February 9, 2008
Author and Trip Leader:
Michael Altherr. Photos:
Dave Gemeinhart, Jonathan Storer, Jeri Sullivan, Arnold Wise, and
Particulars: Out and back (or Up
and Down if you prefer) ~ 3 mile round trip with about 1250' of
climbing from trail head on the East side of Hwy 4 at the
intersection with the FR 289 Dome Wilderness turn-off.
Weather: Clear, 43 deg. F on
summit, light wind to no breeze.
Time of Departure: 1000 h.
Time of Return: 1400 h.
Snow Conditions: Some mash
potatoes, a bit of sugar and a slab or two of concrete.
View of Valle
Grande from top of Cerro Grande
modest non committing 'backcountry' ski provides remarkably
beautiful views of Jemez country. However, as the rating of
intermediate betrays there is some challenge to be had. It is
always a difficult thing predicting conditions in the Jemez, and
after two days of a good dosing of snow and a forecast for cold
weather, I was convinced conditions would be as close to excellent
as they get in the Jemez. I was wrong. I had not counted
on Friday's gale pounding the slopes into a sustrugi covered wind
slab, puntuated by pockets of unconsolidated sugar. No one
seemed interested in foregoing the trip. So, forward we went.
Cerro Grande Cairn
The frequent 'whomping'
while grabbing one's attention from time to time, would have been
down right disconcerting on a steeper slope. The open face to
the south was great for tele skiing, as were the trees, with lots of
good spacing in most places and enough snow to cover stumps.
In spite of a broken pole and the finding of a pair of skis in need
of a tune, the group enjoyed the New Mexico blue skies and the
companionship of the mountain, if less than optimal skiing