Thursday, March 30, 2006

Maybird in Spring

I'm sorry I have no pictures for this one. The camera never came out of the pack as the clouds prevented any good pictures.

The skin into the pine and maybird canyons is always a bear. All three of these are hanging canyons and it takes a little activation energy to get out of hyway hell and into shangri la. We have all done it and concede that it is worth it. I tend to like little conttonwood drainages better than big for views, besides mill B south of course, and the Broads fork cirque... Ah hell they are all pretty. I take that back. What I do like is the openness of the red pine, maybird, hogum drainages. I love looking up at the phiferhorn above. Today however the phife was in cloud cover. Ben and I got near the pass into hogum but neglected to go there as there wouldn't be much of a view. We stuck to the trees on the east side of the drainage. Up high the powder was not too heavy by spring standards and the underlying crust didn't cause any funnybuisness till we got lower down. Ben and I had a great decent through the trees on moderate angles and out of harm's way as far as avalanches are concerned. I actually felt relatively comfortable on skis for the first time in the backcountry! I thank Rob for the lesson at alta last Saturday. By the end of last Saturday he told me I did not look quite as bad as I did in the morning.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

King's Peak Outing

It all starts with a healthy diner. Then I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and started driving out through Wyoming to King's Peak. The plan was to ski in as far as I could and possibly climb the thing.

Andrew McClean's book states that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but the slog into king's peak is just plain hell. I don't know if that is exactly true, but then again, I did not get all the way in. At 8 in the morning I started off from the road which is three miles further to the actual trail head. By mid morning my elevation was higher, the snow deeper, and the temps warmer.

So warm in fact that snow started to stick on my skis pretty badly. Breaking trail was difficult and slow with the heavy pack on but the scenery was beautiful. It was nice to be in perfect cross coutry ski terrain, with incline for nice steady climbing and perfect kick-and-glide. By about 4 pm the temps started to drop and I conceded that I was no where near the gunsight pass that leads to king's peak and so I'd better just set up camp. I was probably about 2 miles from the pass, and then another 4 to the peak. I had enough food to keep going the next day but M's flight was getting in Satruday night and I didnt want to cut it that close. I found out that the small 220 g propane/butane tank will melt 3 L of water plus all the cups of coffee and tea you want, and cook dinner of cous cous at 20 F. The night was cold. My thermometer diped into the single digits that night. I found out that with two socks with heat packs taped to my feet, with a warm full nalgene in the foot of my bag, with long johns, flece pants, caplene and down jacket on, inside my 0 F rei down time bag that single digit temps are just barely doable. I didnt get much sleep that night but all told it was OK.

The next day I woke and had tons of coffee and relaxed as it warmed up to a comfy 20 F. I tooled around the meadows on my skis for a bit then decided to haul ass back to the car before it heated up too much and got clods of snow on my skis. On my way out I met up with this family, an 10 and 12 year old and this guy who were all doing kings peak. these kids were tough. They camped in the single digits just like i did the night before. We chatted awhile and they told me that they were really enjoying my ski track in. They also told me that the whole wastach mountain club was planning to be up there this weekend to enjoy my ski track.

I plan to go back in a few weeks when the 3 miles of road melts out so I may park closer and the snow will be more settled and there will be easy trail breaking and/or a skitrack in.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Porter Fork Bluebird

Ben and I went up porter fork today. We are usually pretty fast on the up, but today there was some very impressive splitboarders. They were flying up the hill with those large, unwieldy planks. Very impressive...

My legs on the other hand were doing about as one would expect after 5 days of skiing in the last 6 days. Near the top I started to feel like I was skinning in ankle-deep molasses. The picture says it all...

As for the skiing? It could not be better. After a few cornice and wind-drift kicks gave naught but a shrug we dove down into the top of porter fork bowl for some of the best turns this year, at least 3500 vertical feet worth. Here is a pic of Ben doing the first slope cut

And here is me, another satisfied Porter Fork customer

At this website you may view a video: