Saturday, October 31, 2015

Recon Mission: Cascade Mountain

This is one mountain that it's hard to find good beta on, at least online. All I found online was vague when not outright incorrect info. Because this seems to be a good AT ski mountain, I went there to take a closer look. Reading up on it and checking out the maps as closely as possible I decided to try a start at the Big Spring trail head, from there go west to the ridgeline and then go north on a long ridge hike to the summit. Although very simple as a hike, this is a looong one! You end up doing a (un)fair amount of mileage.

Although this is an easy summer hike, parts of this trail is on terrain that in the winter is going to be obvious avalanche terrain with terrain traps and all, so some mitigation strategies are going to be called for.

Bunnells Fork offers a faster access to the peak. However, the exposure to avy terrain in a narrow gully on the way up probably rules this one out for me.

Conclusion on skiability

In and by itself this is fantastic ski terrain, not to say epic. Unfortunately, it looks like the beautiful bowls under the peaks (Cascade Mtn and its two or three "sisters") present an avalanche risk just as epic. The larger bowls are gigantic and they are #1 prime avalanche terrain with no anchors nor safe spots to talk about. It would take a lot of familiarization before I would want to ski those bad boys. Having said that there are more modest terrain alternatives up there that may serve as appropriate acclimatization to this range. And that's what I've learned under this recon: the summit will not be my day one objective. I'll have to build up to it and maybe even limit this to a spring skiing objective. The drawback with that may be that you wouldn't be able to skin from the trail-head as it starts at just 5,600'.

Below are some numbers for this hike:

Starting elevation: 5,600
Elevation at the ridge line: 9,500
Summit: 10,908
Additional elevation from yo-yoing to the summit: 600

Elevation delta: 4,900
Total elevation gain: ca. 5,500 (lots of ups and downs on the ridge line)
Total distance roundtrip: about 12 miles

Directions from Park City:

Get onto the US-40 E to Heber
US-40 becomes US-189 that you take south past Deer Creek reservoir and down Provo canyon
Keep going leaving the Sundance turn-off to your right
About 5 minutes past the Sundance turn-off you will see the signs for Vivian park.
Take a left through Vivian park onto South Fork Road drive about three miles up the road
Drive past a few cabins/houses and pass South Fork park
You will see signs for Big Spring park and the trail-head is at the very end of the highest parking lot.

Directions from Provo:

Go north on University Ave
Turn right onto US-189
Drive about 11 miles up Provo canyon
Take a right into and through Vivian park onto South Fork Road drive about three miles up the road
Drive past a few cabins/houses and pass South Fork park
You will see signs for Big Spring park and the trail-head is at the very end of the highest parking lot.

For good info on this Mountain: Wasatch Tours - Vol. 3 - The Southern Wasatch, pp. 198 - 207

...and here are some pictures (click to enlarge):

TH at the Big Springs parking lot ...

You are going to follow 059 "Big Springs Hollow tr."

About 30 min into the hike you'll pas the City of  Provo worksite at the springs.

After that you still have another 4.1 miles just to the ridge line...

...then you'll be doing this kind of really slow progression
(elvationwize) for a couple hours or so.

About 2 1/2 hrs after leaving the trail head things are looking up with
the Cascade Saddle in the distance...

...things start to feel a bit more mountainy

Finally on the ridge line!

Taking a quick look south of the saddle towards Provo Peak
(the "terrace cuts" are an avalanche prvention measure).

Still south of the saddle, a look into Shingle Mill that seem to offer some
potentially pleasant skiing.

Looking down Big Springs Hollow

Looking North towards Cascade Mtn.

Sub-ridge in Big Spring Hollows fork.

Looking West is Utah Lake with West Mountain (6,804) in the distance.

On the way to the peak, some cliffy spots...

...with potentially steep skiing...

Found a lot of this type of large open terrain...

...some of it pretty mellow nut still sizeable...

...and some steep enough to get you through the powder...

...and some steeper than that.

And here are the hugely respectable (as in make sure to show a ton of
respect!) lines in the cirques under the peak.

Friday, October 30, 2015

First skin of the season!

Mike and I, just barely made a first outing in October this year on a very thin layer of very fluffy snow. You may have noticed that the title doesn't say "first ski". That's because that would have constituted gross overreach... Although there were a couple of turns involved the descent was 98%+ on the skins doing some form of impure Nordic skiing. In any case, it was great being out there, getting the gear out and getting into the skinning rhythm. With 29 F at the Collins base and less higher up it felt like winter. These October outings makes you feel like you are getting away with something like "stealing a winter day". In short: a fantastic first outing of the 2015/2016 season! 

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):
A sprinkle on Superior with Moon on top...

...better view of the Moon over Superior

Mike's and my up-tracks...

Mike measuring a solid third of a pole handle!

Is Great Baldy Chute going to be ready for consumption
before Alta opens for the season?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Better late than never!

Finally a forecast that looks a little promising. These are not the first flakes of the year but they may be the first skiable ones on very limited expanses of highly privileged terrain? Right now hoping is everything...

Today's forecast 2 Miles ENE Brighton UT (in LCC) 40.61°N 111.53°W at Elev. 9406 ft

Sprinkle over American Fork twin peaks (taken a couple of days ago)

Sprinkle over Timpanogos (also taken a couple of days ago)

Jupiter, Pine Cone and the Quicksilver Gondola mid station

Last Sunday I took the dogs out on a tour from my home in Old Town Park City, up to Jupiter Peak, then the no name 10,006 peak between Jupiter top lift station and Guardsman’s Pass from there to Scotts Pass and then the ridge line all the way to the Iron Mountain trail head. Count about 4,000+ feet elevation gain and a bunch of miles (not sure how many). In any case, this got me a close up view of the progress at the Quicksilver Gondola. From the looks of it seems that although there is a little work left they have a good shot at having everything up and running on time.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

He is still there! See a couple of posts ago,
this guy is my new permanent neighbor...

...and almost a close-up, he checked us out carefully as we started out.

Quicksilver Gondola mid-station view one towards the Canyons...

...and view 2 towards PCMR

View of the pylones all the way to the PCMR
Quicksilver base and the new lodge...

...and the pylones down towards Iron Mountain and the
Canyons lift system.

The Mountain Patrol hut is almost done...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Quote of the day

One of my favorite, quotes used a lot, but worth repeating:

“Thousands of tired, 
over-civilized people 
are beginning to find out 
that going to the mountains 
is going home.” 

John Muir , 1901

It was true then and even more today. You want proof? Just take a look at the year on year sales figures for AT equipment and travel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dog hydration on the mountain: Tricks and Tips

I carry the water for my dog in a Nalgene bottle as these are the only bottles I use in the back country. Mainly because with its wide mouth I never have it freeze over in the winter. So I bring a couple of Nalgenes (a litre each) on big summer hikes because she (Skadi) drinks a fair amount when it's hot. To dispense it I bring a cup that will take half a litre. However on a long 8 hour effort a few weeks ago, in a cruel twist of fate, I forgot to pack the cup! When disaster strikes it's time to get into full on MacGyver mode and produce the most sophisticated and clever high-tech solution thinkable to your problem. So after much deep pondering and deliberation this is what you do:

1) Find five rocks each with one equal(ish) flat side
2) Arrange rocks in circle(ish) arrangement on a flat surface
3) Drop your rain jacket in the circle(ish) rock arrangement
4) Drop the water in the jacket-lined "pool"

Et voila! Doggy is served! Toldya it was both sophisticated and high-tech!

Here are the pictures of this breath taking patent pending invention (click to enlarge):

At the core of this innovation is this remarkable rock arrangement

Insert jacket - Pour water...

Happy K9!

Properly decorated Nalgene with insane amounts of
cool BC ski stickers that: 1) Demonstrates your BC ski 
bonafides, and 2) makes it impossible for your ski buddies, 
as they walk away with it, to claim that 
they mistook it for theirs...

Item who's absence allowed above genius solution to spark.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Moose on King and some PCMR Pictures

Today I took the dogs out to Jupiter from the house. As soon as I started walking up King and they went around the switchback both Skadi and Loki began barking somewhat frantically. As I get around the bend, I see this not too small Moose walking down the middle of King rd.

I get my dogs out of there, they're just not big enough to measure up. The Moose then walks up the hillside. On this picture he is about a 100 feet up from the road:

I also got a couple of pictures of the new stuff that Vail Resorts has been spending a good chunk of those $50,000,000.
What you see below is the base of Silverload minus the old lodge (I think it was called the Silver Lodge) plus the new one, plus the new Quick Silver Gondola that will, drop you off at Iron Mountain and so let you ski what used to be "The Canyons" and that is now just PCMR. Click to enlarge:

Somewhat closer view of the new Quick Silver gondola with thre
Silverload base station at left.

About half the new lodge anything right of the yellow aspen
is mostly hidden.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

In Loki Skadi gets a brother

For those of you who need a refresher Skadi was introduced on this blog some years ago. She now has a brand new brother. His name is Loki Norse god of mischief. The name is not accidental. At 10 weeks he has endless energy to get himself into all sorts of trouble and it doesn't look like a passing phase either. In any case Skadi now has a hiking buddy, here are some pictures of Loki "summiting" Jupiter and hiking with Skadi (click to enlarge):

Loki at Jupiter

...and a close up

Skadi and Loki hiking together

...hiking a lot together...

...and hanging out...

...taking in the view.

This is unrelated but as we were still up on the mountain at sundown I got to
witness the sun going down over the Uintas. It hit me then that the Unitas
being East of us and the sun setting West, we (the Wasatch) provide the shade
for the Uinta sunset. That is what this picture shows, the dark at the foothills
of the Uintas that you can see above is our shadow cast on the Uintas.