The Rocky Mountain Chapter January ’19 Adventure

It is winter here in the Rocky Mountains.  Snow falls almost every day, and finally our property looks like what one would expect for a home in the mountains in the winter.  Gone are the swaths of brown grass with occasional patches of snow, the roof of the house and shop are covered in white just like the trees and ground.  The driveway is bordered by snow cliffs where the snowblower hasn’t touched, and despite repeated runs of the snowblower, the driveway itself is snowpacked as the sun has failed to melt the last little bit.  Exercise means using the treadmill and shoveling the porch and boardwalk, as the trail system is obliterated under a carpet of white.

My driveway is snowpacked!

Rather than be snowbound, the SAWE Rocky Mountain Chapter scheduled a fun day and we headed southwest down US 285 towards the ski town of Breckenridge.  The objective – the annual International Snow Sculpting Festival.

20 ton cubes of packed snow

They start with 20 ton cubes of packed snow for each entry.  The artists then use saws, chisels, planes, shovels, and other implements to create works of art in the town square.  We had been there in 2015, and really enjoyed it, so a repeat trip sounded like fun.

The drive to Breckenridge was an adventure on its own.  We had kept our eye the weather report, and supposedly it would be clear but cold and windy in Breckenridge.  The weather cleared as our driver, Ric Roy, started up the north slope of Kenosha Pass.  Claire and I were passengers in the car with Ric and his wife Lisa.    The road was snowpacked but obviously plowed which eventually became dry pavement near the 9997 foot MSL summit.  For the only time on the trip is was prudent to drive anywhere approaching the speed limit.  From the top, South Park (yep THAT South Park, just like the TV show) beckoned below, covered in blowing snow.  Rounding the turn towards the west, we were hit by strong, gusty winds that blew snow across the road, which only got stronger as we descended into South Park.  At times, the visibility was only a few dozen or so feet with a wind reaching 50 mph.  We drove into Fairplay, where the wind finally died down.

Here we are entering the town of Alma, the highest incorporated town in North America at 10,361 feet MSL, at the base of Hoosier Pass

The drive over Hoosier Pass (11,542’ MSL) was relatively benign.  Coming into Breckenridge we hit ski traffic 5 miles out of town, and crept into town, where we found a parking space a couple of blocks away from the town square.  We walked down to see the sculpturing taking place.

The customary Breckenridge Brewery Bar
The view from the southern entrance
The Chinese showing off their Taikonauts
Dancing Hippos reminiscent of Fantasia taking shape
The finished Hippo sculpture
The local (Breckenridge) team’s entry, featuring the Snow God Ullr (pronounced Ooler) and his sack of snowballs with which he blesses the town of Breckenridge and the surrounding mountains with plentiful snowfall
1st place went to Team Mexico and their depiction of the mythical Cenote Monster (sorry, it was very cold and my gloved hand got in the picture)
And as a finale, Ric freezes his hands trying to get a picture
We had a meandering path from the car to the exhibits and to lunch before heading back home

After lunch at Moe’s Original Barbecue, we drove back to Pine, where Ric and Lisa dropped us off and we went our separate ways – although both Ric and Lisa and I were ultimately headed into central Denver!

As a final picture, this is looking Northwest from my house (elevation 8463 MSL) towards the 13,575 foot MSL Mount Rosalie and that triangular bump to her right is 14,246 foot MSL Mount Evans.

Robert Zimmerman

Rocky Mountain Chapter President

2 thoughts on “The Rocky Mountain Chapter January ’19 Adventure”

  1. Thanks for sharing, great read and pictures. I miss the beautiful winter scenery but glad I don’t have to drive in it every day!

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