Sunday, January 25, 2015

Backcountry Skiing, Bountiful Ridge, January 18, 2015

It was Sunday and I should have been at church, but I couldn't resist the pull of the sun, snow and mountains. Sometimes life wears you down and it gets tough to pull yourself up. I hate turning to pills to alter my state of mind, and I have found that hard, physical work and some solitary time in the mountains brings peace. By far the best medicine for the blues. Doing so never fails to lighten my burdens. I head to hills and the stress of life melts away. Yeah it was Sunday, but sometimes the inner voice says it’s okay to get away for a few hours. When I hear that message I go, and don’t look back. So I went skiing today, and came home with a smile.

Today's ski tracks (l) and skin track (r). Notice the roller balls shadowing my turns. Too warm!
The skinning and trail breaking was easy as there has been no storms for weeks. Skinning consisted of various surfaces, mostly supportable: spring slop, hoar frost, hard sun/wind crusts and some old creamy powder. Easy going, although, when I got to the steep faces of Rectangle Bowl, my edges starting slipping out from under me (like last week). I almost put on my ski crampons, they offer absolute grip on a hard, icy slope, but instead I flattened the angle of the skin track and that did the trick; no more slipping. The skiing was sometimes great and sometimes hell: three turns in creamy powder then five turns in semi-unsupportable, grabby crust. Even with my fat skis (BD Justices) it was a game of staying upright when punching through the crust, often nearly causing a face plant. Reminded me me of my tele days.

North Canyons double track. I boot this road from the end of the pavement because I've seen too many 4X4's get stuck. Besides, driving it only saves a wee bit over a mile of walking. Today, on my way out, I came across a guy stuck in a Jeep Cherokee, spinning his wheels in vain. I started pushing and he seemed pissed off, but I kept at it. I was trying to help and in doing so offered suggestions, like: "turn your wheels and gun it" or "rock it by pulsing the throttle." I kept pushing and the more suggestions I offered, the more testy he got. Screw that. With no gratitude I stopped pushing, wished him luck, and hiked out. By the time I left, his Jeep was over-heating and spilling antifreeze onto the snow. What dweeb! All that because he's too lazy to walk a mile.   

This is the end of the double track and a favorite campsite for boy scouts. What is with boy scouts and burning pallets? Then leaving their mess? So much for 'no trace camping.' 

The goods: Bountiful Ridge as seen from the top of 'Kara's Pot Farm' (exit run down into North Canyon).

28 inches at Rudy's Flat. Bad snow year continues.

24 inches in mid Rectangle Bowl (a SW aspect). The only upside to the thin snow pack is the low avalanche risk. The slope angle is 36 degrees, so prime to slide, but the SW aspect provides ample sun exposure. Combined with the thin snow pack there is little layering and few weaknesses in the snow pack.  I've skied here a lot and never seen this one slide........yet. The other side, Crescent Bowl (a NW aspect), does slide. About five years I skied one run down Crescent Bowl in perfect powder and went back up for another run. I did another ski cut and the upper bowl slid, taking out my first run tracks. Scary!! And humbling.    

View from the skin track, across Rectangle Bowl towards Dead Tree Ridge (in shade).

Mt. Mahogany's at 8,000 feet.

Antelope Island and Bountiful City from Rectangle Bowl.

Antelope Island, skin track view.

Wind sculpting on Rectangle Ridge, looking towards Black's Peak (far left),  Crescent Peak (mid-left) and Crescent Bowl (right of Crescent Peak).

Headed back up for run two. View overlooking Rectangle Bowl, Dead Tree Ridge and SLC on the far right (both politically and location). 

Roller balls. Red flag for possible wet slides. 

Sun, SLC and Dead Tree Ridge, the shadowed hill running downward-right, through the glades of Douglas Firs.

Skinning for another run. 

Sessions' Mountain (named for Peregrine Sessions, founder of Bountiful City in 1847). The big bowl in the middle is Rocky Basin. 

My ski tracks from run number one, midway down the Rectangle Run. One week later I could still see these tracks from Smith's Marketplace in Bountiful. A sign of a bad winter is when your tracks last more than a week.  

33 inches at the lower end of the Rectangle Run, 7,400 feet in elevation.

Ski tracks (l) and skin track (r) as seen from the top of 'Kara's Pot Farm' (the ski run into North Canyon when exiting for home).

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