Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

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Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Sun Oct 30, 2005 7:17 pm

I awoke this morning debating what to do when Bob Dangerous called. He had been up to the bottom of Great Scott yesterday hiking and reported "nut deep snow." After some discussion, I abandoned my plans to skin up Collins Gulch at Alta and opted instead for Peruvian Cirque at Snowbird. Why strike out in search of snow when you already know where there definitely is snow?

We met up at the Park-n-Ride lot at the base of the canyon, I threw my gear into the back of his pickup, and up we went. We parked at a condo complex off of the Alta Bypass road, for snow was really sketchy for the bottom couple of hundred feet. From our parking spot, we were able to skin right up the Peruvian road.

Or, should I say that I was able to skin. Bob, lacking skins to fit his Volkl Gotamas, shouldered his skis. Yes, I said that he shouldered his skis. His boots were in a bookbag-style rucksack to which one couldn't strap skis. In fact, this is how he endured the entire ascent. I'm thinking of changing his nickname to "Bob Masochist." Had I known, I would've brought an appropriate pack for him. That's just plain nuts!

But, upward and onward we trudged, with the snow deepening with each turn. I was breaking trail, which became much more burdensome above the Peruvian Chair. Nobody had been up there with skis, and I mean nobody, unlike the other ski area next door. The silence was deafening, for we had the whole place to ourselves.

Once we reached "The House," in the middle of Peruvian Gulch, Bob switched into ski boots for the final assault. By now the snowpack was deepening exponentially, and by the time we got to the base of Great Scott, sure enough -- there was a good 2.5 to 3 feet of snow on the ground.

And this stuff was the most dense snowpack I've ever encountered. My God, was it heavy! It's great base-building snow, and thankfully prevented us from bottoming out, but my oh my, was it dense! I struck upward on a tacking skin track, while Bob bootpacked it right up the middle, finding the snow to be much deeper than he'd anticipated. Looking at things from below, the snow in the chute right to climber's left of Great Scott seemed to have the deepest, smoothest cover, as a slight roll-over in topography seemed to trap blow in. I de-skinned while I waited for Bob after a total of 2,382 vertical feet of skinning, and as we both stood there we got a big "thumbs-up" from Rich Duckworth operating the downloading tram cabin.

Bob headed down first while I filmed, all in complete view of the ascending tourist tram. He skied it beautifully. I was on Volkl Explosivs, considerably narrower than his Gotamas, and executed 9 tentative, slow-motion turns in the dense snow before my first crater of the season. Another seven turns, another crater. :oops:

We continued on downward through the gradually thinning snow, my quads in one giant knot by the time we got low. We were, however, able to ski right back to the gate by the truck.

October, baby! \:D/

Photos are below. I shot a few moments of amateurish film, which I'll upload to the server this evening in an unedited form.
Attachments
01 Snowbird 051030 down low.jpg
Thin cover down low.
01 Snowbird 051030 down low.jpg (39.53 KiB) Viewed 5021 times
02 snowbird 051030 past peruvian skin.jpg
Looking back at my skin track, just above the top of the Peruvian Chair.
02 snowbird 051030 past peruvian skin.jpg (36.27 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
03 snowbird 051030 mid-cirque.jpg
The Tram spans Mid-Cirque.
03 snowbird 051030 mid-cirque.jpg (33.9 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
04 snowbird 051030 mid-Peruvian.jpg
About halfway up Peruvian Gulch.
04 snowbird 051030 mid-Peruvian.jpg (41.93 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
05 snowbird 051030 phone.jpg
"Hello, Domino's?"
05 snowbird 051030 phone.jpg (48.55 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
06 snowbird 051030 tram.jpg
The Tram, viewed from The House.
06 snowbird 051030 tram.jpg (46.77 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
07 snowbird 051030 cirque.jpg
One of our first views of the Cirque.
07 snowbird 051030 cirque.jpg (34.61 KiB) Viewed 5020 times
08 snowbird 051030 bob hike.jpg
Bob rounds the bend.
08 snowbird 051030 bob hike.jpg (40.15 KiB) Viewed 5019 times
09 snowbird 051030 baldy.jpg
Mount Baldy bathed in sunshine.
09 snowbird 051030 baldy.jpg (33.06 KiB) Viewed 5019 times
10 snowbird 051030 looking down.jpg
Bob had a much harder time bootpacking up the Cirque than I had on a tacking skin route.
10 snowbird 051030 looking down.jpg (37.87 KiB) Viewed 5019 times
11 snowbird 051030 our line.jpg
Standing atop our line, ready to go.
11 snowbird 051030 our line.jpg (30.17 KiB) Viewed 5019 times
12 snowbird 051030 our tracks.jpg
Looking back at our tracks in the Cirque. Bob's fluid turns are on the left. My "9 turns, crater, 7 turns, crater" track is on the right.
12 snowbird 051030 our tracks.jpg (20.99 KiB) Viewed 5019 times
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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby powderfreak » Sun Oct 30, 2005 7:53 pm

Nice! Glad the northeast isn't the only place enjoying October powder :D

Guido, on a more serious note...do you check avie danger and such before going out there? I remember reading several articles about pre-season avie danger at resorts out west. I know you dont go jump into stuff randomly, but I was just wondering what exactly do you do with regards to pre-season avie danger? I haven't checked, but is the Utah center issuing bulletins yet?

Just curious...I remeber reading about a guy who died in a preseason slide on Great Scott a few years back. Made me wonder...

-Scott

ps: In no means take this post as me thinking you are not adequately prepared or anything of that nature. I'm very sure you are but am just asking from a curiosity point of view.
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:04 pm

powderfreak wrote: I was just wondering what exactly do you do with regards to pre-season avie danger? I haven't checked, but is the Utah center issuing bulletins yet?

Just curious...I remeber reading about a guy who died in a preseason slide on Great Scott a few years back. Made me wonder...

-Scott

ps: In no means take this post as me thinking you are not adequately prepared or anything of that nature. I'm very sure you are but am just asking from a curiosity point of view.


No worries!

No, the Center isn't yet issuing advisories. We kept a close eye on the snowpack the whole way up, though. It was an even density all the way down to the ground, and unbelievably stable. No hints of any fracturing from ski cuts, no collapsing, nothing at all. Light a bomb and this stuff wouldn't move. This wasn't Utah 2% -- hardly. This stuff was sludge, and will be terrific base snow. Just think, the most we enjoyed was 2.5 feet in the Cirque, and even with all the rock up there we hit nothing that caused any damage. I'm sure any lighter snow that may fall on top, though, will likely slide due to poor bonding between the two layers.

And yes, we were both equipped with beacon, shovel and probe nonetheless.
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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:07 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention, we drove up to Alta after we got back to the truck, and not only were there a good 25 or so people that we could see skiing and snowboarding various spots on the mountain, but much to my surprise the ski area had already fired up a number of snowguns in the base area. They had obviously just been turned on, but there were about 8-10 of those big snow cannons blazing.
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Marc_C » Sun Oct 30, 2005 8:23 pm

Admin wrote:They had obviously just been turned on, but there were about 8-10 of those big snow cannons blazing.

In other words, almost their entire arsenal of cannons! I think they only have about a dozen, maybe 15.
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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Mon Oct 31, 2005 12:20 am

Here's the video -- click the image to view it:

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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby lookn4powder » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:10 am

Sweet!!

Thanks for the inspiration.

Jeff
When encountering a skier, turn. Same goes for a tree.
-2nd Law of Skiing
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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby powderfreak » Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:54 am

Thanks for the reply, Marc! Nice vid and pictures!
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:34 pm

powderfreak wrote:I haven't checked, but is the Utah center issuing bulletins yet?


Ironically, the Avalanche Center issued its first bulletin today, pretty much confirming what I was describing:

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
This is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center. Today is Monday, November 1, 2005

Avalanche Discussion:
Well, this is it, the first avalanche advisory of the season. Last weekend?s storm gave us a foot of snow above 9,000 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and up to three feet of new snow in the upper elevation of the Provo area mountains. Since it?s the first snow of the season it?s staying in place fairly well because it?s anchored by rocks and bushes. So, like they say, the first one?s free, kid. Any storm after this will add snow that will slide much more easily on the present snow surface.

Mountain Weather:
Speaking of which, it looks like we will get some scattered snow showers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Right now, it does not look like it will add up to enough to be much of an avalanche problem and snow amounts should add up to six inches by Saturday?possibly as much as a foot if we?re lucky. In the mean time, we should have increasing clouds on Wednesday with 8,000? temperatures around 50 degrees and overnight lows in the mid 30?s. Ridge top winds will be from the southwest 15-20 mph.


Somebody oughtta tell Bruce that today is Tuesday. 8)
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re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Killclimbz » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:11 am

Very nice, glad to see the snow is starting to fly around there. How were the snow snakes?
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:34 am

Killclimbz wrote:How were the snow snakes?


They pulled me under twice on the Cirque steeps! :shock: Two colossal craters that really marred my signature under the tram. :oops:

Really, that stuff was the densest sludge that I've ever skied. A lack of consistency constantly threw me fore and aft, and I ate it twice. Down low of course there were nasties around as the snow depth dipped to around 6 or 8 inches, but I didn't do any significant damage.
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Marc_C » Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:03 pm

Killclimbz wrote:Very nice, glad to see the snow is starting to fly around there.


November snowfall average totals:
Valley: 8"
Benches: 17"
Mountains: 64"
-marc
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Killclimbz » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:34 pm

Admin wrote:They pulled me under twice on the Cirque steeps! :shock: Two colossal craters that really marred my signature under the tram. :oops:

Really, that stuff was the densest sludge that I've ever skied. A lack of consistency constantly threw me fore and aft, and I ate it twice. Down low of course there were nasties around as the snow depth dipped to around 6 or 8 inches, but I didn't do any significant damage.


My first day out was loaded with snowsnakes and core shots :shock: . Fortunately the board I was on, is hardly brand new. Now a days we've found a little slice of powder heaven where I am not hitting a thing. Still the terrrain is not the most exciting but great for early season turns...
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Admin » Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:52 pm

Killclimbz wrote:Now a days we've found a little slice of powder heaven where I am not hitting a thing. Still the terrrain is not the most exciting but great for early season turns...


Sounds like fodder for a new topic with pics! :wink: You can do that, of course, without giving away any secrets.
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Re: re: Snowbird, UT 10/30/2005

Postby Killclimbz » Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:50 pm

Admin wrote:
Killclimbz wrote:Now a days we've found a little slice of powder heaven where I am not hitting a thing. Still the terrrain is not the most exciting but great for early season turns...


Sounds like fodder for a new topic with pics! :wink: You can do that, of course, without giving away any secrets.


HA! The area is hardly a secret, but it is right now.... :wink:

It's the same spot from the Colorado Backcountry post I put up a few weeks ago. It has gotten consitently better, but nobody has caught on yet, or so it seems. In a few weeks if you went back there you would swear you were at a ski area. Except that everyone is hiking a ridiculous distance...
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