If you are looking for a fun, groomed, low-angle approach to alpine bowls, look no further than Jones Pass. With access to the Continental Divide, amazing views, alpine terrain, and fun low angle skiing, this destination is a great winter objective for skiers of all abilities. The approach to Jones Pass follows that of the local cat operation Powder Addiction, and as a result skiers can simply tour up to Jones Pass via the cat road. Don’t let the approach fool you into thinking you are not in avalanche terrain, however. As you gain tree line you'll catch the first glance of the approaching lines. The Continental Divide looms above with steep faces and large cornices, dwarfed by faces of moderate to steep slope angels. It is prime avalanche terrain. As you enter the basin at 11,500 feet the landscape opens up and you begin to spot the different lines skiers have dropped.
Another thousand feet of climbing brings you to the Continental Divide. Stretching from Alaska to Mexico, the Continental Divide is a swath of mountains that divides water that flows into the Atlantic from water that flows into the Pacific. From this high point with an elevation of 12,500 feet, snowcapped peaks populate the skyline. You can trace the ridge and pick your preferred descent back into the basin. Once you begin to descend you have two options: You can follow the road back down and to the parking lot, or you can ski fall line and descend into the West Fork Clear Creek drainage and follow it to intersect the road.
Fall line takes you bobbing and weaving through the trees, across open glades, and down and out of drainages. After a super fun and playful descent, you eventually have to transition and find your way back to the road. Head north and follow the flagging tape that lines the path until you come to the cat road. From here it is possible to ski all the way back to the parking lot. Watch out for snowmobiles and other skiers while ripping it on the road, have fun, and be safe!
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.