I’ve been calling this line the Angelic Doorstep just to keep it straight in my mind, since I can’t find another name for it. On the Devil’s Castle.
As happens for more obscure pieces of Wasatch ski real estate, I don’t have a clue about whether this line has been previously skied. Anchors were not visible at the obvious rappel point, which lends something to one side of the argument. If it has been ridden previously, I can’t find a name for it, which is kind of annoying to me.
Can you imagine if we handled streets this way?
‘Oh yeah, that old back road was put in a long time ago. Take that to that other back road, and you’re halfway to where you’re going.’
“What are those roads called, I’ll look them up on the map?”
‘We don’t call them anything, we Continue reading ‘The Angelic Doorstep’
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)’
Ciochetti’s Ribbon. Not your standard backcountry ski run.
To celebrate Friday the 13th in an appropriately spooky fashion, Andy Dorais and I headed to Alta. While it would be a stretch to qualify much of Alta’s terrain as spooky, the Devil’s Castle area does hold plenty of ‘boo!’ factor. Especially if one heads to Ciochetti’s Ribbon, which we did. This ski descent was more nerve wracking than the final episode of Lost. In fact, it’s so intense that if they’d canceled the last episode of Lost, and left everyone hanging on the prior episode – FOREVER – this would still be more nerve wracking. Of course, that’s just my viewpoint, and I rarely watch television, so it might be biased.
Having done a slightly sketchy, slightly sideways rappel on the Pfeifferhorn the day before, I can attest that the rope work on the Castle is completely sideways, and far sketchier mentally! Ciochetti’s is perhaps best described as Continue reading ‘Untying Ciochetti’s Ribbon’
Hop Turns and Rope: Someone once derisively told me that steep skiing is ‘just a bunch of hop turns.’ Guilty as charged, but incomplete. On a good day, there are ropes, too. Today, Jason Borro and I stepped cleanly into that person’s line of derision, and brought along some rope just to add a bit of completeness to the picture. We headed to the Pfeifferhorn, where snow is often served up cold, and folks who deride steep skiing don’t show up.
We sat down long enough to take one summit photo.
Lines: Although all aspects of the Pfeiff are skiable, the majority of the steep skiing action from the summit takes place on the northern side, between the Northeast and Northwest couloirs. In between those two, there are several choice ski mountaineering descents Continue reading ‘Yet Another Pfeifferhorn Rappel Descent’
Auspicious beginnings to the day with the winds on the ridges howling like mad dogs and Irishmen. They were predicted to be around 18-20 mph. They were all that, plus a little extra.. Oh well. Onwards and upwards. It got better though, even with the wind remaining a constant theme. I found the powder to be deep and stable, even on steep slopes. That being a rare thing, I soaked it up. I could almost say I was shocked at getting it so good, since much powder has been blown to Kansas of late.
Wind? Yep, there was some of that on tap..
Managed to bag one line on Peak 11,137 – more commonly known as Upwop Peak (Un-named Peak West of Pfeifferhorn) – amongst several on the day that I never thought I’d get in anything bordering decent conditions (because, facing SW’erly, it gets a lot of sun exposure). It was steep, stable powder fluff the whole way down. Never mind that the slope was getting hit Continue reading ‘Powder Madness’
I’ve learned a lot in my life from observing the mistakes of others, and trying not to repeat them. This has, in my view, saved me a lot of grief. Today, others can learn from my mistakes. I made many, in sequence, which caused me to get hit by a fast moving wet slide in steep terrain. It was a very close call, as well as a wake-up call. Follow along and take mental notes – they could help you out in a big way. Further note that very few of my actions today were informed by ignorance. Rather, personal stupidity was the culprit. I’m not including pictures in this article because I want people to read it and learn, rather than simply look at the pictures.
Complacency – Following a 3 foot dump of snow in prior days, today was the first day that brought cloudless skies from sunrise, with resultant, immediate heat. While the snow had settled nicely following the storm’s conclusion on Tuesday, Wednesday was cloudy until late in the day, keeping wet slides to a relative minimum. That meant that little true snow flushing had yet occurred. Additionally, I was aware that it was going to be a hot day, and that south facing slopes would be particularly unsafe.
Overconfidence – Despite knowing that south facing slopes would be highly suspect, I figured that I could pull off my ski descent before the avalanches fired up, if I began early enough. That was probably true enough, but I showed up half an hour after the starting time I’d chosen. Further, with deep, relatively slow trail breaking, I was slower than I’d planned as well. I’d already chosen a ‘turn around time’ at which point I wanted to be heading down, in order to avoid any avalanche issues.
Ignoring Personal Guidelines – I ignored my ‘turn around’ timeframe. It’s that simple. Mentally, I told myself that the safe window could be extended by 30-45 minutes. I knew better, but convinced myself otherwise. Why?
Continue reading ‘Learning From Mistakes’