Friday, February 21, 2014

New Snow, New Boots, a New Winter...

With some new snow, more options are opening up (with some imagination) and we've been out doing our best bushwhacking, trail breaking, and powder skiing (some grainy pics are below).  I've also been skiing some new boots, the SCARPA F1 Evo (out next season), and am glad with what I've experienced so far.  Right now I do everything in the Alien 1.0 but wouldn't mind a slightly bigger boot for some mountaineering projects.  First impression are that the F1 Evo will more than suffice.  For comparison, it walks better and skis better than my old TLT Performance boots (and I loved those).  There is a weight penalty (1150 gms in a size 27) and it has a longer sole length than the Alien (296 vs 287 in a size 27).  We'll see if it's worth it with some more "testing".  

"Why don't you go for a walk in the woods why don't ya"  - WOW

The avy danger is still quite high so we hiked some ridges

Stumbled upon some big slides that look like they were the result of cornice drops during the big recent storm cycle.  Here, Jason skis a skiff of powder over the bed surface. 

Wasatch wiggles

Looks bad but this is way better than the scrub oak below

Getting better!  

With rapid warming, we turned tail below the summit but were rewarded with still dry powder for a few thousand feet

Pretty beautiful backdrop for some chute skiing...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Beautiful Stuggle

It's a beautiful thing that's happenin' right now
Right now G

Yo, I'm rockin' with my man Hi-Tek on the track right now
We fightin' the good fight
The Beautiful Struggle
Yeah, let's go...

(Outro to "Beautiful Struggle" by Talib Kweli)

Today was another weird day where I felt like I was fighting with myself.  By that, I mean I feel that my decisions kept leading to difficult situations.  Some days we float up hill, ski like pros (at least in our minds), and don't find any significant challenge.  Today, there was a bit of a struggle.  But even when getting stabbed in the face by scrub oak, I find joy in it..although maybe not as much as Jason and the guys, who are skiing stunning Teton Couloirs every day.  I'm not jealous.

The plan was to ski Superior a couple times, and then bounce around upper LCC enjoying the powder and putting in some solid work toward my vertical goal for the week.  On the summit of Superior, Monte Cristo looked really enticing so we wandered over to take a look.

Looked good but Josh spotted a fresh slide with no tracks exiting.  Figured we should make sure everyone was OK.  
Turns out, two guys were hiking out of Mineral when they sympathetically released a slab above them that caught them both.  One deployed his airbag (pictured) and neither was buried nor injured.  Sufficiently spooked, we decided to avoid steep north through east faces.  

Then clicking into his bindings, Josh somehow managed to destroy his ski.  No more back seat wiggles for him!

South facing was stable and deep
Exiting the Monte Cristo gully was pretty heinous.  It ended up taking just as long to get down as it did up.  

One more cause looking at destroyed gear is fun
After all this, I decided to cut my loses and drove Josh back down the canyon.  Tomorrow, the struggle continues!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Type of "Super Tour"

With a more manageable snow pack and a break in the recent storms, I wanted to get up high and spend the day along some alpine ridge lines.  The classic "super tour" perked Josh's interest so getting a nice early 8:30 start, we headed up toward the Pfeifferhorn.  This route typically involves summiting the Pfeiff, heading over to Thunder Ridge and making one's way out Bell's Canyon.  

It was sunny and calm in the parking lot but as we gained the ridge above Red Pine drainage, a thick band of clouds was curling over from the south.  The climb to the summit of the Pfeiff was spectacular as always but enhanced by the weather with the highest summits of Utah County peaking through the undercast skies.  

Unfortunately, I made the bad decision to ski into the soup and we spent the next few hours trying to find our way back up to Chipman and over to South Thunder.  En route, we enjoyed some nice powder, crust, bushes, and rocks to go along with the non existent views.  Eventually, we made our way down into Bell's thinking it would be nothing but glorious powder turns until the lower trail.  Instead we found near crevasse like boulder fields that proved nearly impassable.  With multiple skins on/off transitions to move downhill it was slow going for sure.  Fearing that I'd be late for work, eventually I pulled some running shoes out of my pack (I anticipated it would be horrible) and made a run for it.  Josh decided to keep his skis on and very likely destroyed them in the process but he actually skied to the car (although this proved slower than running).  

Regardless of the challenging conditions it was, as always, a grand day in the mountains.  

Josh heading up the Pfeifferhorn.  Since he's wearing a Dynafit suit, I'll bring up a grievance.  Did anyone who attended the Snow Leopard day hear how much money was raised by all the vertical feet climbed?  At 5 cents/foot or even 5 cents/meter, it should have come out to at least $7000 (but more likely $20000 as initially promised) donated by Dynafit to the Snow Leopard fund.  Rumor has it that amount proved too much for them to keep their word and the donation was downgraded to something like $2000, which is roughly the cost of a pair of race boots.  Lame.  

Still looking for the Pfeifferhorn...

Friends across the canyon said the clouds stayed put all day, just tickling the Alpine Ridge.  We were the only dumb ones who skied right into them. 
Josh thought I looked particularly "Euro" but he was the one wearing a skin suit.  I'm working on being a little more subtle...
Climbing out of the clouds to the summit of the Pfeiff (photo by Josh Anderson)
Descending toward Alpine, we skied and fought our way "just over to that next ridge" before heading back up into the soup.  (photo by Josh Anderson)
After climbing back out of Dry Creek, we hit the Summit of Chipman and then made our way to South Thunder, all the while trying not to fall into Hogum Fork.  

Tempting but best saved for another day...

We did get some nice freshies in before the "character building" began. 

From one shoe to the next...  I figured the exit might be heinous so carried some backups.  Normally, I'll just hike in my boots since they're really quite comfortable but for anything over a few miles I prefer real shoes. 

Anxious selfie as I'm running to the car in danger of being late for work.  Also, I'm a bit worried cause I didn't get my "Charlie work" done for the day 

Josh is dead center doing some dirt walking

My concern was for naught as I was early to work and even managed to snag a shower and some food so as to not offend anyone by stinking or being grumpy.