Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Uinta Ski Hike

I went on a little trip to the Uintas. I skied till it was dark, and then kept going, all the way to gunsight pass to my high camp at 11,300. I got up at 5am and started over the pass and into painter's basin then back up some steep hills to King's peak. At 12,800 I had gained the long ridge where King's peak resides. I mistakenly thought Kings was south of where I was. Daytime heating made me leery of traversing a steep slope with a slide-for-life into an unknown drainage, so I bailed on fake Kings and decided to head up to a more accessible 13er which I thought was not King,s, but actually was! King's, shown above as the central peak that is recessed a bit in the photo. From the top I was able to see all over into several drainages that practically nobody goes to. I came down via an amazing ski pole glissade. When the angle slacked I skied the rest on perfect corn across miles of open terrain in these expansive mountain valleys. The only living thing I saw up there was a fox. Once back on the Henry's fork side I kicked back at my tent, melted some snow and made some tea. I let my socks dry in the excessive warmth and took a nap. Due to the excessive heat the thin snowpack was collapsing and unconsolidated. I could only travel successfully on the packed down ski track, and even then I fell into many a trap door. I decided to come down that night when the meager refreeze made the track more supportable. About every 30 steps I fell through and I needed my skins for the decent just to slow me down so I did not stray from the track into the vast sea of facets. I was very weak on the way down, but feeling ok. I skied for 14 hours that day and by 10 at night I was at my car. I spent 32 hours car to car for a 40-mile round trip hike. Great training for Elk mountain coming up in two weeks...


  1. I hope you can cover 40 miles in less than 32 miles next weekend!

    You and Ben are going to have so much "fun"! Wish I could be there.


  2. I mean 40 miles in less than 32 hours, of course. Woops.

  3. yeah,

    I had brought tents/sleeping bags and all the fixings, weighing in at many more pounds than I'll have for the race. Also, the snow conditions were awful: During the daytime the rotten snow made trap doors every 20 or so steps, which slowed me down considerably. Many times my whole body got swallowed into the trapdoor, which is really tiring. On the way out I could not even ski down because if I picked up speed and went even a little off trail I'd trap door face first into the snow. Much of the way it was like walking a tightrope. So the whole way down I kept my kicker skins on. Adding all that up I think my 32 hours was a great time. Without the weight and with solid snow I think finishing in less than 16 hours is very doable.

  4. Now, why would you feel the need to finish in less than sixteen hours? I think that's a fine time.

    Bon chance, Señors!

  5. 32/2 = 16. less is better. I'm hoping not to bonk. I hear that sucks.