Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bountiful Ridge, February 26, 2016

The 'Rock' just west of Rudy's Flat at the North Canyon divide. Bikers might recognize this. I say 'might' because without snow it stands chest high rather than knee high. Last week it was nearly covered.

Remember how I whined about how Wasatch Powder Bird Guides had tracked the hell out of the Burro Mine area, leaving me with just table scraps (see February 12th blog)? And remember how I called and called them to get beta on where they were flying so I could time my tour to avoid their dominatrix-monopoly on fresh snow, and how they refused to give specifics on where they planned to ski? And remember how I skinned all the way in to Burro Mine only to find the ham bone nearly chewed to the marrow?

Well it happened again! Only difference is this time I didn’t bother calling them beforehand.
Why should I? They don’t provide specifics anyway (kind of makes their blog a pile of shit), but I’m a gentleman and won’t use such course language unless it is truly called for. The really bothersome thing here is when I did talk to WPG, I got a clear indications that they have no clue about the locations I was talking about. To them everything north of I-80 is “The Sessions,” which if you look on Google (let alone a USGS map), Sessions is one tiny pin-prick in a huge universe.  WPG’s don’t know where Howard and Frederick Hollows are, so, evidently, that is the reason they wouldn’t – or couldn’t - tell me where they would be flying.  This point is bothersome because they could get lost without knowing the geographic names of their flight paths. If they had a client incur a serious injury (avalanche?) and they needed medical assistance, how would they direct search and rescue top their location? Just throwing it out there for conjecture.

My point? It happened again, dammit!! WPG beat me to it.

Today I headed back up to Burro Mine, without calling WPG because it’s pointless. I chanced it anyway because I still know a few hidden gems near the Burro Mine that WPG have never touched (albeit hard to get back out). Today the only saving grace is that I saw them before I fully committed to skiing Burro Mine. When I topped out on Rectangle Peak (about ¼ mile from the Burro Mine divide) I hear the thwop-thwop-thwoping of a helicopter and see it flying south form the “real” Session’s Mountain, directly towards my location. The heli gets closer and they drop over the Burro Mine ridge, out of sight, and it sounds like they fly multiple circles over the Burro Mine area, presumably to scope out the best lines (it’s been unseasonably warm so any ski lines in the sun are wet and gloppy). I can hear them but not see them, but the roar gets louder and louder so I know they are coming my way. Then I see them. They rise, gently but loudly, over the top of the ridge and land on the top of a great, sun protected run (due north aspect) I call Big Drop One. Shit!! Did I tell you I was a gentleman? Well not today! Crap! Fetch! H-E-Double-Mormon-Hockey-Sticks!!!
From my vantage I watch rich, fat, old men, and barely stem-christy-ing, botoxed-to-the max women, stumble out of the heli and fumble to put on skis. Alarmingly, the guide actually helps one client place their boot into their binding because they couldn’t do it themselves. Buenos Dio! Heaven help them!

I watch the Gumbies drop off Big Drop One and out of sight. The heli starts up, a rotor wash of snow pillowing around and above it, rises above the trees then also drop over the edge and out of sight.
I want no part of that mess, so I abort my plans for the Burro Mine and instead ski my old stand-bys: Rectangle Peak, Crescent Peak and Crescent Bowl. They are more westerly, so a bit more sun-damaged, but I still found soft, creamy old powder in the shade. I push off Rectangle Peak for a fun, machine free day.

End of February and the sun is getting stronger every day. I hate to see the snow melt and the summer trail begin to emerge, I never seem to get my fill before spring takes over, but, that reminder of a waning ski season is a kick in the butt to get after it and ski as often as possible because it doesn't last too long. That said, upon seeing the summer trail peeking through the snow  I had a brief moment of "I can't wait to get on my bike!" But I got over it. The snow-covered mountains brought me back to what is real. 

Ski tracks from last week. We need a storm!

About one-quarter mile from Rudy's Flat View west, back toward the North Canyon divide and the Moose Farm (several Moose have wintered in the Mt. Mahoganies in the middle of the picture. Last winter I was charged by a moose at this spot. Proceed with caution. 

Near Rudy's Flat, the trail is melting out by the minute.

Just say no to Helicopters! Some guy lands on Rudy's every week and by doing so he scares the Moose into full flight, which is highly stressful to a large animal during the winter. They can't afford to run through deep snow when food is so scare, the effort burns what little reserves they have left. Moose go into a quasi-hibernation to conserve fuel, and the helicopter pilot is ignorant to this fact. He obviously likes to watch them run.  

Rudy's Flat under 94cm (37in) of snow. Not the biggest winter up here. In comparison to last year, which was a disaster snow-wise, the current snow depth is about equal. Yes we had a big January but the storms have dried up and blown away. We need a storm or two.

Wind damage from last week's wind event, evidenced by this downed tree blocking the summer trail from Rudy's Flat to Bountiful Ridge. 

Three inches of soft snow on a hard crust necessitated ski crampons. My skins kept skating on the hard base.

View SW from Rectangle Peak.

Wasatch Powder Bird Guides Helicopter on top of a great ski run I call Big Drop One. Damn! That was my run and they beat me to it!! The run drops off the other side, toward the Burro Mine, into Howard Hollow.

Small cornice on Bountiful Ridge, on the lower edge of Rectangle Bowl.

"All the seeds beneath the snow, start to grow, start to grow.
All the seeds that lie below, deep in the heart of what we know." - Ruth Moody

First run's ski track on upper Rectangle Run.

Second run's track on Crescent Peak.

Tracks on Crescent Peak heading into Crescent Bowl.


Small cat on the summer trail heading back towards Rudy's Flat. For my exit run I skied the fall line through the forest down from Rectangle Peak to the summer trail, then skinned back to Rudy's Flat.

When is Greg and Art going to take out this stump? It blew over during a wind storm in December of 2010, blocking the trail which now diverts around it.

The bridges before Rudy's Flat, almost emerging through the snow.

Big cat on trail near Rudy's Flat.

Ski track on the Rectangle from my first run.

Summer trail from Mueller Park is showing more and more.


  1. Nice day all around. Cutler Cirque saw a couple of snowmobiler tracks. I find myself looking over my shoulder for others coming up the skin track. I look ahead to see where others have gone. Ultimately the problem is with me. There is a lot of great terrain to ski and the world is getting smaller so I have to share, or go further from home. Going skiing this week?

  2. I hope to ski every week until winter is officially dead, which could be a month or less. With some luck it'll last though May. I'm tough to pin down with my work schedule. Friday I worked for three hours then ditched work to ski because we had servor problems, a good thing because without it I would have had to work all day. I'll try to get a better idea on my schedule for this Friday.

  3. Here is to next Friday and no helicopters and no crowds. Or snowmobiles.