Summer Stashes: Mt. Owen still holds the goods in July

The dog days of summer are here, but while most of us plan to cool down by the nearest swimming hole, for some the quest to find winter carries on. Not content to quench their thirst for snow with ski films, these die-hards head for the hills in search of high alpine lakes and snow-patched peaks. 

All summer long, we will add to the growing list of places where you can find snowy terrain to beat the heat. For this installment of “Summer Stashes,” we talked with Tom Cuddy, a Masters student at Western State Colorado University, about his trip to Mt. Owen in Colorado’s Elk Mountains.


Tom Cuddy digs into the mid-summer corn as he makes his way to Green Lake below. [Photo] Micah Berman

Location: Mt. Owen, Elk Mountains, Colo.
Team: Tom Cuddy, Isabelle La Motte, Micah Berman
Prime Time: Late May – Early Summer
Summit Elevation: 13,070 feet
Descent Date: July 13th, 2016

The slopes of Mt. Owen give way to Green Lake below. [Photo]

The slopes of Mt. Owen give way to blue waters. [Photo] Micah Berman

Recent Crested Butte transplant Tom Cuddy spent July 13 skiing in Colorado’s Elk Mountains. Cuddy was joined by friends Isabelle La Motte and Micah Berman in his search for summer turns.

“It was some of the best corn snow I’ve skied, which is ridiculous. It wasn’t that good at Alta this spring,” says Cuddy of the “surprisingly edgeable, ripping snow.”  

Accessed by the Lake Irwin campground, the summit is a short 1.5-hour hike from the parking lot. The double-track road from the base of Owen turns to grated cat-track before entering the alpine bowl where late season lines can be found.

“There was a little scrambling to get to where we skied, and there were goat paths to get up there,” Cuddy recalls, “We were at 13,000 feet and were definitely feeling it.”


Isabelle La Motte takes advantage of the summer’s heat and sheds some layers. [Photo] Micah Berman

The team skied three lines, with the longest located 500 vertical feet from the summit of Ruby Peak in a saddle spanning Owen and neighboring Ruby. The highlight of the trip was a short 200-foot line that spills into Green Lake.

“My depth perception was pretty interesting,” Cuddy recalls, “Firstly, you are skiing in the summer. Then you have this tropical-looking lake in front of you. With the [contrast] of the intense blue and white, you are totally thrown off.”


Tom Cuddy cools off with a soul shocking plunge into Green Lake. [Photo] Micah Berman

The Mt. Owen snowpack is fading, so Cuddy has set his sights on returning to the Elk Mountains next summer.  

“There is definitely some potential for multi-day biking to skiing that I’d like to figure out,” he offers. “I think it would be cool to ride from Irwin on our bikes with our skis, do some skiing then ride the ridge back into [Crested Butte].”

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