San Juan Mountains Ice / Ski Conditions Report November 10, 2017

Every year the guides at Kling Mountain Guides are routinely the first ones out on the ice and snow. Here is a full conditions report from November 10, 2017.  This covers conditions in South Mineral Creek, Cement Creek, and the Eureka Valley.

South Mineral Creek:

The road down South Mineral Creek was mostly dry. There were a few snowy  spots in the shade where you have to slow down, but was otherwise dry to the campground.  North Facing climbs (DNF, Snowblind, and Campground Couloir, Cataract Creek) that have water flow were doing well.  They appeared wet from the road, but did have climbable lines (if done early in the day).  Cataract Creek and Snowblind appeared to be in the best condition. South facing/ sunny climbs such as Sundance still have a long way to go.

Campground 1st pitch Campground Couloir Upper Campground zoomed out Cataract Creek DNF Snowblind Sundance


Cement Creek:

This is the road that goes up to Velocity Basin and towards Silverton Mountain ski area.  While there is really popular ice in this valley, there is popular early season skiing in Velocity Basin.  The road up Cement Creek was similar to South Mineral Creek.  It was primarily dry except for a few snowy spots.  The final stretch of road actually into Velocity Basin was fully snow packed.   The road had anywhere from about 6 CM to drifting over 20 CM+ There were recent tire tracks from somebody driving all the way into Velocity Lake, but I elected to not drive further (due to time constraints).  Velocity Basin and the Grande couloir did appear to have enough snow to ski.  However the coverage looked spotty at best.  I would recommend some good evaluations and observations prior to skiing anything in there.Grande Couloir Velocity Basin



The road up to Eureka was dry the entire way. You can still drive most of the way to Animas Forks.  You can drive directly to the base of First and Second Gully, Stairway to Heaven, and the Fat City area.  Anything with sun was not in.   Stairway to Heaven was forming but has a long way to go.  The upper Pitches of Highway to Hell (climbers right of Stairway to Heaven) actually looked pretty good.  I spoke with some climbers that had just done the first pitch of Second Gully.  They said it was wet, thin, and not super worth it.  But it / they are forming quickly.   The Turkey Chute is not a Eureka climb, but rather an Arasta Gulch ski.  However, it is visible (barely) from the Eureka area.  It did have snow, but was hard to tell coverage given I was using a 20x zoom to get a close shot of it.  I suspect it to be similar to the Grande Couloir in Velocity Basin.  Both likely “skiable” depending on how much you like your bases and your femurs.

Goldrush highway to hell upper HIgway to Hell Second Gully Stairway 3rd pitch up Stairway to heaven lower Stairway to Heaven Sundance Turkey Chute


We’ll be posting more reports as we get out.  In the mean time, please let forming climbs form up so as not to ruin them for the season.  If you have other questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch. KMG guides programs in all of these places.  Additionally, if you’re in the Front Range area on December 7th, come to Bent Gate Mountaineering in Golden.  We’ll be doing a presentation on the Silverton Off Piste Ski Atlas that I co-authoered.  Free beer is going to be provided by New Belgium brewing and we’ll be doing a ski give away from Romp Skis.  We’ll be talking about how the first two editions came to be, some avalanche safety stuff and taking a sneak peak at what will be in the 3rd edition of the Atlas that will be coming out next fall.

In the mean time keep the waxy side down and the pump up!


Josh Kling, 

AMGA Certified Alpine and Rock Guide, Assistant Ski Guide,

Owner/ Lead Guide

Kling Mountain Guides

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