Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cardiff Fork tour in November!

Went out with James and Jack today to Cardiff Fork from Alta. This was an out and back through the pole line trail to Cardiff Pass. From the pass we skied down eastern Cradiff Fork down to the Cardiff mine. This still being November, and on the heels of a couple of spring-like weather days, the expectations on the skiing were low. Well, I am happy to report that we were quite wrong! The snowpack, although not epic powder day material, was consistent, fast, and fun! In most places we had about two feet of compacted good snow on top of a couple of inches or so of very loose sugar. However we did not experience any instabilities nor did we observe any "fresh" avalanche activity. After a lunch break at the mine, we skinned up the Cradiff Fork buttress and a few feet before the ridgeline skied down the east facing slopes before skinning back up to the pass. There again the snow was great fun. The only spot where our low snow quality expectations were fully met was on the south facing back down to Alta. The lower part was a bit of a bumpy, distorted, leaning ice rink - so clearly only moderate fun.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
James and Jack fixin to earn their turns

View of Cardiac Bowl and Cardiac Ridge from the Cardiff Fork buttress.

Jack on lunch break...

...and James too.

Cardiac Bowl is holding a fair amount of snow.

Partial view of Ivory Flakes.

Cardiac Ridge also holding a fair amount of snow for November.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PCMR from Empire Lodge in Deer Valley

Went out with my friend Bjørn today to do a PCMR higher mountain (the part that is not yet open) tour. We found a fair amount of chalky, wind affected snow. Sunrise had a solid two feet of it and we were able to ski it without hitting any rocks at any point. Actually we hit no rocks anywhere on this tour. Jupiter had more snow than I expected as you can see in the pictures below (click to enlarge):

Vue over Deer Valley and down towards the Daley chutes.

Bjørn and Sunny earning their turns.

Clayton Peak from the Deer Valley - PCMR ridge line..

...and Peak 10,420 from the same vantage point.

Guardman's Pass.

Skadi working the powder, her preferred top layer is supportable crust...

Bjørn claiming his reward.

Jupiter with Pioneer Ridge to its right.

Close up of Jupiter to show you all that snow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

PCMR is getting ready

It sure looks like Vail resorts is doing what it takes to make a good first impression for the 2014/2015 season. With the recent low temperatures and the ensuing ability to make snow on the one hand and the latest storm on the other, there is already enough snow at the resort for this week's opening. The resort has been making amazing quantities of snow and today the Pisten Bullys were in full swing getting the snow whales into shape. With a couple of storms in the forecast, the opening on the 22nd should be a no brainer.
Lately I have been able to skin up to the old angle station, then I would "run out of hill" and just ski back down. Today I was surprised to see that a lot of snow has been made well above it and I was able to skin almost all the way to the yurt.
Here are the pictures I took today (click to enlarge):
Looking up homerun

Skadi on Homerun below Silver Skis

Past the Bonanza base there was enough snow to make it close to the yurt

Sunday, November 16, 2014

PCMR from Empire Lodge

Sunny but brisk is a way to describe this morning's start: Now clouds in the sky but 2° F on the ground. At Empire Lodge you start in the shade so you better book it if you're going to keep any heat going at all... The good news is that it only stays that way for 10 - 15 min before you get in the sun.
This was yet another typical pre-preseason tour with minimal snow coverage. There is not much to ski up there just yet so you end up clomping around on your skins alot. This tour went first to Jupiter Peak and then down and up to the top of Daley Chutes then back traversing through the woods to the meadows. On the return what you do get to ski are the low angle meadows before the parking lot. They have enough snow and skier compaction the allow you to let loose and have some fun.
Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

2° F in the shade sure feels like winter.

Looking up towards the Daley Chutes area.

Snow "pack" went from marginal on windblown ridglines... OK on leeward privileged spots. My poles are set
to 125 cm i.e. 4 feet so about two feet of snow here.

Guradman's Pass.

To the left Clayton Peak - to the right Peak 10,420.

Jupiter from the top of Empire Express.

This tour was mostly about clomping around on the skins...

...but Skadi didn't mind!

From Pinyon ridge: Jupiter , Pioneer ridge and BCC in the horizon.

Mt Timpanogos in the distance.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mt Baldy

In an effort to wring out the last drops of snow out of the latest storm I got up Baldy today. Hoping against hope I took a look into Main Baldy chute but no cigar (see the pictures below) so I kept going to the summit, completed yet another heroic oxygen-less ascent and had lunch on top. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky and no wind at all at 11068'. Now we need to become storm watchers again because we are rapidly running out of the few inches we got last week-end. The forecast looks hopeful, we are looking at some snow on Monday and maybe quite a bit of it from Thursday till Saturday. That could do it. I just wish the probabilities were a bit higher than 50%... In any case, here are the pictures of the day (click to enlarge):

From the Baldy shoulder: View down Little Cottonwood
Canyon all the way to Salt Lake City

Main Baldy entrance is not so steep right now
but those rocks are everywhere and....

...they go for a lot farther than just the entrance.

This must be Snowbird's attempt at finally giving back to Hidden Peak
the feet it cut off from it at inception of the tram a lot of years ago.

I didn't expect there would have been enough snow but
poeple have been poaching turns at Snowbird. You can
see them between the two rows of trees.

Provided next storm keeps it's promises,
the Cirque will be skiable next week

Mt Timpanogos from Mt Baldy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Second outing of the 2014/2015 season

I went back to the same spot, Alta, the only one with enough snow to do anything with right now. If you are addicted to SKN2SKI (my new friend John's registration plates) and can't stay away from copious amounts of heinous skiing then today's outing was just right for you. I LOVED it! It feels like winter up here, the gear gets out and heinous skiing beats no skiing any day of the year. Heck, when I lived in Massachussetts ages ago, I'd go skiing Wachusett "Mountain", now if you click that link don't let the marketing pictures fool you. That place almost never felt like what those pictures look like. If you couldn't see last years ski pass through the blue ice then it wasn't  Wachusett... In any case that skiing too was a ton better than no skiing!
At Alta the cover or lack thereof was very close to identical to Tuesday's (click link or just see below) i.e. close to a foot up high and close to 100% man-made at the base. With that though you get to skin from the parking lot.
Here are a couple of pictures taken from Germania pass (click to enlarge):

Devil's Castle


Mt Baldy with too much sun for a proper picture...

If next storm is as good as the last one AND this stuff does not melt
 between now and then, we may be starting a snow pack...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

First outing of the 2014/2015 season

I was out at Collins Gulch (Alta) on the anniversary of last year's Alta outing and although it was nice to be out the conditions were not anywhere close to as good as last year. However there was enough snow to skin up to Germania Pass right from the parking lot and ski down the service road that was compacted enough to allow rock avoidance. The slopes themselves were only acceptable if this was your last run on those skis as the rocks were numerous and absolutely everywhere. The cover outside of the man-made was generally a bit under a foot of pretty nice powder but obviously not enough to provide a cover, this was not a powder day... Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Accross the road we can see that Suicide Chute
benefitted greatly from the storm.

Clearly a pre-season situation at Alta base...

...but enough snow to skin right from the parking lot.

Starting to feel like winter...

Skier compaction in Main Baldy... makes you wonder
what rock compaction will do to your skis.

Rock and roll! My favorite rock skis (notice the old Dynafit volcano heel
pieces).  To the right of the tips is Sugarloaf and to their left my castle.