Saturday, January 06, 2007

Skiing is good

I forgot to post last week about my first big tour of the year. It was Saturday morning and my friend Matt and I headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to go tour up Grizzly Gulch. I was excited for a number of reasons. 1-the first big tour of year 2-to actually be skiing 3-to be outside 4-to test out my wicked nice new softshell jacket. I've read about the benefits of softshells for years and it was my first chance to try it and see what all of the hype was about. The tour started out interestingly enough. We started up the skin track and about 15 minutes into it we realized we were on the wrong skin track as we saw people a couple hundred feet above us on the skin track where we wanted to be. After a few minutes of traversing sun-crusted snow we got on the right track. Our destination was Davenport Hill (10,120). After about two hours we reached a ridge just below Davenport Hill. Our initial plan was to drop off the backside into Days Fork and then back up and down to the parking lot. As we rounded the hill onto the ridge we got blasted with the wind. It was ripping up Days Fork and the snow on the other was wind-ripped. So we modified our plan and headed towards the Honeycomb Cliffs (10,479) just south of where we were. We couldn't actually see the skin track to get over there so Matt started breaking trail and we figured we'd run into the skin track soon enough. Our trailblazing took us across some small questionable slopes of sun-crust that made slight fractures as we crossed. About this time some people had followed our trail for a ways and then started breaking their own up. As we worked our way up the mountain we converged with these other people and found the actual track that went to where we wanted to go. Once on top of the Honeycomb Cliffs we had some great views. It is incredible how close all of the canyons and resorts are. From where we were we could see the backside of Solitude, the backside of Brighton, and the top of the Canyons over in Park City. Everything is very close. There is actually a tour you can do where you ski Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, the Canyons, Park City, and Deer Valley in one day. It is a long tour and you have to be in wicked good shape to do it, but it can be done.

We had reached the top after about 3 hours of somewhat leisurely skinning. We didn't waste anytime packing up skins and stepping in for the ride down. It was a great run of about 2400 vertical feet of skiing. We took it in chunks (avalanche safety). Although there were quite a few tracks already we found some great turns and even hit a few small, soft, untracked shots. It made me realize how much I don't miss skiing the resorts. Almost the whole time we were skinning and skiing we could see Alta. The place was completely packed and tracked out. I'll definitely take one powder run that I worked for as opposed to riding a chair all day for tracked out snow.

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