We began our spring 2014 Centennial Skiers season with Red Mountain.
We’re lucky that the mountains in Colorado are so accessible. For the most part, the high summits in the state offer year-round climbing and skiing to anyone who wishes to do so.
But that’s not without exception, and when it comes to the 100 Centennial Peaks, there are actually two summits in the southern Sangre de Cristos that reside entirely on private land. Access is restricted, and for much of the year Culebra Peak (14,047 ft.) and neighboring Red Mountain (13,908 ft.) are entirely off limits.
The recent policy under the ranch’s current owners is to grant permission to peak baggers on select weekends in summer. Advanced reservations are required, as are liability waivers and a fee, which seems to vary but I’m told is now $100 per person. It’s arranged online at Cielo Vista Ranch, here. You can’t stay on the ranch overnight. Get in, tag the summit, take a photo, and go.
But if you’re a skier, and you want to go when there is snow cover during winter or spring, it’s not as easy. You have reach out to the ranch owners and managers requesting special permission. Start asking early in the winter because they may be a bit slow to reply. The owners and others associated with these decisions aren’t at the ranch much in the winter months, and it’s understandable that they are then somewhat reluctant to open the gate.
If you’re lucky, and you keep on them like Christy, they may decide to grant permission for your group. If so, they’ll set a firm date in advance that isn’t usually flexible in the event of bad weather or thin snow cover. You can take it or leave it, and by leave it, it could be a year or more before you get permission again.
So back in March we were told we could go ski Red Mountain on April 5th. It would be $200 each. It was the only weekend made available for skiing this year or last, so the three of us headed down to San Luis, Colorado, to get this one done. As the day approached the weather wasn’t looking great, and the we knew the coverage was going to be thin, but this was the hand we were dealt so we played it. For better or for worse, that’s how it’s done on Red.
Thank you to staff at the Cielo Vista Ranch for accommodating us. It was a memorable day. And it helped set the bar for better days to come this spring!