Colorado gets a bad rap, and perhaps deservedly so. Winters here are long, cold, and windy; and while it does snow here, there are places along the west coast that’ll see more snow in six weeks than Colorado can get all season. That being said, something special tends to happen from mid-February through the end of May. It warms up….a little, the winds relax….a bit, and it starts to snow….a lot. Just about the time that all the kooks Colorado is known for trade in their NeverSummers for flat brimmed caps and tank tops, the riding starts to get really good. If you’re motivated and willing a lifetime of amazing summer riding awaits costing you only a little sweat and the gas money to get to the trail head.
Loveland pass. Photo: Italo Carn
Live: If you wanna chase the white wave through the summer in Colorado, you’d be wise to live in Clear Creek County, Summit County, Leadville, Buena Vista, Aspen,or Gunnison/Crested Butte. From any of these areas stout alpine lines can be accessed with as little as 20-40mins of driving in some instances.
Colin Walters at Woodward Copper. Photo: Chad Otterstrom
Work: While riding big lines all summer is cheap compared to a session at Woodward, you’ll still have some expenses, so you’re gonna have to get a job ya dirtbag. White water rafting is big business in Colorado, if you’re already a certified raft guide, you can pull down some serious coin by dumping Texans into the drink. If you’re not a card carrying river rat many operations will train you for around $3000. If being stuck on an oversized innertube with a bunch of southerners doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, there’s always the service or labor industries that’ll get you by while you bag lines.
Paul at y-rag couloir Mt. Evans. Photo: David Gidley
Ride: Everyone already knows about Woodward at Copper; but you might not know they offer some weekly public access sessions through the summer. (as of press date prices were not posted on the Woodward site for this summer). Abasin is generally a safe bet through early June, and in the best years will keep em turning until early July. If you wanna get away from the lift served scene, places like Loveland Pass can have you standing on top of classic summer lines like Daves Wave or Marjorie Bowl with only about an hour or two of walking. Closer to Aspen, Independence pass also hosts a cadre of impressive lines a short distance from the lot situated at 12,000ft. If that sounds like too much walking for you, check out the Mt. Evans Highway. Topping out at 14,264ft the Mount Evans highway is not only the highest paved road in North America, but it will leave you standing on top of one of Colorado’s fifty-four 14,000ft peaks. Below you await several 1000+ft couloirs that’ll put your balls in your throat. If you’re not Jeremy Jones, St. Marys glacier is a great call. Just watch for the sun cups that transition into death bowls as the summer wears on. Still, the unique surface texture of the dirty death bowls of St. Marys in late summer is one that I think any snowboarder should experience, if only for the laughter that will ensue. With 11,150 square miles of land over 10,000ft the options are literally endless if you’re willing to work a bit. Besides it’s summer, what better excuse do you need to throw on a back pack, camp, and shred? It doesn’t get much better.
Loveland Pass in June
Party: Winter is the true party season here, since that’s when everyone is around; but summer is a great time for a little day drinking in the lot at Abasin. Mother’s Saloon in Georgetown and the West Winds aka the Meth Winds in Idaho Springs are great places to go have a couple beers, shoot some pool, and not feel a strong urge to punch someone in the face. These spots have that upper midwest vibe going for them with big beer mirrors on the walls, patrons who talk mostly into their own drinks, and a pool table that is just level enough to work. In Summit, Ollie’s is also rad for many of the same reasons. Plus, you can’t beat the $5 loaded potato skins during happy hour.
Local Knowledge: As a general rule of thumb, you want to have a night or two of as close to freezing (ideally below) temps as you can get. Wet slides are a very real possibility this time of year and you want that shit locked up if you’re going to be in heavy terrain. It’s also a good idea to be done for the day by noon which often means starting your day with the sunrise. Be sure to check with CAIC (through the end of May) for regular avy conditions updates.