Sunday, February 7, 2016

Spanish II

Wednesday was so good that we had to go back for seconds.  We traded out Sam and brought Tom but otherwise, it was deja vu. 

Friday, we took a trip to the "other" range instead of joining the LCC circus with the surprise powder.  After exploring options to ascend Flat Top or Lewiston Peak from Cedar Fort or Mercur Canyon, we went back to Ophir as it is by far the most direct and highest starting point.

Near the summit of Lewiston with the Southern Wasatch on display. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Spanish Snow

Sam Todd is new to backcountry skiing but he's a quick study and hard worker.  To test his preparation, we took him to the promised land with only moderate expectations of both.   Not only did he prove his worth, the UC delivered with some of the best snow and scenery...ever.  

The trail breaking was deep but with 5 percent snow, it was almost effortless.

Sam and his new rig.  He mistakenly thought he needed a lot of beef to be able to ski in the backcountry.  Misled by some other friends, he made a $1500 mistake but I think he has seen the light. 

JD entering an enchanted forest. 

Some Good Days

This winter has seen a return to normal in the Wasatch but it feels like we've won the lottery.  Last week, I got out for some great tours with a lot of the usual crew.   

Heading up a ridge on the west side of Timp, I was caught in a moment of indecisiveness while evaluating conditions.  With a gloveless hand, I'm reaching for an inclinometer to see how safe our safe ridge really was.  Photo by Matt Galland. 
After our midnight romp on Olympus, Lars was thirsty for more and we went up South Lone.  He's pictured here skinning near the summit. 
After skiing near Question Mark Wall, we traversed back into "Heaven's Halfpipe" as it's called by the locals.  With nearly 6000 feet of breakable crust to the car, I'd say it more resembled Satan's anus.  

Josh is still fairly new to the Wasatch and hadn't had much of a chance to explore outside of upper LCC.  We went on a scenic slog through White Pine, Red Pine, Maybird, Hogum, and then back around the Pfeiff to the south for a full circumnavigation.  Above, he's taking the sporty route into Hogum Fork. 

About to drop into Red Pine, I think he was happy to be done with the flat walking. 

Big Teague rolled into town for a few days to catch last weekends storm.  Here he is blasting out the lower portion of the Zeus Couloir on Olympus.  

Another of Big Teague from Saturday

Jason has been out for the last three weeks with his black and blue derriere and scrotum.  He finally got a CT of his pelvis and it turns out he fractured his coccyx during his accident.    With his treatment being "activity as tolerated" he decided he was done with TV and junk food and is glad to be skiing again.  I'm glad to have him back.  

Midnight Mount Olympus

My ski plans for last Monday were derailed by a sick kid and I spent most of the day watching the movies with a feverish boy.  The movie Frozen was actually the closest I got to experiencing winter.  Sometime in the afternoon, I hatched a plan to ski by the light of a nearly full moon and convinced big Lars it would be a good idea.  He was game but wanted to ski the Tolcat Couloir between the Olympus summits.  I was game with his game but wanted to ski from the actual summit.  At night, this would force a rappel to the saddle but he was still excited about the whole hair brained plan.

We started up the summer trail around 9 PM, summited around 11, and then took in a spectacular hour high above the city shooting photos and dealing with a 60 meter rappel to the saddle.  On top, it was cold but absolutely still and incredibly quiet, even with a million people at our feet.

Coiling ropes at the saddle, we were pretty psyched to ski a fun line in fast hero powder by the light of the moon and a million lights below.  Our small headlamps became superfluous.

The dreaded exit was manageable with a smile and by 1 AM, we were walking in boots out the lower section of the summer trail, incredulous at the mini adventure that we stole from our bank of sleep.

We were both pretty fried the next day at work but agreed to burn it late again soon.

Lars taking the last few steps to the summit of Mount Olympus

Timed selfie 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Some Less Traveled Paths

This season more than any previous, I've felt a desire to explore away from the Cottonwoods.  Mostly, I've been drawn to Utah County for the big relief and trail breaking duties.  Not to mention the five star skiing that we've almost guiltily been enjoying all to ourselves.  Locally, there are still some seldom traveled paths too that aren't too bushy.   Here are some pics without identifiers as proof.  

Photo by Josh Whitney

Photo by Matt Galland