Sunday, December 29, 2013

Avalanche Danger is Lame

First winter summit of Lone peak. Not first geeky summit photo. 

The continued unstable snowpack and "considerable" avalanche danger persisting around the Wasatch has resulted in Mill D becoming as tracked as Alta 2 hours after a powder day. Having gotten bored with skiing Butler trees and Powder Park, we decided to hit up Lone Peak and Bighorn so we could actually summit something. The south faces of these peaks are iconic "highway" lines as some like to call them, meaning we gawk at them as we drive past them on I-15, the equivalent crashing hazard of texting or drinking for skiers. The pro's and con's of skiing south facing terrain all revolve around the sun. The lack of shelter from the blazing heat of the sun creates less snow with a crust on the surface, resulting in poor skiing conditions but also safe skiing conditions due to a stabilized snowpack. We like safe conditions 1st of all, and good snow 2nd, though we prefer both to be present if possible. We were hoping we could catch the thaw cycle around 12 pm and maybe get some soft snow after summiting the two peaks.

The start to these lines begins at the schoolhouse springs trailhead in Alpine. Good info to this trailhead can be found here. We skinned up the switchbacking dirt road that leads to the first hamongog, or meadow. The road had lots of snow in places, and not so much in others. We managed to ski most all of it on the way down with minor swearing and core shots. The road turn to singletrack, and climbs steeply up to the 2nd hamongog. From here, Heaven's Halfpipe is in full view. Coverage was a bit sparse, and quite icy most of the way. We struggled to the south summit of Lone Peak 4.5 hours after leaving the car.

We then traversed east across the Halfpipe and skinned up Bighorn. We were all tired by summit 2 having climbed about 7k'. Anytime we can ski over 5k' its a pretty sweet day. The ski out was awesome despite mostly crusty snow with countless hoppers and big wide open turns. The crux of the day was skiing down the singletrack chute to the 1st hamongog where I rolled down more than skied. Several enjoyable pole vaults across creek crossings and some testy icy skintracks brought us back to the car 7.5 hours later. I'll take this any day over tree skiing despite the less than ideal conditions.

My photos aren't nearly as good as this guys, so maybe just look at his TR and picture my face on them.
You know you are at the correct trailhead when you park next to the "no parking" sign. 

Just because there isn't snow doesn't mean you should remove your skis. 

Skinning up to Heavens Halfpipe and Bighorn

In the Halfpipe, giant uncovered rocks created a fun obstacle course. 

Nick looking stoic below Lone Peak summit

The boys traversing over to Bighorn. They look like skinny rocks

Looking back at Lone Peak from Bighorn

The tired skiers with Box Elder behind

Skiing down Bighorn spine

Its not backcountry skiing if you don't do some of this. 

1 comment:

  1. did you scrape up your skis pretty bad?! looks fun, but bare