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. 


  1. Nice pics and story, Owen.
    --Dave S

  2. Could scream, just typed comment that vanished...

    At any rate, cool video - maybe should change Wasatch Solo to Fat Accountant Blues... Great snow, fabulous effort on the ski track. I remember some early season solo tracks... Even better effort on Kara's Farm, I'll have to buy you a beer for that one. Been sick since Christmas - getting old, takes more a week to recover from a head-cold. Should be ready, finally, to start season, again.

  3. You should've been there Brett, you break trail better than anyone. I know what you mean about sick - I've had the chills since my ski day. Not sure if it's just the cold or old-man stuff.