Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dark Ebony 1-21-15

This was a tour with, by Wasatch standards, a longish approach. That’s because we decided to start this tour in Big Cottonwood at the Cardiff Fork trail head. A shorter alternative would be to start at Alta and go either to Holy Toledo or via Cardiff Pass. In any case we picked the scenic “Nordic ski” in.
We skinned up the old mining road a few miles past Montreal Hill and then on to the High Ivory ridgeline. From there we dropped down on the western side into Mineral Fork via “Dark Ebony”. I imagine the name is a play on names to bounce of off the sunny name in Ivory vs the other side that does not get much lite (see pictures below). I like to call that couloir the Sickle, for the reason see the pictures, but that’s just me. We were expecting pretty nice snow as this feature gets hardly any sun at all but the quality could at best b labelled “variable” snow… I guess it must be fairly wind affected, maybe some venture type deal going up that couloir but that’s all just speculation.
After that line we went up Santiago Ridge to the top and had a cool and long ski out. This snow was fantastic. We skied out to the Mineral Fork trailhead where we had cached a car.

Here are the pictures:

Towards High Ivory

Yours truly with with point 10,631 in the background,

The entrance into Dark Ebony is in the trees before you get to the couloir
a bit further down.

Looking up Santiago Ridge.

The line, Dark Ebony aka the Sickle,
 as seen from Santiago Ridge.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cardiff Fork 1-14-15

This classic Wasatch tour took place the 14th in just as classic Wasatch conditions: Bluebird. We were, by our standards, a fairly large group of six (see below). We went up the Power Line trail from our Lady of the Snows at Alta to Cardiff Pass. From there we followed the ridge line going west and dropped in to Cardiff fork a bit before Little Superior. From there it was down to just below Cardiac Ridge for a few laps. The snow went from good to great and the difference hinged on just a hundred feet left or right from the top of Cardiac Ridge. As soon as you went even a tad bit left of the center the snow was more wind affected. If you kept to the “spiritual center” of the slope where it forms a subtle gully (under the lowest spot in the ridge line) the powder was classic "Wasatch Champagne Powder". We exited out via the center Cardiff sub ridge, back to the pass and down to Alta. The snow on the southern aspect was both wind and sun affected but still generally good.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Left to right: James, Scott, Mike, Eric and Jack

Toiling up to the Pass: James and Eric plus unknown.

At Cardiff Pass looking west and uop the ridge line.

Cardiac Ridge to the left and the Ivory Flakes to the right.

Scott and James in full transition.

Solo tracks.

Scott contemplating the work ahead.

Looking down Cardiff Fork's undisturbed snow.

Mike in action.

Cardiac Bowl.

Cardiff Pass as seen from the "backside" i.e. from within Cardiff Fork.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Brighton to Alta

Yesterday we, Mike, Nico (third tour ever), Max (first tour ever) and I, went out on a glorious bluebird tour starting at Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We actually parked our car at the 6200 S Park and Ride and Mike drove us to Brighton as he wanted to do an out and back tour. 

We took the Millicent Express on a single ride ticket, at $15 each, up to the Millicent eastern shoulder at 9,960’.  From there, after signing in with the Ski Patrol, we followed the boot pack up to the summit at 10,452, got our skis on and skied down to the saddle between Mt Millicent and Mt Wolverine at about 10,200. Here we transitioned for the skin up to the summit of Mt Wolverine at 10,795. From the summit we skied down Wolverine Bowl and then further below, down Hidden Bowl. Here, at 10,000, we transitioned again. This time to skin halfway up the Wolverine ridgeline to Stupid Chute. We had to scrape by the first third or so of the chute as the rocks were jumping up at us… The snow cover was just not sufficient on top but we skied the rest all the way to Twin Lakes, at 9380’, on great snow. There we established “Lunch Camp” and after lunch embarked on the last skin, this time up to Twin Lakes Pass at 9,800’. This was the last skin and this is where Mike turned around back towards Brighton. For the rest of us and from here on it was all downhill. From the pass we skied down through Michigan City (the old mine), then through Grizzly Gulch and at the end of Grizzly, on account of a sharp left, we ended on the Alta slopes at Albion Basin and skied on to the base of Collins Gulch to end at our objective: The Goldminer’s Daughter. After beer and nachos it was on to the bus back to the 6200 S Park and Ride.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
Max, Nico and Mike transitioning at the saddle between
Millicent and Wolverine.

Mike, Nico and Max approaching the summit of Wolverine at 10,795'.

Hidden Bowl

Nico and Max skinning out of Hidden Bowl.

Max almost on top and Nico center right avoiding the rocks
on top of Stupide Chute. (photo credit: Mike)

"Lunch Camp" on Twin Lakes.

Into the wild...

On the way up to Twin Lakes Pass...

...still on the way up to Twin Lakes Pass...

Max and Nico in "Michigan City" with Mt Superior in the
background and Alta at the bottom of it.

Winter art by Mike.