Foiled for the umpteenth time at skiing Timp, I settled instead for a tour through the sheep pen. Pete and I hitched a ride from the mouth of Big Cottonwood to Alta and that alone has the potential to turn an average ski day into an adventure. For the record Mom, my ratio of good experiences to bad while hitchhiking in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons are about 25:1, maybe higher. Our driver, an older gent, 2nd geared up LCC accumulating a long tail of cars, all with riders apparently anxious to be pounding laps on refrozen chunder at Alta and Snowbird. He pulled behind Noah’s parked and empty truck to drop us off, just in case we needed further proof of our casual pace.
Gliding past a guide and client loaded with dangling snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, rope, and waterbottle swinging from carabiners my mood bouyed from good to great: how lucky we are to be skiers in a snowy and fair-weathered range! On top of Mt Superior where there was nary a breath of wind and as soon as I put on a windbreaker over my t-shirt I was too hot. Somehow, despite the balmy temps, the snow on north faces had stayed soft. And where crusts had formed last night they’d now turned back into soft damp snow overlying cold dense powder.
Skier tracks on Sky Ramp: big exposure and a double fall line
We continued to find cold and uncrusted snow, making our way from one north facing slope to the next. By mid-afternoon we’d made a handful of laps though the empty sheep pen and coasted out the valley to Big Cottonwood Canyon road. The one bad hitchhiking experience I’ve had involved riding in the metal bed of a 30-year-old pickup, struggling to keep from sliding into one another as we swung down the valley, passing cars two at a time over double yellows and NASCAR’ing though the s-curves before being finally delivered shaking but unharmed at the bottom. So I was understandably leery when the driver of a pickup was the first to offer a ride. After he vowed to drive in a safe and sane manner we jumped in back, knowing Pete was counting the minutes til he was expected at work. Pete suggested printing up business card-sized invitations to a BBQ that one could give to every driver who gives a lift during the year and I think that’s a great idea. Pete, lets host it at your house.