Monday, March 25, 2013

B.C. Skiing, Bountiful Ridge, 03-23-2013

March weather; clouds, sun, cold then warm.

Antelope Island, finally. Did not see it from late December through mid-February due to the SLC/Utah mank. 

Upper Rectangle Bowl, above the no-edge-hold, sloughing zone.

Skinning up for second run.

Up the ridge, headed back up Rectangle Peak.

View across upper Cescent Bowl.

Turns in upper Crescent Bowl.

Turns, lower Crescent Bowl.

Turns on The Rectangle. Skin track on the mid-right, in Rectangle Bowl through the trees. 

Almost 41 inches at Rudy's Flat, at 7,100 feet.

Almost 61 inches in Rectangle Bowl, 500 feet higher.

Lower Crescent Bowl, finally in the sun.

Back Country Skiing:  The Rectangle and Crescent Bowl, Bountiful Ridge, 03-23-2013

It was a bad day. It was one of those days when you have huge expectations for yourself and nothing goes as planned. I took off work Friday to go ski Farmington Canyon. I’ve schemed all winter about how to access Rice and Mud Bowls in Farmington Canyon, my old favorite ski hills, but now with tough access due the road closure at the 4,500 feet. The forest service or the FAA, I’m not sure which, use to plow the road up to Francis Peak, and the public was allowed access to the gate at 7,200 feet, just a hop and skip form Rice and Mud Bowls. My plan was to boot straight up the south-west ridge of Farmington Canyon, which on the map leads directly to the top of Rice and Mud Bowl, a vertical gain of around 4,200 feet. From there I planned to ski laps on the north aspects, in the upper half of the bowls. Once too exhausted to ski I’d then re-ascend to the top and ski/hike back down the ridge 4,200 feet back to my truck.

I got up early, packed my gear, loaded the truck, and all the while had a sinking feeling I needed to work. I had a lot on my plate and I was stressed on how and when I’d get caught up. Even as I write this on Sunday night I can’t help worry that I should be working and not writing about my ski day. So, Friday morning I’m all set for a big ski day and actually back out of the driveway when it hits me how deep I’m over my head with responsibility, so I pull back into the garage, go inside and change for work. Oh, another thing, it was a raging blizzard with 3 inches of fresh snow in my driveway and the long slog up the Farmington Spine Trail in the mud, the trail was bare two days ago, carrying skis on my pack and hiking in ski boots, did not sound fun. I am so weak. A fair weather skier at best. I went inside and worked all day, kind of glad it was still snowing every time I looked out. If it was sunny I would have been mad.

Saturday morning I read the avalanche report and it basically said what I feared: Friday was one of the best powder days of the year, a hard base and 8-10 inches of 5% density snow. To make matters worse, it was also the annual ‘Scouting for Food’ drive which meant I had to take the scouts around the neighborhood collecting food from doorsteps. A good cause but there was fresh snow and I missed skiing yesterday. So I met the Scouts and we went looking for food. Yeah a great cause, but basically a big waste of all our time because the publicity machine was broken. Without naming names, the word did not get out and the Ward (LDS congregation) was unaware of the event, resulting in less than 10% of the Ward participating. From my perspective it was a bust and I lost the morning, both from work and skiing.

The sun was breaking through and the Firs high on the mountains were flocked with white. I was getting more pissed by the minute due to the waste of a morning so I drop off the Scouts and headed for home. It was late (11:00AM) and I debated about the timing. In late March any sun can destroy the best snow in just a few minutes. The up side was the clouds over the mountains and the cold temperatures (20’s) would maybe preserve the snow.

I walk in the house and I see that my wife is watching Vampire Diaries or Downton Abbey, not really sure what they are but I think they are parallel stories about English Trust-Funder's in a way-too-big estate fighting family, aliens and zombies. Riveting television, but it’s her way to relax after a long, stressful week. And it’s a sign that I’m free to ski. If she is relaxing then so am I. Just to make sure, I lob a test question: “Sweetie, my Dad’s attorney called, he said we are heirs to 10,000 shares of Apple Stock - title transfers today”. Sweetie’s reply: “That’s nice honey, have fun”. GOOD TO GO.

I hike up North Canyon and the road was dusted with only the latest storm snow, nothing more, last week’s hot temps have killed the base. It means I’ll be booting out rather than skiing out. I hike to nearly 6,200 feet before there is a solid base, that isn’t rock or dirt, and I step into skis at the start of my shortcut at the mouth of North’s North (north fork of North Canyon). In the drainage of North’s North, the stream is open in spots, a gurgling brook, where it was a natural half-pipe of sorts just a two weeks ago. It’ll still go, just not the usual fast descent.

The skin up was easy in the low-density snow, until the angle steepened and I start traversing. Basically, lasts week hot temps and this week’s cold have made a bullet-hard (almost) base and the 8 inches of fluff does not hold. My edges don’t cut and I’m continually sloughing off the new snow and sliding down the hill. It is knee twisting and curse-inducing skinning, much more cursing now than a few hours earlier when collecting cans of Dinty More with Scouts.      

Oh but the skiing! It was perfect! One of the best days of the year, for sure. March-defying-powder, cold temps and intermittent sun and clouds combined to preserve the snow all day. I made multiple runs all by myself, although, I did not feel alone as I was leap-frogging my friend John’s tacks from yesterday, all day. John and I are pretty much the only ‘regulars’ up here. I can recognize his tracks for his preference for skin and descents routes. I don’t know him well, but I sense a kindred soul. We both seem to aspire to lonely locals, and we both keep coming back in spite of the long, brushy approach and ‘tour-ish’ feeling of the area. “Tour-ish’ because the access is a function of both distance and vertical rather than pure vertical. For some reason we both feel at home here.

I ski multiple laps on several aspects and I go home exhausted and feeling much better about my weekend. I can sleep tonight feeling satisfied. If I had gone to work today, after futzing around with Scouts gathering sparse offerings of food, I would have been an ornery, old man. Instead, I’m all smiles.          


  1. There was a time when if I saw tracks up on the hill that weren't mine I'd kind of stress out about it. "Who's been skiing my hill", I'd wonder? I sure am glad I ran into you up there last year and found out it was you this whole time, the original local, the guy I met up there 16 years ago on my first day of skiing the Bountiful ridge line. Now I see tracks up there that aren't mine and I think, "Sweet, Owens skiing HIS hill! I'll have an adventure to read about come Monday morning!"

    1. Good to hear from you John. Check out the video on Facebook, you'll see your tracks.

  2. Wow, you were packed and in the truck and you still went to work. I have tried and failed to instill a sense of flakiness into you. Then on Saturday you picked up food. You will receive blessings beyond measure. I am looking forward to the everlasting torment of knowing I should have been following your example, but was out goofing off instead.

    Friday I was skiing on Cutler with my brother, Skip, he was visiting from White Salmon Washington. Harrison was also along for the tour. We had the new snow on a cavable base, lots of fun. My brother is 62. He is still good to get out, but I don't break a sweat when we tour together. He skis a lot (Meadows Ski Resort on Mt. Hood) and is in reasonable shape. I guess I am looking at what is only a few years away. Best get out and get some big lines while I still can.

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