Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wasatch Chutes: January 4th - 6th, 2015

The inversion is setting in.  The snow is melting.  There was a wind event.  Global warming seems real.  Whatever, the chute skiing in the Wasatch is still awesome.

Lake Peak, NE Couloir with Josh Whitney

Josh Whitney is new to the Wasatch but he's getting a good taste of some classics already.  

The skies were pretty dramatic as was the load Josh was carrying.  

I'd be psyched too if I could climb mountains with 25 pounds on my feet.  Once he gets some light gear, he'll crush!  Hell, he already does. 

Nice and steep rocky entrance. 

The wind has affected nearly everything above tree line.  Big gear does have its advantages. 

Kessler East Couloir with Jason Dorais and Sam Inouye

Sam Inouye has returned from Alaska to try and find winter.  

My dorky brother watched the Blizzard of AAHH's and now thinks that googles facing backwards are fashionable.  

Charging like Sam is more fashionable.

Sam is the one that introduced me to backcountry skiing.  One day we were sitting in class when he asked me if I ski.  I said, "Yeah, I have a pass at Alta."  He shook his head and told me he'd take me places that would blow my mind.  I'll be forever grateful. 

Red Baldy NE Couloir/Red Stack Tri Chutes with Teague Holmes, Sam Inouye, and Tom Diegel

Big Teague dropping in

Tom's turn and he's on race gear simply not caring that it was steep and firm. 

The rime made the ambiance a little more exciting.  Photo by Sam Inouye

Sam skis on DPS Nina 99s.  I think he likes the blue top sheets better. 

Photo by Sam Inouye

Ascending Red Stack with a view of our previous line from Red Baldy visible. 


  1. What kind of gear would you recommend to someone new to ski mountaineering? Skis, boots, poles, skins, etc.

  2. @mrhustle, that's a tough question and depends what type of skiing/mountaineering you're looking to do. Personally, I lean toward the light is right philosophy since so much time is spent climbing rather than actually skiing. This gives more freedom to go farther and ultimately ski more. If you're just starting out, I'd recommend a lightweight boot that walks well in the 1000 gram range like the SCARPA F1 Evo. It walks well, skis well, and is pretty light and affordable for its class. For bindings you need a tech style pin binding. There are a number of manufacturers. I prefer the race style since they are even lighter (140ish grams). For skis, I like a stiff, fairly short ski. For starters something in the 175 cm, 70-90 underfoot and 1350 or less grams per ski would be the parameters I'd look for. I'm currently using a Ski Trab Magico, Atomic Ultimate 78, and a Dynastar Cham Alti 85. For skins, I only use full mohair. They are lighter, pack smaller, glide better, and if you become proficient at skinning you'll be able to climb anything, especially since the boots that articulate well allow for better shifting of your center of gravity. If you have never skinned before, it would be reasonable to start with full nylon since you'll climb better. For poles, anything works but I like an adjustable pole so I can skin with it at about 140 cm and then ski with it shorter (120-125). Also check out the Black Diamond Whippet as it is incredibly useful.