January 25, 2014

Lake Peak and Red Baldy - Touring or Racing?

Jared called last night and asked if I was in for a ski in the morning with some of the guys.  Arriving at the White Pine trail head a few minutes after 6 am the vehicles started rolling in.  Tom G, Andy D, Jason D, Teague H, Luke N, the Samurai, the Viking and myself made up the militia. After hearing the phrases "race skins" and "are you really going to carry that?", I was glad I brought my race stuff as the "back up plan."  This is a special group of guys. Each with his own passion for the mountains and ways of traveling in them, none of which includes going slow.

Out the gate it was full speed under a waning moon as we raced up to the base of Lake Peak.  Jared, who had been faking sick the last couple weeks was fresh and he and Tom were dropping the hammer. We were pushing it, all the while pretending to not be hurting as we gasped between short incomplete sentences. As we arrived at the base and chose our line of ascent (the NE face), we eased off the gas  and spread out observing conditions and safer travel as we all moved up.  Tom set a nice skinner and we then booted to the top of Lake Peak to be awarded by another spectacular dawn in the high mountains. The Pfief was lit up like a candle in the night, with a crystal clear sky engulfing the summit. Some decided to ski the East Couloir and others the line of ascent.  Tom, Jared and I took the later and it skied nice as did the East Couloir apparently.

We then moved over to Red Baldy, setting a steady tempo to the top, and pulled off the skis and did a quick boot shuffle to the summit with outstanding views all around us. It is obvious we need some serious storms to rest upon these mountains.  We then ended up choosing different lines from which to ski. The conditions ranged from powder, wind board and bullet proof ice.  It was a fantastic morning for sure, punctuated by the company of great friends.

Cold dawn over White Pine District-Shoulder of Lake Peak
Andy D

Jason D and a glowing Cottonwood Ridge
Tom G getting after it on the NE face of Lake Peak

Luke N and Lars top of Red Baldy

Jason, Jared, Tom and in the sun Andy, eye a descent off Red Baldy

January 20, 2014

Lake Peak

I had the day off today, so did Scott W.  With limited time, crystal clear skies and a full moon, Scott and I set out towards White Pine at 530 this morning. The temperatures were nice with a full range of snow conditions underfoot as we skinned towards Lake Peak (LP).  Headlamps were doused as the moon shone our way up a skinner that had been set days ago.  With nothing but the trees, stars, and the towering peaks of granite surrounding us, our spirits were lifted high as we reached the base of the peak. We evaluated things and decided to move up the East Couloir as the conditions at the time seemed reasonable and the absence of a significant cornice provided additional comfort. Upon reaching the top of LP, several emeralds of the Wasatch were awaiting on the other side, highlighted by a deep orange rim of a breaking dawn.

I was raised in the Wasatch and each and every morning that I am up high in the range I am filled with gratitude as my senses are enlivened to what my eyes and soul are beholding.  I love my home. Surprised that after waiting for things to mellow over several days, the east aspect skied quite well.  Our biggest concern was at the top of the couloir, where a thin hard slab seemed to be forming. Our exit was a mixed assortment as we skied powder, rime crust and wind board. We finished our morning at 830 AM with big smiles.

Scott moving up

Wasatch emeralds at dawn

A quick booter to the top

Scott and the awakening White Baldy
Me on the way home in good snow- Courtesy Scott W.

January 12, 2014

Winter 2014-Taking what we can get

It has been a tough season this year. Similar to recent years past, the Wasatch has been painfully subsisting on a low snow diet. With limited coverage, this past week's storm cycle was like rain in a desert. Knowing of the persistent weak layers deep in the structure, yesterday morning we sought very low angle powder.  Upon nearing our destination, our hopes of soft deep turns were dashed by a 1" rime crust.  Regardless, we made the most of it, finding improved conditions amidst the tight trees.
Justin W.  after several laps enjoys the morning's first rays of sun

Justin wishing this was really powder