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Elk Mountain Range and Sangre del Cristo
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Ryan Degnim
(rdegnim) - F
Elk Mountain Range and Sangre del Cristo on 12/31/2010 12:40:24 MST Print View

Hi I will be living in gunnison colorado throughout winter into May. Any locals have recommendations for backpacking routes through the Elks range and the Sangre Del Cristo range as well. Any experience with snowpack in early May while backpacking, is it present at lower elevations, depths, weather, etc. What rating avalanche hazards expected at this time? I am aware the Sangre del Cristo range is quite rugged any advice is welcome.
Thanks, Ryan.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Sand Dunes on 12/31/2010 16:24:04 MST Print View

I would guess the Sand Dunes would be snow free early in the spring. Not a big area but a unique place. One thing about the sand. It gets into EVERYTHING. After seeing the sand work its way into every imaginable place I think I would not take an expensive down bag there. I'm not sure what effect sand would have on a down bag but it just seems bag to me.
I can't comment on the Sangres and Elk Mtns in the spring but Lost Creek Wilderness is within driving distance. I doubt there would be any avalanche danger and the snow melts out faster there.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Re: Elk Mountain Range and Sangre del Cristo on 01/03/2011 10:14:54 MST Print View

There are few places in those mountains that won't have significant snow in April and early May.
While our weather varies a lot year-to-year March and April are often the heaviest snow months.
Plan on taking snowshoes. And camping on snow, unless you stay in the foothills.
Avalanche is a real hazard and varies hour-by-hour so no general prediction is possible. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center,, doesn't have enough funds to extend their predictive services into Spring. Stay off sun-warmed slopes, wet avalanches are not uncommon in Spring.
Consider a trip in Colorado National Monument, or in the surrounding BLM land. The BLM land to the west of the monument has a large concentration of natural arches.
Hopefully others will chime in with their ideas.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Canyonlands on 01/03/2011 10:28:22 MST Print View

Canyonlands might be a better option during April and May--less snow then, if any. Moab is just a short drive from Gunnison. Most places in CO's high country will still have a good snowpack until late May. Luke's suggestion about Lost Creek is a good one, since its elevation is a good bit lower.