Western Mass-Pioneer Valley
Submitted By: Dobish on April 29, 2010
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Cristo is a fairly wide snow gully, and is not particularly technical to ski. That said, it is steep enough to demand advanced ski abilities.
Cristo is rated D8 or D9 depending on snow conditions. For information on the D rating system, see here: http://www.wildsnow.com/articles/ratings/ski-board-d-rating-system.html
In good snow conditions, Cristo can be skied right off the summit. Depending on snowpack, there may or may not be a few rocky patches to navigate. The gully has a few rollovers, the steepest reaching 40-45 degrees. The slope has a double fall-line, and is generally a bit mellower if you stay towards the skier's right side. While not a true no-fall zone, the double fall-line nature also means that a sliding fall in the couloir could be dangerous.
Cristo Couloir is a very large avalanche path and has claimed it's share of victims. As such, this route is recommended as a spring descent in times of good stability only. Also, whether you're driving or skinning up Blue Lakes Road, be aware that several major avalanche paths threaten the road near the dam.[more]
The Pioneer Valley makes up the valley and hill region around the Connecticut River, between Worcester county and the Berkshires. The pioneer valley is often considered to be the drainage of the Connecticut River and the drainages of the following rivers: The Westfield, Swift, Chicopee, Deerfield, and Millers.
Because of the snowfall totals and the weather patterns, the good skiing is generally in mid winter (january, february) but can be pretty fun in february and march. Elevation gain for backcountry skiing in the pioneer valley is between 1000 and 1500 ft.
How to Get There
The Pioneer Valley is located in western mass, near the Connecticut River and the surrounding drainages. Amherst, North Hampton, and Greenfield are the closest towns to where the backcountry adventures are in the Pioneer Valley.