Monday, February 28, 2011

Another visit to Wolverine

Conditions looked heinous. After so much snow fall how could all the deep fluff I rode on Friday have blown off? The wind was still at it, transporting all our new snow to leeward slopes stacking it all into dangerous slabs of snow. Blake Nyman, Parker Cross, Tony Pavlantos, David Kaplan, Hayden Price, Jay Eichhorst and I made our way up to Wolverine Cirque. Conditions limited our line options. The day was windy, productive, and fun.

Parker dropped in first and found the snow to be pretty good. Tony was next up to bat and sent a fun looking line. I had picked out Roman's Chute, an obvious straight fall line couloir on the north facing part of the cirque. I wanted to ride the line fast, so I dropped in took a couple turns before sending it. Right as I pointed it the wind picked up and made the ground lose all definition. "CRAP." I was up to speed and had no idea what was the ground looked like. Luckily there were no big bumps and it all paid off. Everyone else crushed it and we all got some good turns on the way out.

This was a good group to be out with. Everyone was fun to watch tear it up.


Tony getting the goods on the way out

Blake sending this really cool zone

Tony getting after it on this chute on Patsy Marley.

Friday, February 25, 2011


So much fun

Everest Ridge: Timpanogos

I laid there trying to drift off, but the wind was incessantly bearing down on our little tent. Remembering that Meera had an extra set of earplugs I rolled over and asked. Earplugs might be the best piece of camping equipment ever. The sounds of the night faded away as the little plugs swelled in my ears. Deep sleep followed.

The 1:00 a.m. wake up call found me ready and well rested. We pulled on our crampons and readied our ice axes. Everest Ridge, a 3,000+ vertical foot protrusion on the face of Timp hung over our heads. This was the biggest group I have ever been with in the backcountry. 30 something people began the climb toward the summit.

We stopped a short way up the ridge for a clinic on self arresting (stopping a fall using your ice axe for a brake). We all took short slides down the icy slope before coming to a stop. After we had all practiced we move on. I climbed with Meera, Neena's little sister, she was a champ the whole climb. This was her first endeavor of this sort and the conditions made it that much more exciting.

As we climbed higher the weather grew worse. The cloud cover moved in thick and the wind grew stronger. Snow pelted your eyes if you turned your head to the wrong angle. The higher we went the worse the visibility became. We climbed passing groups that had turned back. It wasn't long before we made the same decision. No one would make the summit today.

I once read somewhere that 80% of climbing accidents happen on descent. With all my time in the mountains this was my first time walking back down. No snowboard. After I got used to it, I was glad to be walking off this one. It was often that we were on long patches of ice. A member of our party slipped at one point close to camp and took a long fast slide to the bottom.

We reached camp and packed up. The hike out was nothing short of miserable. It was a happy misery. I eventually pulled out my shovel and slid down any portion of trail steep enough. It wasn't long before we were at the car, the next thing on my list was a nap... a long one.

The hike up started at Dry Canyon in Lindon. Nearly 3,000 vertical feet to base camp.

We set up base camp as we watched the sunset.

Wake up.

Headlamps in the dark.

Our tent.

The wind never let up. I love being out when it is like this. Climbing in all forms puts you where you aren't supposed to be. There is a reverent quiet feeling that the expanse beneath your feet evokes. It is almost like you have happened upon a private conversation between the earth and God.

Eric and Whitney.

Blasting winds, you can see the plumes on the right.

Family Photo.

Don't slip. Ice.

Walking home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Provo Peak

Nearing the summit I found myself pushing hard just to get it over with. The elation of being high up on a ridge had slipped from my mind and I put blinders on transfering all my focus on moving up the ice encrusted slope. When the summit was finally within reach I pushed my legs faster and began to feel the fun seep back into my mind. I sat on the summit alone for a few minutes catching my breath. Ridges and valleys that could only be authored by God stretched out in every direction.

There is nothing like a new perspective. Gazing up from the valley always fails to depict the depth that these high places hold. Once you start up into them they change from a two dimensional backdrop to a whole different world. I think that is how most things are though, at first glance there isn't that much to see. But, as you really dig in you find that it is so much bigger than you could have imagined.

Tony Pavlantos, Zach Clanton, Parker, and I hurried down through some of the burliest ice I have ever been on. We rode with our ice axes out until we made it down to the north face. There was deep fun turns for about 2,000 vertical. We rode out as far as we could. I left the group when we got to the campground to try and make it to work. It was definitely and adventure, I know because there was a point on the dash to my car where I found myself absolutely miserable. The icy conditions helped me off of a small bridge and into an empty river bed. I was ready to be done when I got to my car.

Starting the day

Gaining the west ridge. I was breathing hard when I took this...

Zach cruising his way up the ice.

Tony making his summit push.

What a view. I can see my house...

Zach up top. He is an amazing photographer: Check him out

Taking it in.

Almost home.

What a sunset.


Parker's frozen mustache.

Cheater Shot

Even though this heelside blaster looks like I am cruising in blower powder, it is all an illusion. The video this frame was grabbed from tells the real story. Never trust a photo. They may speak a thousand words, but who knows if they are telling the truth.

A Three Hour Tour

Sneaking out before his daughter's 7th birthday party for a quick few turns in the southern Wasatch, Jeremy Jolley took me to a location that they try to keep on the down low. I have to admit I understand why. The snow was untouched for miles, and the access was pretty fast. There and back again in around three hours.


Jeremy Getting the goods

Attempt 2: Fail

Martin Luther King Day really screwed us over with that rain. The high alpine terrain is a solid sheet of ice, all the snowfall since has entirely blown off. We decided to go for Red Baldy out of Snowbird's Gad 2 gate. The access would take us up Red Stack, another 11,000 foot peak, but we had a huge epic fail. We didn't all have ice axes and crampons. We quickly found ourselves on a long solid sheet of ice.

Bailing off of the face, we hit some classic slack-country. It was tracked, but still soft enough to really enjoy some turns. Once again a failure that didn't feel quite like a failure.

One of the AF Twins.

Attempt 1: Fail

Maple Canyon... I thought there might be some snowboarding to be had. The unique rock formations would make for a perfect backdrop. The only problem was the thick trees and the lack of snow.

We decided to camp for no real reason, other than to just have a good time. Parker, Christopher and I headed down late Friday night arriving to a vacant canyon. We made popcorn and had a nice campfire before settling down into our sleeping bags for the night.

Our mission was to find snowboarding, instead we just hiked for hours and got a different perspective on an interesting canyon. In a way we failed, but failing on anything like this still sends you home feeling rewarded.

The cave

Might go back and explore this drainage after a storm for some single shot wonders.

Five more feet and this zone would be unreal... there are some real gems down here, but we need a crap ton of snow.