Ski the Park–Finally, a Guidebook for RMNP!

02 Nov 13
Ski the Park--Finally, a Guidebook for RMNP!

Rocky Mountain National Park…she’s a fickle mistress. One wrong move and you’re left on the rocks, dreams shattered, hopes dashed. Yeah, but hit her up on the right day, in the right place, at the right time…and you might just be on to something memorable.
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Getting the goods in Rocky takes some doing. Your next best bet to hiring a local guide is getting a guidebook, but ask around…there’s very little out there. Eli Helmuth posts some good beta on his website, ClimbingLife.com, and you can glean a bit here and there surfing the web, but there hasn’t been a one-stop-shopping resource…until now. Well, almost now: November 9, at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center Benefit Bash in Breckenridge, Mark Kelly’s new book Backcountry Skiing and Ski Mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park debuts.

I met Mark 15 years ago, standing at the base of Hidden Falls. He was guiding some ice clients and I was writing an article for a local pub. Making small talk I asked, “Where do you ski in the Park?” and he responded with a wry smile, “Oh, places.”

Quite a few bushwhacks and rockwalks later, I think I’ve seen a few of those places. Some good, some really good…and a few, well, heinous. But that’s the beauty of the Park, there are stashes to be had and your game needs to be good. Mark guided in the Park for years and skied on his own quite a bit up there, too. All that knowledge gets distilled into his new title and for the Colorado skier, it’s a must-have.

Why? As I said, play your cards wrong in the Park and you’ll make the long drive down empty-handed. Misjudge the weather and you can be shredding your skins on windblasted talus, with knee-deep goodness within a mile of you. Start up the skintrack an hour late and you’ll watch the morning’s goods puke down the Dragontail Couloir like a giant middle finger to your lassitude. Sure, hiring a guide is the best way to get yourself in the right place at the right time, but we don’t always have that money. Get Mark’s book and you can (usually) make it happen!

Mark’s a certified ski-mountaineering guide through the American Mountain Guides Association and once upon a time he protected his stashes like Frodo protected the ring. That’s all over now, though, with his excellent new guidebook to skiing in the Park. Though we’re buddies, I’m not begging for a free copy–I’m going to happily pony the $26 and support a once-local guide (he’s in AK now!) and a good new guidebook. You should do the same.

Mark Kelly would like to thank Giterdun Publishing, who made the book possible. Check out their other titles, too, including Making Turns in the Tenmile and Mosquito Ranges.

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