Tuesday, December 30, 2014

B.C. Skiing, Bountiful Ridge, December 29, 2014

My new approach/exit run. It's the only continuous opening through miles and miles and miles of Gamble Oak. I'm calling it 'Kara's Pot Farm.'  The name? Last summer while hiking (bushwhacking really) we stumbled across this opening in the oak and I mentioned to Kara that this would be the perfect spot for a pot farm: close to the trail (1/2 mile), blocked from all humanity by thick brush, absolutely no sign of any human activity (no old beer cans, no fire rings, no trails). Sometimes I scare Kara with my random thoughts. She says I put way too much thought into this one. I told her not to worry, there's no reliable water source anyway. While its tough to hike in the summer, it makes for a natural ski run when the small stuff is covered.      
 B.C. skiing, Bountiful Ridge, 12-29-14. It was a cold, gray day and my hands were numb almost from the start; my gloves were saturated while trying to fix a faulty hydration pack. That said, it was the best powder day in recent memory. The down side was the tough trail-breaking. It was exhausting; this ain't the tri-canyons where the skin-track is set within seconds of a storm. It was a ton of work for roughly the same vertical as one ride on the Snowbird tram. Also, I had some excitement during the descent when I was charged by a moose, just below Rudy's Flat.  There was one yearling male (small rack), and one smallish female (perhaps the mom). I knew they were there as I saw them during my ascent, but on my run out they had moved their bed about 50 yards and I came upon them too fast. The male was not amused. He jumped up and ran at me but stopped short, bluffing, and turned around and ran back. I nearly wet myself while trying to jump behind a clump of Gamble Oak (like that would save me).

The skiing was excellent. the best powder I can remember of the last two or three years. Deep, weightless, cold smoke, and almost no rocks. But the price was excessive, the soft snow meant for an exhausting hike, and I was freezing. I must be getting old, I use to be able to deal with cold better. That said, the overcast skies didn't help, even when cold a bit of sun warms the heart and makes the mood of the day warmer than it really is. Unfortunately, there was no sun today.

View down 'Kara's Pot Farm' from about its midpoint. 

Small, male moose in the mahoganies, about 1/4 miles from Rudy's Flat. This is at the rocky switchback on the mountain bike trail, on the North Canyon/Mueller divide. The female is just beyond, hidden by the mahoganies. On the ascent I dropped low to avoid a confrontation. Several hours later, on my descent, they had moved uphill 50 yards. I didn't see them and came up too fast. The male was not happy.  

Momma moose? On the North Canyon side of the divide.

Moose beds, at the rocky switchback of the mountain bike trail.

38 inches of snow at Rudy's Flat. This is as much snow as I saw here all last year. Two weeks ago there was only six inches and I could still ride my bike up here. What a difference a few storms make. 

New Christmas toy, but I think it's crap, it felt much colder than 28 degrees. 28 degrees is almost tee-shirt whether when breaking trail though two feet of unsupportable snow.  My old zipper-pull thermometer said 15 degrees. 

That's the top of my ski pole, an inch below the surface, indicating 45 inches of snow in mid Rectangle Bowl (at 8,000 feet, 1 mile beyond Rudy's Flat). Again, this is more snow than I saw here all last winter. Several years ago I measured 80 inches at this location in late winter. The SW aspect of upper Rectangle Bowl was completely bare two weeks ago. The warm December temperatures and no storms, meant little low elevation snow pack. Avalanches? Today there was no signs of instability. There was not much layering due to the thin-to-non-existent snow pack before the recent string of storms.

45 inches of snow in two weeks means tough trail breaking. 

New toy. Not sure I can trust it. 30 degree slope, whereas my old, mechanical inclinometer indicated this is a 35 degree slope.

Sun trying to peek out, over Dead Tree Ridge, from my skin track in mid Rectangle Bowl. 

This slope was bare two weeks ago (upper Rectangle Bowl). I should have been a bit more cautious, on my first turn off the top of Rectangle Peak I caught a rock, inflicting a core-shot. I'm not the best ski tech, and with my last core-shot (on same slope, same ski) I tried unsuccessfully to repair it five or six times before finally taking it to a professional. I repaired yesterdays core-shot this morning. We'll see if it holds.
I love these old Douglas Firs dotting the slopes and bowls off Bountiful Ridge. I was freezing all day today, and I took a rest under this old tree during my ascent. Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe it was just getting out of the falling snow for a few minutes, but it felt ten degrees warmer in this tree well.   

The undulating ribbon of Bountiful Ridge means there is always a protected run given sun, wind or  snow cover. 

Nice angles and lake affect snow makes for great skiing. Never mind the long, brushy approach. This is at 8,000 feet, about one mile above Rudy's Flat, looking down on Bountiful. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

B.C. Skiing - Mill D North to Powder Park, December 5, 2014

Skis on, skis off. This is 1/8th mile from the trail head at the Spruces Campground. In 30+ year of back country skiing I've never seen four years in a row of such light, early seasons snow. Worse, other than last year, the norm for March is to now come in like a lamb, acting like May and not late winter. Winters are getting shorter.

In a normal December this stream bed is the ski run out of Mill D North (Big Cottonwood Canyon). . .  

 . . . and this sign is covered.

Upper Cardiff Fork and the infamous Cardiac Bowl, as seen from the Desolation Meadows in Mill D North Canyon.

Desolation Meadows.

About an inch of new snow yesterday covering the skin track. I'm skiing my old, heavy, skinny skis (BD Arc Angels with Fritchi Bindings). I didn't want to risk damaging my "A Kit" in this thin snow pack. That said, I never hit a rock today, but I did ski through a lot of grass and brush that is normally covered this time of year.

Did I mention a thin snow pack? Try 15 inches in the Desolation Meadows at about 8,700 feet in elevation.

Look closely for the ski tracks through the sage brush. The southerly aspects like this slope were soggy and wet. I'm guessing the skier who set these tracks did so just after the last storm. It would have been totally crappy skiing today.

View south from the top of Powder Park. The open bowl in mid-picture is Cardiac Bowl, the peaks are Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo (upper Cardiff Fork).

Same view as above but zoomed (Cardiac Bowl, Superior and Monte).

Re-skinning for a second run, I planted my ski in the snow and hit the ground in a pathetic 15 inches of snow.

Ski edges in deeper snow years stripped the bark of this young Douglas Fir.

My first-run turns in Powder Park. The snow offered surprisingly great turning! I went to Powder Park for its grassy slopes, hoping I wouldn't hit rocks.  Powder Park is also generally safe skiing avalanche-wise, it tips the scale in the low to mid 20's (slope angle that is). OK, boring skiing, but it beats working on a Friday afternoon.

My two runs nested in upper Powder Park.
Exit run out of Powder Park. The skin track in lower Mill D North was a nightmare as it was hard, icy, brushy and too fast for such a thin snow pack. Normally the brush is covered allowing for turning into the hillside to dump speed. But I made it down without mishap, all the while thinking I could easily cave-in my head on one of those trees.