December 7, 2013

Randonee and Brighton Resort

Announcement- If you like to go to Brighton Resort and randonee/ AT ski, please park over at the Church lot and not elsewhere in the parking areas of Brighton. It is a privilege to be able to be on their mountain and by so doing must adhere to all of their policies. Please be courteous and considerate at all times while at Brighton. They have been very gracious and wonderful to us all.

September 15, 2013

Wasatch Dreaming

Here is a video my brother (a team pilot for SkyWalk) put together. He is so very talented. The last few weeks I have been unable to get into the high mountains and this video captures some of the beauties of the Wasatch. 

Wasatch Dreaming from DEAF Crew on Vimeo.

August 24, 2013

Mount Timpanogos with Davy and Dingo

Yesterday I got a welcomed call from a long time friend. Davy, asked if I wanted to run Timp in the morning. How do you say no to good times in the high mountains with possibly one of the most fun and cool guys in the world? Our friendship started like 15 years ago in Draper. Our wives both had our now oldest kids around the same time. We would run and ride mountain bikes together often and hit the road trying to sell my product of line of back packs to ski shops.  He paced me in my first long foot race and has been like a brother to me. Davy is an amazing character, absolutely hilarious, excellent father and a super physically strong guy.

Grandpa Davy (coined by the kids at the skate park) and his faithful family dog Dingo were good enough to let me join them this morning. We had a blast! We started at Timpanooke, running past lots of hikers in the morning dawn. We were welcomed into the high range by clearing skies and cool temperatures. The mountains towered above us with the first rays of morning light. A few flowers remained, as Dingo the superstar sniffed each of them. The summit had high southerly winds and clouds unfortunately obscuring the view. The last time I was up there, I was with the Dorais and Jared traversing the range on skis.

The summit visit was brief, although we did see a couple who had packed their what looked to be less than 1 year old son to the summit in the rough conditions. That kid will be a beast or scarred for life from the lack of oxygen. We motored down the mountain, passing lots of BYU fans on their way up and arriving to the car at 9:45 AM. 
Massive Timp Main

Cloudy summit

Grandpa Davy and his amazing pal Dingo

The three amigos- freezing our butts off (at least I was)

Davy, Dingo doing the running pose- we were actually on our way down

Davy and Dingo and brilliant color-filled sky

August 18, 2013

Kings Peak- Aug 12th-16th

I spent this past week back packing with my two sons and a group of young men and other group leaders. The scenery was splendid and there were no mosquitoes either! There were afternoon showers three of the 5 days. We visited many lakes, and took in every mile of beauty. The fishing at 5 Points Lake was excellent. We approached via Hells Canyon out of Duchesne to Tungsten Pass then to Anderson Pass- Kings then out Yellowstone Canyon. Besides an incident requiring Life Flight the trip was 50 miles of pleasure.
The Youngster and building storm Day 1

5 Points Lake - Day 2

Unnamed Lake near Tungsten Pass- Day 3

Top of Kings (13,548 feet)- My oldest on left and younger boy (in pink) on right- Day 4

Anderson Basin and Pass and Kings Peak

August 11, 2013

Red Bird Traverse

From AF Twins West
Yesterday morning I traversed from Red Pine to Snowbird. I'll call it the "Red Bird" traverse in place of other random names I have heard. My camera has been a problem of late. On my second to last summit of the morning, the screen flashed "format disc." I had lost all my pictures from the morning along with my wonderful West Slabs trip this week with Wes "Bane" Murry. I was heartbroken and angry. 

Anyhow, I left my car alone at 5:32 AM alone in a crisp darkness. I could see my breathe as I crossed the first little bridge on the White/Red Pine trail. I passed a young man who had a big pack and heading to White Pine. His headlamp faded as I entered the Red Pine trail. My stomach was giving me fits as I worked up to Red Pine Lake and then onto the Pfieferhorn-White Baldy ridgeline. I was feeling depleted from stomach problems and wondered what I should do.  Nearing the ridge a beautiful little pika stood a couple feet from me, posing with a deep blue and orange sky behind. I took the picture and sadly lost it at the end of my trip. It would have been one of my best. I decided to head for the challenging and fun ridge of White Baldy.

I moved as smoothly as I could along the White Baldy ridge, covering the technical exposed scramble along the flat section and then on up to the steeper sections. Each move on the elegant granite was accompanied by southerly wind, which added to the effect of one of the more techy sections of ridgeline in the Wasatch. It's a fun ridge with jutting pillars that cantelever over the ridge. Arriving on top the sun was burning through rain clouds as I looked to the east at my next destination. I forget how slow going the reconaisance of White Baldy can as both the west and east ridges require some fun climbing moves and concentration.

Staying on the ridge and moving up the west side of Red Baldy the stark contrast from granite to quartzite is amazing. In one step the rock completely changes. From on top of Red Baldy the ridge in my opinion becomes even sharper, more exposed and exhiliarating. Both the Little Cottonwood and AF sides were beautiful in the unique lit morning. The sharp quartzite can be both suspect and solid at the same time. It is my favorite part of the traverse.

With the wind still accompanying every step, I moved down the exposed ridge and then on up to the top of Red Stack Peak. No rain, just a cool wind and even better, no people. I had tried to stay on the true ridge during the entire traverse and in all but a couple small spots was able to do it.

I then reached the top of AF Twins West and then AF East in 3 hrs 43 mins. I moved on down and out Snowbird and then to the White Pine trail head ending at my car. Elapsed time of 4 hrs 47 mins.

A look back from top of AF Twins East

July 30, 2013

SL Twin Peaks- via FC

Scott and I got an early start on Saturday as we both had family commitments to be at in the morning. This summer has been loaded with my boys' baseball games, church youth activities, lots of work and backpacking with my sons.

While folks were at the Speedgoat, Scott and I were lonely in the high hills. It was a nice morning, threatened by rain the whole time. We moved at a steady pace and had a great time.
Muscles and upper FC

The mighty Deaf Smith

Ridge to Black Horn

Scott and summit of Black Horn

Top of Twin East after tagging Twin West

July 25, 2013

Middle Teton- A New Generation July 19/20, 2013

In 1994, while coming off the Grand Teton and descending into the Lower Saddle, I saw this dad and his young son, maybe 15 years of age just arriving at the saddle with big packs. I remember as I walked away with the Exum Ridge fading behind me, how neat their experience will be together on such a wonderful mountain. The Tetons have been a part of my life since I was 13 years old when I first saw them. I began climbing them in 1990 and haven't stopped.

Now with a 14 year old son of my own the time has come to indoctrinate the next generation with the gospel of the Teton Range. His first experience had to be expedition style, not the fast and light way I have grown accustomed. So last Friday we loaded our Ospreys with over-night necessities and with permit in hand Alex and I headed for the Meadows at the base of the mountain we would ascend, the Middle Teton. The hike in was nice, a bit hot but beautiful with wild flowers all around us. Alex with a full pack hiked strong, arriving at the Meadows in less than 2.5 hours.  The Meadows unfortunately has become a busy place, but we were able to find a great spot.  As the sun tucked itself behind the hulking Middle Teton, we ended our day.
Alex and his objective, is he happy?

Alex and the boulders
At 345 AM, after some oatmeal and hot chocolate (gotta fuel the young one) we headed up South Fork in the darkness of a star laden sky. Crossing solid snowfields, Alex got to use crampons and an ice axe for the first time. We were stoked to be in such a massive setting together with Nez Perce, Cloudveil and the unveiling South Teton surrounding us.  The sun began to burn the horizon as we reached the last remaining snowfield. On the saddle Alex had the chance to make one last decision, go or no go. There wasn't even a question in his mind. "Let's roll Dad."

Up the Southwest Couloir we went, through the shooting gallery of loose rock and then up to the Summit, arriving at 722 AM. The setting opened his eyes quickly as the north and east aspects of the summit block fall away precipitously. He immediately sized up the Grand which was now staring him down. Looks like we have a trip planned for next year. I was so proud of him!
Alex on the last snowfield

Alex in the shooting gallery of Southwest

Alex, Summit Middle Teton!!

Old man and the 14 year old, and the GT- self portrait as no one was around yet

Bundled up Alex!

Alex cautiously moving off the top, Middle's shadow background

On the descent we practiced more self arrest techniques on the snowfields, as we watched folks with out helmets move by us. We even got to see one guy that was using a knife instead of a ice axe.
Alex and Shoulder of South Teton


Proud Father for sure

June 1, 2013

American Fork Twins and Red Stack- It's still winter!

Spring is one of my favorite seasons and days like to today amplify my interest in this time of year. Vegetation in the low land is coming forth, while white veins of snow linger in the high places. With American Fork Twins being inaccessible via the Snowbird side all winter, the boundary signs have now come down allowing Scott and I to have an amazingly nice morning on this wonderful mountain.

The lower skinning in the resort was icy but as we entered the apron of the Pipeline we found soft conditions with even a twist of early Aprilish snow.  With an interest in soaking up as much Pipeline and surrounding environs as possible and because it was so much fun, we did multiple ascents of the couloir. The first and third climbs included tagging the summit of AF Twins proper. The skiing was remarkably good, however the Pipeline was a bit runneled halfway down.

On top of the AF Twins for the second time we eyed a nice line off the back side (northeast) of Red Stack that would drop us right into Snowbird's boundary. Scott and I did a quick fun traverse over to Red Stack's top along a beautiful ridgeline with smooth corn and all the great Little Cottonwood peaks staring us down. From the top we found our line, a rock filled, steep and strangely contrived spot that proved fantastic and filled in with heavy powdery snow. Someone had been in the line just after the snow this week, making about 4 turns and jumping what we call the choke, which we down climbed!

The waking giant- AF Twins

Scott descending Pipeline

Above pipeline, Scott en-route to top for second time

Heading over to Red Stack, our line is right off top, left of Scott's helmet

Scott and AF Twin West Summit (south side)- beautiful morning!

Me, dropping in off Red Stack, courtesy Scott Wetzel
Me down climbing the choke
Scott midway down chute- Powder (we keep telling ourselves that)!!

May 27, 2013

Baldy- Great Skiing Continues

This weekend I had two great trips on Baldy.

Saturday was a busy day with many important family activities. I only had a short amount of time to get something in, so I took Andy's advice and did a quick trip on Baldy to soak in some more turns. I got a late start (probably too late) from the lower parking lot and put on my skis a few yards up where the snow begins. The snow was spring for sure but a beautiful day! I had to be home in less than two hours. So, in a hurry I climbed Baldy main and then up to the barren top. I then skied down my up line on soft cornish snow mixed with rock shards and some really run turns on the apron.  Arriving at the bottom, with a car to car time of 1 hr 7 minutes, I had a few minutes to spare making it home for a family festivities. I'm so grateful to have been raised here!

This morning, Jason and I in an effort to continue our Memorial Day ski tradition, got out and skinned up icy snow to Hidden Peak and then over to Baldy. We descended down Baldy Main and found soft fun skiing! With some rock spots increasing in size. We then traversed over and back into Snowbird. Last year the bird was closed at this time so we could ski the Pipeline, but with it still open, Pipeline didn't happen this year.
 Baldy on Saturday

Looking down the Main on Saturday- Not bad right?

Jason and a dry Baldy summit

Jason in the Main

May 24, 2013

Spring on the west slabs

Andy Dorais and I had a splendid solo up the West Slabs of Olympus today.  The main couloir still boasting a good deal of snow was a bit too firm for just approach/running shoes. Not having an ice axe, we each kicked quick steps while carrying a sharp piece of quartzite instead.

Upon reaching the rock, the slabs were wonderful as always. Although, they felt steeper and more blank than normal. Signs of old age. Not wanting to slide for life down the snow couloir we chose a detour from the top of the slabs and traversed up to the north summit and then over to the south summit of Olympus. We didn't take pictures but should have. I did actually sneak one in here of Andy talking with what seemed to be kind of a bearded hermit that graciously offered us dried almonds;  asking us if there was a safer way down than the usual trail. We weren't sure what to say. He was a nice man, obviously content to stare at the view as shown below.
Andy! Olympus south summit

May 4, 2013

Dromedary via Tanner's Slide Path

 Toady, 7:53 AM  nice view of Sunrise and Twins from Dromedary summit
This morning's forecast called for 54% cloud cover with a 40% chance of showers by 11 AM. Upon waking up and seeing sub 29 degree temps at Alta mid mountain, a clear sky morning and a waning moon, plans changed from a more casual tour to skiing somewhere with a little more alpine feel and vertical. Needless to say, the weather folks were wrong. Scott, Eric and I started at 6 AM at the Tanner's slide path in hopes of getting some long turns off one of the more photogenic south faces of the Wasatch.

Dawn was beautiful with a silent rising of the sun over the great east faces welcoming the smiles of our gazes. Both skinning and booting, we moved up the lower Tanner's slide path couloir amidst aged avalanche debris and then along the broad south face. I chose a direct couloir up to the summit which required some interesting 4th/5th class climbing with my TLT boots; then some outstanding steep hard snow making whippet and ice tool use effective and fun.

On top of Dromedary the wind was absent, the morning sun was trying to get serious and the 360 degree views were spectacular. I looked down broads and over to Twin to see if I could see Blake and Chad B. who had some great plans to ski off Twin's west side. Awesome time for sure.

Brisk front pointing down the direct south face of Dromedary and then into the main couloir was enjoyable. We skied from here on down, each of us enjoying ice, corn snow and frozen avalanche debris.

Morning family duties called so we didn't have time to really let the sun work the top couple inches to create perfect conditions, however the adventure was still excellent.
Massive south face Sunrise left and Dromedary right

Top and interesting spring knife edge

Self photo- me and my trusty Hagans

Coalpit headwall and Lone Peak's east aspect

Eric and Scott, focused on a down climb with a back drop of heaven
Scott bottom of main upper couloir

Remnants of an old wet slide and Scott in perfect form, thinking he is skiing powder