Backcountry Ski or Snowboard at Mayflower Gulch
Rate this Adventure Colorado › Mayflower Gulch Trailhead
Added by Eric Hockman
Not far from interstate 70, just off highway 91, Mayflower Gulch is home to some beautiful views with access to off-piste' skiing/snowboarding in the winter, and some fantastic hiking in the summer/shoulder seasons.
If you were driving down highway 91 towards Leadville and blinked at just the right moment, you'd drive right past this hidden gem of an area. Located just over 6 miles South of Copper Mountain ski resort on the East side of highway 91, the parking lot for the Mayflower Gulch trail head offers plenty of parking.
Beginning at about 10,980ft, a wide snow covered jeep trail (4wd road in the summer) gently climbs through the pines for a little less than 2 miles, ending at an elevation of just over 11,500ft. Once arriving at the 1.8 mile mark, views open up to an impressive mountain cirque and the abandoned Boston Mine camp, just beneath Mount Fletcher, Northeast, Crystal and Pacific peaks.
From here, depending on skill level - backcountry travelers have their pick of lines ranging from low angle/mellow slopes and trees, to larger expert level lines and chutes. The most popular and generally safest spot in the area is Gold Hill - the open, low angle slope that appears lookers right just after entering the mining camp. This pitch offers many lines in and out of the trees for a few quick laps on your AT or splitboard equipment. Make sure to make sound decisions and choose slopes and terrain wisely.
Once you've fully exhausted your legs from repeated laps, pick your final line wisely and most days you can cruise all the way back to the trail head at a mellow pace.
Traveling in avalanche terrain requires many essential items for a safe and enjoyable day. If approaching Mayflower Gulch strictly for the views and a picnic lunch - this list can be tailored down significantly; however, if you plan to make any turns or approach the slope walls, these items are highly recommended to bring along.
- Avalanche beacon/transceiver
- Your brain - the most useful tool you can bring/for knowing when to call off an objective and go home safely
- Head lamp and spare batteries for early mornings or long days
- Pocket knife and multi tool (Leatherman) for cutting tasks and binding/equipment repair
- Snow saw (mine stows inside shovel handle) for cutting wood, snow blocks, or doing snow pit tests
- Voile straps for an infinite number of different uses
- Paracord (25-50ft) for the Boyscout at heart
- Spare pole basket (not required; however, poles are useless without them)
- Binding spare parts repair kit (specific to your bindings)
- Steel wool – for when a skier friend rips a binding from their ski – stuff some household steel wool in a stripped binding screw hole and tighten the hardware back down – works enough to get you home.
- Fire source – Lighter/waterproof matches or flint – (a spark will ignite fine steel wool)
- Fire starter – SOL Tinder Quik or cotton balls coated in Vaseline (housed in a film canister)
- Emergency blanket or ski tarp (aka rescue sled) in case you have to pull an injured body back to the trail head.
- Hand warmers for bitter cold days or emergencies
- First aid kit/spare pain relief (NSAID, Acetaminophen, Antihistamine)
- SAM splint
- Athletic tape
- Toilet paper for obvious, or not so obvious reasons
- Water bottle with rounds of duct tape
- Zip ties/bailing wire
- Thermos and flask (optional, but highly recommended for warmth on different levels)
- Sun protection – face cover, sunglasses, sunscreen/lip balm
- High energy food/snacks to keep from getting cranky
- Spare gloves, jacket and layers
- Cell phone, or communication device/emergency whistle
- Compass/maps/AIARE Avalanche hand-book
- Educate yourself through local resources such as the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, an AIARE Level 1 course, and be prepared before you go. #knowbeforeyougo
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