Photo Journal: Alta Lakes Observatory // Photos by Will Cardamone and TJ David
So you’ve been dreaming and you get an idea…maybe there is an oasis out there. A place that isn’t too far from home but just far enough that everything will be different. An escape from the hard pack, mogul slaying that has had you victim to sore knees, skin bang and hours complaining over and over about lack of snow at your local aprés. We believe we’ve found that place. The escape from day in day out routine that has you asking yourself, is it summer yet? And it’s a lot closer than you thought. The Alta Lakes Observatory.
So you talk about it, you chat a bit with a friend or two, a few text messages and maybe just maybe you’ve got an idea. You’ve found that place. And if conditions are just right, maybe there will even be some soft snow to ski or some interesting terrain to keep the mind active, engaged and reawakened.
Putting skiing before football we trailered our sleds and headed south. Our crew of six consisted of Adam Moszynski and Darcy Conover, Corbeaux Clothing co-owners, photographer and athlete Will Cardamone, junior freeride coach JF Bruegger and telluride local Chason Russel. Forgoing the Super Bowl ensured no traffic from Aspen to Telluride and we were soon sipping beers at the Last Dollar. Discussing plans for the morning and dreaming of the possibilities at hand.
We started off our trip with a classic up and over tour to the town of Ophir, Colorado. An early morning snow squall and low visibility kept us wondering if we would be able to reach Colorado Peak, a possible goal for the tour.
With little expectations for skiing anything noteworthy our team was excited just to enjoy a great safe day in the San Juan Backcountry. Taking in amazing views as they came in and out of clouds and intermittent snow showers we enjoyed some good conversation and the incredible feeling of being back in the mountains.
After breaking tree line around mid day we were greeted with a beautiful view of Colorado Peak and the surrounding backcountry. As weather conditions began to break up and blue skis emerged on the horizon we decided to push toward the summit to check snow conditions and see if we could descend one of the beautiful couloirs that we had talked about early in the day as a possible option for skiing.
As luck would have it, the weather cleared we were able to slowly descend into a choice line with soft, stable snow conditions.
There’s nothing better than that anticipation of dropping into an incredibly beautiful line. All the work on the up hill seems to disappear and it’s nothing but you and that moment.
The Alta Lakes Observatory isn’t your average backcountry hut. Complete with a electricity, running water and a shower, hot tub and sauna, a full kitchen with a dishwasher, massive fireplace and plenty of beds and seating for you are your whole crew this place exceeds hut. And maybe the word Cabin too. One night at the observatory and you’ll understand why this place is in itself an oasis. The place for a perfect getaway.
Greeted by the morning sunrise from your bedroom window, you realize that the observatory isn’t just about creature comforts. It’s also about being within an arms reach of a mecca of incredible backcountry ski terrain.
So we set off for two days of great touring in the San Juan Backcountry. Big thanks to local guru Chason Russel for showing us around these incredible mountains!