Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Classic Wasatch Tour

Today the weather was supposed to be moody but the morning was a gift from the gods.  Not sure what to expect after a few days of wicked winds and high rains, we started by taking the mellowest of routes to the summit of Patsy Marley.  The powder was dense, atop a slight crust, over a few other layers of varying rottenness but the skiing was fabulous.  The remainder of the day went as follows:

Descend to the parking lot - climb one of the Honeycomb peaks - descend into Silver Fork - climb Davenport - descend a nice chute into Day's (Jaws?) - climb Flagstaff - descend Holy Toledo - climb Cardiac Ridge - ski a nice chutelette - climb Superior via one of the north couloirs - descend the South Face - cheat into Suicide and climb to the col - ski Suicide and out.

The weather deteriorated throughout the day with the cloud deck lowering until it swallowed us while trying to figure out if the South Face would go or not.  It did, but not without some careful navigation and reliance on old memories.  Anything on the northern half of the compass skied quite well above 9000 feet or so.  Below that or on the southern aspects, the snow was getting heavy and I'm sure a stout crust will be prevalent in the morning but we didn't let that bother us today.

The whole day was filled with good company and great skiing.  I know this area is highly congested at times but those descents in those drainages are quintessential "Wasatch" and when combined, this tour is a classic!

Cold morning powder and bluebird skies

I think Jared wears a name tag so people quite confusing him with the me and Jason


Holy Toledo

Layne, about to end his wallowing and ski a cool chutelette on Cardiac Ridge,

Worsening weather but the snow is still great

"Big skis" and little boots...worked well today!

Josh, near Superior's summit

"Uhhh, are you sure we can get down this?"

A moment of incredible sharpness before the clouds made the descent "tricky"

Almost done with Suicide

Another teaser break in the swirling fog.  Jason and Josh are PSYCHED!

Heading home
To end on an equipment discussion, today I used the largest skis I've used in a long time.  The Ski Trab Volare is 99 mm under foot and mine are 178 in length.  They are reported to weigh 1480 grams per ski and with the Trab TR Race binding adding another 145 grams, this is still a fairly light total package (although it took some time to become accustomed to the added weight relative to my other skis).  I wanted to put in a decent day (ended up with just under 9000 vert) to see how I'd feel after toting around a bigger ski.  I'd say I'm slightly more fatigued than I would be if I were on light skis and it did take a little longer to complete the same tour.  But, I could definitely ski the down more aggressively and thoroughly enjoyed myself today.  They definitely have their place in the quiver.  Another question that arises is if lightweight boots like the Aliens are sufficient for such skis? Today they were given the pleasant snow conditions.  In fact, my bet is that they will always be sufficient in the backcountry for 99% of people.  In bounds would be a different story but I don't really spend much time there.

Anyway, my ultimate ski mountaineering quiver is coming along nicely.  I'll review each one and put up some pics and specs shortly.

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