Sunday, February 1, 2009
Just another day in the Wasatch
So its Sunday night, Arizona just lost the Superbowl, and I really don't care. In fact my eyes hurt from looking at a TV screen for soooo long. The good news it was good friends, and good food! I've had a killer week (so it seems) after 3 days of skiing, 1 day of ice climbing and stand ups. Our perfect 36 inch storm snow pack is quickly turning to old snow and soon will move to corn if the forecast is right.
My last day of the week we spent our time in Lambs canyon doing a leisurely tour. The picture on the right is our view of Alexander basin. The peak on the left is Wilson where we skied on my last blog. As you can see, many lines exist that we didn't ski that day. We had a day of crazy winds but thankfully we where able to ski on the more protected North Aspect where the snow was still intact. On the skin up we chose the South face and for the first time of the year I had to pull out the glob-stopper to keep the snow from building up on my skis--way too early in the year (interestingly enough neither of my ski partners seemed to experience this but me, must be technique). We skied two drainage's that skied pretty well, or I guess they where 'worth skiing.'
A freeze thaw crust has developed that is very altitude dependent, so the higher you go, the better it gets, although it's a double edged sword because the higher you get, the more wind damage and loading accrued from the previous day. So to find the perfect snow you would want to be on a high, yet protected face that hasn't had too much wind loading. Paying special attention to aspect, slope angle, and above all, wind loading. The South aspects have now all but been hammered by the sun and in a few days should be good corn, but until then it would be good to stay off them as it will probably be a breakable death crust or wet slab zone. I would check out the the temperature profiles over the last week to get a good idea what is happening before choosing a location. Check them out at: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/current/meso.slv.php like I said before, knowing the micro weather data history to where you are going is paramount for not only safe decision making, but also for choosing the best pow. Needless to say we had a good day in Lambs, not just the snow but the company, and of course the high quality beverages.
Saturday I had the opportunity to wake up at 430am drive for 3 hours (yes that's an extra 30 minutes for driving past the turn) for some stellar somewhat unique Utah ice. The most beautiful ice I've ever seen is at this location. Imagine thick, blue ice flowing out of a orange sandstone drainage surrounded by a thin layer of old snow and desert foliage. Then think of a clear blue Utah sky with temps somewhere around 35 degrees with perfect, hero ice. With 4 of use we made good work of the ice and started something new (at least for us). For lack of better terms I'm going to call it Ice bouldering. Or climbing close to the ground, on Ice and Rock. One of the flows where where climbing on had a cave behind it with one wall steep sandstone and the other a large overhanging wall of ice. The room was glowing blue as the light filtered through 2 feet of ice to the cave to make a very beautiful location. Its one of those experiences that help you remember why you like to ice climb. We spend some time working on a few mixed routes that either went from rock to ice, or ice to rock.
Unfortunately none of the 4 of us brought a camera so I don't have any cool photos. After a season of ice climbing with the likes of Jared (A LCC hardman) my ice climbing seems to have improved dramatically (or it could just be my confidence). But today my arms, abs and calves are telling me I'm not as strong as I think. Regardless it was a great time, and I can't wait tell we get back! Speaking of the desert I'm thinking of a trip this week, anyone interested?