Thursday, January 26, 2017


This is one impressive mountain! I expected something pretty good of this place I have heard so much about. However this being a resort I did temper my expectations. Well those were easily beaten. This place has something for everyone and a heck of a lot for BC skiers and generally advanced skiers. Groomers are kept to a minimum, some of them are not even groomed the day after a storm, only a couple of days later. These guys know how to not waste the powder… In many ways this resort, especially in the higher terrain, reminds me of Les Grands Montets in the Chamonix valley where they only groom one way down from top to bottom and leave all the rest untouched.

The valley floor here in Telluride is at 8,725 (the Coonskins lift) and the highest lift will drop you off at 12,570 feet (Revelation). That’s not all though, if you are ready to hike there are another 800 feet to gain by boot packing to the summit of Palmyra Peak at 13,320 feet. Now you are up to a total vertical of 4,500 feet. Here's a cool fact about this side contry, from the top of Palmyra Peak to the point at which you get back into lift served territory (Prospector Express base) you have dropped 2,500 feet of never groomed terrain.

There is a bunch of good lift-served skiing but for more interesting lines get out the gate beyond the lift served skiing. One huge attraction is that even though you are beyond the lift served terrain as long as you stay inbounds its all avalanche controlled. You also have gates to get out of bounds into Bear Creek which is absolutely monumental. One attraction there is the San Joaquin couloir.

This place is also full of cool history and here is one example of that: Butch Cassidy got started on his new career here. He robbed his first bank, in Telluride and took off with $24,000 from the San Miguel Valley Bank on main street (West Colorado Ave). He got away with it, the posse never caught up.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jack, a coach with the Telluride Ski Club that I stumbled into on my very first venture out. He showed me some really good ropes and the optimal order for some of these lines that enabled me to grab bonus lines all the way down. Thanks Jack!

Here are some pictures taken today (click to enlarge):

View up towards Palmyra Peak (13,320) although
the summit is hidden in the clouds.

Mountain Quail (left) and Dihedral Face (rigth) both in
the Black Iron Bowl area.

Close up of Mountain Quail

Mountain Quail in the distance,

Dihedral Face

Looking down Dihedral Face

Looking down  Dihedral and beyond.

View of Review.

Looking down Review

Jack who showed me around.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Iron Mountain Powder

You know this is a great winter when you start accumulating "best evers" on any given hill. Last week it was best ski yet off of McConkeys (in resort) today it was Iron Mountain's turn. This is a very basic local Park City tour that starts by a 2,000' elev. gain to the summit of Iron Mountain then however many laps you feel like in its bowls. Today was my best ever ski in these bowls on very light yet slightly dense and so really fast powder.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Starting the skin  up to Iron Mountain at level with the clouds.
Picture taken on the lower Pinecone ridgline.

All the surface hoar you can eat! Maybe this is the drama in store for
our next storm system that seems to be due to start on Wednesday.

First (from the top) Iron Mtn bowl, best skied close to or
 in the trees to the upper left of the picture.

Second (from the top) Iron Mtn bowl.

West Monitor bowl practically skied out...

From the summit of Iron Moutain a view of Lewis Peak in the distance
and, in the foreground, access to the Iron Mtn bowls.

Loki barely keeping head above snow in one of the bowls.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ski in - Ski out in Old Town Park City

Today I got to ski back all the way home from the resort. When the winter is normal (not like the last five seasons) a lot of Old Town Park City homes become ski in - ski out properties. Lucky for me: 1) I live in higher Old Town Park City, and 2) this is a normal Wasatch winter. If I ski out high from the Quittin Time slope and bank a hard right high up on it, I end up high on King road. From there all I have to do is ski down the road (there are always snow banks on each side) then take a left turn (see first picture below) and end up on the other side of the road from my drive way.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Sharp left turn down to lower King rd and continue skiing till
under the large evergreen (picture taken from my front porch).

Looking up Treasure Hill, the hill that the Park City ski resort is on. This is
the "backside" from the resort's perspective. If you look up the hill you see...

...a guy skinning up (mega zoom), would he continue to the top he'd end up
at the top station of the Park City resort Payday lift.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

12-31-2016 – Last Tour of 2016

The last tour for the year was to Porter Fork Pass, an eminently safe tour in Mill Creek Canyon with just 3,300’ elevation gain but with what feels like endless miles. The forecast said this was the last sunny day (they were wrong, I happen know that because I am typing this on 1/1/2017).

Here are some pictures of the view from the pass (click to enlarge).
From Monte Cristo (far left) to Salt Lake Twin Peak (just the one, far right)
 with Mill B South in the middle.

Upper Broads Fork with Sunrise Cirque, it's namesake peak just above it,
and to the right, the Salt Lake Twin Peaks (both...).

Mineral Basin with it's Room of Doom.

Adding just about a 1,000' of elevation from the pass will take you to the
summit of Mount Raymond at 10,241'.

Lookout Point.

Very partial view of the creek that gives its
name to Mill Creek Canyon. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Porter Fork Trail

Trying to avoid the "Considerable" risk on the UAC avalanch rose but still needing to do 3,000 feet+ elevation gain and wanting to bring the dogs, I went to Main Porter Fork in Mill Creek. You start at the trail head at 5,960 feet and you end up at a bit below 9,300 on north facing terrain that, in regards to avy risk, is "steep enough". Incidentally here is what the UAC avalanch rose looked like this morning:

As you can see the limit of "Considerable" on north facing terrain is 9,500 feet so this tour was kind of OK if all you want is to limit yourself to "Moderate" risk.

In any case Mill Creek was as delightful as always. The temperature was 9 degrees F at the start of the tour but no wind so not too cold. It was a bit more overcast than the weather forecast led us to believe but still more than pleasant enough.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Jana working her way up

Your's truly with Skadi in the foreground and Loki behind me.

The originator of this impressive slide path seems to thankfully be purging
as the storms come and go.
Looking north a little below Main Porter.

A backcountry dog's life... Skadi got just in front of my tips in the powder
on Main Porter. She ended up at the vet getting stitches and is now
"grounded" for 14 days. She is going to hate beeing left behind
when Loki gets to go skiing.

Iron Mtn 12-26-2016

This is one spot I haven't been to in years (ever since The Colony has taken over and built houses and roads all over the place). This used to be a great little local outing. Today if you do the ridge line you'll get a bit over 1,000 feet elevation gate before you hit the development. You can double that by taking a sharp left, then summiting Iron, go east for a bit and pick one of the three bowls. In any case, yesterday I needed to test my legs and health coming out of a longish flue so Iron would do for the job at hand. Being out with two dogs and seeing the crowds on the Iron Mtn trail I decided to almost immediately take a sharp left and skin up the ridgeline. This came with the additional benefits of getting into the sun sooner (it was only 5 degrees F yesterday morning), and a more relevant "leg test" as you here have to break your own trail. There was a fair amount of really dry cold powder and this little mini-outing turned out to be a lot more pleasant than expected. The test also worked out great: I am officially not ill at all anymore (at least not physically..). Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
Iron Mountain as seen from the Pinecone ridge line.

The dogs (Loki & Skadi) as excited as ever.

A fair amount of snow for being just 8,300 feet.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Empire Powder

This was a few days before this last storm and the conditions were already absolutely excellent. Jana and I went out for a couple of easy laps from Deer Valley Empire Lodge to Empire Express. Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
Nice turns in Empire bowl.

Jana working here way up Supreme.

Snowmobile track all the way up Supreme.

Looking down on Empire Express top station.

Jana on top.