Sunday, January 6, 2013


Hogum Fork

There are 3 layers to the skin: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis, or subcutaneous tissue. Each layer has its own function. A hypodermic needle is used for a variety of reasons, mainly to inject or pull fluids from the body via the circulation system which resides in the dermis. I often use these needles in phlebotomy at work to extract blood from patients for testing with possible infections, high metal levels, or to check basic metabolic function. The needles are usually 21 gauge, (fairly large) and many people(almost 10% according to Wiki) are afraid of needles, a fear known as "trypanophobia". I think I have overcome my fear of one kind of needle after our experience yesterday, though luckily there was no blood involved.

Court's next victim on the hit list of skiable terrain in the wasatch was the "hypodermic needle", a thin rocky chute located on the east side of the thunder mountain massif, opposite the coalpit headwall. Since we had such a wonderful time last time hiking up coalpit last time, we opted for a change and hiked up from white pine trailhead to attempt this line. This involves skinning up into Maybird, up and over Small Pass into Hogum, then up the Thunder Mountain east headwall.

The Hypodermic Needle

Nick, Steve, Court and I started about 7 am from White Pine where we comfortably, easily, and enjoyably skinned very pleasant terrain up the Maybird drainage(not like last week). We passed by the Pfief, admiring the brave souls who had skied the NW couloir and coveting the lines of
 the northeast sides.

Nick in a very picturesque setting

Glad not to be down there

Enjoying upper Maybird, below the Pfief, and heading for Small Pass

The boys skiing down Hogum towards the Needle

We hiked up and over Small Pass and skied some pretty fun terrain down into Hogum. We chose our line that would best get us up to the Needle, via the apron and northeast ridge. We each took turns breaking trail up the steep wall in short sleeves, rationing our 1 liter of water and Gu's we each brought, before the terrain forced us to wallow a bit via booting till we could hook up with the ridge.
It was gorgeous up on top of the Thunder Ridgeline, a bluebird day with no wind and no regret of leaving the putrid air below in the valley. We finally made it up to the top of the Needle but not before Nick fell into a massive hole he likened to Narnia in its depth and possible transport ability into the bowels of thunder mountain. We all just laughed while he was unable to remove himself from the hole, all while he was cursing Court's name for making him skin up such ridiculous terrain.

Booting up the top towards the ridge
Nick looking for Narnia

Looking back at where we came from

 We found the Needle to be in very poor shape, boney as can be with only parts of the couloir with enough snow to be skiable terrain. Court skied all of the parts he could, while Steve and I downbooted it and Nick bailed back to our ascent route. There were some fairly scary granite slabs with minimal snow coverage we had to navigate. After quite a bit of downclimbing and no skiing, we came to a 10 foot drop. We couldn't downclimb it very easily in ski boots, didn't have a rope, didn't want to reclimb the couloir, and there weren't many bailing options to get out. So Court solved our problem, and jumped it. It was frightening, but we all survived by landing in a nice blanket of powder. Steve then donned his skis, ate it, undonned his skis by yardsaling, and rolled most of the way down the gully with Court yelling, "stop steve, stop!". We thought he was going to go the whole way down into Hogum. We got his skis back to him, then he dropped a glove and it rolled halfway down the apron(500 feet) before our skin track finally stopped it. What a day.
Finally into some skiable terrain after the bony upper Needle

We got some great turns in on the way down on the apron, then managed to escape out Hogum with minimal pain and suffering onto the LCC trail via a tenuous river crossing and rode it back to our cars at the Park and Ride, before shuttling back up to White Pine. A 12 hour day. Less miserable than Coalpit, but I felt way more tired.


  1. Glad to hear that you are back on your skis and that Steve was ok after his yard sale. Bet you are still regretting selling your beacon.