Monday, January 2, 2017

December 27, 2016, Powder Park (aka Wa Wa Land, aka Wasangles)

Jonah adjusting bindings as the cars fly up the highway towards Solitude and Brighton. We went to Wasangles to look for powder and found that most everything was either skied out or wind-blasted. Welcome to Wa Wa Land.

Avalanche danger on Mt. Raymond.

It's a good snow year when the sign is covered. We're getting there.

View south  from the entrance to Powder Park: Days Fork in middle, Cardiff (Cardiac Bowl) mid-right partially hidden by the trees.

Zoomed, Days and Cardiff Forks.

Mt. Raymond and Gobblers Knob.

Nearing the Park City Divide in upper Powder Park.


Canyons/Park City Ski Resort.

Jackson and Jonah above Desolation Lake

Not sure what is it. . .

. . . but he better not pee beyond that sign.

From the top of Powder Park, view west. Mt. Raymond and Gobblers Knob are the high points in the middle.

Jonah and Jackson looking towards Powder Park Three and West Desolation Ridgeline (above Beartrap Fork).

Wasangeles. efficient ski tracks on the shoulder just above (SW) of Desolation Lake. 

It was tough, everything is skied out or wind-blasted, but we found some creamy, soft turns down in the trees.

The east face of Reynolds Peak ((open face mid-left), Mt. Raymond (high point on left) and Gobblers Knob (high point on right).

Jackson re-skinning.

The lonely (mostly anyway) northern Wasatch: l-r Bountiful Ridge, Grandview Peak (pointy), Bountiful Peak, Frances Peak, Thurston Peak, Mt. Ogden and Ben Lomand.

December 27, 2016, Back Country Skiing, Bountiful Ridge

I park at the end of the pavement because I've seen too many bad-ass 4X4's stuck in the snow. Plus my tires are bald. About five years ago a truck was stuck up North Canyon most of the winter, and over the course of that winter the truck owner had left a huge mess of pallets, carpet remnants and cut trees trying to unstuck the thing. The dirt road is barely over a mile and I'm always puzzled why hikers/skiers/bikers/runners need drive that short road. Walking it adds to the day. Plus I usually boot (skis on pack) all the way up North Canyon to the single track just to avoid fouling my skins with human and dog shit/urine. Seriously, don't eat any snow along the jeep road unless you've been vaccinated for the HPV. Today we found clean conditions not far from the end of the pavement so we started skinning early.   

What a difference a week makes!  Last week was really good, but today was a five-year-best powder day: knee deep blower and not a hint of that bullet-proof rain crust. And Jonah and Brett made it 10-times better. I ski alone a lot because of my busy schedule (often spontaneous outing when I have an opening), so when I can get friends to join me it always makes the day much better. 

Today we skied Crescent Bowl, Crescent (proper) and Rectangle Bowl. All were great! All offering GoPro-lens-buggering face shots, and with NO worries of my daily core-shot which seemed to become the norm the last few years. It was cold and windy and the top 100 feet off the ridges had stiff wind-drifts to blast through, but it was one of those days that reinforces why I'm a boy of winter. 

Wind! Blowing snow off the trees didn't make it any warmer.

103 centimeters (40.5 inches) at Rudy's Flat. Last week (12/19/16) at this spot there was 24 inches. The Christmas Day storm of 2016 was one of the biggest storms of the last decade.

138 centimeters (54 inches) in lower Rectangle Bowl, which had 35 inches a week ago (12/19/16).

Jonah and Brett skinning, just coming around the toe of Dead Tree ridge and entering Rectangle Bowl.

Almost at the top of Rectangle Peak.

Cracking and cornice dropping along upper Rectangle Ridge . . .

Jonah and Brett topping Rectangle Peak.

Jonah having a personal dilemma: should I go to work or ditch and keep skiing POW? Brett kept telling him that he'll always have work, but powder is a fickle mistress.  

Ski runs on upper Crescent.

I think my thermometer is jacked, it felt sub-zero all day. Windchill is real!

Lichen pictograph . . . 

I've seen this broken branch hanging from the live branch for over thirty years, and named the adjacent ski run "Wishbone" for obvious reasons. 

View SW from Rectangle Ridge, over the Salt Lake Valley towards the Oquirh Mountains.

A short while trying to drop a small cornice. 

December 19, 2016, Back Country Skiing Bountiful Ridge

Merry Christmas! Someone decorated a tree at Rudy's Flat.

First real ski tour of the year was better than expected. We had a long, dry, hot autumn. Too many 70's well into late November, and then a week into December we had a series of warm storms that brought rain up high, snowline between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, with snow above. This didn't bode well for Bountiful Ridge as the skiing there is largely between 7,000 and 8,500 feet. But this week we finally got a colder storm that dropped the snowline down to the benches (4.5k feet). Today the conditions were excellent for skiing but challenging for skinning; there was six-inches of 2% powder atop a hard rain crust. The skinning was tough because the powder didn't adhere to the rain crust and because of that I really, REALLLY could've used some crampons, which were sitting at home. I usually don't pull them out until the spring. On the steep side-hills my edges would not stick and my skis kept skating out from under me. Thanks gravity. But the downhill side of the equation was excellent! Those six inches of powder were well worth the skating on the climb. My turns were noisy, my edges often scraping and cutting into the ice layer, but overall the snow was very forgiving and offered fun turning. Not grabby, easy to carve and turn and sometimes a blast of snow to the face.  

The 'Snow Stake' rock. Still pretty thin coverage.

Christmas tree at Rudy's Flat. I'm constantly packing-out other's trash from Rudy's, it seem like when one person leaves their mark it opens the flood-waters to everyone else, but this display actually brought me good tidings and goodwill towards all men . .  and women! Seriously, this was cheery and made me smile. I'll clean them up another day. 

About 24 inches at Rudy's Flat (7.1k ft.). 

Frosty brush at Rudy's Flat. . . 

35 inches in mid-Rectangle Bowl (at 7.8k ft.).

First run ski tracks in Rectangle Bowl.

Looks warm and sunny but it was cold and windy (see blowing snow off trees).

Skin track in lower Rectangle Bowl.

It was cold! I rarely wear my outer layer while skinning, just to manage the sweat and to keep my jacket dry, but today I needed it. 

First and second run ski tracks. The upper half of the first run was filled in from the wind by the time I got back up. 
Today's ski runs were directly down from the high point (Rectangle Peak), but mostly filled in from the wind. Ski track barely visible just left of the big trees

View from Rectangle Ridge towards Crescent Bowl/Peak and Blacks Peak beyond. 

Almost there, Rectangle Peak. My earlier skin track barely visible. 

Rectangle Peak.

Christmas tree at Rudy's Flat.
Glad they're back! A yearling moose near Rudy's Flat. I hadn't seen one here since last winter and figured they'd been hunted out. I'm not a hunter so forgive the rant, but it seems there is not an over-population of moose up here, so it irks me that they go for these moose, but whatever.

Snowy trees on Kara's Pot Farm . . .
 . . dead tree in North Canyon.