November 13, 2012

Big Cottonwood Poetry- November 13, 2012

Scott Wetzel, the man with a beard nice and red is glad he wasn't still in bed. Skiing with a heavy pack and all he didn't even take a fall. When Ambrose sought some powder fine, Wetzel found it in perfect time. Today with a start both dark and cold, the line we sought was far from bold. Although the coverage was mighty thin, it really gave us each a grin. The mountains truly came aglow with a fresh new blanket of beautiful snow.   -- Me

Scott Wetzel finding a skinner- Big Cottonwood

This morning's dawn and the giants- Big Cottonwood

November 11, 2012

Changing Landscapes

The second significant, measurable storm reached the Wasatch mountains this weekend. Like many of the storms that cycle through the canyons, we dwellers of the valley see a bit too at our homes. Yesterday to celebrate, Jared, Jason and I made it up the dicey Little Cottonwood Canyon road in darkness to be awakened by morning light, a blizzard and icy winds. The snow stake reported 18" in upper LCC. We approached with interest and caution as the new snow was hypersensitive sending shallow sluffs from the top 4" in a radius about 50 feet above our travels. Specifically the slopes north east facing were active. We did a great little tour enjoying each others company and absorbing the cold vibes of a mountain winter landscape. It seemed like more than 18" of fresh and the super low angles we stayed on and "skied" were not sufficient to gain enough speed to make turns.  Nonetheless, the great white has arrived and we welcome it with gladness.  One thing's for sure, I felt like a naked bear as I froze my tail off. Two coats for the descent weren't sufficient. My camera's battery died too from the cold. Sorry. I need to acclimate.  As of right now the stake tells me 44" storm total upper LCC.
Backyard. Good snow. Too flat to ski.

Happy Veterans Day!

November 2, 2012

SLC Twin: Granite, quartzite and snow

Having been raised all my life in the Wasatch, I secretly pride myself in thinking I am aware of most all the lines up the peaks of the range. Well turns out I don't. That's the beauty of these steep mountains. They are so diverse and unique with three or so different types of rock too. I deeply love these mountains and always have.  Jared told me I need to go up Twin Peaks via the "granite halfpipe"in Little Cottonwood which he recently did with Jason. Intrigued by the clean nature of the line and the fact that I have never been on it,  I gave it a go this afternoon.  The north and east aspects at higher elevations carry snow from last week and I hoped to avoid them but wanted to try and link some peaks together.

After a nasty bushwack it all began to open up. The bottom of the granite half pipe felt more to me like a granite toboggon hill. I immediately found myself on some wonderful granite that was quite consistent, interrupted only by occasional bushes and dirt. The pitch along the route ranged from walkable to really enjoyable mellow 5th class climbing. As you near the top, the slab becomes steeper and a fall has significant consequence. The soloing was wonderful as the granite was beautiful with sections of mottled rock.

Reaching the top, I worked over to the Southwest ridge of SLC Twin. The summit is quite a distance away and I quickly realized the snow was going to be an issue for me (only had approach shoes) to try and complete the triple traverse and then exit via Tanners. The going slowed through the sketchy snow. I worked my way up excellent quartzite (isn't that sweet, two rock types in one trip!!)on the dry spots, tagging one horn after another along the ridge and reached the top of West Twin in about 2 hours and 16 minutes. I was concerned that my plans were going to have to change as the east elevations were carrying too much snow. Quartzite and 8 inches of snow is not a good combination. So, standing on West Twin I knew the only way off in an attempt to avoid the snow and down climbing the halfpipe would be Deaf Smith. I could have dropped down Lisa but didn't want the rock fall from above. I chose to be prudent and was grateful to have experienced what I did this afternoon. It having been my first real day in the high mountains since recent surgery. It was so excellent to be there this late in the year.

I made my way down Deaf Smith, which by the way is much more fun to ski. Losing and regaining the trail multiple times seems to be the norm.  The fall leaves welcomed me back to civilization in shades of yellow and red as I reached the bottom of the trail with 4 hours and 30 minutes elapsed. I am so grateful for these amazing creations and thank God for the opportunity I have to call them home.

About a quarter of the way up

My camera doesn't do this view justice. Pfief, Coalpit, Lone

Final slab. Excellent rock

Don't fall

West Twin and Southwest ridge

Mr. Goat and My tracks along ridge

Beautiful day on West Twin

Southwest bowl West Twin (Deaf Smith south fork)

I turned around more often to check my behind after seeing these