Saturday, February 22, 2014

Best Ski Line in Wasatch?

A fantastic ski line and a crappy picture of it

I know, there isn't a "best ski line" in the Wasatch, but here is what Bonkers has going for it:
-10 minutes up BCC
-Easy trail approach with NO bushwacking
-Fantastic Views of the Triple Traverse
-Completely skinnable terrain all the way up
-Huge bowl skiing
-2500' run!
-Easily lapped
-Just the right slope angle
-Fun hoppers

Bonkers doesn't have tons of appeal for someone who has to ski ridiculously steep aesthetic couloirs all the time. I enjoy those as much as the next guy. But for amateur skiers like myself, I LOVE big old bowls where you can rip down with big wide sweeping turns and feel like I'm actually skiing, not just hop turning. Its like being at the resort only without the people, ski lines, chair lifts, and ticket prices.

We enjoyed the standard trail approach up from Broads Fork. Pete was complaining of blisters on his feet and Steve wanted to hit the REI garage sale at 9, but luckily with some tape and insistence that buying gear was more lame than having an adventure we all made it up to the ridgeline in 2.5 hours 4500' vert from the car. Conditions seemed pretty stable and we all hooted as we "linked more quality turns in the backcountry than I ever have. "(-jake)

The boys all insisted we head back down for afternoon activities, but I had enjoyed Bonkers so much I offered them my car keys and did another lap solo. Ridiculously fun creamy turns for 2500' feet. I've never skied so fast and felt so in control as usually its rocketing through brush getting whipped in the eye.

Here are so low quality pictures(like usual). Head over to tetonsandwasatch for some higher quality pics.

Kind of a dreary day
Pete Jake and Stevo topping out

Jake loving Bonkers

After we decided skiing one at time was boring, we all took off
Proper Hopper technique


We all had varying dedication to the "ski to the car" mentality. If Court were there he would have insisted we do so, but luckily he wasn't so we all de-skied and walked down the icy/rocky trail when we felt like the risk of breaking a ski or a bone increased beyond our insurance policies' deductible, minus Pete who actually skied downhill with his skins on(smart?) and now needs new skins(they don't sell skins at the DI pete).
Careful: it can break out on you

Another quality line checked off. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zion with a pregnant wife

View from atop Lady Mtn

With Annie 5 months pregnant I tried to create the optimum Presidents Day weekend in Zion that didn't require multipitch climbing or a significant running requirement, which is difficult since that's all I'm capable of concocting. Annie is pretty easy to please as anything warmer than 20 degrees and less than 10 ft of snow tends to make her happy.

Saturday we hiked the previously elusive-to-us Lady Mountain. Without some internet beta you are likely not going to know about let alone find this one. Lady Mountain is the discontinued version of Angels Landing. You can read the history on the link above if you wish, but basically the park strung up a bunch of cables and manufactured the rock to allow summit access to the average hiker, but disbanded it due to upkeep issues and the pain of rescuing scared hikers. Its overall a really straightforward hike on a bomber trail with some marked scrambling and a couple 5th class sections(maybe some trivial 5.6 like Tom suggests). Anyone with novice climbing skills should be able to do this sans gear easily. A great off the radar hike to beat the crowds.

A look up at Lady Mountain
The start. Look for the lonely boulder behind Annie

Amazing how nature created these perfect footholds! 

The first 5th class section. Does it look trivial? It is. 

Brush assist up the snow filled slot. Does it look trivial? It wasn't. 

2nd 5th class section. Does it look trivial? In an awkward way yes

The top

A very artistic view of the summit compass. Don't be jealous Kimber Hansen

Better approach beta than Tom: From lower emerald pools parking, cross the bridge and head left. Recent rain washed out the upper section of this trail so technically bypassing the closed sign is in order. Switchback up and right through the dirt avy debris and hike for 1/2 mile on the intact trail. Rather than going to the distinct corner as Tom suggests, look for an obvious cairned trail, 100 feet past the Rockfall interpretive sign, heading uphill that will take you right to the first scrambling section.

With plenty of time left in the day, we hiked up Hidden Canyon which I had never explored. Lots of snow up there. Would be fun to go from the top.

Get your splits on pregnant woman! 

2 slots in the last month that I've ventured into containing snow

Finally, I decided to give Angels an honest time trial with Strava. I waited till 5:30 pm when most of the traffic seemed to have slowed. I pounded it up to Scout lookout in just over 20 min, and hit the top in 29:30, beating the previous strava record by 6 seconds. Wahoo! I'm legit! As I fell my way down the cables in a one winged shot-down bird kind of way, my finger got caught in the chains on a 90 degree turn and it got torqued in a non-anatomical fashion. I yelped in pain and tried to avoid losing my balance and becoming the 7th person to die falling off the cables, ignored it and ran back down for a CTC time of 50:37 though Strava says :55 which is total BS. My finger later ballooned up quite large and hurt to touch it. My cragging plans for Monday disappeared. Hopefully its nothing bad. Getting xrays would be the smart thing to do.

I think I'll be back with whoever willing dressed up as angels to time trial this thing and get a good laugh from the tourons.
Monday I did a fast lap on the Zen trail in :50 minutes in the morning and then during our non-climbing brainstorm session Annie suggested we run out to Kolob Arch, which is 14 miles RT. Its pretty flat so she thought she could run a little. She did great despite the constant baby bouncing and we did the trip in 4 hours or so. This got my really psyched to give the full Zion traverse another go as this section was as gorgeous as the Zion section is. The actual Kolob arch is not really that cool, its an arch, they all look like arches, but we had a great time exploring new terrain.
Fantastic colors. Reminicent of Bryce

Does this arch look unimpressive? It was

Cool stream/clay running with great vistas

A welcome sign. We'll be back for more. 

Always more Zion to explore....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Y get up so early?

The Y, courtesy of some internet site. 

I'm gradually ticking off my hit list for this winter's ski objectives. With my wise deductive reasoning that this weekend's avalanche forecast would be high(its actually extreme today) I thought it best to hit the Y couloir earlier in the week while it was still stable. Unfortunately with my full time job, this requires either after work skiing or before work skiing. Seeing that I hate getting up early, I decided to conquer my distaste for pre- dawn activity and found myself at the Lisa Falls parking Thursday morning at 4:30 am. Court, lacking a full time job and any kind of time responsibilities, agreed to accompany me knowing he could go home and sleep till noon afterwards while I struggled through a normal work day.

Skiing in the dark is a little tricky. Without being able to see the couloir and the standard approach thicket creating a visible and physical barrier, we managed to completely unsight(the opposite of an onsight in climbing) the approach and bushwacked way too high. We eventually entered the couloir and began the long slog of booting upwards. We were forced to climb some testy steep icy sections, perform some 5th class mantles and partner pole assists, and other hoopla till we reached the final open section towards the top. We were a bit slower than we'd hoped, so we had to turn around about 1/4 way from the top.

The skiing was great in the upper couloir, and the lower couloir required all of my steep skiing tricks(i have 2, removing skis and falling) plus some to arrive back at the car at 7:30. Pulling into work at 8 I felt tired but excited to have pulled off something that cool before work. I'll be back to ski the whole thing in normal daylight hours.

About 12 pm I wasn't as excited and spent lunch sleeping in the car.

This picture of the Y at night won me the"worst blurred picture of the Y at night" award

Hardcore athletes like Mr. Krupicka do twofers, or doubles, in their training regiments. They go once in the morning and then later at night. I am not hardcore so once is enough for me. But Saturday presented an opportunity for a twofer so I took it.

 Jake and I skied some laps up Pink Pine which was fun as I had never been up there. We intentionally and safely dislodged a few windblown cornices with ease to test the slopes. After unsafely not digging a pit, we enjoyed some fantastic powder turns. Upon reaching the parking lot, Jake was unsure if he beacon was working, so we wisely performed some tests. You should always test your beacon after skiing in avalanche terrain.

 Went home and dried out my gear, watched some bball, then hit up 2 laps with Court on Short Swing at 4:30. The last lap was full on in the dark(bringing my ski runs in complete darkness total to 2 for the week) with quite painful blinding snowfall. The question we faced was, do you goggle up and create further blackness and hit a tree, or do you not goggle up and risk being blinded by windblown snow daggers and then hit a tree?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm an idiot.

The view across white pine along the Pink Pine ridge

Jake enjoying some powder hopping down Pink Pine

Pink Pine ridge

Cool people take pictures of rime ice  
Court slogging up Short Swing

Cool people take lots of pictures of rime ice. 
If I wasn't a little girl when it comes to ice climbing, I would climb this. The Zicicle. Photo by Mr Burr

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hogum Hell

Great view west from Short Swing summit, an after work Friday Dusk Patrol. (not related to following post) 

NW couloir is on the right side with choke point visible midway down. Andrew Burr photo. notice how its actually a good photo? 
(all photos below in this post are courtesy of me, which are few, unrepresentative of our day, and of horrible quality due to my utter refusal to remove my gloves)

a much better TR than mine can be found practically anywhere on the internet, but here a few good ones regarding this line:
black diamond
surface skis

I have never had the screaming barfies so bad in my life.

I've summited the Pfiefferhorn somewhere in the 10+ times range, but Saturday was my first winter ascent. The usual gang minus Nick(hope the elk are doing well) found ourselves breaking our own trail starting at the Red Pine/Maybird junction in hopes of skiing the classic NW couloir on the Little Matterhorn. The 5 of us took turns breaking trail or carrying the rope(ahem, Jake did neither. "I'm tired and my free Powderhore slim lightweight bright yellow backpack is too small to carry the rope") up to Red Pine Lake and then onto the East Ridge. It got really cold once we were on the ridge. 

The person leading was the only person that didn't know they were on  frozen Red Pine Lake 

We found the short 5th class section of ridgeline before the final summit push to be trivial compared to summer conditions which gratefully surprised us. Court led us up the final 200' of waist deep powder wallowing to the summit with quite cold wind and blinding snow, making most of us question why we weren't back at home "eating greasy food in a hot shower" as Jake put it. No food allowed in the shower Jake. 

East Ridge of the Pfief

 While Jake and Court rigged the first rappel off the summit due to low snow conditions, Pete, Steve and I tried to regain some warmth back into our hands. I honestly didn't think I could put on my harness my hands hurt so bad. Luckily with some hand in the armpits action and a short prayer(if your arms are folded you might as well pray) my fingers regained 50% of normal temperature, which is the least required percentage in order to not kill yourself while rappelling down a mountain couloir. 

Then, suddenly, when most of our confidence was lost, a small ray of sunshine poked through the clouds. Our cold despair and fear of the NW couloir diminished dramatically from a score of 9 to an 8(we still were really scared) with this small beacon of hope. My prayer had worked! The sun was going to come out, we would be warm, an expansive mountain view would appear, and no one would die in an avalanche! My confidence had returned! 

The sun disappeared one minute later, but our harnesses were on by then so we had to continue.

We all slowly made our way down the couloir, some skiing, some booting, some hand line booting, to the final rap. We had Courts slim 200' rope which was perfect for the 2 raps we did.(one slung horn, one set of fat bolts)  After freezing our way down the technical portion, we enjoyed some amazing powder in a spectacular setting though it became a full on white out and our vision and depth perception were about as good as the Denver Broncos offense today. 

The boys hand line booting down the couloir

Jake thinking about skiing

Pete down booting the couloir

Past the difficulties and into the fun powder
Green machine with my superman rope crushing the NW couloir

We had hopes of doing the Sliver as well, but due to low motivation from freezing temps, no food or water consumption due to fear of hand frostbite, and the fact that we could not really see the Sliver, we bailed. Hogum is always a treat to ski out of, about as much fun as watching a 40 point Super Bowl blowout. (2nd superbowl joke if you're counting) You find yourself in some of the thickest thicket you can imagine, often times rolling down the hill in potato bug fashion with skis, poles, and your 90 lb water saturated rope that your selfish friends abandoned you with getting tangled into a huge garage sale. You remove your skis thinking walking will be faster, only to find its no better, only a different kind of miserable. It makes grown men weep. 

All of us were scattered like the lost tribes of Israel at this point, and after wandering aimlessly in the desert for what felt like 40 years, I reached the last remaining obstacle, namely the Red Sea(aka the LCC stream) that would allow me passage to the promised land. (aka the LCC trail). With Moses nowhere to be found, I found the next best thing, a log I humped across.  

My Moses

Compared to last weeks ski adventure of a warm sunny yet horrible snow day, this weeks outing was far better despite shivering 90% of the time, snow blindness, and doing more briar patch wrestling than Brer Rabbit. Glad to have this one ticked.