Ty and I started from the car at nine, a late start by Little Cottonwood dawn-patroller standards.  An hour later we were standing on top of Wolverine Cirque’s rim admiring parallel white pinstripes sandwiched between dark igneous rock.  Yesterday’s storm was dissipating and sun filtered through the fat flakes of snow that still fell.  Without any other parties with whom to share the untracked snow, our powder piggy dispositions incited us to ski separate chutes.  

The new snow sluffed with each turn, trailing a powder cloud of dry flakes that sparkled in the half-sun.  After watching Ty follow his sluff, skiing just to the side of the still-moving debris, I made a goal first of out-skiing mine then later of skiing through it as it raced to the flats.  Skiing sluff is an odd sensation: it’s a bit like powerwalking to that connecting flight on those moving sidewalks where the scenery goes by faster than it seems like it should; it’s also a bit like canoeing a rapid when the current tries to grab the stern then spin it past the bow and so the paddler has to fight to keep everything pointed the right way. I haven’t had a much practice skiing steep or sluffy slopes this winter and laps in the Cirque worked well to jog my cobwebbed muscle memory. 

Convective snow showers continued through the day,  dusting us with another few inches.  The snow was very light density – as Wasatch lake effect snow is apt to be – and on one climb back up we found that we could barely stay on our previously easy-to-climb skin track.  An inch of especially light stellar flakes greased our middle-heel steepness uptrack and each step forward became an exercise in maintaining friction, which we did using that type of concentration that some people use to bend spoons. 

By late afternoon we’d skied many of the best lines and the gaps in the snowshowers had closed into a milky fog.  Having hogged so many nice chutes in an often high-traffic area, I couldn’t help but feel that smirky feeling of having gotten away with something.

Storm Day Schussing

By Utah standards, this year’s storms have been feeble in terms of snow quantity but packed a wallop when it comes to frequent avalanches.  Inside the resort boundaries the avalanche danger is minimal and so that’s were we headed at 9am.   The Canyons Resort has such great access to the backcounrty, and after an hour or two of resort skiing we left the controlled area and eased into backcounrty terrain.  We found snow more stable than I was expecting, though other parties triggered many avalanches throughout our region today.

Lake Chute

In the sunny weather following yesterday’s snow storm, Ty and I marched up Lake Peak. With lots of skiable descent options from the summit, we weren’t feeling tied to a particular route down, but after cutting cornices on the peak’s most prominent couloir, we decided to give it a go.

Cedar Break Down

With yet another large storm system plowing south of the Wasatch, we packed the car and headed down to ski what is left behind.  Between road closures, below-zero temps, and biting wind, the jaunt ended up requiring more plan b’s than I hoped.  Still we skied some deep snow and our reconnoitering will hopefully be useful on a return trip.

Avalanche Center Forecast Day

Utah Avalanche Center forecaster, Grant Helgeson and I brapp’ed into the Uintas to poke at the snowpack.  The snow was only 4 or 5 feet deep in most places and we spotted several recent avalanches.  In an attempt to start an avalanche of our own, we lopped of the end of a large cornice and sent hundreds of pounds of snow tumbling perhaps 600 feet to the bottom of the slope.

More October Skiing

I met up with tele-skier Shaun Raskin today at Snowbird.  We skied from the shoulder of Mt Baldy down though the Keyhole and into Snowbird.  The snow wasnt as deep as it looks in these photos – we bounced off more than a few rocks and shrubs on the way down.

Fall Riding

The trails have been alternating between muddy and frozen.  The frozen dirt happens to have just about the opposite qualities of mud: it’s grippy, fast, and I dont need to hose down my shoes when I get home.  Allison flying down the frozen Mid-Mountain Trail here in Park City.

Timanogos Snowfield Skiing

Derek, Alex, Dibs, Ty and I hiked up to Mt Timpanogos’ snowfield.  Though it’s only snowed a foot or two this fall, the remains of Timps former glacier only need a dusting to in good shape for skiing.

Utards in Canada: Mt Resplendant

Half the group reloaded the ski rack and headed back to the Land of the Free, Home of the Whopper.

The rest of us headed to Brule, AB for a little R&R.

The value of college in Missoula right here folks.

0.7 from perfection.

You should see their mascot, eh?

After scrapping plans for a more committing traverse then scrapping plans for corn harvest in MT we chased a few days of high pressure to
Mt Robson and surrounding peaks.

a la “Welcome to Super, Natural British Columbia” sign just down the 16.  What do you mean you forgot the ghost spray on the kitchen countertop?

Mt Robson 10,000 feet up from here.  Resplendent only 8000’ away, but 20 miles to it’s skiable side.

Emperor facking Face

Luxurious beds also worked well for cooking and eating

Early start the next morning in hopes of skiing Resplendent.  The weather above Robson was indecisively variable. Robson glacier in the foreground.


Robson’s Kain face above Grant and Ryan.  Looked super.  Prior to departing I was outvoted in the “Well, I think we should bring crampons and a couple pickets just in case it seems good to go” debate. Ce la vie.

Mad yodel skillz

If you’re not trying to find a line through the icefalls to the Kain face, you’re not really paying attention.

Nothing says “I’m rad” like getting the shot with the whippet in it.

A foot of fluff on blue glacial ice on top of Resplendent

Taking a gander at the north face would have been cool but no one was interested in testing those cornices sitting on 2000’ of air.


Through a crevassed area between icefalls.   Don’t stop next to me, please.

The powder had apparently all blown to Saskatchewan.   Good for ski mtneering though.

More dying glacier.

Resplendent in the background, 8 air miles away. Our route followed Robson Glacier behind Rearguard mountain then up the right horizon to the peak.

[QUOTE=The Gnarwhale;2382367]North Face on the left and Emperor Face on the right.  Probably the scariest, proudest line I’ve ever seen.

Rule No 1: All photos taken within the Park must include Robson somewhere in the composition.

SPF Infinity

Wait, is that the pee bottle?

Whitehorn in the background.

Springtime meadow skippery off Mt Anne-Alice.

Huge exposure on either side of the ridge, though the ridgetop was so wide it was hard to believe it was there.

breakin the law

Wrapped up warm and tight, like a fat twinky for the grizzle bears

I skied to the summit gendarme on Mumm Pk then down perfect corn

…While Ricky and Dicky endorsed to the less popular “Sleep now, ski when you’re dead” mantra

Fresh tracks yes, but are they from a normal griz or one a them a super natural bears the signs warned about?

The view from the Hargreaves Shelter

Springtime in the Rockies?

Skating away on questionable ice after a warm, overcast night

Edge polisher

Took the interesting way home.  The car is ~13 miles away just past Cinamon peak out there on the horizon.

Followed more fresh grizzle bear sign for a couple clicks down the trail. Heeeeeyyyyy Bear!

Twenty hours of driving later and we’re back in the land of plural marriage.  Speaking of marriage, if any Canukistani citizens are looking to marry a Yank please send a PM.  Thanks.

Utards in the Canukistani Rockies: Wapta


Restless after a month of non-stop pow slaying, a handful of Park City’s seasonally-unemployed worker bees pointed rooftop ski racks north towards Canada.

Eager for the sporting adventures of a cold, shallow, and weak snowpack we booked accommodations in Alberta with the Alpine Cult of Canada

The victims were a mix of a few marginally skilled alpinists in with a handful of glacial-travel tenderfoots.  Having ascended to Utah treetops using prussics and winched patio furniture around with minitraxions we were all on the same page, more or less.

Onward, to the Wapta Icefield Traverse

Food-stressing before even leaving the car, one team member began gnawing on a brick of Milk Dud.  God help us all.

Peyto Lake.  Surprisingly tricky to find, for a big ass lake.

Over the moraine and onto the glacier.  And roped up to ease fears of being swallowed by the ice.

Mayhem as the choice bunk spots are snapped up.  Spirits were high, with eight people and eight liters of wine and whiskey.

Apres ski runs with light packs down the glacier.

Leaving Peyto Hut.

Sheets of dumb stickers had inexplicably found their way onto the icefield. First appearing on compasses, lens hoods, and glasses cases they soon began to colonize unguarded research instruments as well.

Breezy on Vulture Col

…and down the far side

Arriving at Balfour Hut.

Headed towards Balfour High Col in the upper right

Roping up for crossing the crevassed glacier between icefalls just below the col. Our good visibility went to zip as we passed through the crux of the traverse but reappeared one hour and 5cm later.

One yellow jacket away from attaining ROYGBV on the BC/AB border

Ain’t nothing to see
Ain’t nothing in sight
Into the white

Inside the ping-pong ball

Scott Duncan hut is perched between cliff bands in the murk.

Blue sky between the convective storms allowed for laps behind the hut.  Look closely and it’s visible at the base of the ridge.

North facing fun

Leaving the Duncan Hut, I was still pouting about not having takers for a dawn patrol lap up Daly.

The headwall above the Bath Glacier is seriously cool.

I suggested we stop to ski the 1000′ mini bowl but no takers.  Tough crowd.

For the final 3000′ down to the car most of the group chose a talus walk to a nice steep field of corn.

The other option was longer, steeper but not the “fall-you-die” line someone asserted it was.  More like “fall-you-cry”.

Sweartogod, if you stomp my bare feet with those boots while can-can’ing I will be seriously dismayed.  But after nothing but whiskey and wine for four long days, this beer sure tastes good. Hurrah!