Monday, February 25, 2013

Spanish Fork Peak and Some Things I Love

Special announcement: Our last Wasatch Skimo Citizen's Race will be tomorrow night at Brighton.  Be ready to go at 7 PM and make sure to fill out the below survey (at the bottom of the post) for a chance to win the grand prize which will again be a pair of La Sportiva skis.  Bring everyone out and let's make this last race the biggest craziest one yet!

Today, Jason and I experienced a beautiful morning on Spanish Fork Peak replete with fine snow, great light, and everything else that is good.  To borrow a hippy phrase, it was all time.  

Not quite as outwardly impressive as its neighbors to the north or south, Spanish Fork Peak does sport massive relief from the valley floor, measured by my watch today at 5600 gain.  

I enjoyed it so much, this post will be about everything that I love about skiing a line like this one.  But to start, thanks to Mark Hammond for putting up some pictures of this peak on Facebook recently.  I've always overlooked this peak, but at the sight of an old burn in one of his photos, I was hooked.  

I love skiing through burned forests.  With Jared, Bart, and Jason, we skied one in Glacier National Park a few years ago and it was such a unique experience that I've been seeking the contrast of powder and charred trees since.  We found it today.  

I love this winter.  I don't really care about record snowfall or constant refresher storms, but the unusually cold temperatures have resulted in a proper winter even in the valleys.  This makes for "out the door" skiing and lengthens these descents and eliminates any dirt walking.  

I love the mountains of Utah County.

I love long climbs followed by long descents.  This was was over 5500 one shot!

I love light gear that makes such climbs easy and enjoyable.  Efficiency is addicting.  Without trying too hard, we were able to go car-to-care in under four hours, while breaking trail the entire way.  Yeah, we have some baseline fitness because we ski a lot, but that would not be possible without the advances in boots and skis over the past few years.  

I love powder.  I often joke that I like the conditions to be firm since that typically means less avalanche risk and gives the green light to roam the mountains.  But truth be told, I love powder.  

I love rime ice.  I can't stop taking pictures of it while skinning up.  Maybe that's because rime ice is such a transient phenomenon.  Whatever.  I love it.  

I love old wizened trees.  There were plenty along the climb today.

I love bluebird days without any pollution building up in the valley (dang, the cold winter isn't all good).  They seem so rare this year that I really take notice when the air is clear.  Today seemed crystal.  

I love Diet Coke.  It's really weird but it tastes good.  Without planning, Jason and I both carried one to the summit today. 

And what I really love is moving through the mountains on skis.  Everything above was just a huge bonus today!

Here are a few photos from my Cannon S100 and Jason's big Rebel T2i...

Maybe 2000 feet above the valley floor, still hiding in the shade

Jason, I think...we were wearing the exact same thing down to the boots and skis and packs. No wonder people get us confused at work.

Jason getting higher

Looking SW from higher on the ridge
Jason taking a pull out front 
Stunning massive rime

More rime

There was seriously a foot of plaster on these upper elevation trees

Heading over to the true summit with is to the left


Diet Coke sponsorship?

Looking south through the summit paraphernalia

Photo by Jason Dorais
The view to the northwest 

Jason skiing down the ridge to the burn

Fantastic snow, trees, and light

It was one of the best runs...ever
Photo by Jason Dorais

Photo by Jason Dorais

I screwed this picture up but still kinda like it after taking out the color

Maybe 2500 feet left of nice powder turns...

The very unassuming but fantastic Spanish Fork Peak
Super happy after skiing all the way back to the car

Also, we will be making a short video of the day, mainly as an intro to our preparation to the Gore Tex Grand Traverse (formerly the Elk Mountain GT).  While we will blab on a bit about training and stuff, hopefully there will be some scenic shots too.

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