Winter Road Trip
(Hover over video for color)
It’s winter time in Colorado so we’re having a bunch of fun enjoying the winter wonderland in the mountains. I’ve been trying to get the Vanagon farther and farther from home in preparation for Moab trips this spring, and a trip to Aspen for X Games and the Chainsmokers seemed like a great opportunity. But we couldn’t do just that..
Friday night my friend was working late, so I met her around 10pm in Golden to go hike into a backcountry hut my friend Alex had reserved. We dropped her car in Empire and took our chances getting the Vanagon over its first true mountain pass on the way to Winter Park. I was a little worried about it, but the van did great until it stalled out in the trailhead parking lot. That’s as far as we wanted to go anyway so we left it there, got dressed, and started skinning/snowshoeing.
We got into the hut around 2:30 – about when we expected – and collapsed into bed. I was excited to wake up without an alarm, but less than 5 hours later we were awoken by a different high-pitched beeping as people checked avalanche beacons in the kitchen. I was unstoked.
After breakfast I went out with Alex and a friend for their second backcountry lap of the morning. I was breaking in new BC boots that hurt so bad I thought I was going to puke for a minute, but the snow was amazing! We cruised through some trees with rock drops in the middle of the run, and then hiked back to pack up the hut.
We skied out of the hut around noon, with Alex and I hopping in the Vanagon and heading to Aspen. After a stop in Frisco for food, and battling a fuel pump on the fritz, we made it to Carbondale to meet up with Holly and Brian. We got of tour of their new house from Holly, but she said Brian was driving a 4×4 Sprinter van limo all night so we headed up valley to Aspen to meet up with him.
We parked the whip and met up with Brian for a bit before catching a ride to X Games at Buttermilk. The Buttermilk scene was about as crazy as I expected from X Games and we checked out Skier Big Air before heading over to the Chainsmokers concert sans ticket. I’m not going to go into how we got in because it involves questionable legality, but the point is we watched an awesome show until crowd antics shut it down. So we retreated to THE pizza spot in Aspen to refuel before retiring to the Vanagon for the night.
There’s something so empowering about sleeping in a van in front of 5-15 million dollar homes that’s difficult to capture in words. I would not be opposed to sleeping in a 15 million dollar house, don’t get me wrong, but the idea that we drove our house to Aspen and had the same access to downtown, the same access to X Games and the Chainsmokers, maybe even better access because of the relationships we’ve cultivated through a tenure in the bike industry, made me feel so much better about passing out next to a crazy adventure buddy in a van in Aspen.
In the morning we woke up, got some breakfast in town, and cruised down valley. We didn’t really know what the day would hold, nor did we particularly care. A second epic backcountry ski trip on Sopris? A day of resort skiing to balance out our dirtbag activities of the weekend? Hours in I70 traffic? We knew we weren’t doing the latter, but the rest of the trip was open to improvisation.
After a few hours or cruising along at (Vanagon) highway speeds (55mph) we decided to pull over and catch a few laps at A-basin’s infamous East Wall. I had been excited about grabbing a tee shirt supporting the Avalanche Rescue dogs, so despite throbbing ankle bones from the BC ski boots, I strapped in for another couple weekend runs. We got the shirt, skied the wall, and still caught the end of the US Men’s soccer friendly against Serbia
Loveland Pass at night
As the sun started to set we headed back to the van for a quick organizational effort. It had been a long weekend and the van was just a dumping spot for gear. Snowshoes, skins, jackets, beacons, sunglasses, everything was scattered so we took a minute to repack before continuing the journey. With the lodge closed and traffic diminishing we decided to head over Loveland Pass, the 6th mountain pass of the weekend for a 30 year old van. At the top Alex hopped out to get one last run – a moonlit solo sojourn down to a hairpin in the road where I picked him up and we rolled back to Denver.