A Bit of Backstory…
Last night I roped J-Bo into joining me on a little project I’d begun dreaming of three years earlier. Back then, I had an outstanding ski day at Alta – on a pass, it’s true! – that unfolded like this: Powder had dropped from the sky in quantity in earlier days. Baldy had been closed in the interim. I expected/guessed/hoped it would open on this bluebird day.
I did a few laps waiting for patrol to drop the rope to the Baldy OB, at the top of the Sugarloaf chairlift. From each vantage point possible, I kept an eye on the scene. People began queueing up. On my fourth chairlift lap or so, while still about 20 chairs from the uppermost lift tower, I watched the rope drop and about 20-30 people rush up the booter. Excitedly, I exited the chair and followed the fray. Everyone seemed to be headed to Main Chute, or the summit. I quickly dropped Perla’s and laughed my way down the deep untracked.
Skiing to the midway loading point for the Collins lift, I took that to the top, then skied down to the Sugarloaf lift, again heading to the top. From there, the booter again. So the day progressed. I ticked off the main four north/northeast facing chutes (Perla’s, Dog Leg, Little, and Main) as the day unfolded.
It was great. The powder was incredible, people were friendly, the weather perfect. However, even back then, it was Continue reading ’5 Chutes: Pipeline, Perlas, Dog Leg, Little, and Main’
Pinball Alley. Not a very wide alley.
Landed a decent photo of Pinball Alley when I was on Cardiff Peak with J-Bo last week, and it looked continuous upon inspection. Why wait? The days aren’t getting any shorter or colder. I proferred ski options during the invite process. Jason offered his own, suggesting ‘continuous pow.’ Hmm. Presuming that he preferred to avoid using the lengthy shoelaces for a descent, we agreed easily upon Mount Superior’s Pinball. It was a good choice, even if it didn’t offer either of his chosen descriptors.
We met up at the Park n Ride at 7am, and, following a quick drive up the canyon, were quickly in position to ascend. We agreed that booting looked favorable, and left skins in the auto. Some mixed walking – snow, then talus, then snow again – found us at the base of the couloir in short order. We donned crampons, pulled out ice axes, and began to ascend. Because there are shadows cast on the looker’s left half of the line, we found that snow to be quite firm. The snow on the right half was soft corn. Sticking Continue reading ‘Pinball Alley (and Friends)’
Sugarloaf's East face.
Ever since a very snow-sparse adventure ski outing with Andy early in the 2010/2011 ski season, in which we both looked down Sugarloaf’s East face from the summit and wondered if the line were continuous, I’ve had my eye on returning to ski it. (Fortunately, we correctly guessed that it was not continuous, an obvious fact to Alta regulars) Once we skied around to a different vantage point, the sweetness of the line was a little more apparent, as was the need for a little ropework.
It’s been over a year and a half, but the stars finally aligned to enable a descent. It might not have taken so long, but Continue reading ‘Sugarloaf East Face’
It’s déjà vu all over again. – Yogi Berra
The ski days of late keep requiring a PROBAR breakfast – in my case, usually one PROBAR and one or two Fruition bars tossed down the hatch while driving to the mountains. Today’s feast included the new double chocolate flavor, as well as lemon. Both are flavorful! It’s a fast breakfast of choice when time is at a premium. And, of late, spare time has been a little spare. Not unlike the direction the snowpack is heading.
Snow is quickly becoming a premium commodity in the ole Wasatch.
But, duty called. A page out of last season’s playbook apparently got mixed in with this year’s edition. The situation was virtually identical, leading to the need for the opening quote. Just as happened with last year’s Hellgate Couloir outing and subsequent solo return visit Continue reading ‘Monte Cristo Direct (Redux)’
Pondsy came to town – all the way from Boston – so like any conscientious ski mountaineer, I did not suggest that we ski the foot or so of untracked, buttery soft, light as a feather powder still to be found on certain aspects here in the Wasatch range. No snorkel meter measurements for us. No. Instead, I agreed that it was a fine idea when he suggested the south facing Directissimo. That seemed likely to provide a fine outing on a variable snow surface.
The moon, sunrise, Superior, Pondsy out for a stroll in the Wasatch..
Indeed, the line included all of: bulletproof, flowing water, breakable crust, frozen avy debris, corn, chicken heads, and death cookies. No powder in sight. It was sweet. Some people search high and low for a ski descent that provides smooth consistency in the snow surface from top to bottom. That’s no way to Continue reading ‘Monte Cristo Directissimo’
Some days the outing goes flawlessly and surpasses expectations. That was the case on Wednesday. Thursday was one of those days where everything wasn’t flawless. J-Bo had informed me during my recruitment efforts the previous day that he had to pick his parents up at the airport at such and such time.
Extracting promises that we could pull off a bit of fun and he would not be late to pick up the ‘rents, he agreed to join in. Know that this poor fella has completely missed an important business meeting and I-forget-what-else-but-probably-something-important (it wouldn’t be worth mentioning otherwise) in the past due to my overly-optimistic assessments of how fast we could get those days’ missions done. Once again I was completely confident that we could be out in plenty of time for him to shower, take the gear out of the car, and not arrive at the airport still dripping sweat, clad head to toe in highly breathable softshell garments.
Where did it all go wrong? Pretty much from the moment Continue reading ‘Against the Clock’