I walked out of work this morning pretty bummed to see...nothing. The whole valley was engulfed in clouds. Bummer. My plan was to drive out to Toole and look for a way to get up into the Oquirrhs. When I pulled into town, it was obvious that if I insisted on skiing from town, I'd be walking on dirt most of the way up and down. Bummer. So I kept driving.
Long stretches of desert road lead to adventures:
Ophir, UT was the destination. People have been mentioning that there's some decent skiing from Ophir Canyon so I jumped on the interweb while driving and found out that the two highest peaks in the Oquirrhs are accesible from Ophir. The new plan became trying to summit either Lowe Peak, Flat Top Mountain, or both. Flat Top is the highest in the range and stands at 10,620 ft. Not that impressive, but its prominence over the SLC/UT valleys is impressive at over 5,000 feet.
The view from Lowe Peak, looking towards Flat Top (Pic from summitpost.org):
I was pretty shocked to see two other skiers at the Ophir Canyon trailhead on a stormy Tuesday morning. Nice enough, they pointed me in the right direction and off I went. A mile or two on a flat road led to a few stream crossings and then another long section up a mellow drainage. I followed an old skin track (also a surprise), and eventually stumbled upon this:
Fearing I'd find a miner with a gun, I bypassed the structure without looking inside. From there on, I broke trail, winding my way through the trees and along sub ridges until topping out what I assumed was the ridge connecting Lowe Peak and Flat Top. I turned south, looking for the big one. Quickly, I summited an unknown peak and this is what I saw:
I waited for about 45 minutes, hoping things would clear enough to figure out where I was. I didn't bring my shovel since I was alone, but was wishing for it so I could build a deluxe snow cave. Unlucky and cold, I followed my up track out and enjoyed 3000+ feet of meadow skipping and tree skiing.
Back in the flats, it looked like the sun might come out and force me to go back up to take a look.
It was just a sneer, and seconds later it was back to poor vis and spitting snow. At least the exit was interesting with some bushwhacking and stream crossings.
So I went up there today just to take a look and see what potential exists for future days. As the pictures attest, I didn't see much. I like the feel of the place though. The desert drive, passing through an old mining town, and the quietness of the range are refreshing. Next time...