Friday, April 13, 2012

Skiing the white zone

Making backcountry skiing location choices isn't just about keeping yourself safe, its also about skiing the best snow you can get in the most efficient manner(OK, maybe not always efficient), with the least amount of damage to your gear. You can tell the difference between the newbs and the pro's based on the quality of there experience. Every day is different, so you really can't lay out a list of rules. If I did, I'm sure I would be hunted down like the bleeding baby seal in shark water.
This season these decision have been even more important, and your success could lead you to a good powder day, or a rocky dirt bed. One trick I picked up was skiing the white zones.... on the topo. The white zones define 'open areas' like fields, Meadows, land fills, and above tree line. In the Wasatch we don't really have much above tree line, but its an excellent way to judge a number of things. One great example is most avalanche reports have a break between above and below the tree line. (well, except the Wasatch). In this case I use it to determine the existence of snow that may be ski-able. Here is a most excellent route with great lines, close to the road, and a groomer exit, but don't tell too many of your friends or be sure to ski it when I'm not around.

Start in the Brighton Parking lot and either take a one ride up Milly (sissy) or skin to the Milly booter then boot to the top. Ski something on the North aspect of the upper ridge of Millicent, catch the lake skin track back to the East wolverine booter, then ski wolverine (in this case I skied the glade in fear of super steep snow sluffs over rocks.) Then a quick traverse up to Tuscarora for the Tuscarora chute. Followed by a monster traverse around Catherine's lake to Sunrise peak. Other than the groomer skin and ski, the entire route is above 9000ft.

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