trees tightened and the slope started to flatten out so we really had to try to plan our next few turns in order to not get stuck.

Matt Ripping Down the Mountain 2

Just as the slope completely flattened out I saw Nic air off a side hit ahead and so I decided to send it and naturally that ended with a pretty solid tomahawk. At this point I switched the board to split mode but kept the skins off. I tele-splitboarded a good ways along 128J back towards the car until the final few hundred yards where we had to hike out.

Back at the parking lot we found some new dogs to pet and packed it up for the day. All in all it was a solid day with good weather and great company. Not bad for a lazy Saturday.

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