F.R.A.N.G.E. "Friends Recommend Avoiding Nederland. Go Elsewhere".
The Front Range, sometimes called the FRANGE, isn't known for its great skiing. On the contrary, most skiers living near Denver or Boulder, CO probably view the Front Range as a windy and icy obstacle separating them and their large S.U.V.'s from the over-hyped artificial crud of summit county that some refer to as snow. But it's a mighty little range, packing enclaves of fairly good powder into decent 2000-foot shots in little places like Berthoud Pass, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and of course Rocky Mountain National Park.
F.R.A.N.G.E = "Frequent Raised Avy danger Now Going Extreme"
Those who choose to venture into the FRANGE during mid-winter must contend with a shallow, unstable snowpack, high winds, gigantic sastrugi, thinly buried rocks, and long, flat, boring-as-hell approaches. The rugged terrain and hair-trigger snowpack have swallowed many victims over the years and will do so for years to come - as long as a million and a half people live less than two hours drive from trigger points and starting zones.
F.R.A.N.G.E = "Finding Reasonable and Accessible terrain Never Gets Easy".
I learned to ski in Colorado, but now I only visit Boulder enough so that my parents and friends don't forget what I look like. Thus I haven't had as many opportunities to sample the FRANGE goods as much as the dedicated locals. I've only developed an outsiders' taste of what its like to slay the infrequent powder dragons.
F.R.A.N.G.E = "File edges, Repair bases, Avy beacon, New snow, Gallons of coffee, Exhausting slog".
But the numbers are growing. After a big powder dump, skin tracks wind mysteriously into the forest at each parking spot along the FRANGE, from Moffat to Caribou to Black Lake, etc. When spring conditions arrive, the snowpack settles, and the hoards take to the newly accessible trailheads along the Indian Peaks like flies on elk shit.
Come late April you can find sinuous tracks of disturbed corn snow smothering the east face of Mt Toll, Mt Audubon, The Dead Elk and Dragon Tail Couloirs, and darn near everything else. Yes, spring is a different animal all together.
In summary, I wish to offer maximum respect to all the winter powder seekers who wake early, drive many miles on slippery mountain roads, and skin endless flat terrain only to risk being thwarted at tree line by 50mph winds, shooting cracks, and base-wrecking rocks. There is good powder out there, and only the dedicated will find it.
Either that, or move to Utah.
A few photos from the FRANGE this past winter: