Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bountiful Ridge 12-29-12

Rudy's Flat, and not a Strava-head in sight. 18-inches total coverage (elevation 7,100 feet).

1 mile further, 1,000 feet higher (elevation 8,100 feet) ,  33-inches.


Near the top and still rocky.

Central Wasatch. Near: City Creek. Far skyline: Dromedary, Sunrise, O-Sullivan's, Broads Fork Twins, Thunder and Lone.

Windy and breaking cornices.


Great turning on NW aspects, albeit a few stumps and rocks.

Turns (l) and skin track (r).

Skiing my favorite run on my home hill, my ski tip catches on a hidden stump and sends me cartwheeling into the snow. One second I’m making big GS turns through the still-exposed brush, the next I’m tumbling over the snow and scrub. My tumble is stopped when I roll into a stand Mt. Mahogany. I’m unhurt but for one small gash on my face, left by the grabby action of the Gamble Oak. I had hit a few rocks up higher, and with brush visible everywhere there was plenty of evidence of the thin snow-pack, but the powder was perfect and the steepening angle prompted longer, faster turns.  I gather myself, brush off the snow and finish the run, this time at a more moderate speed and with a bit more caution.    


It is still early season conditions, but it is good to be home. Even with the thin snowpack, longer approach, the early season wrestling match with brush and the guarantee of trail breaking, it is good to be back on home turf. I’ll take all those downers to get away from the hordes in the central Wasatch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anything within 3 miles of a ski lift is nothing more than resort side-country. Mere suburbs of Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton and the mess over in Summit County.  The sad and funny thing about SLC BC skiing is this: when Cardiac Bowl is moguled-out, which is a common occurrence, the SLC BC crowd still calls it ‘backcountry’.  


I realize that many BC skiers are in it for the social networking. I am not. That has never been the draw. In fact, I’m there to get away from humanity, if only for an hour or two. I often ski alone, or with a handful of good friends, but I don’t search out the crowd just to be with the crowd. Last week up Silver Fork, albeit perfect powder and with great friends, every time we encountered another group I felt the stress levels rise, along with the hackles on my neck. I’m not really sure why that is? Maybe it’s the quizzing on snow stability? (Who cares – we all dig pits then ignore the results and ski it anyway.) Maybe it’s the race to the best lines? (I hate the leap frogging as groups become splinted.) Maybe it’s just the overall attitude, like they have something to prove? (I get enough of that at work and church.) Who knows what the answer is? For me the big draw is to break free into a world where I answer to no one, where every decision is mine alone, and where that decision could mean the differences between life and death. That is pure freedom. I ski unpopular locations and I’ve met a few others doing the same. And those few lone skiers I’ve met on my home hills are laid back and unobtrusive. We understand each other. We choose to ski way off the beaten path for a reason. We’ve consciously chosen those long, brushy, trail-breaking locals in order to escape the crowd and the attitude.


Today was a great ski day – even with the thin snow-pack and the gash on my face.




Friday, December 28, 2012

BC Skiing - Silver Fork 12-27-2012

Silver Fork Meadows - view south.
Today I skied Silver Fork with Christian, Clark, Brett and Harrison. Christian and Clark are co-workers and Brett is an old friend with whom I’ve shared many adventures. Brett and I use to climb and ski together, a lot, but the last few years it has been tough to coordinate schedules, mostly my fault, mainly due to tightening work demands. Why is it that capitalism demands blood from a turnip? But I digress. The last member of our group, Harrison, is Brett’s son, 18 years old and a Base player for a local garage band. My advice to Harrison: stick to the Base for as long as you can, one day you will be handcuffed to a cubicle like the rest of us.

We approached Silver Fork from the bottom up, from Solitude ski area, due to avalanche control work on the Alta side, which meant skinning the cabin road into Silver Fork proper. Most of the cabins we passed were modest and old, just right for a retreat, but the one we saw for sale, and on the market since last spring – last time I skied Silver Fork - was huge and modern, 3 car garage, rock exterior and all, but with an asking price $1.7+ million is a bit out of range.

So we skin up the cabin road, then up the Silver Fork Drainage and ascend the first skin track we find leading up the Silver Fork Meadows. That’s the great thing about skiing the Central Wasatch, unless you are stupid, you never have to set the skin track. If you go early if, upon reaching the TH, you see no skin track, snooze in the warmth of your truck for twenty minutes and let some other Gumby fight the deep snow. That is the one benefit of skiing the Central Wasatch. On my home hills of Davis County I ALWAYS set the skin track. Yes, I have it all to myself, but there is a price to be paid for skiing off the grid. So, when I do ski Big, Little or Millcreek, which is usually only early season, I’d be burning Lincoln's if I set the track for a thousand other skiers.

I was worried about my company today. Rather, I was worried about keeping up. Bret and I are very compatible, but Christian and Clark are a world apart. Christian is a former CAT 1 Cyclist, now an ultra-trail runner; Clark is a former CAT 2 cyclist and now a 20 time Ironman finisher and a cycle-cross fanatic.

Clark, incidentally, was a mission companion to my little brother 25 years ago. Even then, when one is serving higher ideals, Clark was competitive to the hilt. The story goes that he was serving in Yuma, Arizona and was transferred to San Diego, California, all part of the San Diego Mission. Unfortunately, or just bad timing, he had just purchased a high-end road bike to more efficiently spread the word of the lord. The unfortunate part is that Mission rules dictate that Missionaries are required to leave their bikes in their current area to be used by the new Missionary coming to take their place. To that, Clark said bull-shit! It’s my bike and I’m keeping it! Their car was a Chevy Chevette and, with no bike rack, Clark had only one option, ride it from Yuma to San Diego, a distance of 175 miles. So, on transfer day, Clark hopped on his bike and started pedaling, while his pissed-off companion followed along in the Chevette. It took eight hours rather than three, and, needless to say, the Mission President was not happy. Clark still has that single-minded focus and determination today.

But back to Silver Fork, I led the way most of the day as Clark and Christian were very gracious to let me set the pace. They never once complained about my slow pace. All I can say, when you have IT (them, not me), you never have to brag about your abilities.

Oh, the skiing? It was excellent! The best powder day I’ve had in two years. Even on my 138mm, BD Justices (i.e. super flotation), if was face-shot after face-shot. Although the rating that day was considerable, the avalanche risk seemed low. I never once heard a collapse or saw any shooting cracks. When tested, the snow structure seemed welded. We skied three runs in the Silver Creek Meadows, progressively working southward (upward) along the Silver/Days divide, our exit run just north of the run called Doug’s Drop. The coverage was good, albeit thin on the lower third. On the skin tack there is still sage showing on the lower half, and on the exit run I nearly clipped a barely hidden tree stump, but I hit no rocks and never hit bottom.

A great day, but really weird to be based out of a ski area parking lot when I’m used to be totally alone. That is soon to change. My home hills are piling-up fast.

Christian and Clark.

Christian and Solitude's Honeycomb return (lift-line) on the right. 

Skinning up for run #2. Clark and Christian leading the way.

Tracks. Mid-meadows.

Run 2. Christian and Clark ripping skins. Prince of Whales and Honeycomb Ridge across the way.

Christian and Clark.

12-noon and only 4 tracks. The powder would be toast by 8:05AM at Alta, Snowbird and the lot. 


Harrison. Base player on a day off.

FJ Cruiser tells the snow story. Getting there, but we need more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BC Ski - Days and Silver Fork 12-7-12

Leaving work around 1PM, I headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon. My usual haunts have been getting rain, so, breaking protocol, I got on the lemming track looking for snow at higher elevations. From Alta, I skinned up Flagstaff and skied several runs in upper Days Fork. From there I skinned up Hideaway into upper Silver Fork. At dusk I exited down Flagstaff back to Alta. The snow was great and I only snagged a couple of rocks. The Wasatch has great terrain, but the more I ski the Central Wasatch, the more convinced I am that my “home” terrain is just as good in terms of terrain and snow. Lower elevation, yes, but in a normal snow year the difference is negligible. The downside, or perhaps upside depending on your point of view, there is a steep barrier to entry in the form of longer, brushier, more challenging approaches. I'll gladly take that trade-off for lack of crowds. In the meantime, BCC, LCC and MC are fun to explore again after years away.  

Cardiac Bowl, Superior and Monte Cristo from upper Days Fork.
Near the Hallway into Cardiff from upper Days. I told my son he could have my rock skis. He declined.

Upper Days. Great snow but still a bit rocky.

Heading up the Silver Fork/Days Fork divide at dusk.


Pfieferhorn and Superior at sunset, from Emma Ridge (head of Silver Fork).  




The vocal minority often defines a group, and, fair or not, stereotyping based on that minority often follows. I believe stereotyping is a human weakness and a vice,  but that said, once spurned I can be a total prick. After much experience, I’ve concluded that cyclists are the most neurotic lot I’ve had the misfortune to associate. Specifically, road bikers. Yes, I am making a sweeping judgment and I risk offending some of my closest friends, but ‘roadies’ as a group are ripe with neurotic, insecure idiots. Compared to my other hobbies, like mountaineering, back-country skiing, even soccer dad, no other group can compete with road cyclists for ‘KOM – Dickhead’. And that is a lauded title considering some of the acid-veined soccer moms I’ve come to know.

So there I am, mile 204 of LOTOJA, two miles from the finish, and I’m in a tight pace line, pushing hard, averaging around 25 mph after a long, way-too-slow day. The fast pace, at least, will mean finishing strong, and with some style, after a frustrating day.

We’re all fatigued and ready to end the day, and we’re all in bad form, up and down off the saddle to stretch and give the butt some relief. Not the steadiest, but it works. Suddenly, from behind, I hear in a high-pitched, nasally, pissed-off voice, “HOLD YOUR LINE!” I’m tired and dazed and it doesn’t register that he’s talking to me. Just then the rider in front hits his brakes, and I do likewise to avoid a pile up, upon which I hear skidding tires from behind, and, suddenly pumped with adrenaline, I expect to be derailment to the pavement. Luckily there is no impact. The skidding stops but then I again hear that girly, high-pitched whine, “Holy shit! HOLD THE LINE!”

I finally clue in that he’s yelling at me so I pull out of the line and drop back next to ‘KOM-DH’ to have words, but before I can speak he fires again, “You shouldn’t be racing if you can’t hold the line!” he barks (like a Chihuahua). Seriously? He’s thinks he’s a contender? This brings me to laughter and I say, “YOU'RE RACING?? The winner finished nearly two hours ago, asshole!”  

He gives me a crusty look and sprints ahead to the front of the line. Good, I’m thinking, at least he won’t take me out riding just off my wheel. But the damage done, the jackal in me released, and I size him up. I’m sure I could easily bounce him. He looks like a teenage-French girl: tall, emaciated, no muscle tone to speak of. I’m 5’8” and 160, and I probably outweigh him by 40. I’m sure I can bounce him. I’m sure a teenage French girl could bounce him.   

We cross the finish line, and the feeling of elation is short-changed due to the ass-hole, “racer” just ahead. I’m pissed and move forward through the crowd to confront the guy. We make eye contact and he immediately drops his head and turns to look for his support. He slinks away, I guess he’s done fighting, but I’m tired and ornery and still ready to throw punches. I hold no illusions, this was no race for most of us, just a long ride of survival, and in my fatigue I’m not about to take crap from some wanna-be, ‘Lance-in-doping-France’. As he walks away I see my pretty wife and, in spite of my sweaty, stinky body, she throws her arms around me and gives me a wet kiss of congratulations. My “fight” instinct evaporates. I finally feel some elation for finishing another long day riding to Jackson. Now, three months later, I’m still scratching my head why a 12+ hour finisher thinks he’s so bad-ass? Just that neurotic biker mentality I suppose.  Yeah, still fighting down the urge to stereotype.

I had no intention of riding LOTOJA this year. I’ve had four finishes, and a near miss, and the desire was no longer there. Two years ago I finished strong and felt good about the day, so what better time to retire from LOTAJ? Plus this summer was loaded with a big home project and the incessant scout camps I somehow agreed too. I just didn’t think I’d have time to train. If I put in, and that was a big if, I was guaranteed a spot due to my previous finishes, and seizing on that advantage, several co-workers (Ric and Lance) knew they could also get in if they were on my team. Bowing to peer pressure I reluctantly ‘put in’.  It was early April and the pressure was on!

My training goals were simple: 1,000 miles by the end of July; 2,000 total miles by the end of August; and, at least 5, 100-mile days. Reality was not so simple: 806 miles by the end of July; 1,332 total miles by the end of August; and, only 1, 100-mile day. Between work, scouts and home, I failed on all three goals. My training started slow and faded as the summer slipped by. That said, I drew confidence knowing in my first LOTOJA, my training miles totaling only 655 miles, I finish strong.

On race day we start in the dark and about 20 miles in I realize I am not wearing my timing chip. Without it I’ll get a DNS thus forfeiting my 5-year award. Not that I’m into that, but I have to admit the award holds my attention.  I briefly consider dropping out thinking "why ride this - I’m getting nothing in return?" Then the thought of the summer’s training, as well as abandoning my friends after promising loyalty, keeps me pedaling. The game plan was to ride as a team come hell and flat tires. Ride together and provide a draft for each other from mile 0 through 206. Basically ride a team throughout the day. The slowest rider will dictate the pace.  So I stick with the plan even when I sense my team is suffering early, just figuring they are just working out the kinks and will speed up the pace soon. At Preston Idaho, mile 35, my wife brings me the timing chip, and I figure if I’m on the clock for 170 miles the organizers will have to concede I rode the whole thing.

We ride over Strawberry pass and I have to stop constantly to pee. I’ve overdone it on the hydration front, and every half hour to Montpellier (mile 85) I must stop for relief. My problems in the past were dehydration, so this year I took no chances.  At every stop I tell my friends to ride on, not wanting to slow them down. So they ride on while I pee. Somehow I always manage to catch them as we climb towards Strawberry Summit. I am an average rider on my best day, but I can climb moderately well. After like my twentieth pee-stop, I catch my friends just before topping out on Strawberry Summit. We descend together to Ovid, Idaho, and I latch onto the back of a strong pace line, thinking my friends are right behind. We fly into Montpellier at 27 mph.

At the Montpelier feed zone I meet my wife and begin eating and refilling bottles, my friends nowhere in sight. Ten minutes later, they ride in; they missed the strong pace line and fought a strong headwind without the aid of the draft. They get off their bikes and sit in the grass. 20 minutes later and we’re still not riding. They say they are good to go and five minutes later we roll out of Montpelier.

From Montpelier, over Montpelier and Salt River Pass’, we again are separated and I ride alone into Afton, but aided by a strong tail wind. On the flats I think my computer is jacked, as it shows I’m riding unaided at 30 mph, but once at the Afton feed zone, mile 120, everyone is buzzing about the tailwind. Ten minutes later I’m ready to roll when Ric and Lance ride in. They both look strong but Lance surprises me by announcing he is finished for the day. He’s been cramping for the last 50 miles, he says, explaining the long sit-down at Montpelier. He fooled me. Ric says he’s feeling good so we mount up. Pulling out onto the road I hear the hiss of compressed air and realize my front tire just blew – in the feed-zone of all places (later I find an exposed spoke has rubbed a hole). Lance graciously loans me his wheel so we can ride on without delay, so we hit the road for Alpine, 30 miles north.

I feel good the rest of the day, a quick bite in Alpine where Lance returns my repaired wheel. He still looks strong and I urge him to ride the last 50 miles, but he’s is done, noting his wife is waiting in Jackson to celebrate their anniversary. Ric and I start up the canyon but it soon becomes evident that Ric is not feeling well. Just riding much slower than normal. Ric is consummate biker, the way they should be. No ego. Nothing to prove. Just rides for the pure joy of the sport. He commutes to work on a bike every day come rain, snow, sunshine or dark of night. He rides more miles in a year than I do in three, yet today, after 150 miles he seems to be hurting. Where he normally can hold 22 mph – solo - he now can only put out 15 mph, so I know something is off. He is a 'quiet giant': never a talker, just speaks by example, day in and day out. He keeps urging me to leave which I finally do. So much for my Band of Brothers loyalty. I feel guilty, but if it were me in pain, I’d want no partners either. I ride ahead and join another pace line.

Just north of Hoback Junction we come upon a traffic jam and we easily pass many stopped cars. A mile further we see the problem: on a bridge over the Snake River we pass an ambulance and a rider is laid out flat on his back, not moving, appearing to be asleep. The paramedics show no urgency in their treatment. The rider lies alone, the paramedics shuffling gear to the ambulance. Later we hear he was killed after falling off the bridge to the river. Apparently he was dead as we ride by, the paramedics preparing to transport him to the coroner.

So I finish the ride – it is NOT a race – and my little drama with KOM-DH is over. Kara and I join Laverna (Ric’s wife) waiting at the finish to cheer Ric across the line. It is crowded with many excited and tired riders and many families enjoying the moment. Ric finishes about 40 minutes later and he is beaming. Only then does he admit that he’s been cramping since mile 70. I’m a total wimp and would have dropped out before the pain even registered. He has all my respect.

As for time, without at timing chip at the start, I am assigned the earliest possible start time, which adds another 45 minutes to an already slow day. With that penalty Ric ends up beating me by 3 minutes, which is deserving considering the endurance and strength he shows by riding 130 miles in total pain.

Kara is the other hero, providing support for the sixth time, which is tougher than merely riding a bike for 200, or so, miles. I need to reward her for her tough duty, and we should be lodging in the Waldorf and she should be afforded a long massage and spa treatment. But no, our lodging is the Climber’s Ranch inside the National Park (Grand Teton), which is essentially a hostel where one sleeps on wooden bunks shared with sweaty, stinky climbers. I certainly know how to treat a girl! Yeah, I’m a romantic, but Kara is a sport and is happy with the accommodations. Luckily we (Kara, me, Ric and Laverna) get our own, private cabin to share. I feel bad for Kara, but inside I’m ecstatic. The Climber’s Ranch is quiet and remote, away from the nasty, plastic town of Jackson, at the foot of the beautiful Teton’s. I love staying here. I have many great memories of the place. Many great climbs started and ended at the Climbers Ranch.

It’s now late, and after a long day on a bike I head to the showers where I stand in the hot spray for as long as I can stay awake. I dry and dress and head back to our cabin, but as I’m walking the dark path, I hear an Elk bugling just yards away from the path. It is almost midnight, totally dark, with a frost in the air, and I stop, then sit and just listen. The bugling touches a primal chord and I feel at peace.  This is the best moment of the entire summer. Biking doesn’t come close.            



Hmmmm, wooden bunks after a long day.

AAC Climbers Ranch. Kara is a brave woman. No concierge, no spa, no room service, but feels like a million miles from the plastic of Jackson.

The monring after.

Awesome view, and I'm not talking about the Teton's.

Ric, Laverna and a poacher.

KOM-DH! You'd think he just won Paris-Roubaix! I still think a teenage French girl could pound him.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hayden Peak Hike, July 12, 2012

Hayden Peak, July 12, 2012


The summer has been a bust. No big adventures. No quick Teton climbs. No Windriver epics. No trudging up Rainier with a thousand other fat accountants, mere gumbies searching for the meaning of life. At least my adventures are consistent and enduring,  most those gumbies will move on to Harley’s, hair plugs and extreme conservative politics, while I’ll still be climbing Mt. Owen into my seventies. That’s the plan anyway - with some luck.


So my summer of 2012 has been nothing but home remodeling and scout camp. That was the extent of my vacations: crown molding, painting, Indian Lore and Basketry. I’m scratching my head how I ever got into another old house in dire need of major improvements. The bigger head-scratcher, how did I get back into scouts? I thought those days were long over. My kids are now adults, my youngest son is in Barcelona spreading the word, and I’ve been a scout leader now, in some fashion, for over 20 years. I’ve paid my dues, or so I thought. I love climbing, mountaineering and backpacking, and somehow religious folk in Utah equate that with Scouting. Nothing could be further from the truth. Face it, 12 and 13 year-old boys do not hike, climb or backpack unless it’s on Xbox. They are coddled by their Mom’s and Dad’s, play stupid video games for hours and hours, and, in the process, the blessings of hard physical exercise are lost on them forever. I feel sorry for anyone who has never seen the sun rise from 11,000 feet. I feel sorry for anyone who has never gone on a long ski tour, and, finding the 'joy' lose track of time, getting caught by the night and descending a frigid mountain in the dark, but lucky enough to find peace in the silent cold forest, and deeply moved when hearing the guttural base-tones of a great horned owl calling for a mate at midnight.


My vacation at Camp Steiner (a Boy Scout camp) did offer moments of selfish indulgence. After breakfast each day we (scout leaders and Dads) would dump the boys off at merit badge classes would go recreate for a few hours until lunch. The other leaders would either go fishing or take a nap, but I went hiking or rode my road bike. Climbing Hayden Peak is a great hike. Topping out at 12,400  feet (or so), a short hike (maybe 2 miles one way), fairly steep (2k+ elevation gain), with the crux being the loose rock and scree. Hayden has interesting route finding, in fact, it is one of the few peaks in Utah wherein the route is not totally obvious, requiring moderate attention during your ascent in order to get back off the thing. It requires no technical climbing ability or equipment, but, get off route and you’ll find yourself in exposed dead-ends. Basically, the upper 400 feet of Hayden is like a three tiered wedding cake with multiple chimneys providing access to the next higher tier. The problem is the chimneys do not line up so one must traverse the next tier to find the correct passage to the next higher tier.


I climbed Hayden about fifteen years ago with my son and another scout during a previous scout camp Camp Steiner. My son was strong and competent but the other boy, Blake, ran out of gas at the top of the scree on the pass overlooking McPheters and Ryder Lakes. I had summit fever - big-time - and was not about to let a gassed Boy Scout stop me from summiting Hayden, so I stuck him in rock alcove, almost a cave, and told him to stay put until we returned. In hind sight that was way stupid on my part. A boy scout vanished from near this location several years ago and has never been seen again. It’s a huge, wild land, with endless scree and boulder fields that can easily swallow a scrawny boy scout, so my leaving Blake in that cave was sheer idiocy on my part. Luckily he took my warning and when we returned we found Blake curled in a ball, presumabley for warmth, sound asleep.


This year I was taking no chances and invited no boys to join me. I chose to go solo as it is a sure bet to clear my head and work out the arguments running through my mind.  You know, just he basically stress of life that is tough to escape, compounded by a week of herding Scouts to merit badge classes. Besides, I like alone time. You can only blame yourself for the inane conversations. I left Steiner just after breakfast, drove to the Highline trailhead, hiked the endless, 40 degrees scree, gained the pass and rock-hopped the ridge the wedding cake, touching the last snow of the pathetic 2011-12 winter (light snowfall), ascended the wedding cake tiers and tagged the summit, staying only 5 minutes then blitzed back down (relative term for bald and fifty). 1.3 hours up, 1.1 hours down.


I made it back to camp with ample time to spare. I had lunch prepared before the boys made it back from Indian Lore, and all proud as punch for successfully building a Barbie Doll sized Teepee, thus completing all requirements for the merit badge. You got to love scouting.    
Beginning of the scree.
Upper Christams Meadows Basin, Ryder (r) and McPheters (l) Lakes.
Last of the snow from a light winter.
McPheters (l) and Ryder (r) Lakes, from summit ridge.
At the summit without a uniform - what a pathetic Scout Master!
One of those peaks off in the distance is Kings Peak (highest point in Utah).
The correct chimney. On the descent and in a hurry, I took the wrong chimney, which ended in a 50 foot drop, so had to back track to find the correct route.
Wool from a billy goat bed at the pass over looking Ryder Lake.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bountiful Peak, Bike to Ski, May 19, 2012

Terraceing courtesy of CCC work of the 1930's.
Central Wasatch seen on the far skyline: (R-L) Lone Peak, Thunder Mountain, Broads Fork Twins, Pfeiferhorn, Am. F. Twins, Monte Cristo, Superior.

Yesterday's snow made for dreamy turns.

Francis Peak from just below Bountiful Peak.

Bountiful Peak "headwall".

The road. Seemed steeper than it should've been. For comparison, it was a similar in length and vertical gain to that of riding to Elephant Rock on the Mueller Park trail: 3.2 miles, 1,100 vertical gain, starting elevation - 8,160 feet, B-Pk summit -  9,260 feet.

'Ol-Blue', claiming first ascent of Bountiful Peak for a mountian bike, without supplemental oxygen. 

The goods. Not much left.

Bountiful Peak from top of ski hill.

Too much gear.


Ski tracks, with bike and ski gear seen at edge of snow, upper right.

For all the tooth counters, yes, I ride a triple, ski a double, and sometimes drop a knee.  

Bountiful Peak Bike and Ski, Saturday May 19, 2012

Winter 2011-12 is almost history. There are just a few lingering snowfields to ski; at least at my usual haunts in Davis County. Anything more will require higher ground like the central Wasatch, Uintah’s or maybe the Tetons. So, Saturday, May 19, 2012, was my last ski day in Davis County. I drove up Skyline Drive above Bountiful, the road that passes just below the eyesore block "B" on the hill. Although, the "B" is nothing compared to the damage caused by ATV's and the NRA'ers, tearing new trails and shooting anything in sight. What is worse: aspens riddled with bullets holes or tons of shot up beer cans and 2-litre soda bottles littering the ground?  At the old Buckland Flats Campground there has to be several tons of old targets covering several acres of ground. It looks like the landfill absent seagulls. Spent brass is everywhere. When I was a kid my Mom would kick my ass for being so trashy, so I can only conclude there are way too many inept old mothers out there who taught their now-grown kids NO sense of responsibility.

Soapbox aside, I drove to the top of the mountain and parked at the Morgan divide/overlook (8,160 feet) which is at the junction of the Session’s Mountain Road and the Bountiful Peak Road. There was no snow along the road to this point, due to the westerly aspects, so I was a bit concerned I’d find no skiable snow on the NE side of Bountiful Peak. The gates to both the Sessions Mountain and Bountiful Peak roads are still locked, presumably due to snow, so I brought the mountain bike along to cover space quickly.

I strap skis to bike and start pedaling up the B-Peak road, riding around the gate and up the surprisingly steep road. Ok, maybe not that steep, but, in my defense, I was hauling 20+ pounds of ski and camera gear. A half-mile up the road I pass four backpackers who tell me they are headed to Farmington Lakes for the night. An early start for such a short hike, 4-5 miles from the lakes, but I’ve never been one to sit still in camp. Too much nervous energy, which is perhaps an indicator as to why I haven’t excelled in my cubicle-hinged career. I pedal on, wondering, "What are they going to do all day at those muddy little ponds?"  I look back periodically to see their progress, but I never see them after I round the first bend.

A mile up the road I encounter a bank of snow on the crest of descending ridge, and I try to ride it but ultimately I’m forced off the bike to walk the snow to next bare road. On the snow I see that yesterday’s valley rain fell as snow up here at 8,500 feet. There is 2 inches of fresh, spongy, new snow. I cross three more snow banks before reaching the spur ridge leading 300 feet to the summit of Bountiful Peak. Almost revelation time; will there be snow enough to ski? I push the bike up the rocky trail to the summit and as I top out, I see a nice, but short, bowl of deep snow on the NE shoulder of Bountiful Peak.

I walk the bike down the ridge, 1/8 mile, and transition from biker to skier. I’ve skied this slope before, last time was two years ago on Memorial Day with Brett Fuller, but that year there was substantially more snow, requiring us to skin from the parking lot in Farmington Canyon almost 3 miles and 2,000 vertical feet  below. This year the snow peters out just below the boulders in upper cirque. My runs will be short this year, so it’ll be quantity over length. I ski five or six short laps, the first being the longest, down into the Douglas Fir below the cliffs, but find the snow lower down to be intermittent and pocked with rock, emerging trees and avalanche debris. My subsequent runs are limited to the upper bowl where I stop at the tree line and boot back to the top, the snow supportable so no skins were needed.

Although the runs were short, the turns were fun on creamy, day old snow topping a hard, frozen crust, but with just enough give to keep the turns smooth and idiot proof. It was a day of experimenting with camera angles and video scenarios, not so much of pure skiing due to the lack of vertical snow. Finding a ten-foot pole of PVC pipe on the ridge, I use it for a tripod and I film the short runs using the PVC as a slalom gate to capture tight “off-body” video. The POV video I’ve taken all winter is boring and passé. How much footage does one need of my bouncing knees, ski tips and pole plants? My poor family, they’ve endured too much bad video the last few years, but never a sour word.

Done with skiing, I load up and push the bike over the ridge to descend the brushy slope 200 yards to the road. I hear voices and see the backpackers sitting on the west ridge of Bountiful Peak, at the summer car-park. I had skied for a couple of hours and in that time they have progressed about three miles from where we passed. I hear joy in their voices and I admire their ability to move slow and enjoy the moment of a crisp, sunny, spring day in the mountains. “The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time”. (JT) Something I don’t always capture.

All downhill, I pedal hard and descend the 1,000 feet to the truck in short time. As I pedal up the short incline to the truck, I see 20 or so ATV’ers parked nearby and their eyes pop when they see me pedal up with skis affixed to bike. I hear mumbled smirks and stifled laughs. What?  Only gas and gun-powder allowed on this road? Just my opinion, but they look way more pathetic with their camo’ed, potbellys jiggling as they go redline. What can I say; some folks could've used better parenting.

Video posted on facebook.