May 6, 2012

SLC Twin Peaks via Deaf Smith- May 5, 2012

View from the back porch- Twin West Bowl- May 6, 2012

Amidst the beauty of a wonderful spring in the Salt Lake Valley, my mind really began to wonder if I was ever going to ski a line I have gazed upon since I was 3 years old. For most my life I have imagined what the west bowl of West Twin Peaks must be like to climb and ski but also how the approach would be straight up from the valley. I have been on Twin many times via a few different routes but never from the Sandy Bench up Deaf Smith Canyon-- or shall I call it Death Smith? Knowing that the spring sun was having its way with a quickly tiring snow pack it was now or never-- at least this year. A text to my regular friends immediately produced the faithful companions.
5 AM.  Courtesy Jared Inouye

With high winds through the night but strong desires Scott Wetzel, Jared Inouye and Jason Dorais and I met at the Deaf Smith trail head just before 5 AM and began what would become a wild hike with skis and boots banging on rocks, poles bending, soaked tennis shoes and getting lost at least 12 times type of adventure. All I can say is this hike would be about 100% easier without winter ski mountaineering gear that encapsulated us on this trip.
The "Trail" Courtesy Jared Inouye

Trees and Skis Courtesy Jared Inouye
Courtesy Jared Inouye
We continued on trail and then off trail then up the river and finally got to where a view of the enigmatic black horn that defines far north extremity of the north fork of Deaf Smith and the summit ridge came into view.  A quick descent down some rocks to the snow meant it was finally time to skin!! We made speedy work of the snow cruising up the dead fall from the fire that occurred here in 2002 with the scared Aspens watching us closely as we passed by. Donning the ski crampons Jason, Jared and I moved up the head wall couloir without too much difficulty, while Scott booted. Jared on the summit would inform Scott that he had an extra pair but left them in Jason's truck about 5,000 below.... Sorry Scott. We then entered the mystical West Bowl! With open quartzite arms it welcomed us to its realm of power.  Jason and I were thrilled to be here. He had never summited Twin and neither of us had been in this exact spot of the Wasatch.  Jared, was coming of a serious avalanche accident that could have very easily cost him his life. This was his first outing since that dreadful day. We were so happy to have him with us. Jason beheld the incident and talked with me of the heightened awareness of safety after a circumstance like that happens. What nearly kills us can ultimately save us. I too had a terribly close call last year and will gratefully never think the same way again.

The Choke to the Summit- Courtesy Jared Inouye
Jason on the East Twin- Courtesy Jared Inouye
We moved up the relatively low angled bowl and then as things got steeper at a choke point, We pinned the skis to the pack and set a quick booter to the Summit up firm frozen snow and in a cloud of white.  I think it was like 9:20 AM when we were topping out into dense clouds and a full winter scape. Jason, never having summited asked me as we reach the top of the West Twin, "is this the higher of the two", to which I responded "nope."  He trailed off a "Dang..." We reached the top and then he was gone, no pack, just ski poles and a camera. Off to the East Twin he ran, along a cornice rib and exposed snow laden ridge line. Scott arrived where I and Jared were chilling and laughing caught in the jubilation of winter in the Wasatch and asked, "where's Jason?", to which Jared responded and yelled in a fog of cloud "Hey Jason, I can't see you, where are you?" "I'm on top!" Jason replied.  "Jason's on the East Twin now" I said to Scott.
Courtesy Jared Inouye

Jason- Courtesy Jared Inouye

Wetzel- Courtesy Jared Inouye

The ski descent from the summit was super rock hard snow, but fun with the two little couloirs affording some technically turning. The bowl was smooth and hard so opening it up a bit made for fast downhill turns.  From the summit  to the actual bowl it was about 40ish degrees in steepness and then mellowed to a lower angle.

End of Year Turns- Entering West Bowl- Courtesy Jared Inouye
West Bowl- Courtesy Jared Inouye

Before we knew it our smiles filled with images of snow reflecting in our glasses began to recede as the snow ended and we knew our skis and boots had to come off and the shoes would soon become wet and pants filled with burs. We reached the cars around 11:50AM.  Each area of the Wasatch has its own chapter to tell with each different season. This spot in our book of adventure among mountains was a special highlight and I feel ever so blessed to live where we do and be able to do these things. The Lord is so giving to me, my family and friends.

Courtesy Jared Inouye