The Los Alamos Mountaineers visited Monarch for a snow sports weekend in mid-January; Purgatory and the wild country beyond is next. Photo by Shelly Wieman
A Pajarito ski pass offers free skiing at two southern Colorado gems – Monarch and Pajarito. Having visited Monarch, the Los Alamos Mountaineers are continuing their tour of winter wonderlands just across the border, with a Feb. 2-5 visit to Purgatory, Durango and backcountry beyond. They welcome the community to join the club (easily done) and join the adventure.
On the long weekend of January 12-16, eight of Mountaineers visited Monarch and the town of Salida. Snow was 7 feet deep at the pass, offering a fine 3 days on the alpine runs and snowshoeing the old Monarch Pass road, rewarded by Continental Divide views in every direction.
Their next stop is Durango, for a winter sports weekend at Purgatory and mountain points beyond. Despite Purgatory’s lower altitude (reaching almost 11,000 feet instead of Monarch’s 12,000), the snow is plentiful – a 64″ base as of January 19 – and more is likely on the way.
Purgatory offers large expanses of beginner terrain, as well as plenty for the experts, with a total of 11 lifts and 1,500 skiable acres. The views of the Needles mountains are some of the finest of any ski area in Colorado. Any of the 3 top Pajarito season passes offer three free days at Purgatory; if you don’t have a Pajarito pass (and shame on you), ski pass bargains can be found, like a 3-day package available at the Santa Fe REI.
As in past years, the Mountaineers will head for Durango to establish a base in a comfortable house or cabin, and spend their days in winter sports at Purgatory, Molas Pass, or other alpine areas in the vicinity. There are several snowshoe/XC options. Durango will be celebrating their Intergalactic Snowdown that weekend, and rumor has it that the Hillstompers will be in town.
They will drive up early on the morning of Thursday Feb. 2, arriving early enough to put in an afternoon outing before heading back towards town, staying in a rented house for 3 nights. In the mountains on Friday and Saturday, they will spend a total of 2 1/2 days doing winter sports, and will return on Sunday February 5, perhaps squeezing in a morning outing of some sort.