Backcountry Agenda

Out Of Bounds => Trip Reports => Topic started by: Tommy T on August 21, 2012, 08:23:37 PM



Title: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on August 21, 2012, 08:23:37 PM
Just a couple of weeks left to get early purchase discounts on season passes.   

Climate predictions for the winter have been holding steady for three months now.  Conclusion is basically that Utah and Colorado will be pretty much on average; Montana may be a bit warmer than average but have more precipitation and their average temp is plenty cold;  North West could see a lot of wet, soggy snow (not a Whistler/Blackcomb year for your one week vacation); New England basically isn't going to have a great winter for another 1000 years.  Snowshoe, WV, probably won't be open for Xmas, again (wouldn't bet more than I could afford to lose on Taos for Xmas either).

My wife's body isn't holding up as well as mine.  Some family arthritis limits her ski days to about one a week and her time on the slope each day to a few hours.  Swimming helps her a lot and she enjoys things like Aquatic Aerobic classes.

Snowbird will have a new high speed quad at Little Cloud (!) and there are still a couple of trees at Canyons that I have not ridden between.

Squatter's Imperial Russian Stout; Sundance Film Festival; 1,427 listed back country routes in the Wasatch that I have not done (yet); another chance to notch 100 lift served areas with just three day trips with 50 miles (one way) as the longest.  Several swim centers.  Plenty of interesting ethnic food outlets.

Were do I want to be when I turn 70 next February? (Well, that's easy, I'd like to be in J'Hole making a run down the back in Endless.)  I think Pipeline at Snowbird would do.

We don't have a place yet, so ideas may change.  Right now, we're looking for another perfect rental in SLC.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on August 23, 2012, 09:02:33 PM
SLC Utah was my first western destination for skiing, and Snowbird was amazing of course.
I've always looked forward to your Utah trip reports the most because of the areas you often report from were runs from my first western trip.

Looking forward to another Wasatch season !


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on August 23, 2012, 11:12:58 PM
SLC Utah was my first western destination for skiing, and Snowbird was amazing of course.


Mine too.  I'd not skied out West when I took advantage of a business trip to do some work advising a law firm out there and I took my son along.  Got a slopeside apartment at Park City and he skied by himself there for a couple of days (at age 12 or 13) and then we both got one day at Park City and one day at Snowbird, stying in one wing of the Cliff Lodge before construction was completely finished on the rest.  That was probably late March or early April, 1982 or 83.  I was pure tele then and he was on alpine gear.  We didn't start snowboarding until the 85/86 season.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on August 24, 2012, 01:45:51 PM
Well, it seems that we have a done deal on a very lovely and well appointed Tudor-style house up on the hill very near Utah University starting December 14.  Grand piano in the living room kind of place.  Walking distance to our #2 favorite brew pub and trolley line to #1 and the whole temple area including the main Library and the comteporary art museum, both of which had a number of interesting programs and films last year. 

Now all I have to do is work out what I need for season pass choices, choosing among Deer Valley, Park City, Canyons, Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird.  The senior rate, early purchase, mid-week-only at Snowbird continues to be one of the best buys in North America and especially with the new lift in Little Cloud, I think that's a certainty. 

I'm going to take a look hard look at Park City's in-bound, hike-to ridges and back-country access.  I've never explored any of that and if it is as nice as Canyons, it might well serve the same function that Canyons did last year.  (I also need to check on the operator's financial stability.  Park City has ended up as a lessee from the corporation that owns Canyons and there is a major blow-up as to whether Park City has a unilateral right to renew its lease at the same price or whether it's right to renew is more of a right of first refusal, subject to whatever new price the landlord demands.  If the pending lease problem adversely affects the present manager's ability to raise short term working capital or makes it reluctant to perform proper mainentance and replacement, Park City might not be a fun place for four months.)

Tommy T.

P.S.: We can certainly discuss everything from climate projections to vacation area selection to early weather reports to Wasatch Powder to appropriate gear, but on snow reports will probably start on December 15th.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on August 27, 2012, 01:13:20 PM
From the Park City area web site (sort of hidden down at the end of the season ticket prices and features list) is this notice:


"Park City Mountain Resort is confident it will be open for the 2012-2013 season, but in the unlikely event the pending lawsuit against Talisker Land Holdings results in the Resort closing for the  season, the Resort will refund the full season pass price paid by holders of 2012-2013 season passes.  If the Resort is required in the lawsuit to close for a portion of the 2012-2013 season, the Resort will prorate the refund based on the period the Resort is closed."


That.  And, Park City has parking problems (for an extra charge, the daily parking fee is covered by the pass but space is not assured), tends to be very crowded during peak weeks, and its reputation for a snobby attitude persists.

I'm tending to a repeat of last years pass combination of mid-week at Snowbird and unlimited at Canyons.  If the year turns out to be exactly the same as last year-- well, that's not bad.  And, the chances are quite high that it will be a better snow year which will make it into a different experience, even at the same mountains.

And, I've found a band with two concerts during the winter that is welcoming me and my horns.

Otherwise, this is the house, as lifted from a web site:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Capture1.JPG)

and, a representative inside shot, from the same source:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Capture2~0.JPG)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on October 22, 2012, 01:34:22 PM

October 22, 2012.  9am.  Top of the tram.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Pic_of_the_day.JPG)


Snow expected to continue all week -- probably 15 to 25 inches is a fair prediction.

About 7 weeks to go.

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on October 27, 2012, 10:46:08 AM
Just talked to my fam in Ogden and Pow Mow got 30" so far.  Lots of people earning turns up there yesterday.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on October 27, 2012, 10:08:02 PM
Just talked to my fam in Ogden and Pow Mow got 30" so far.  Lots of people earning turns up there yesterday.

I have new board boots waiting for the first run!

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on November 29, 2012, 11:37:33 AM
For Thanksgiving, we drove up to Little Rock to see my sister-in-law and her newest grandson then on up to Nashville, Ind. to visit my wife's cousins and a couple of elderly aunts; then over to Columbus, Ind. to see my sister and her new grandson plus a visit with an elderly uncle and an elderly aunt.  Over to Cincinnati, for Thanksgiving dinner proper with my Daughter and her family -- that's kind of special because I'm a Mayflower descendant and my wife is part Native American, so the daughter and her girls are the literal embodiment of the first Thanksgiving.

The drive was really like a tour of the seasons.  Around the Indiana hills, the trees were bare and ground was brown.  Down in the Ohio River valley at Cinci, there were dead leaves on the trees.  As we headed South and West across Kentucky and Tennesse, there began to be some late season color -- faded yellows and rusty reds -- in the trees and ground cover sometimes showed a little faded green.  By the time we got to Texarkanas and started moving due South, the colors were becoming brighter and were really Fall-like as we approached our home, which is only about 75 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and well within its climate influence.

This is the picture off our front deck, looking West, across part of our deck and the driveway extension at 9am this morning, November 29th.  Some of the delicate trees, like the Japanese Maples, have dropped their leaves due to a couple of cold nights, but the hardy shrubs are in bloom!  

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Nov_29_2012.jpg)

Meanwhile, Canyons and Snowbird are running lifts (GadZoom at the 'bird) on a couple of feet of snow.

I can't decide whether to blow the leaves off the deck or to wax my board.   ???

Five band concerts and two weeks until we leave.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on December 03, 2012, 08:44:28 AM
I was at a show last night and was really enjoying listening to the trumpet player.  Do you have any video uploaded of you playing the trumpet?


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 03, 2012, 10:32:59 AM
I was at a show last night and was really enjoying listening to the trumpet player.  Do you have any video uploaded of you playing the trumpet?

Well, I do not have any professional quality video.  In general, I hate recordings of myself because I hear every little thing that could have been better and I compare the sound to the sound of the very best players recorded in studios or in outstanding performance spaces with top-notch recording equipment and post-recording production techniques.

My daughter-in-law did get a hand-held video taken at an outdoor concert of me playing a complete flugel solo on the second movement of the Concierto d'Aranjo  (the flugel solo played by the woman in the movie "Brassed Off").  It does show what I can do.  I've never down-loaded it to my computer but I'm pretty sure that she still has it on hers.  I'll ask for a copy and if she still has it, I'll try to find a host site and post it up for you.  (I've never used YouTube -- I suppose that's the ideal spot.  Unless somebody has a better suggestion, I'll look into that.)

Tommy T.

Follow-up edit:  Chelsea says that the reason I don't have it is because it is saved on her Hi8 video camera and she doesn't know how to convert it for computer use.  I've asked her to get it commercially converted, at my expense,  to several modern formats and copies made for me, herself and my daugthter.  It is a bit of family heritage, showing the Concord, MA, Band, playing at the ampitheatre at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA, at sunset for about 600 people.  I played with that band for about 35 years and at least three of the best performances of my life were at that venue, in front of that band.  This video also has evidence of my first grandson impatiently tugging at her waist and then at the end . . .

I asked the conductor to hold the final chord of the piece for a moment and then cut off but keep the band in playing mode, with his hands still up, while I slowly faded the flugel's final note a niente, even, at the very end, turning my bell away from the mike to achieve a complete silence.  On the video a woman in front of Chelsea is heard to say "That was perfect" and the man with her says "It really was perfect."  

We'll get it somehow and when it's available, I'll make a seperate post about it so it will show up on the home page and you don't have to keep re-reading this one.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 07, 2012, 10:24:08 PM
Thule box is on top of the mini-van and is loaded with boots, boards, skis and snowshoes.  Ski clothes have been checked and are packed and in the van.  Tool kit, tire chains, spare bulbs and the like are in the car and the air pressure, oil level, brake fluid, and washer fluid are all OK.    Still have to pack the household stuff, medicine kits, toiletries, favorite pillows and that stuff as well as the camping equipment for the trip home next Spring.

Christmas concerts with the Woodlands Band on Sunday evening and the Livingston area Community Band on Monday. We leave Tuesday.  (Monday is sort of a parody.  I'll be totally packed and leaving the next day for spending the winter in the mountains snowboarding and I'll be playing with a band at the Escapees RV Park, where full-time RV'er's park in South-East Texas for the Winter.)

Canyons and Snowbird are both picking up some fresh snow from the remnants of the big storms that caused flooding in California.  This is an image of the ridge line at Canyons, the high point on the right end is 9990, the high point of the Canyons Ski Area.  The open snow fields to the picture left of 9990 are side-country -- out of bounds but reached through a gate on top of 9990 after just a few hundred feet of climb.  This image was lifted this afternoon, December 7, off one of the steer-it-yourself web cams on the Canyons web site:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/9990_Dec_7.JPG)

(The snow-boarder avi fatality from last season was just to the left of the high clump of trees below the high point on the ridge to the left of 9990.  The diagonal band just below the trees is a small cliff face which had protected some unconsolidated snow that gave way when the boarder was crossing just below and to the left.  He was carried way down and was found in trees with his board broken -- probably died from trauma.  It really didn't matter that the group had beacons, shovels and probes -- in their car down in the parking lot.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on December 11, 2012, 09:37:20 PM
Looks nice out there.

It's not very "wintery" around NE...   ::)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 14, 2012, 11:10:06 PM
We've arrived in SLC and have unpacked into a gorgeously restored and beautifully furnished house up on the bench in a toney neighborhood within a couple of blocks of U of UT.  Good weather for the trip and tonight is the start of four days of predicted moderate and maybe a bit slushy snow.  I'll make at least a few turns tomorrow just to pick up my pass and start aclimitizing.  We've already been in one of our favorite coffee houses and had a Latter Days Stout at the Desert Edge brewery and pub.

Trip out was just fine but did feature an unusual visit to an Irish pub on the main street in Durango, just a few blocks up from the train station.  11:30 Thursday morning -- they are out of Guiness!! Well, the waitress pushed a local Colorado milk stout pretty heavily so we tried and while it was not a Guiness, it was very smooth with a chocolaty undertaste and no bitterness at all.  I ordered the Irish Stew which was listed as one of the lunch specials for the day.  By then it was about 11:40 and the specials list was a clean, typed menu stuck into the permanent edition.  It even had the date typed on it.  "Oh, sorry, we're out of the Irish Stew."  Well, I had a fairly nice spicy wrap with shrimp and beef, but I was thinking about filing a false advertising claim about that Irish pub sign over the door. Between seasons and mid-week, Durango was really a ghost town.  

Thursday night in Moab was the opposite: every eatery in town had a good crowd although the lodgings seemed to be empty. Turns out that Thursday is specials night at most of the establishments.  We ate at the Moab Brewery and sampled their version of the stout.  It was a really fine medium heavy drink with a little more bitterness than Guiness, a little less fullness in the deep flavor, but still a substantial sense of coating the tongue on the way down.  Entrees were $2.00 off with the beer and a premium ice cream was half price as the dessert.

We're not fully unpacked but my riding gear was purposefully packed on top and it's out and stacked where I can find easily in the morning.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 15, 2012, 07:30:40 PM
The house rental includes snow-removal and I knew it was going a good day when I heard shovels scrapping in the driveway at 7am.

First day of my 12/13 season.  11" of new snow this morning (and still snowing late afternoon), temps right at 32 for a high .  The snow was heavy but not slushy.  The board planed out pretty well and I remembered how to turn.  I was at Canyons (S'Bird pass is week-days only) and put in 7000 feet of vert mostly in the trees between 7,100 and 8,200 feet ASL. The crowd was pretty light until about 11:30am when a big wave of people seemed to appear and the only lift that was serving blue and black terrain developed an excessively large line.  So, after a fun but not testing morning, I went back into town and helped with grocery shopping and stuff like that.  Tomorrow, two more high lifts open and some serious terrain should come on line (heard some bombing up there this morning).

I pretty much blogged Canyons and the SLC pub scene on a daily basis last year and Canyons is no longer an unknown (it made top 10 in Ski Magazine's list for the season -- that in spite of the infamous "Bad snow year in the Wasatch" problem).  I expect to limit this year's posting to describing any worthwhile back country work and covering news like Canyons' new terrain park and S'Brd's high speed quad up Little Cloud.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 17, 2012, 06:01:13 PM
First day at Snowbird for the season.  15" in the last 48 hours as of opening this morning plus another 6 or 7 during the day.  All on a 60 inch bases with 115" on the year the year so far.  New snow, loose snow and 45 mph gusts on a steady 25 mph wind speed with cloud bottoms 1000 feet or so below the base station level -- testing whiteout.  I saw numerous intermediates get lost going down Chip's Run, missing switchbacks and ending up out in the middle of black level bowls.

The new Little Cloud quad lift is a delight, two more spaces per seat and higher speed more than doubles the uphill capacity and a side benefit is that the unload is now after a 90 degree turn toward the Road to Provo -- that eliminates the game of kamikaze that used to take place between the Tram crowd and the Little Cloud unloaders as they merged and criss-crossed trying to get to Mineral and Little Cloud basins.

(The horrible and dangerous green carpet experiment at the topmost entrance to Great Scott which was seriously panned by me last year is gone.  The Tram operator with whom I discussed said device basically said a lot of people didn't like it and no one cared for it.) 

Snow is forecast to continue over the Wasatch for two more full days and nights.

Tommy T. 


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 19, 2012, 07:02:12 PM
Canyons is basically running a classic Wasatch-powder-on-packed-powder surface.  This was made comically obvious when a pretty good adult skier and I were making a pair of fast fresh tracks down a nice open gully on a newly opened face when suddenly both of us took headers -- I literally buried the nose and did what gymnasts call a "round-off" followed by a 1/2 gainer.  I dug my head out of the snow and saw the skier right beside me laying out flat with one ski about two turns back up the hill.  We laughed at the coincidence and after waiting for him to collect and check his ski, I headed down.  The snow down hill from the spot of our fall was softer, slower and required a bit of unweighting, even with the board, to get up for a turn.

I hit the collector trail at the bottom and turned down.  As I passed the next gully on the same slope, very similar to one we were in and parallel to it, I saw three skiers/boarders down in the snow at just about the exact same location up the hill. 

I believe that all five of us had been taken in by the old frost line that divided the run into an upper part with "well frozen packed powder" with 10" of fluff on top and a lower part with "mushy mashed potatoes packed powder" with 10" of fluff.  Every one of us was driving fast, making fresh lines, and when we first put full weight into a turn on the softer stuff everyone of us took a tumble. 

The same old/new:soft/firm interface probably was involved in a big snowboarder triggered avi (estimated 2.5' deep, 300' wide and 700' long) triggered near Noon today, right around the same spot as last year's fatality which I mentioned in the earlier post with a picture.  That area is known as Dutch Draw.  In good conditions it is a very good piece of side-country, but it obviously has chronic problems with its 36 degree slope angle and East aspect.  Even my Wasatch back-country route book warns about not just automatically using it as a return route to Park City from tours south of the ridge.  (I haven't seen a final report, but observers of the event believed that no one was injured today. Two boarders were engulfed by the cloud but were not hit with debris.  It appears to have been remotely triggered by a third boarder who was not caught by it and remained high.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 20, 2012, 09:55:47 PM


I believe that all five of us had been taken in by the old frost line that divided the run into an upper part with "well frozen packed powder" with 10" of fluff on top and a lower part with "mushy mashed potatoes packed powder" with 10" of fluff.  Every one of us was driving fast, making fresh lines, and when we first put full weight into a turn on the softer stuff everyone of us took a tumble. 



I talked to Patrol about this and they expanded on the cause of the "more solid" lower layer.  Last week-end there was a precipitation event that was rain up to about 8000 feet and snow above.  Then temps dropped and the snow up to the 8000 foot level got a rain crust while the snow above that level became"packed powder."  8000 feet ASL is a pretty close approximation for where the group tumbles took place.

Instead of breaking through into soggy snow, we slipped out on buried ice.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 25, 2012, 10:12:14 AM
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!

Our SLC Xmas present is up to two feet of new snow in the last two days and a calm, 20 degree day with mostly sunny skies to enjoy it.

Then two more days with another two foot storm and a clear Friday to enjoy it before what will probably be a huge crowd for the weekend.



Tommy T.

(Update:  22,400' of good riding -- mostly in trees for the unlimited freshies, with just a couple of runs in tracked-up open bowls for a little speed.)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 26, 2012, 04:33:15 PM
Snowing hard on the mountains (9" to 13" basically the same tomorrow) and we had some other matters requiring attention anyway, so today's highlight is Linda's shot of the Rocky Mountain quail trecking across our back yard to our neighbor's.  He feeds them.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Linda_s_Quail_Shot.jpg)

I cropped one handsome little male so you can see what the bird looks like:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Handsome_Little_Male.jpg)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on December 27, 2012, 11:20:38 PM
Salt Lake City continues to amaze us.

This evening we ate at a small Bosnian cafe.

Not sure what we ate.  Mine was sort of a green pepper stuffed with a beef mixture in a stew of rice and other stuff.  Linda had a kebob with chicken and lamb resting on a kind of spinach muffin surrounded by rice. Excellent bread was shaped like a 6" pita but the consistency of a dense baking powder bread about 3/4" thick -- no yeast flavor, but sort of malty. Mild coffee served Turkish style and baklava for dessert.  Think Greek without grape leaves or Leboneese with less spice. The owners were our waiter and his brother, the cook -- both Bosnian Muslems recently immigrated to the U.S.

Sampled the fare of yet another Utah brewery -- Zion Canyon Brewery in Zion Canyon near Zion National Park.  Their "Springdale Amber Ale" is a full flavored ale without being bitterly hopsy.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 01, 2013, 11:41:34 AM
Happy Anniversary, everyone.  Linda and I were married on January 1 and are now beginning our 50th year.

The Christmas to New Years week was not too crowded in the Wasatch and the snow has been good to excellent.  Right now Canyons is showing over 10' on the season with nearly 3' in the last week.  Snow numbers are even better up in the Cottonwood Canyons.  Avi danger is pretty hard to predict across the region with 3 possible trigger conditions existing down through the still fairly shallow (less than 3') snowpack, but, in general, the highest danger ratings are only "Considerable" and much of the useable out-of-bound terrain is "Moderate."  In bounds, Canyons is doing a lot of control every day and is running about 90% of its total terrain open.

Now, however, we are facing a pretty dry, stable high that means sunny, not snowy, weather is certain for a week and likely for a week after that.  Temps will be chilly, so the snow pack will last, but the groomers are going to be pretty solid by the time the next storm system breaks through.

Happy New Year, too. 

Tommy T.




Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 01, 2013, 05:07:32 PM
Congratulations!  Thats Huge!


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 02, 2013, 01:53:47 PM
Congratulations!  Thats Huge!

Thanks, Surf.  We were married at about 10am so we celebrate during the day and in the evening of the 1st, not at mid-night on December 31st.  So....

We were a bit slow getting out of bed this morning and, for the first time this season, I am making it two consecutive days with out being on the slopes.

Yesterday we did brunch at a Greek owned and themed restaurant called "The Other Place."  (If anybody doesn't get the tie-in to  "This is the Place," pm me or Surf and get the official briefing on the Morman history of Salt Lake City.)  We told the owner that it was our 49th Anniversary and he waived the check.  Then "Anna Karenina" at the Salt Lake City Film Society's cinema, The Broadway, in the afternoon.   Then the evening at home started with a tradition, pop-corn and champagne, and continued into other traditions . . . .

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 07, 2013, 01:08:17 PM
Well, for the first time in 8 years of doing this all-season thing, I've been sick.  This is my 4th day in a row without going out on the snow.  My main symptom has been laryngitis and an inability to feel like I am doing a good job of clearing my throat.  Sleeping is tough because of a lot of coughing.  We've had a terrible polution-filled inversion layer covering the city for a week and a nurse indicated that many people have various kinds of breathing issues when that happens.  I think that is a good guess -- I had some similar issues at Chaco in 2002 and it was found that the swamp cooler on our apartment in staff housing was really full of mold probably causing an allergic reaction in my upper respritory tract.

Another guess is that I have some version of the flu which my accummulated resistance from 45 years of annual flu shots is almost holding off.  I have some odd muscle sorness at spots that aren't related to boarding -- I associate that with flues that I remember from the past.  I'm just glad that it's 4 days out of 120 and not 4 days out of a 7 day vacation with a travel taking up each end.

I'm not missing much on the mountains -- the inversion is caused by a stable, stationary high pressure area backed up against the west side of the Wasatch. The same high has caused several days of cold clear weather at the areas with no new snow, icy surfaces in the woods and groomers that are getting beaten into submission every night but getting less and less pleasant every day.

I'll admit to driving my wife crazy and she confesses that the not talking bit is a relief.

I slept pretty well last night and feel better today.  I expect to be up at Snowbird tomorrow morning.  Linda is ready to get out in the snow again and a day with her is easier on me, so it's a good way to ease back into the routine.

Tommy T.





Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on January 07, 2013, 03:20:54 PM
Hope you feel better soon !
There's a bunch of flu type illnesses going around, unfortunately I fell victim to one


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 07, 2013, 07:04:12 PM
I'll admit to driving my wife crazy and she confesses that the not talking bit is a relief.
Tommy T.
Haha!
Hope you feel better soon.  Its been crazy how many people have been sick around here lately.  At least your sick for the high pressure part of the cycle.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 09, 2013, 08:41:35 PM
Number 98 on my personal list of lift served ski area skied or (most likely) ridden -- Sundance Ski resort, near Provo, UT, in the region of the Southern giants of the Wasatch.  We've been there before for openning day of the Sundance Film Festival (most of which happens in Park City and which also has several venues around Salt Lake City). but this is the first time on skies and board.,

It was a beautiful day between the persistent high disappating and an expected SW storm moving in tonight.  Linda and I made about a 35 minute drive south from Temple Square to Provo Canyon and up a little side road to the Robert Redford creation:  Sundance Resort.  Don't even think about what Oprah did to Telluride!  Redford took a tiny family area and turned into a small private dream of a mountain get-a-way.  You can't even get a clue as to where Redford's cabin is unless you know my friend Angie -- her grandfather built it. One review used the phrase "lots of rough hewn wood."  That's the base for sure -- very little has been done just for show.  The buildings fit into the environment.  The staff is low key.  The food at the Foundry Grill is so good that we haven't tried any of the other options.

No crowd and no lines today, midweek and still running, like all of the range, on accummulating early season snow.

Still the groomers were of a nice texture, not beat to death, and we hit the warm-up cycle just right, starting around 10am, breaking for lunch around Noon, and adding an hour thereafter.

450 acres encompassing 2100 feet of vertical -- emphasis on blue cruising and short black drops from ridge to valley.  Here's a snip from Google Earth on which I've drawn the area boundaries -- tall and skinny:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Sundance_venue.JPG)

Notice the valley cutting across the ridges half-way up.  Getting to the top requires two chairs, with a change over right at that spot.  If there were lines, that would be a serious annoyance!

Larger map area from the same source showing how the ski area is really a part of the shoulder and ridge system of Mt. Timpanogos, high peak of the Wasatch:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Sundance_Neighbors.JPG)

Pink bulls-eye is the Timp summit.

And a copy of picture lifted from the Web showing the winter view of Timpanogos as seen from one of the two main lifts at Sundance:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Timpanogos.JPG)

The area  looks like it would be a great jumping off point for lift assisted access to some serious high country. . . .

But, it is in Utah County which has imposed a local law that makes crossing the ski area boundary a misdemeanor offence.  Sundance Ski Patrol is required to detain anyone caught crossing the line and to notify the sherrif's office.   Appareantly, serious fines are levied.  (Needless to say such laws are not in effect in the counties where Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, Canyons, Park City and Deer Valley are located.)  The rationale seems to be that the Timpanogos area is really very rugged and pretty dangerous a venue for back country work.  Rescue work is similarly effected.   It is National Forest and it is open to back country, but not lift assisted.

Oh!  Ticket prices.  This is a celebrity owned "Resort," not an "area."   So be prepared:

All day senior tickets were $15 each.  Full adult is $54; $25 for afternoon only.

It's not big enough for a week vacation, but it is a nice little cherry on top of the Wasatch ski options.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 10, 2013, 09:01:44 AM
Timp is one of the more beautiful mountains in Utah, Ive hiked on it quite a bit for someone from the east coast because one of my sisters lives in American Fork and my brother in law works as a guide for Sundance.  However Besides the Mountain and the canyons (AF and Provo) I'm not really a big fan of the Utah County area in general.  Provo has a little culture, but in general that whole area is box standard and lacks any unique character in my oppinion.  We have also observed on numerous occasions that in general woman are treated as inferior there, so my wife doesnt really like that part of utah either

If you get a chance to drive the whole Alpine Scenic Highway when it opens its definitely worth doing.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 10, 2013, 05:26:50 PM
Timp is one of the more beautiful mountains in Utah, Ive hiked on it quite a bit for someone from the east coast because one of my sisters lives in American Fork and my brother in law works as a guide for Sundance.  However Besides the Mountain and the canyons (AF and Provo) I'm not really a big fan of the Utah County area in general.  Provo has a little culture, but in general that whole area is box standard and lacks any unique character in my oppinion.  We have also observed on numerous occasions that in general woman are treated as inferior there, so my wife doesnt really like that part of utah either

If you get a chance to drive the whole Alpine Scenic Highway when it opens its definitely worth doing.


You get another 100% from me. 

Timp is really nice.  Just looking at it is a lesson in structural geology.  Among other bits of professional business, all of which seems to pay him pretty well, my son teaches field camps for professional geologists (mostly in the oil industry ) and the Wasatch is like an open text book of stratigraphy that he uses for some of his courses.

In the years that I can remember, we've been wandering the West since at least as early as 1957 and I have family pictures of things like my Mother and me on top of Pikes Peak in the late '40s.  My family always camped for vacations -- I don't remember ever staying in a hotel with my parents.  In the early 50s, the first trips that I really remember, most of our trips were East into the Smokies or down into Kentucky to camp on the big TVA lakes on the Tennessee River.  After law school, Linda and I started exploring the West.  I know UT 96 pretty well and Linda and I camped at the Timp campground with both kids when they were still pretty small, so that was early 70s.  We did some minor backpacking and camping over in the Uintas but nothing very long and nothing at all in the Wasatch.  We were still in the "visit all the National Parks" stage and backpacking with the kids was mostly short trips from a trail head for one night in the woods.  By the mid-80s we were beginning to ski in the West with the first areas being Park City and Snowbird, squeezed around a business trip to SLC (see next paragraph).

I'm really down on Provo which is exactly as you describe it.  I did some legal business there (as a consultant to a Salt Lake City law firm) when the city was trying to negotiate a resource recovery plant/power plant joint venture between Provo and BYU -- the people on both sides just drove me crazy.  At some point, the SLC law firm withdrew from representation because they did other work for Provo and other work for BYU so, as the two began negotiating with each other, conflict of interest questions arose and they did the right thing.  (Surf: Do you know that I did virtually all the legal and financial work on the Claremont recycling/solid waste disposal facility?  That one took the passage of laws by the Vermont and the New Hampshire legislatures and an act of Congres, plus negotiating a 20 year operating contract and overseeing a tax-exempt bond issue by the NH Industrial Development Authority.  If you know anything about it, tell how that project is working out -- if it's still working at all.)

I don't know the local demographics well, but I understand that SLC now has a majority of its population that is not Mormon.  I suspect that Provo remains very heavily Mormon.  The Mormon treatment of women may not be a problem for many of the Mormon women, but to non-Mormans it seems sort of, well, Medieval.

Angie is from one of the towns just North of Provo and she hated it when she lived there through high school and hates it more now that the family farm looks like a version of the Marine Corps base at Twenty-Nine Palms, built from Lego blocks.  She is not just a lapsed Mormon -- she is an active and vehiment critic of Mormon society.

(Some of you may not read every one of my posts over the several years that I've been posting.   Angie is the non-family female that I most love and respect.  She's my best snow-board student ever and she taught me quite a bit about astronomy and almost everything I know about archeo-astronomy.  Never married and disappointed by almost every man she's ever known, she's currently in charge of the National Park Service's over-all response to global warming.   Last I heard she, was working with individual parks to help each park develop a plan to determine global warming effects on it; to decide how to present the individual problems to the park visitors; andto have a plan to adapt and cope with what the effects may be on the park's particular situation and resources.  Based at the Park Service's Intermountain Headquarters in Ft. Collins, Angie frequently spends time with us at our winter ski homes.  I know her age, but I won't publish it.  Suffice it to say she is inbetween the ages of my daughter and my oldest granddaughter.  We have a sort of curious, mutual mentor relationship.  She and my wife also have a nice synergy.  My wife had a professional career and is at least as independent as Angie.  I think there is a bit of a surrogate mother situation between them.  This, then, is Angie, as I most often see her these days:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Angie_Profile.jpg)

Big south-west storm bringing in 36" in the high terrain over the next 48 hours.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on January 10, 2013, 10:13:06 PM
I'm trying to catch up on your reports, all I have enjoyed, most of which I cannot comment on as I haven't been around UT much other than Alta and Snowbird.
One thing that sparked a memory was the carpet on top of Great Scott, we did not see it when we jumped in via a goat path followed by a rocky dogleg before it opened up but..
I do remember a few carpets here and there that we found in "through the gates" terrain; one in the Black Forest Glades if I remember correctly and one on top of "Lone Pine" next to "High Rustler" after you make the long high traverse.  I was confused as to why they were there, and thought to myself that they were more of a hindrance than anything helpful.  I thought it was to limit the erosion or the exposure of a rocky surface under the snow.

In Black Forest Glades somewhere towards the bottom just above a lift tower Rage and I found a rocky chute that had the carpet, and a knotted rope to descend, it was weird; we didn't use the rope.
We just skied it, and I remember it was a little too narrow to have your skis in a horizontal position, and there was more dirt than snow from all the side scraping some people with shorter skis than us were doing.

It was fun because it was different and unexpected.

(Getting to Lone Pine / High Rustler was a real pain by the way, even on skis; I can't imagine how one could get there on a snowboard)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 10, 2013, 11:26:35 PM

In Black Forest Glades somewhere towards the bottom just above a lift tower Rage and I found a rocky chute that had the carpet, and a knotted rope to descend, it was weird; we didn't use the rope.
We just skied it, and I remember it was a little too narrow to have your skis in a horizontal position, and there was more dirt than snow from all the side scraping some people with shorter skis than us were doing.

It was fun because it was different and unexpected.

Is that the trip that was extensively written up on T4T with good photo coverage and all?  Oh yeah, I remember that one!

I found the rope pitch once and then couldn't take my son back to it.  I think it's one of those place like Brigadoon that you only find if you're not looking for it and if you find it and then leave, it disappears.  I didn't use the rope either -- with a 158 cm board I could make such turns as I needed.  I wouldn't have placedit  that close in.  I thought I was on that steep, ledgy hill side out under Thunder Bowl -- maybe a different roped gully.

Quote
(Getting to Lone Pine / High Rustler was a real pain by the way, even on skis; I can't imagine how one could get there on a snowboard)

We have some choices.  Surf uses a split board that he can put skins on and climb or he can use touring wax and walk along or even use poles and glide wax and get some ski touring effect.  I use small, light assault snow shoes, usually with a hinged crampon under the foot, set up with bindings that accept my board boots.  Both systems require a full stop, get out the gear, make a change over and then do all over again when you get to the down-hill destination  Depending on conditions, we can flounder about and post-hole for while, but that quickly begins to feel like a survival technique than something one would intentionally do for "fun."  I once did a quarter-mile across a high valley lake in the French Alps post-holing in waist deep snow and it must have taken me nearly and hour -- although I did have plenty of daylight left and I really took my time to try not to sweat it up too much. 

This is a picture of me on the snow shoes, carrying the board, coming out of the canyon between Jackson Hole Ski Area and the Grand Teton ridge ("Granite Canyon," maybe?).  My son was on tele's and was having a worse time on those rocky face side-hills that show in picture than I was with my snow-shoe crampons under foot.


(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/March_18_Snowshoe_Hell.jpg)

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 11, 2013, 08:36:16 AM
Quote
Timp is really nice.  Just looking at it is a lesson in structural geology.  Among other bits of professional business, all of which seems to pay him pretty well, my son teaches field camps for professional geologists (mostly in the oil industry ) and the Wasatch is like an open text book of stratigraphy that he uses for some of his courses.

I love geology and have taken alot of courses on its mostlty in the hydro-geology disciplne.  If I could go back I would change my major to that field.  
I'm pretty familiar with our local geology, but not with Utah's.  I was told by a local there that the horizontal lines on Timp were from shore line erosion when Utah Lake was that high.  Do you know if theres any truth to that?


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 11, 2013, 11:30:53 AM
Well, the way you are reporting it, the local was subtly changing vocabulary and shifting the geology a little to give grandeur to his local resource, but generaly speaking, "Yes, there is truth to it."

The lake was included in the great Pliestocene lake of which Great Salt Lake is sort of the official remnant.  Lake Bonneville encompassed much of the Utah part of the Great Basin and maxed out at an elevation of over 6,000' ASL around 30,000 years ago.  Great Salt Lake today is down in 4,000' ASL range.  Features such as the "Bench,"  upon which we are living in SLC this winter, are  lower shores of Bonneville, left behind as it broke through to the North and began to drain.

The successive shore lines which can be identified as one drives East from Provo toward Sundance or the Timp campground are indeed shore lines of the lake of which Utah is one remnant.

The heavy, obvious Lake Louise-style bands high up on Timpanogos are layers from considerably earlier epochs.  They are limestone and dolomite from oceans that intruded into the not-yet-fully-formed N. Americas during the Pennsylvanian -- more like 30 million years ago.  Since then, plate tectonics have caused the Wasatch to be uplifted along the Wasatch fault at the rate of 3 or 4 feet every 100 years or so -- really generally speaking and with lots of starts and stops.  (That fault is a major boundary between the Great Basin and the Rocky Mountains.  It is way overdue for a big release and experts estimate thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage.)

Mad River Glen -- ski it if you can

The Wasatch -- ski it while you can

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 12, 2013, 11:06:10 AM
Old, jaded, still a little tired from my illness last week . . .

Weird storm:  a foot of new, very dry in the upper Cottonwood canyons;  two feet of new, very dry a couple of thousand feet lower and a bit north, like the base at Canyons Ski Area; even more on the lower peaks further north.  Avi center says it was too cold to snow much up at 9 and 10 thousand and that still shows -- today's temps at all of the Salt Lake City mountains (Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, Park City) will max in the single digits and wind chill will bring a lot of them negative.  Just to make it really nice, there will still be an inch or two of snow in the air during the day.

Over the last couple of days, my driveway was dug-out twice and I put chains on to drive around SLC -- the city was full of cars stuck in parking lots, intersection accidents, spinning wheels and fish-tails on every hill up where we are living near the University of Utah.  I really hate to take on the road to Snowbird today and to worry all day about what it's going to be like in the afternoon driving back down.

This snow is going to last a while, and I'll last longer if I just stay home and practice my trumpet today.  (Of course, tomorrow is forecast to be even colder.  Oh well, I've got until April 25th.)

It's beautiful here, we've got good windows all around a little breakfast nook looking into a nice backyard area.  I'm out of coffee beans for my AeroPress, but I've got a full, new bag of espresso for the La Pavonne -- don't worry about me.  I'll try to get a good snow picture here in town.

Tommy T.

A little later:

This picture was taken yesterday, Friday afternoon; the street had been plowed, our drive and walk had been cleared and the was hope of a good week-end to come:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/1445_on_1_11_13.jpg)

At two o'clock in the morning, we were awakened by our snow crew clearing the drive again!  

This morning, looking out a front bedroom window on the second floor at our residential street, we got some idea as to why they were working strange hours:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/900S_from_2nd_floor__1_12_13.jpg)

I comfort myself by remembering the advice we got last season about staying at a house in the city:  "The mountains get 10's of feet of snow, but it never snows in the City hard enough to require clearing the sidewalks.  If you need to, you can hire a local kid with a push broom to brush off any powder that might otherwise get slick."   And, I go downstairs to fix a cup of coffee.  This is the view from the breakfast nook:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Backyard_from_the_breakfast_nook_1_12_13.jpg)

At least I left my chains on after driving around town yesterday -- if we have a medical emergency, I'll be able to get out of the drive.

OH, the temps are up to 13 and the expectation is no more than six inches the rest of today!

Tommy T.

(I have a premonition that I'm not going to get a lot of sympathy about this.)





Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 12, 2013, 10:29:55 PM
I've been getting texts all day from my sister bragging about it dumping, and now you too?  No sympathy from me.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 13, 2013, 05:20:06 PM
I got out of my funk and decided to head up the hill on a bright, clear Sunday morning.  I expected pretty substantial crowds after the snow over the past few days and given that it is a week-end day.  I dropped Linda off at the U. of UT swimming facility and drove 20 minutes to the parking lot at Canyons.  Got there a little after 10am and the lot was no more than 1/3rd full.  The slopes were even barer -- very few people skiing and riding today.  Bright blue skies, but the new snow was sort of the consistancy of sand and I had to unfasten a binding and scooter across some spots that I've always glided through before.  Off-piste was a mixed bag, depending on exposure, sort of enough new to conceal the old sitzmarks but not enough to smooth out the results.  The snowpack was surprisingly thin on East to South-East sides.

I could only think of one thing that might have detered the crowd:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Canyons_ParkingLot_Temp_1_13_13.jpg)

(My dashboard thermometer in the Canyons parking lot at a few minutes after 10am.)

Word is that Snowbird really got nothing (and has no snowmaking after New Years) -- I'll probably wait for the next storm before going back up there.  Linda and I may go up to Ogden tomorrow and pick up Number 99, playing in the Surf family back-yard.

Tommy T.






Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on January 14, 2013, 11:42:04 AM
#99 = Powder or Wolf?  Lock up your board if you go to Wolf! They have a big theft problem there.  
I love Pow-Mow it reminds me of Cannon Mountain if it were bigger and had Utah's Powder.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 15, 2013, 08:03:30 PM
Linda's best friend for 40 years, Beth from Bedford, NH, is visiting.  So instead of bagel sandwiches, dinner was a three way effort to prepare a
Bouillibaisse a la Marsiellaise.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/But__Not_Too_Many_Chefs.jpg)

The effort was totally successful:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Bouillabaisse_a_la_Marseillaise.jpg)

(Beth and I get along just fine, as well.  She and Linda were partners on a women's tennis team out of Concord, MA and I played with her when Linda couldn't make a practice session.  I taught her oldest son rock climbing; then he moved to California to establish a business making equipment for climbing gyms (his MD father was not amused)).

Tomorrow, I'll hit Snowbird while they go to a couple of the SLC museums.

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on January 15, 2013, 10:12:49 PM
Sorry to hear about the cold, glad your back on the slopes again.
No sympathy on the snow part, we might get something tonight, between 2-5".

I'd be out there if it were -10f if there was fresh to be had.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 17, 2013, 11:38:57 PM
Snowbird!

High above the pollution filled inversion stands Snowbird.  About 30 years of skiing (way back) or riding Snowbird, I know what I like about it and what isn't to my taste.  It's a mountain that can make you work for several trips, dodging rocks on the Cirque Traverse, coping with high winds on the ridges, dealing with glacial glaomers (think Regulator, beaten into ultimate submission by ruthless groomers working on slopes steeper than the maker of groomers ever intended), accepting that milionaire playboys can afford to rent the hill an hour before you are allowed to see it, suffering ski bindings in the small of the back on an overcrowded tram.  But once in a while, like last year on that first powder run in the Gad Chutes on a perfect morning, Snowbird slips you one of those someday-I-want-to-be-the-one-who-did-that opportunities. 

Got one this week:

Set out to do the complete Cirque Traverse all the way around and over to Mach Schnell for a ego boost of a run -- Schnell is double black right down the end of the ridge to the Tram Base.  Nothing new -- just a clean run on an expert's line.

The traverse was worse than usual; high winds all week had really scoured the rocks bare, and where it wasn't bare, little bushes were sticking up.  From about Barry Barry Steep on, I was down to skier's left, just enough in trees to the skier's left of the true ridge line, primarily to get a little tree protected snow, but also to get out of the tracks and into something a little fresher in the trees.  I was trying to keep track of which lines I was crossing -- Wilbere Bowl shows as a line on the map, but in fact it is a big bowl with some open space and some trees and, especially at the top, things really don't look as well defined as the map suggests.  I made a guess as to when I crossed from Wilbere Bowl to Wilbere Chute, based on how open each line appeared.  My guesses may not have been too accurate.  At what I thought was the Willbere Chute I began to angle down just a bit, expecting to cross a narrow row of trees and come out in the open near the top of Schnell.  (I mean, after all, that is exactly what the map shows!!)

As expected I broke out of the trees at top of a straight line and turned, irrevokeably, downward.  For an instant, I was thrilled that there were no tracks at all -- then I remembered that there were tracks that I had observed from the bottom in Schnell.   Wonder where the heck I am? (I didn't think that thought in quite those terms.)  Well, who cares?  I'm going down hill in a very small gully that is cutting through trees.  I've got good wind deposited snow with no tracks, just enough width and contour to the gully to make carving frontsides and backsides easy.  The route is clear of brush and obvious, but I can't see the Tram base or the Lodge for the trees. It is pretty clear that this is not your grandmother's Mach Schnell.  Then the trees get thinner and I see the top station on Wilbere and I cross a groomer and come out in the Harper's Ferry East area.  I stopped to look at the map and the artist's rendition map just doesn't have the gullies and trees right.

I came upon two Patrolers working on a clogged drain under Bass Highway and I stopped for a chat.   They obviously know the area I've just gone through; they asked some questions that were really diagnostic as to the route, and I appareantly gave answers that let them agree that I had discovered and had ridden "Wilma Chute."  The problem with the map is that it can't quite get the perspective correct.  The Wilbere stuff is on the face with the Gads; Mach Schnell is on the end, 90 degrees around the corner, with Dalton's Draw and the Tram.  Wilma's is in the little sliver that got cut out to make the map look like a continuous sheet.  Talk about secret woods in open view!

(My Mother-inLaw's name was Wilma.  My relations with her were never great -- wonder if she was trying to make it up to me?)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 18, 2013, 10:29:30 PM
I tried to compose this account as a narrative of the interaction between a skier and a rider at very different points in their careers.  I'm not a novelist or a script writer and I couldn't make it work.  So, here's the quick plot outline -- fill in the details from what you know of my personality by now.

Today's fifth ride up Super Condor lift -- serves one of my two favorite tree patches at Canyons and also serves the hike up Mt. Murdock and its out-of-sight, almost never patrolled except for avi control, boundary line and the goreous little trees beyond.   The guy riding with me, maybe around 45, is from the Hudson Valley, south of Albany, and is on the last skiing  day of his first vacation to the Wasatch.  He's a blue groomer skier and is clearly a little disappointed that Wasatch blue groomers aren't much different than Green Mountain blue groomers.  Having found out about my winter life, he asked what I've been riding.  

Turns out that he has never ridden trees and wouldn't even think of entering, through an avi control gate, a bunch of woods marked double black.  The suggestion that there is a 1/2 mile long natural half-pipe (actually more of a bobsled run, as most "natural half-pipes" are) at the bottom of said woods was not reassuring.

I explained that in the context of woods, double black didn't mean the same thing that it would mean in the context of an icy chute.  In the woods case, the double-black is usually a mark of required skill only for those who want to schuss the hill using the trees like slalom poles.  More often, the rating means that the area isn't often patroled and that hidden obstacles, like down tree trunks, probably exist.

He reluctantly let me talk him into trying Condor Woods.  Here are some of the "firsts" that he experienced in the next half-hour -- he found out that making gradual, rounded turns in deep powder doesn't result in the kind of increase in speed that he expected from his blue groomer experience;  he fell down and realized that it was funny, not painful;  he began to think of trees as points in time rather than obstacles in space.  I explained the idea of speed control and positioning through traverse lines and told him to go his own way for a while instead of following my board line.  An effecient board line and an effecient ski line are not necessarily the same.  

Then he made a nice turn and I yelled at him to stop.  He did and I told him to look back and to realize that he had just made a lovely line through untracked Wasatch powder. At the moment he didn't say a word -- later, when we parted back on a blue groomer, he said that seeing his track was, at that moment, the high point of his trip but that a minute or so later,, when he realized that he was doing it again and could pay attention to the fact that he was watching the trees and picking his own line in untracked snow instead of watching the ground and following a pre-made trail, then was really the high point; then, he thought to himself that he was really a skier instead of somebody exercising on a man-made playing field.

We also successfully navigated the ditch (cannis lupis) and he learned how to turn on the side banks.  That was fun and gave him confidence about what he could manage safely, but when we came out on the groomer and said good-bye what he said had no reference to the technical tricks.  He said something like "I'll bet that I never forget my first powder turns in the woods."

We waived and I was gone.

Damn!  I love this life.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 19, 2013, 12:14:12 PM
DAMN!  Things have taken a turn for good!   

I've been asked to play (and have accepted) a gig as 1st trumpet in the pit for a community theatre production of Music Man.  About two rehersals just with the orchestra, five with the cast, two dress rehearsals in the performance space and four public shows.  Playing Broadway musical pits is my absolutely favorite trumpet playing gig.

And, if I had to choose between trumpet and snowboarding -- well, I listened to Dad play at home since I was born; I played next to him from age 10 until I left for law school; and I make availability of a band that I play in one of the criteria for selecting a winter area. 

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 21, 2013, 11:47:44 AM
From Skyline to the South (that's the wasatch formation extending around and south of Price) to Logan in the North, we remain stuck in a stalled and stable high pressure zone -- cold below 7000 feet with bad pollution in SLC and warm (into the 30's every day now) above 8000.  Open snow is either really, really hard-packed groomers or icy.  Trails like the blues at Canyons are unpleasant and trails like blues at Snowbird are beginning to feel dangerous.  (I really wonder if I could get stopped if I fell at the top of Regulator -- if I were riding there today, I would seriously consider riding with my telemark poles which have self arrest grips.)

At both areas, the trees remain the only categoy that is still fun for me.   Crowds are getting smaller and smaller and I suspect most of them are vacationers with a set week free -- those aren't the type to get into the less obvious tree patches so that is sort of good.  I keep going further and further off the normal tree lines, hiking the ridge on Peak 5 on up a little further or going further right in Condor Woods where the trees are, frankly, a bit tight for fast ski turning and where the exit can be a 20 foot veritcal, 75 degree, toe-side slide down an embankment but where I can do tip pivots or even falling-leaf patterns and still get some good runs.  I have found a very nice glade out-of-bounds where I can hike up about 300 vertical feet to about 9000 feet ASL, go out and ride around 700 vert  through open trees and come back in area to a groomer return to the same lift -- true side country and serving me pretty well right now.

Optimistic forecasters at the avi center see some minor action with the current high breaking up in front of a moist southwesterly flow starting toward next week!  They are trained to be cautious and pessimistic -- maybe we'll begin to get action toward the week end as some optimists are hoping.

Our avi rating for the entire Ogden to Provo center of the Wasatch, all elevations, all exposures is Level 1 -- green on the graphic map.   I've always facetiously said that Level 1 means either "no snow"  or "no mountains."  Well, that's not quite true -- it just means you have to really look for it, be glad that the crowds believe the stories that the skiing is all bad and be glad that it's just for a week out of a full season.

Band practice tonight and I'll pick-up the lead book for Music Man and have something to work on at home before the first rehearsal for that.

Tommy T.

(One of the fatest pigeons I've ever seen appears to live on a tree branch in our neighbor's yard, just above where he daily spreads seed for the covey of Rocky Mountain Quail.  When I first saw it, I thought it was some sort of an albino red-tailed hawk -- that's the size.  Anybody got a good pigeon pie receipe?)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 22, 2013, 04:03:36 PM
The new park at Canyons with a good line of progressive jumps is open.  I don't have "official" numbers on the line but I'd guess 15', 20', 30', 40' and then two, too big, pro level, launches to orbit.  The setting is ideal in that the slope gradually gets steeper as the jumps get bigger.   This morning the top three jumps were in trees and the bottom three were in the sun.  My practice is to hit the first one and if that landing was long and smooth, hit the next one.  Hitting a 30 means not only that I cleared the first two but also that I cleared with ease and felt very comfortable with my style, technique and landing.  A 40 I do no more than a couple of times a year and only if the 30 was truely perfect. The snow in the shade was really slow and I didn't clear the first one but I went for the second and i didn't clear it either.  Talking to some other riders, they reported that they were bypassing the first in order to keep their speed building for the second.  

Then we saw a skier hit the first of the monsters and add a forward summersault.

I'm back to the trees.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 25, 2013, 07:59:41 PM
Pretty much on schedule, the weather is changing.   Valley pollution is not as bad today as it has been for a week.  National Weather Service is showing an interesting bunch of weather systems coming in from: (i) the Pacific/Southern California route with lots of moisture which will be met by: (ii) a line of cold fronts and troughs sliding out of south-west Canada and then, toward the end of the week: (iii) a sizeable low sliding down from the Gulf of Alaska. 

Snow is forecast starting tonight at high elevations and continuing through the coming week.  Daytime highs will be in the freezing range.  By the end of the week the new snow will be measured in feet and most of it will be above 7000'.  (Roughly and approximately speaking, Canyons runs from 7000 to 10,000 and S'Bird is 8000 to 11,000.)

Good times in the mountians are comin' back with exactly three months from today left in our SLC time!

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on January 31, 2013, 06:20:10 PM
After a fairly long run of serious winter weather both in the mountains and in town, we got the pay off with a beautiful day in both.  In town the smog is gone with the wind and temps are above freezing so we're seeing concrete in the driveway for first time in about 10 days.  In mountains . . .

Snowbird got the best snow but Little Cottonwood is chains or 4WD only.  Yesterday, they closed the road to all traffic at 3:30 pm -- that's troublesome and the possibility makes me choose not to go there when that is possible.

Canyons "only" got about 2 feet in the last few days and, other than a little wind and off and on flat light, today was a good day with temps in the 20s and the crowds, as usual, just weren't.  Avi center said that East side slopes between 7000 and 1000 feet were the most dangerous and that hits some good open areas along the ridges at Canyons where we heard avi control all day.  

So it was a tree day.  Nine runs on lifts that run from over 1500 to over 1700 foot vertical gave me eight off-piste runs in the trees that totalled about 8000 vertical feet of actual in-the-trees-time in two different sets of trees that had deep!, wind deposited snow that had seen only a few lines before mine and lots of running room. I made no repeats, so every run but the first (the groomer that got me over to the good chairs) had some substantial A-1 quality work.

This was the kind of day that we come to the mountains to enjoy.  Over the years that we've been doing this, my taste for turning where nobody else has turned has begun to outweight my taste for tough, technical challenges.  I virutally never make virgin turns at J'Hole -- if somebody hasn't already done that line, it probably cliffs out.  

I wonder if this means that I am maturing or something wierd like that . . .

?
?

Tommy T.

(I don't know -- there are almost no cornices in the Wasatch and those that form are unstable and short lived.  I think I want to go to A-Basin and log some natural air-time instead of park jumps.  Out of my 98 areas,  I can't think of many lift served areas other that A-Basin with good, accessible cornices  --  Squaw Valley has some nice ones on the ridge up Granite Peak; Kirkwood has "The Wave;"  and there are always a few, irregular shaped ones at Brek's Peak 8, but those are above rocks and kinda scary.)

*****

(Of course, not all cornices are created equal:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Hunt82_43.jpg)

Those two are on the French Ridge of Mt Huntington in the Alaska Range and instead of jumping them, we tunneled into the first one and made a snow cave which was our assault camp.  1982, as I recall.)

  



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 01, 2013, 08:30:51 PM
From the Utah Avi Center, today, February 1, 2013:

For such "upside down" snow, the riding conditions were not so bad yesterday with about 8 inches of creamy, very dense, graupel snow on the surface. It fell on light powder snow, so it feels a bit punchy for old-schoolers like me who prefer light, narrower skis. Snowmobiling conditions remain supportable. The stratus, mountain-top clouds and high wind from yesterday will thankfully transition into mostly sunny with light winds today with continued pleasant temperatures.

So I got to experience an Avi Center observation first hand. Yesterday riding in trees I spent most of my time making easy in a very smooth untracted snow surface.  But!  If I did sit down, as I did once in a while for whatever reason -- to contemplate the beauty of the mountains, to participate in the solitude of the trees, or (most often), to get back up after I buried the nose or over-checked on an edge -- my arm would go in past the elbow when I tried to push back up.  Every time I went down, I scootched over to a tree and pulled myself back to vertical.  There just wasn't anything solid to push against down in the snow pack.

Tommy T.

(Today was dedicated to entertaining my wife on nicely prepped blue groomers on a mostly sunny day with easy temperatures (high 20's) and gentle winds (single digits.  Not much story to tell, just good companionship and a nice meal on the way back home with catfish sandwich on fresh bun with "creole peppers" and various sauces.  Linda went for the catfish tacos with mild sweet corn salsa.  Latter Day Stout on draft for both of us.) 


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 02, 2013, 07:39:36 PM
Wow!  Nearly cloudless sky two feet of snow during the week and temps in the high twenties up on the hill.  First good week-end day in a couple of weeks and Canyons was packed at the main bases and around the popular lifts.  So it was get up high as quickly as possible and hike higher.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Square_Top_Snow_Fields.jpg)

This is Square Top.  Summit is up around 9900' ASL.  Reaching it requires riding the 9990 chair (minimum 3 rides to get up there) and hiking about 180' of vert to the true 9,990' ASL summit of the ridge that separates Canyons (and the rest of Park City) from Big Cottonwood Canyon with its areas, Brighton and Solitude.   The 9990 summit is up and out of the picture to the left.  Area boundary comes straight down the fall line from the low point on the ridge -  picture left is in bounds, picture right is out.That low point is about 370 feet below the 9990 summit but the only legal way to get over to Square Top is to climb 9990, go through the gate at its summit and descend the back side of the ridge and angle over to the saddle.  (That's not a penalty -- that back side is usually much nicer riding than the more heavily traveled in-bound front.)  At the low point you start climbing again and either go all the way to the top or drop in where ever it looks nice and without too many lines.

The two arrows mark the two lines that I took today.   They each gave me about 1000 foot drop on the open face, followed by about 500 more through open aspens to a collector trail and another 500 on a groomer back to the most convenient lift.   That takes you up 1200' then ride down to the 9990 lift, up to the hike and do it again.  Do that twice and  its a decent workout in some really pretty terrain.

Yes sir, this is definitely skiing the American West at its best.  I really think that Canyons offers some great, non-extreme (J'Hole for that) out-of-bounds.  Only drawack is that the Wasatch is avalanche prone.  I read the reports everyday, whether I'm going out or not; I dig a pit now and then;  keep track of what exposures I'm on; pay attention to temperature; and enjoy every second that I get.  Add lots of good beer, and plenty of coffee . . .

Well, life's pretty good this week.

Tommy T.

(Clarification:  9990' ASL is the high of that part of the ridge that is within bounds at Canyons.  The are a few points on the ridge over its entire length that are higher.)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 04, 2013, 11:00:22 PM
Well, the IceBerg,  ooops, I mean Snowbird is in pretty bad shape.  Groomers are solid to point of being just plain unpleasant at best.  Off piste access routes like the Cirque Traverse are showing a lot a lot of rock, drop below the rock and try to traverse and it's a lot of brush.  All the classic lines up around Great Scott are closed.  'Bird side of the Baldy summit is almost completely snow-free for at least a couple of hundred feet and there is a very little snow on the rock the rest of the way down to the groomers in the Cirque.   The Gad Chutes have lots of rock showing.  The Wilbere areas have less rock but still require constant scanning of the surface for little dark spots that hide a big base gouge. (Fortuately, my Canyons pass gives me a "Gold" level tune, which includes base work, for $35.)   The ridges across the canyon are bare as are all the high points looking down-canyon.  Possiblity of decent snow for the coming week-end, so I'll take another look next Monday.

Besides the snow not being close to good, the crowd did not seem to include the usual top skier/rider, hard-core, fall-line divers that usually dominate the upper parts of the area.  It was all Californians out for an extended week-end and guys from Wisconsin on their first trip West asking what the big deal about the Wasatch is all about because they've got better snow at home.

I ought to get paid.  I helped the sole liftie at the top of the Baldy Lift when the little kid's mother hopped off the chair while the kid went around the wheel, caught and lost one ski and in the process fell out of the chair and slid off the downside of the unloading platform.  That stopped the lift so I jumped off, dumped my board and went over the edge after him just as the liftie corralled the loose ski and started for the kid.  I yelled at him "I'm an experienced mountaineer and a Wilderness First Responder.  I won't make it worse."   The kid wasn't old enough to be really scared.  The liftie got the loose ski and I kicked in just below the kid and got the other ski off his foot and turned him around aimed up hill.  By then the liftie had one of his arms and led him up to his mom while I played goalee just below him in case he leaned in and broke out of a foot placement.  I was doing the grandfather bit "Boy, you handled that just right.  You're really cool in an emergency.  That could have been a bad fall, but you did just the right things."  I really don't remember the mother thanking either one of us.  

One run later, I was going down the Mineral Basin headwall starting right at the Little Cloud lift top and angling skier's right to give myself a longer run.  I saw two skiers down in the snow quite a ways down and I just kept an eye them.  One of them was moving skis around and other was sort of lying down on the snow.  They weren't making any progress, so I went close and shouted out that I had tools and some repair supplies -- then I saw the blood and added "and I'm a Wilderness First Responder with an expired certification."  The guy on the snow had face planted on a solid crust and was bleeding from the mouth. The guy was bleeding from a big ruptured blood blister inside the upper lip -- no gash and no pulsing blood so I suggest packing it with snow to slow bleeding and to remove the snow right away if it went numb.  He complained about soreness in his back, so I checked hands and feet for movement and feeling  and told him that I couldn't clear the central portion of the spine but the two most common regions of spinal chord pinching seemed to be ok and I suspected that the pain was from a stressed lat. instead of the spine.  He had to decide how bad it was -- I could get patrol or he could ski it off or he could ski down to the lift and decide it was really bad and call for help from there (which is the choice he elected to make).  His buddy and I got him standing up and on skis; he thought he could make it down to the lift; he had his buddy with him so I left them.  On my ride up, I watched as they made slow but steady progress down toward the closest facilities.

The snow was pretty lame, but at least the day had it's interesting moments.

On the way home, I stopped at an Einstein's Bagel shop for a mid-afternoon snack.  I had just sat down when a young woman with a big baby carrier in one hand and a sizeable hand bag across the other shoulder stopped at the coffee machine and filled a cup.  Just as she got the top on, the counter help brought the paper sack with her purchase over.  I stood up and took the sack and took coffee cup from her hand and said, "I'll get these -- you get your baby and we'll get this all out to your car."  She said that I didn't need to and I said "Yes, I do.  I'm a grandfather with six grandkids and if you were my daughter I would hope that someone would help."   I got a nice smile for that one which was all I wanted anyway.

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 08, 2013, 05:17:57 PM
Six months of snowboarding at Canyons Resort and I am just begining to explore the Peak 5 area.  

Peak 5 is remote and barely developed.  To reach the top of Peak 5 from the parking lot requires a minimum of 3 lifts; I use 5 to avoid a walk across a flat connector section near the helicopter evacuation landing spot and another walk across a slightly uphill field between 9990 and the Peak 5 chair.  Basically, the Peak 5 lift provides an inconvenient way to the far right side of the area and the fairly nice Cloud Dine restaurant -- local statement is that the existence of the Peak 5 chair allowed 173 more million dollar ski-in/ski/out building lots to be sold by Les Orten.

It does, however, have a nice treed, steep slope with occassional open shots and a couple of overlapping cliff bands.   Nobody goes over there  -- Last year, I skied the trees there only a few times and only once out of bounds.  This year I noticed the gate to the out-of-bounds and started using it.

This is a Google Earth snip showing the tree covered side of the ridge abvove the lift:


(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Peak_5_Area.JPG)

The lift top is at about 9,300 and the high point of my hikes is around 9,600.  I made three hkes up it yesterday.  All three runs were in loose, untracked snow through reasonable woods (first hike), route finding through overlapping cliffs (second hike) and from the marked high point (third hike) through the trees into what is now an open snow field.  The first two runs had found plenty of deep snow and I was throwing some loose stuff when I had enough open room for some speed.  On the third hike, I was intending to go to the limit of the trees on the ridge make the whole run in the open.  However, as the slope on the ridge got steeper, I was progressively penetrating deeper with each step and finally I straped on and headed down.  The short shot through the trees was steep and deep and a real delight.  Before heading out into the open, I probed the snow and went all the way to the ground with no resistence -- which was troubling. I did a rough pit and found the ground was about 20" down and the snow was facets all the way -- which was much more troubling.  As a consequence, I did not ride out into the open slope but stayed in the trees and paralleled the descending junction of trees and open slope until I was well down into 20 degree terrain.  That made a good set of runs and I still had something between 3 and 5 lifts to get back.  

At a Patrol shack I reported the results of my little pit and, as always, they logged the information and my name.  I asked about the log.  I was told that it would be reviewed before tomorrow's sweeps.  Patrollers and supervisers begin to recognize names that are regular reporters and good observers and those reports will be taken into account in planning where the sweepers go and what they do.

I asked if they knew me and how.  The guy said that most of them knew of me but he didn't know how the control crews evaluated my reports.

Tommy T.  




Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 12, 2013, 02:42:23 PM
Angie and her current beau (this one may, finally, be the real thing) stayed with us for four days and, as usual, that leaves both me and my wife in a good mood.   Because the beau had only snowboarded once and Angie had never ridden Sundance, we headed down there again for a day of easy fun in nice country.  Angie and Linda headed up the hill and Paul and I had a little lesson time.  His level was self-reported to me as "I can do a falling leaf facing out but I'm pretty shaky facing in."  By mid-afternoon, we took him to the top and rode down blue all the way, including a little dip into some shallow Wasatch powder and a section of narrow connector trail.  He was linking C's and adjusting his radius and relation to the fall line with no trouble.  Untrained at downhill sports, he is a mountaineer and outdoorsman -- deputy director of interpretation at Yosemite -- fit and under 40.  I seem to be a gifted teacher and I like to give a lesson once in a while and I am particularly satisfied that Angie was pleased with the results.   (Angie herself remains my best student ever and she seems to think that I am magic, which is fine with me, given the way that I feel about her.)  They were taking pictures and will send me any that are worthwhile.  If there are any nice shots of Sundance,  I'll follow-up with a post some of them.

Then we went out for my birthday dinner (a day early) at what Linda and I think may be the City's best seafood resturaunt.  On my birthday, I had a rehearsal for Music Man and came home to find champagne and my favorite cake (angelfood with no icing) covered with 70 candles.

Now everybody is gone again and  I'm sending thank-you notes and getting back up to date on the avi forecasts and the new snow totals at the resorts.  Tomorrow looks like the start of several days of an-inch-a-day-snow in mild and gentle conditions.  That's not going to restore virginity to the bowls, but it might be exactly what Snowbird needs to get Mineral Basin back in shape.

Linda and my daughter had organized an e-mail campaign and I received 70th birthday greetings from more than 115 people. It's kind of funny that I am the youngest living graduate in my high school class and so I was last to reach 70.  However, it seems that I will be the first to hit our 50th wedding anniversary next January.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 17, 2013, 02:44:47 PM
Sometimes I think that guys and girls are different.   ::)

Angie sent us 16 pictures of the birthday cake  --  no snowboarding or mountain shots.

The 70 candle cake:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/normal_IMG_0456.jpg)

The iminent fire hazard:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/normal_IMG_0461.jpg)

And the near conflagration resulting from adding oxygen to fire:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/normal_IMG_0467.jpg)

Tommy T.





Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 18, 2013, 06:02:40 PM
It is time for more snow to fall in the Wasatch.  Top of Baldy on the S'Bird side is just plain bare down to the rock for several hundred feet. The lower trails of Baldy down into the Peruvian Gulch are really thin with lots of rock and brush, even on the lines that are on the map.  In Mineral Basin, the Chamonix area is closed but it is hardly necessary to have signs because there is nothing inviting up there right now.

At Canyons, important East facing exposures are nearly bare, groomers are getting really solid from being overworked and the snow in wonderful trees is "firm" to say the least. 

A foot of snow will fix most of the terrain at Canyons and 18" will put S'Bird back on the map.

We're expecting a few inches mid-week and the Avi Center is pretty excited about a big system that should move in over the coming week-end.

(There is always some good news on the hills -- just have to be not too selective -- for example, the new jump park has been very slow snow and I have had a lot of difficulty clearing the landing tables.  I've been bypassing the first jump in order to build enough speed to clear the second.  Today, I did three in a row twice!)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 23, 2013, 11:18:14 PM
Avy class sponsored by the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center started with an indoor session in the city on Thursday and continued today with 8 hours in and around Brighton.  I have attended avalanche training previously and have certificates from Ski Patrol and from the National Forest Service.  Still, it is something that needs updating from time to time because techniques do get refined, tools and resources develop and it just makes sense to get an occassional reminder about the little details that may have been forgotten.  This course was not a full Avy I certification course, but was sort of an intro to avy issues for first timers -- actually just what I needed for a reminder and an update.

It was a well timed program in that the Wasatch snow pack is currently quite problematical and today saw the first big effects of a week of unsettled weather that is moving in and around this area.  The Center had put together a good program, dividing about 36 students into four groups, each with a career avalanche forcaster and an experienced Wasatch back-country skier.  By prior assignment, I was in the travel disadvantaged group consisting of a couple of snowshoers, a couple of split boarders, a couple of skiers trying skins on tele or AT equipment for the first time, and another snowboarder and me with snowshoes for the uphill.

I learned of a new refinement to strategic shoveling and I fixed a problem with how I was doing the final, close-in beacon search and I was able to help the instructor with the digging of his demonstration snow-pit.   (Ski Patrol really needs consistent reports from the avy patrol that is out checking conditions every morning -- my course at Taos emphasized the difference between results to be used by you and your buddy when choosing a line and results to be reported to a regional authority and published for use by a wide audience.)

Here's our pit, with the results of a compression test (a clean break of a solid slab sitting on late January facets about 2 feet down in the snow pack) and my blue shovel with a Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center sticker wrapped around the handle.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Brighton_avy_coach.jpg)

(As a sobering aside, our instructor watched two friends go down for good in a slide last year.  He's talking about it in public, hoping that some good will come from an unfortunate example and, probably, working out some of his own feelings about it.)

Most of our group,

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Brighton_Avy_Group.jpg)

about 50-50 male and female.  (Things are better in the backcountry than used to be the case.  Not only are there more women but, probably because there are more women, the guys seem to be taking more showers than we used to.)  

The storm got worse and worse during the day.  The drive down Big Cottonwood Canyon at 5pm was on chains at 15 mph.  I saw four cars off the road. Internet shows that Little Cottonwood was closed to uphill traffic this afternoon.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Brighton_Avy_escape.jpg)

(Fortunately there was beer at home so we didn't have to get out to go to a pub.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: atruss on February 24, 2013, 03:09:12 PM
Happy Birthday ! (Belated)
Glad its snowing out there again, SB and the rest sounds like they were hurting for a while?
Hope things shape up.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 24, 2013, 06:37:58 PM
Glad its snowing out there again, SB and the rest sounds like they were hurting for a while?
Hope things shape up.

That snowpit in the prior photo is about 1' short of the ground because we ran into number of low rock features that would have messed up things like compression tests if we had gone all the way down.  So after we did the column tests, we dug on down to ground at one spot and found the facet layer that I had seen at Canyons on Peak 5 earlier in the week.  But you can see that we are looking at five or six feet on snow on the ground at Brighton.  The problem at S'Brd is that all the good stuff up on Baldy and the ridges has been suffering from a lot of hot sun and a lot of high winds.

S'Brd is showing around 17" for the storm that ended early this morning and a good day on Monday with highs in the 20's, ridge winds in the teens, and some sunshine.  Then the next snow event is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Linda and I will probably head up there for the 9:00 openning in the morning.


Tommy T.




Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 26, 2013, 12:21:51 AM
Linda and I got in a good session at S'Brd, mostly on or near the groomers on the Gad side, especially Bananas and Election -- Linda's two favorite blues -- with me nipping in and out of the trees along the sides.  A Monday and and an early start gave us nice corduroy on a foot or more of new snow that had only been groomed once.  We left about 1:00pm and headed down, only to be stopped for quite a while by the road being blocked by emergency vehicles supporting a helicopter evacuation of an injured snowboarder from the Y Chute area, down canyon on the South side.  Injured around 9:30am, with possible broken legs and pelvis after what sounds like a blind jump in a rock lined gully, the helicopter got him out and off to the hospital around 2:00pm.  Word was that he was conscious but in a lot of pain.

When we did get out, we drove up to the Silver Fork Lodge in Big Cottonwood, near Solitude, which is a really atmospheric little lodge with a great menu well executed.  In March of last year, my son and I made a back country run down a valley called Bear Trap and came out near the lodge where, as planned, we had lunch while my wife drove up to collect us.  By way of thanks, I promised her a dinner there.  I finally paid off today and she was well satisfied.  (Always a good thing.)

Tommy T.


Update: The rider was Alex Gavic who was involved in making a video of a snowboard run in one of the highly technical gullies in Y Chute -- a hike-to area near the bottom of Little Cottonwood.  The report from a news source that has seen the raw video is that he jumped off of a snow covered rock and crash landed on a lower one.  Spinal injuries are reported in today's press.  Alex appears to be a regular around the Wasatch and has some videos up on the web that first date from the 08-09 season when he looks like a pretty good teenage boarder with some skill in the air. Reports indicate that he was wearing a helmet, a spine guard and a butt protector.  The initial impact may have been right between the spine and butt gear.  This sounds like a unfortunate assumed risk kind of accident that has happened to an informed and capable boarder who knew the risks, took them into account and just had the dice come up wrong.  Hospital report is that his condition is stable but the degree of damage has not been discussed.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on February 27, 2013, 05:19:30 PM
There is very, very little opportunity to claim a "find" at SnowBird.  The quality and the commitment of the top locals is comparable to that of Jackson Hole.  The bordering backcountry is known almost as well as the in-bounds side.  

Nevertheless, there is still an occassional niche run -- a conspiracy of conditions, obscurity, low return on effort and inability to expand the run into a major adventure -- that saves 500 feet of beautiful snow, just out of bounds, for the duffer explorer to slide into, almost by mistake.

Conditions today had the potential of being very good.  S'Brd picked up about 17 inches from a combination of the Saturday storm that tormented our Avi course and 10 inches of new over the last 2 days. The wind was down, temps were in single digits, and the sky was almost cloudless. The crowd was low -- people committed to stealling a day from work stole it on Monday and there is no big vacatoin break this week.  

I laid in 4 runs off the Gad2, playing off of the Red Lens and Tiger Tail lines and then went over to Mineral Basin to satisfy a request from Linda that I report on the conditions of the groomers there.   Then I did it:

The Baldy Lift goes up to the low point on the ridge the seperates S'Brd and Alta.  All the way to skier's left is an avalanche control rope just outside the route named "Bird's Nest."  The gates were open.  Once, through the gate, Ski Patrol Gully is the last trail before the boundary to the left. The slope between the Avi rope and SPG is often a tempting open area with few tracks, and such was the case today.    Above SPG, out-of-bounds further to the skier's left, are the Sugar Cliffs, below which is a long, slanted, open snowfield that is rarely tracked. It heads down away from Mineral Basin lifts, eventually coming out in about 4 miles at a trail head at American Forks.  Mineral Basin drains in that direction down and the slope parallels the drainage and an old mining road which is used for backcountry access from American Forks and for snow-cat tours out of SnowBird.

Today, it was untracked. I knew the price and decided to pay it for powder; I crossed SPG -- not a single track on the other side; I crossed boundary rope.  I traversed, holding as much altitude as I could and still move in the deep, fine snow.  At a point where I was perhaps 300 feet above the bottom of the slope, I stopped for a minute to enjoy being out of sight of the area and deep in the silence of winter mountains.   And, then, I pointed the board down-hill.

28 big, open sweepers in untouched Wasatch powder, swinging back and forth, down a treeless open slope of, maybe, 25 degrees -- almost the dream of lifetime.  The feel was like that of standing on top of McKinley or pulling over the last move on a free climb of El Cap.   I didn't time it or mark the altitude.  I suspect that each turn took 5 seconds and there could have been a couple more secs. between each turn  --  three minutes at most.  Three minutes of memory that, I hope, will never fade.

As I expected, the snow-cat track was well packed, so I was wading through 10 inches of new, not the entire 160 inch base.  I tied a line on the board and towed it, leaving my hands free to do important things like continually wiping my nose, and, in less than 20 minutes of easy going, I was back at the Mineral Basin Lift.  Then, over the ridge to Road to Provo, Last Choice to the Rasta Chutes, hold speed for the flat spot by Little Cloud and into Black Forest, and thence back to my car at Creekside.

A beer and a humus wrap; a quick report for BCA; and now. . .

A nap.

Tommy T.

 

I knew the price; it was a bargain.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 07, 2013, 10:07:57 PM
A nice string of good days and today was warm and dropping a little bit of wet snow.  

So we had our favorite breakfast (eggs benedict with crab meat and a fruit cup) at one of our favorite breakfast haunts (Eggs and the City) and followed up with a late lunch at a Frida Kahlo themed Mexican restraunt whose weird hours had frustrated our attempts twice previously.

My meal was an outstanding turkey breast tamale in a spicy mole' sauce and a bottle of :

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Big_Bad_Baptist.jpg)

That's another one of those pint and a half bottles of 11.4 proof, small batch, beers that each of the many local breweries have as one of their trademarks.  This one is from the Epic Brewery and is a coffee/stout in the Imperial Russian style.  Opaque, jet black with a dark and strong head, it was served in a chilled bottle and did not quite measure up to the Squatter's cask cured, hand pulled, Imperial Russian served at the Squatter's Brew Pub at cellar temperature last year.  

Nevertheless, and although I like some things about Snowbird and continue to find new challenges at Canyons almost every day that I am there, the reason for repeating out here this year is the attractions of Salt Lake City rather than mountains standing alone.  Eggs Benedict with crab meat and Big Bad Baptist at Frida's are examples that are hard to duplicate in the Big Thicket in Deep East Texas.

Tommy T.  


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 08, 2013, 10:38:46 AM
Takin' a second day in a row off because transitional weather is making a day in the mountains into a pain in the butt (literally -- wet bottom from sitting on wet chair lifts all day while a little bit of wet snow messes up the googles). Today is going to be another 35 degree, inch and a half of snow under cloudy skies, day with gusty and swirly winds.

Although we have had, and expect to keep getting, enough snow to keep the surfaces interesting, especially in the places most people don't go, it has been a few weeks of gloomy, wettish weather and my day and vert numbers are well down from my averages.  In fact the whole season has been sort of one great week followed by 10 days of decline -- I love great days and can find things to ride on the inbetween ones and can dig SLC on the bad ones.  My music performance outlets are placing considerable demands on my ability on trumpet and having a couple of hours of practice time is proving to be a good thing. 

(Are any of my readers brass players?  If so you'll understand this:  In the Murray band, they stuck me on the first trumpet part and gave me a solo for the first concert.  It went well; I was pleased and so was the band.  Then out comes the music for the second concert:  An extended concert march that requires 20 D's above high C and 2 E's above that!  And, a transcription of a Shostakovich number that goes above the top of the staff 47 times and requires actually playing up there, not just tag endings and accented spikes. In the pit for Music Man, the lead trumpet line gets up to an F above high C and most musicals are based on the big band styles of Basie, Ellington, the Dorseys and the like and are just in general pretty demanding.  Fortunately, I'm paired with a good player and we switch of and on between lead and support parts so we can both make it to the end.  Our real challenge comes on the last Sunday of the month, when we'll play a matinee and and evening performance -- that's a four hour gig playing with full concentration and considerable technical challenge.)

OH!! HOW I LOVE THIS LIFE!!!!

I ride on the good days; dig the City on the off days.  Play my horn with good musicians in challenging venues.  Eat good food, sometimes exotic food, and drink new beers weekly, sometimes good beers.

I keep thinking how lucky we are not to be spending this kind of a winter in, oh say, Fernie, BC, or Bethel, ME.  I've been to both towns and I gotta say, I wouldn't want to just hangout very many winter days in a row in either one.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 08, 2013, 02:55:50 PM
On a break in my practice routine, I merged two angles from the summit cam on Mt Baldy.  This is as of about 12:25pm on Friday, March 8th and is exactly why I am home practicing my trumpet instead of riding in the chutes at the top of the Peruvian.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/BaldyCam_3_8_13.jpg)

That's the top station for the Mineral Basin lift on the left and the restrooms/Ski Patrol building on the right.  This cam is located on the tram dock and is automated to take a series of angles about every 15 minutes.

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 10, 2013, 06:46:34 PM
East of Eden

On the day that Surf88 posts about his sister from Utah visiting New England, My Son and his wife and two boys join us for a week of skiing and we finally made it up to Powder Mountain, just East of Eden, Utah, near Ogden, North of Salt Lake City.

Item 1:  The Powder Mountain is an isolated peak north of the Wasatch.  As an isolated peak, the summit offers a true 360 degree view of Northern Utah.  This is one of the most beautiful settings for a ski area I've ever seen.

Item 2:  This is an up-side-down mountain with parking half-way up and at the true top!  Keep an eye on your watch and don't miss the last chair! Also, hope against wind closings and electric failures.

 Item 3:  The nature of the terrain results in no tight tree areas.  All of the trees are either sparse evergreen stands or open aspen woods.  Literally, except for a few rock zones, you can ski or ride every inch of the area.

Item 4:  A lot of green and blue groomers and all of them that we saw were exquisitely groomed -- a few inches of recent snow and small crowds in a somewhat difficult to reach locale must have helped, but in any case it is nice to have steep blues that still feel like snow and not like glacial ice flows.

Item 5:  The off-piste reached by lift and/or modest hikes was completely skiable, pretty forgiving, not much in the expert/none in the extreme categories and tended to return the adventurer to groomers and lifts rather than to the next canyon over.

Item 6:  The stats: (a) 2800 acres of lift served terrain, plus another 5,900 acres dedicated to snow-cat skiing, powder-cat ridge tours, and other commercial and motorized operations.  (Killington, as a standard, is around 575 acres);

          (b)  over 2500 feet vertical drop with summit around 9425 feet ASL;

          (c)  25% Green; 40% Blue and 35% "Advanced" with nothing labeled Double Black, but loads of off piste in the double blue and black categories and just a touch of off-piste double black -- mostly short drops in scattered and rare cliff bands.

Item 7:  Not a lot of variety.  A nice place to visit for a day or a week-end, but I believe that a dedicated powder buster could pretty much wring it out in a week.  Not a lot of stores, cafes, lodging or other amenities without going back into Ogden.  (An interesting looking saloon in Eden, but the time of day was wrong and we were tired and had an hour and a half drive back home.)

Conclusions:  Nice enough to be on everybody's "should ski" list.  Limited enough to not be a likely 10 day vacation spot.  Pretty close to SnowBasin and day-tripable to or from the Park City/Cottonwood Canyons complex.  An interesting possibility for a family with all abilities that is willing to split up and each do their own thing.

Footnote:  My son had done this before but after 27 years of boarding getting up the hill on everything from my own legs to rope tows, J- and T-bars, slow single chairs, high speed-quads and six-packs, gondolas and trams, today was my first experience at using a Poma surface tow when riding a board;  17 years and the same for my daughter-in-law;  oldest grandson -- 10 years on board and the same story.  NOBODY FELL!  The tow is the highest lift access to some of the best off-piste and it isn't terribly steep.  Did it twice -- Piece of cake.

Tommy T.





Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 12, 2013, 12:29:44 AM
Monday, March 11, 2013, was pretty day with strong winds.  I climbed about 300 feet above the groomers at Canyons to a high, inbounds summit known as Mt. Murdock, elevation around 9357 feet ASL.  Only problem was with the wind which, at the summit hour was a steady 50 mph with gusts to above 70. The side that I expect to descend is leward and only the last 100 feet on ridge up to the summit was badly exposed.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Tommy_near_the_top_of_Murdock.jpg)

So the question automatically comes up:  "Who took the picture and why are you carrying two boards?"

The answer is pretty simple:  "My daughter-in-law took the picture and I carried her board because she's only 3 days up from virtually sea level at home in Houston."  Besides she's smaller than me and in those winds with a board as a sail, she might have just blown away.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Chelsea_on_Murdock_at_9357_feet_ASL.jpg)

We laid in about 300 vertical feet of freshies right along the area boundary, skimming back and forth to avoid seven other sets of tracks, and then made the steep descent a couple of hundred feet down the face with traverses to handle a wind crust that demanded more attention to speed control than to powder fun.

Her name is Chelsea and 18 years ago I gave her a snowboard as her wedding present and her welcome to my family.  I recommend that everyone get a daughter-in-law like this one. 

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on March 12, 2013, 12:35:22 PM
Quote
So the question automatically comes up:  "Who took the picture and why are you carrying two boards?"

The answer is pretty simple:  "My daughter-in-law took the picture and I carried her board because she's only 3 days up from virtually sea level at home in Houston."  Besides she's smaller than me and in those winds with a board as a sail, she might have just blown away
On my Backcountry Trip Saturday (http://www.outdoortripreports.com/2013/03/09/local-backcountry-with-my-sister-lee/)with my sister that lives in Provo I ended up carrying her board as well as mine for both ascents.  She didnt have an elevation excuse.
(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8375/8545938761_126573624a_b.jpg)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 20, 2013, 12:35:22 PM
We've a two part weather system that has just arrived this morning -- mountain cams show Alta and S'Bd as shut down althougth, as usual, their web pages say everything is open, "weather and conditions permitting."  Canyons is running the lifts that show in their cams, but few, few indeed are boarding the lifts.  Today's part of the weather system is wet and windy -- Snow Basin is showing a gust of 369 mph: I'm assuming that number is an error.  Most high altitude stations are showing 35 to 40 with gusts to 60.  The system should lay down a packable base of 5 to 8 inches.  Then, starting tomorrow night, part two comes in with 10 to 18 inches (depending mainly on altitude) of more typical Wasatch snow and we are ready for Spring. 

Our daughter and three of the grand-daughters are coming out for 9 days arriving on the 29th.  I expect they are going to have very good conditions to choose from, Provo to Logan.

(Aside:  life goes on off the mountain.  I've been retained for a paid gig at a Luthern Church providing trumpet music for Easter.   I believe that, over the full span of my life, I've probably just broken even financially with my trumpet playing.  Generally, I get some compensation from some trumpet performance related source every year (sometimes gas money; sometimes a nice meal; sometimes cash) so I can keep claiming that I am a "pro" in that limited sense that once in a while I get paid to play.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 27, 2013, 02:29:29 PM
Yesterday and today have been full-on Spring Skiing and it has been just absolutely great.  Lots of snow left -- S'Brd is reporting a 95" base and Canyons is showing 77".  Beautiful blue skys with puffy cumulus clouds making dramatic shadow/snow contrasts on the big peaks.  The highest ski area reports (9,000 to 11,000 feet ASL) are not reporting above freezing temps yet.  The bases (6,000 to 8,000 feet ASL) are still keeping freezing temps overnight but are getting up as high as the mid-40's in the hot parts of the days.  So the routine is be at the area at 9am; warm-up on a favorite, low altitude groomer before it gets soggy; move up to mid-mountain by 10am for some bowls or trees; and then go to the summit for open terrain from 11 to 1.   Then go have a nice lunch and a good beer and do it again tomorrow.

I hope you all appreciate that this is a tough life that requires careful timing and extensive planning!

(My recording Suunto X-6 altimeter ran for 8 years but it seems to have lost the seal on its pressure chamber and has been retired.  After one day with a HighGear replacement, that particular piece of junk was returned to REI for exchange on a Suunto Core which is pretty much the new version of my old one. (REI is very good about that sort of thing -- no questions asked -- full refund against the new Suunto.)  Today, was the Core's first field test and comparing topo's, published lift vertical rise and the Core's report of total ascent and descent numbers, I estimate it's error to be right at 1%.  It actually showed a 1.2% maximum deviation but it also reported a change in altitude at my car (it had moved down hill a few feet -- in fact, my house seems to be about 10 feet lower than it was the morning), which would be caused by a change in the barometric pressure due to general weather system developments.  The Core logs altitude as of each preset period, which can be set for as frequently as once every second to once every hour (maybe more).  I was recording once every 30 seconds which avoids errors at the top of lifts and that sort of thing that could result from a longer period-- the HighGear model was present for once every ten minutes and that could loose track of an entire 9 minute, 3000 foot ride on the tram. The graph produced and displayed by the Core, on the basis of today's data, actually shows the two traverses that I made around the top of Little Cloud getting over to the good stuff high in the Gad Valley.  Interestingly, the Core's deviation averaged against the other sources is less than the deviation between Google Earth and the published lift verticals.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on March 29, 2013, 04:18:19 PM
March 29, 2013 -- a little warmer but the Central Wasatch areas continue to hold up pretty well. 

This is a three shot pan of the upper elevations of the Canyons Ski Resort, taken this morning from near the top station on the Super Condor Lift.  This camera location is the highest lift served point on the skier's extreme left side of the area.  Iron Mountain is the highest lift served point on the skier's extreme right side.  9990 is the highest lift served point overall and a 150 foot hike above it is the highest point on the ridge that is within the area boundary. 

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Canyons_Pan_--_labelled.jpg)

9900 is approximately due South of the Super Condor top station.  The image is mainly showing Western exposures.  The area around the camera location is on the Eastern exposure.  The difference in snow coverage is astonishing.  East facing slopes are mostly bare; West facing slopes have good coverage.  West facing trees above 8000 feet (more or less) are actually in good shape.

Tommy T.




Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 01, 2013, 09:32:54 AM
Well, it's April and the weather just went April Fool's on me.  Everythng was indicating a half day of decent Spring conditions and then some weather coming in with a rain snow line around 8000 feet.  I got up early and was planning to be in line at 9am, but while putting my freshly waxed and flouride coated board into the van at 8am, it started raining.  Rain in the city was expected but it was expected for about 1pm.

There are some "real time" weather stations around the Wasatch so I did some checks and sure enough -- the Park City municipal golf course automated weather station was showing 100% humidity and 35 degrees.  The Wasatch areas do not report up to the minute conditions but the web cam showing Chickadee at Snowbird was water streaked and the Hidden Peak Cam showed dark rain clouds. The web cam at the base at Canyons showed a single family hunched over and hurrying across the plaza -- probably getting rained on.

"On The Road" has just openned at the Salt Lake City Film Society's cinema.  That book was pretty significant in my early misdirection toward a career in jazz. On the road with girls and grass sounded pretty good the way Kerouac told it.   I suspect that is where Linda and I will be this afternoon (the cinema, not the girls and grass bit).

(Speaking of which . . . over the summer one of "those places" surreptitiously appeared . . . if you come across an unexplained photo of a wooded ridge, think 9:00 o'clock, just out of sight in the trees.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 02, 2013, 05:03:13 PM
Incredible morning at Canyons!

The central Wasatch, from Alta/Snowbird to Park City/Canyons got 12 or 13 inches overnight, AFTER the p.m. groom.  I was in line when the lifts openned at 9am and about 6 skiers and boarders raced to the top.  The blue groomer that connects to the area I was after was shin high freshies with two tracks in front of me.  I was third or fourth up Super Condor and did three runs there, one on- and two off-piste without crossing a track except at the tops and bottoms.  (Last run there had a minor miscalculation and I bottomed out in a gully with open water.  I found a spot where a skier had tested (with success) a very dubious looking snow bridge and  I crossed to face a 25 foot ascent in knee deep snow to a groomed trail.  My favorite on-mountain lodge is closed for the season now, but staff was there cleaning up and they had the coffee pot full.  Staff knows me and coffee was offerred and accepted.

I LOVE IT -- WHAT A GREAT DAY OF SPRING SKIING.

By Noon, the thaw line was up to 9000 feet, clouds were coming down making visibility flat, and I was getting tired.

Got home in time to take Linda to lunch at one of our favorite bakery/brew pub combos.  Now she's off to the library and I am within about 4 minutes of a long nap.

Tommy T.

(When we started these winter-long odyseys almost a decade ago, we agreed that we would go to good ski regions but we would select regions which might be an ultimate retirement home -- thus no visits to Crested Butte with Gunison, CO, as the "big town" or to Fernie, B.C., with one coffee shop, no movie house and hours to the nearest airport.  You all know that this is the first time that we have repeated -- Linda has been looking at houses for sale in the SLC area!  None of the individual peaks here are among my top 3, but the combination of 4 peaks in the top dozen, plus the City and the handy national service airport are weighing heavily in the balance, and my acceptance in the local amateur music community frankly ranks right along with snowboarding.  There are still some issues -- it's not a done thing -- but it's the first time we've taken a really serious look.)


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 04, 2013, 04:51:38 PM
April 4, 2013.  Our youngest granddaughter, Noora, is visiting and Spring skiing in the Wasatch is giving a lesson in how sweet Spring in the mountains can be.

This is Noora, early in the morning with long shadows in Mineral Basin at Snowbird, and all the crowds gone to South Padre Island and Pensecola Beach for school vacation:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Noora_in_the_Morning_in_Mineral_Basin.jpg)

Linda and Noora are pretty compatible in terms of interests in and ability on snow.  This is high on the North side of MB -- georgeous day and nice snow:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Mineral_Basin_April_4th.jpg)

Coming down out of Powder Paradise, this is an example of the crowds with which we had to deal:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/LK_and_NK_fight_crowds_at_Sbrd.jpg)

The Little Cloud side was about the same:  Noora just above top station on the new Little Cloud high-speed quad, with Road to Provo in the background:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Noora_at_Little_Cloud.jpg)

A shot of Noora and me and a shot of Linda and Noora -- just below the top station for the tram:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Gramp_and_Granddaughter_at_10%2C740_ft_ASL.jpg)

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Gram_and_Granddaughter_at_10470_feet_ASL.jpg)

(And, just by accident, a great view of American Fork Twin Peaks and the Pipeline Gully.)

I was really pleased that somebody else has noticed that Regulator is just turning into a seriously inclined bowling alley.  This sign was posted right at the Tram unloading dock where every skier and rider heading to the "Regulator to the left; Chip's to the right; Great Scott straight ahead" junction has to see it!

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Regulator_Ice_Chute_Warning.jpg)

All is well with the ski and board bums.  Sometimes life is just too good to say much else.  Today's one of those days.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 06, 2013, 05:20:34 PM
So...

Noora asked to board today. She's 14 and has been skiing since age 2 (at Park City for her first time on snow -- Cannon Mt. at 4 for her first real skiing).  She's never tried to board before.  She's a pretty good skier, on- and off-piste, and her comfort level with new challenges is pretty high.

We went to Canyons while the other two girls (my wife and my daughter) went for a swim and a massage. We hit the snow at 9am and after some quick intro to shuffling on one foot, hockey stops, posture and the theory of using the edges to turn we were riding the lift up and and the solid green level trail, High Meadows, down up above 8000 feet ASL where the snow on the groomer was corn and sky was blue.  Before we stopped for lunch, she could demonstrate falling leaf turns, garlands regular and fakey, C turns, and then she linked 5 consecutive C turns into a  2.5 S. 

For our last run, she was turning on the sides of the little 2 foot high "half-pipe" that is part of the collection of small features on the side of High Meadows that is there especially to let the kids show off their newly minted skills.

This is her last day out here this season -- if I could have her for one more good day, I'd have her turning on bumped-up Blues. 

Tommy T.

It's definitely Spring -- a bunch of shorts on the hill today!

 


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 07, 2013, 02:29:20 PM
Ah, Angie did get more than just 16 pictures of my birthday cake.  She just sent some shots from Sundance:

Angie and I on the triple, taken by A's current partner, Paul, who is wearing an orange parka and is reflected in the goggles:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/A_and_T_on_lift.jpg)

This is from a bit over half-way up Sundance, looking in a westerly direction from the mid-point on Ray's Lift.  That's my wife standing in the green jacket.  In the top left corner, you can see just a bit of the stratigraphy on Timpanogos.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/West_from_Ray_s_Lift.jpg)

The area was named "Sundance" by Redford after having starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  (The town of Sundance, from which Harry Alonzo Longabaugh took his nick-name, was actually in Wyoming.)  This shot into the Sun on a day that went pretty cloudy pretty quickly gives the name another meaning.  (That's me with the board on the next chair up the hill.)

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Sundance.jpg)

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 07, 2013, 03:00:33 PM
We are coming to the end of the ski resorts' seasons in the Wasatch (about 1/2 are closing today or tomorrow, about 1/2 next week-end and only an elite couple, including S'Brd, are continuing into May) and the weather forecasts for snow are more and more important to my daily planning.

A storm system is approaching -- all reports agree. 

BUT, the models indicate that snow at the Alta Guard weather post between now (say about Noon on Sunday) and Noon on Tuesday (all of two days away) will be between 0.4 inches and 35.7 inches.  Both extremes (and several predictions inbetween) are based on standard, operational NWS models -- these aren't Junior High Science Class experiments.

In the words of a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah who does a daily blog on the local weather scene:

"So, the bottom line is that this forecast is pretty much a crap shoot, with a wide range of potential outcomes in the central Wasatch."


Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 10, 2013, 06:03:06 PM
Following up on that crazy weather forecast:

It's Wednesday and the storm came and went.  This is a picture high on the slopes at Park City Ski Area at about 10am after 20 inches of new:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/April_10___20_inches_in_48_hours.jpg)

The really nice thing was that some of the trails that Linda likes a lot (wide, smooth Blues) got an evening groom yesterday and then another few inches overnight making for a wonderfully smooth and easy ride:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/April_10____High_above_Park_City.jpg)

After a few hours riding the snow, I went in to get a Park City season pass for next year.  I've had Canyons as my home area for for two years in a row and until today I had not ridden at Park City in 12 years.  I've never spent any time exploring the hike-to ridge that wraps around the area to the skier's left of the Jupiter Bowl and that's where I'll be next winter.  Now, at a superb Wasatch area, I have an unrestricted 70+ pass, early season purchase and special discount for buying before the present season ends next week-end -- $250.00.  (The rest of you need to hurry and get old!)

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 13, 2013, 10:46:06 PM
A fast moving, hard hitting storm is expected to give us 10 inches, more or less, to finish out our stay.  Canyons will close after tomorrow (Sunday) but the 'Bird is gradually reducing the number of lifts running and the extent of open terrain available and expects to stay open until mid-May.  Certain lifts, like mid-Gad will close this week, next week the Gad-2 will close followed by GadZoom.  The Gad side will be closed so there will be no grooming or patrolling on that part.  The Peruvian chair and the tunnel will shut down a week later and all the action will be up the tram plus Little Cloud and Mineral Basin lifts.  (Linda's pass at S'brd is "chairs only" because she mostly skis the Gad side and if she want to, she can access the Mineral Basin via Little Cloud or through the tunnel from the Peruvian chair.  S'brd waives the "chairs only" restriction for this late season period so she can get to MB from the tram.  She hates Chip's and will usually ride the tram back down while I do something off the Cirque and meet her at the bottom.)

Closing on our newly acquired real estate will be April 23 and we leave for the season on the 25th.  (The present owners will rent from us while their new home is finished and furnished -- we'll probably come back out for a month in August or so to do our own furninshing and preparations for our first winter in it.)

Overall, I would say that this season has been a little less intense than last year but generally speaking I've experienced it as a little higher quality.  Almost nothing that I did this year was brand new to me, so there was less self-imposed pressure to "set a mark" and more time to enjoy a drop through the trees.

We did explore Sundance -- nice Wasatch feel for the greenies and blues -- and enjoyed Powder Mountain enough that we'll be back up there a few times next season.

I'll say something about non-pub restaurants.  While not increasing our number of meals out (already a bit on the frequent side), we tried hard to visit new and different places.  Tibetan food, Greek, Lebonese, Mexico City style gormet Mexican as well as the usual northern Mexican menu, a Kosher deli and sandwich shop operated by a Mormon Utahan who fell in love with the food during college in NYC, Peruvian seafood specialty restaurant of very high standard, a Bosnian cafe (?) (sort of eastern mediterania with less spicing), a reasonable facsimile of Texas BBQ, Vietnamese noodle house, Market Street -- an outstanding American sytle seaf food operation, etc.  That's the sort of thing that separates SLC from places like Bend, OR or Bozeman, MT.     

If you are hungry and coming down from the Cottonwood Canyons, stop for a meal at the Porcipine Grill, right at the bottom of Big Cottonwood just West of the stop light -- sort of hidden by the gasoline station on the corner, so slow down and check it out.  It's a serious apre-ski hangout with local beers, big plates, ski-bum waiters and a crowd that is mostly discussing the day's runs.  My pint was a chocolate stout from a local brewery north of SLC.  Delicious, but pretty strong -- I don't actually remember what I had to eat -- BUT IT WAS GOOD (Linda said so).

Tommy T.



Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 14, 2013, 04:22:06 PM
Last report from Canyons for the season; April 14th, 2013 -- Closing Day, with 4" of new overnight, temps just below freezing all morning, bluebird skies, and nine lift rides with zero line -- that's nine lift rides on which the chair in front of me was empty.

I made at least a large number of freshies on every single run!  In fact, I made one 1000 foot vertical run that was absolute first tracks all of the way; three runs that were fresh lines for 1000 feet, the "Black Hole" natural half pipe with only only one track through it,  a first tracks and a fresh line in two closed trails that I poached by entering through trees, and freshies for 800 feet through "The Pines" to the natural half pipe "Tunnel of Fun" which had quite a few tracks which I avoided just by staying a little higher and/or a a little to the right of what had been already laid down.

Here's some pics of Canyons on the last day:

This is taken standing right next to the unloading station for the Saddleback lift.  There was absolutely no entrace track by any skier or boarder into this beautiful, open stand of Aspens.  Saddleback lift is an 1101 foot vertical rise and the trail map suggests that it is possible to spend about 80% of that in the trees and then finish under the lift. "

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day__The_Aspens_1.jpg)

That was the entrance to the trees up on the rounded top of the ridge.  Down into the adventure, slopes are better angled -- still not a track, not even in the distance:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day__The_Aspens.jpg)

Toward the bottom, I cut over to the lift and finished under its line.  I headed right back up that lift and my tracks had not been touched.  These three shots are taken from the Saddleback lift and show

A) My line curving out of the trees toward the lift line:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day____My_line_comes_out_of_the_Aspens.jpg)

B) Dropping down the line:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/normal_Closing_Day____My_line_under_the_lift.jpg)

C) Coming out on the trail just above the bottom of the lift:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day____My_line_joins_Easy_Way.jpg)

At the top the ride when I took those pictures, I thought about staying with that lift to see how long it would be before somebody else put a line there, but instead I dropped the trees on the other side of the ridge and went down through very open trees to the Tunnel of Fun.  It had taken some traffic earlier in the morning but still was in good shape with chances to high-point on the sides above the earlier competition.  Canyons claims six natural half-pipes and at least three of them, including this one, are really quite good:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day____Canis_Lupis.jpg)

Planning on making my last run down to the base, I may have accidentally taken advantage of some ambiguity in the placement of the "Closed" signs and ran the trail Eagle down the Orange Bubble lift line and laying in a new line in the process -- clearly the closure was because of thin cover and bare spots, not avi danger, and I had scouted it from the chair earlier.  I went back up to see if I had left a photograph-able trail, and on the way back down I made the same mistake interpreting the "Closed" sign on Lynx, just one trail over and parallel to Eagle.  Both of these were untouched, although it's hard to figure out why.  My line appears to be unnecessarily close to the trees, but in fact the center of the trail is bare and the snow just a few feet out from the trees is quite shallow and hiding a lot of rocks:


(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Closing_Day__Eagle_under_the_Bubble.jpg)

So,

that's it at Canyons.  SnowBird stays open until after we are gone and I'll get up there a few more times.

In the meantime, it looks like we're buying the SLC house.  Lot's to do in terms of finalizing the nickels and dimes (we agree that we saw the rickety garage and we'll be responsible for making it useable -- they agree that we could not have anticipated the problems that the inspector found in the brick chimney and they'll take care of the cost and the repairs to that), selling some bonds and getting a wire transfer lined up, agreeing to rent to them for a few months while they furnish and then move into their new place and arranging to store our winter gear in the house, even though they are renting it and won't be moved out. Got to arrange insurance, transfer the utility bills, line-up a grounds keeper for the summer, etc.

Gee!  We really have to work hard to have fun -- even in retirement.

Tommy T.











Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 18, 2013, 08:24:20 AM
Headed back up Little Cottonwood -- probably for my last day this season:

From the Utah Avalanche Center this morning:

It's been quite a storm. Yesterday, it was full on winter complete with a cold, stiff wind and continued snow squalls. The upper Cottonwood Canyons have up to 20 inches of storm total snow with over an inch of water weight. Overnight temperatures continued very cold in the lower teens and even one reading of 8 degrees at Brighton. Winds blew yesterday from the north and northwest 20, gusting to 30. Skies are clear and they will remain so all day. The snow is somewhat sun crusted on most aspects but there is still lots of creamy, dry snow on the shady aspects that feels just like a January storm.

Snowbird is pretty much shut down to the Tram and the two bowls that are reached via it -- Little Cloud and Mineral Basin -- and it goes week-end only pretty soon.  Our passes at Snowbird are for week-days only, so the Friday into Saturday event that may make Sunday a great day won't benefit us and we'll be headed back to Texas by the end of next week and there will be some packing and moving our winter gear into storage at the SLC house to do.

It's going to be a geogeous, blue-bird day today.  I'll try to get one more Wasatch Wonder Image to close this thread down.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 18, 2013, 05:07:25 PM
(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18__Above_the_Cliff_Lodge.jpg)

April 18, 2013
View over Cliff Lodge at Snowbird from up on the Primrose Path.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on April 18, 2013, 05:53:39 PM
That last post just stood on its own -- there was nothing to say.

No wonder we're buying a vacation house in SLC (closing is on for Monday).

Snowbird and Brighton are the only areas in the Central Wasatch still open during the week.  Alta is week-ends only and Brighton and S'bird go that way before the end of the month.

Today was really, really good -- new snow, no crowd at all, freshies for most turns on every run; a couple of first tracks--one off the first public Tram, just avoiding the ski lines and staying left of Chips.  The second one was pure luck.  Mineral Basin was closed on the first Tram ride; on my second Tram, during the usual cautions from the operator as we entered the top dock, he announced that MB had just openned.  A few people in front of me headed that way but kept going onto the Road to Provo or the Path to Paradise, so I just veered left and dropped the Headwall for a true first tracks -- crowds were small so I got some pictures of the line on my way back up on lift (these are displayed from the top down, although they were taken from the bottom up as I rode the lift back up).

So this is at the top just over the lip, coming down from just opposite of the Little Cloud lift top station:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18__Mineral_Basin_1.jpg)

Continuing that line, this is the central section just before entering a broad chute at the bottom:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18_Mineral_Basin_3.jpg)

And, the lower section with just a touch of technical challenge:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18__Mineral_Basin_2.jpg)

As the Sun heated things up towards Noon, the wind picked up and got very gusty. The Baldy anenometer was recording 60 mph gusts at about the time this shot was taken just beyond the Little Cloud lift station, looking down the Path to Paradise.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18__A_Bit_of_Wind.jpg)

Even after Noon, when I road back down the Cirque again to get to my car and head home, I was able to find some untracked lines to finish of the day:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/4_18_Below_the_Cirque.jpg)

(My track is the obvious, unartistic, board line down the skier's left side of the picture.  It's a bit tricky to read the photo; my line and the one to the skier's right of it disappear behind a ridge and all the ski lines in the foreground are coming down from the skier's left side of the lower Cirque more or less along that ridge and then coming over it.  The other board and my line disapear down into the low point on the other side of the ridge and come out lost in the mess of other tracks.)


Tommy T.









Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on May 03, 2013, 02:04:21 PM
Last report on our travels and our snow fun last winter-- we're home.  Yet another trip across the mountains and plains to Deep East Texas -- the changing vistas from the still-snowcapped Rockies through the deserts to the now in bloom prairies to the Pineywoods of home always look about the same in pictures although the experience changes from year to year.  This year we got a few interesting animal shots that should be a bit of a visual change for the end of this thread:

Coming down between Steamboat and Breckenridge in north-central Colorado we saw a pair of Osprey, one tending the massive nest (re-used and enlarged year after year) and one sitting nearby keeping watch.

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Osprey_1.jpg)

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Osprey_2.jpg)

In the prairie, we saw the prairie dogs -- in fact a whole prairie dog town that looked like something from a Disney nature film as the little rodents popped in and out of their holes:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Prairie_Dog_1.jpg)

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Prairie_Dog_3.jpg)

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Prairie_Dog_2.jpg)

Caprock State Park in Texas is home of the state buffalo herd (if you call them "bison," we know that you are from East of the Mississippi).  Once before, we camped at that park and there is a posting of a single buffalo on a hiking trail.  This year we got a good look at a herd:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Buffalo_1.jpg)

The future of the herd look to be pretty good as well:

(http://www.whps-technology.org/backcountry/coppermine/albums/userpics/10036/Buffalo_2.jpg)

Now we're home, the car is unpacked and the Thule box in stored.  We have some serious laundry to do and the grocery store needs a visit.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on May 06, 2013, 12:01:31 PM
On May 1, 2013, the snow pack at the Alta/Collins station dropped below 100 inches. That's not bad, huh?

A substantial report on the findings of a massive climate assessment for the Southwest has just been released.  The whole twenty chapter report and a summary of findings with links to the report and other source is on-line at    http://swcarr.arizona.edu/key-findings  (http://swcarr.arizona.edu/key-findings).  "Southwest" covers all of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and at least the Southwestern drainages of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

The report is not good for water users for the next 100 years or so but it does give some comfort to skiers and snowboarders for the remainder of my life -- the precipitation may actually go up and temperature increases in ski country will show up as a gradual moving up of the freeze/thaw line. 

It is a comforting, if self-centered, expectation that the high-altitude snow pack will hang around in the Wasatch and the Central Rockies for at least several decades.  And, we may not have to shovel out the garage in Salt Lake City very often.  Property values around our SLC house might suffer if the SW economy takes a hit from things like loss of open range suitable for grazzing, more expensive water for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses, and too late/too little efforts to control emissions.  Alta may be down to 100 inches by mid-April in another 10 years.

I voted for the Green Party in the 2012 elections -- one of 12 Green Party votes in my entire county (Texas went GOP for President 70/30 -- don't try to convince me that I wasted my vote).  At my age and self-dedication to fun, I can't do much more than that, although I do encourage the rest of you fight for rational policy change based on the best available science and economic analysis.

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: Tommy T on May 07, 2013, 01:21:54 PM
Crazy weather continues nation-wide.

Yesterday highs in Seattle were higher than the highs in Phoenix.  Northern Vermont was hotter than Pensacola and Tallahasee.

(Fortunately, from the global warming point of view, I'm a pretty good water-skier.  I haven't wind-surfed much since breaking my neck during Hurricane Bob, but, given an appropriate rig, I could probably still handle a moderate gale.)

Tommy T.


Title: Re: Annual Ski and Snowboard Thing 2012/2013
Post by: surf88 on May 08, 2013, 07:35:12 AM
It was crazy looking at the upside down weather map yesterday.