Ian wasn’t scheduled to fly in to SLC until 10pm and Neil wanted to run the idea by him first before committing. I’d proposed an early, early start so that we could ski down the East Face of Lone peak at sunrise, guessing that a 1:30am start would get us there around 7am. I also figured that Ian, just returning from a surf trip to the California coast, wouldn’t be interested in a stupid early start and I’d be off the hook for my dumb plan. Well, I was wrong.
At 11pm Neil called to say that he and Ian were game and we agreed to meet in at the mouth of Bells Canyon at 1am. After charging camera batteries and packing my kit, it hardly seemed worth it to bother with 45 minutes of sleep, so I puttered around listening to the ipod at high volume, waiting until it was time to leave the house.
The hike up Big Willow was on dirt for the first few miles, then supportable snow. As we got higher though, the refreeze crust got thinner and Ian and I would take a step, shift weight onto it and feel it give support until I lifted my other foot whereupon it would suddenly give, sending me thigh-deep into the mushy snow below. In soft snowboard boots, Neil was able to levitate up the crust a ways further before he too began the hip-deep wallow. I eventually submitted to the alpine crawl and then when the crust got thinner still, to skis, skins, and ski crampons.
We topped out on Lone Peak, 6200 feet above the car, just after sunrise. It had been a warm night without much of a refreeze so we didn’t have to wait long to ski carveable corn down the NE Couloir of Lone Peak. Given the tremendous snowpack in the Wasatch this year, the couloir skied more like a face than a chute and the rock band at the bottom was so buried it was easily straightlined.
We skied down the rolling terrain of upper Bells Canyon for a mile or two before the snow became patchy. On principle, I linked patches of snow, skiing over shrubs and logs in the process, until the dirt sections were longer than the snow. Spring runoff was filling the trail at about 10cfs and we sloshed down the path disguised as a creek. A few miles of dirt stomping later and we’d walked back down into summer, where everyone was wearing shorts and giving our skis and snowboard funny looks.
The Provo’s put together a great edit of the adventure.