If It’s White, Ski It.

Posted: November 8, 2011 by bcbuzzards in Skiing, Uncategorized

Tris in lower Baldy Main

Baldy Main Chute

What an amazing weekend for the Buzzards.  We were lucky enough to the Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop on Saturday to brush up on some information as well as learn a bit about some accidents that happened here last year.  The presenters were well prepared and managed to convey their messages clearly and in an engaging way.  The title of this post is a not to a joke that was prevalent around the Wasatch last season and for good reason, we had record snowfall and certainly the most snow I’ve ever seen (as it was my first season amongst the Greatest Snow On Earth).  We’re hoping for another awesome year where the phrase will ring true once again.  On to the skiing!

Saturday morning began with with a trip up to Brighton to sample the conditions and get a feel for what the season was going to look like when they opened later this week.  There was loose talk of picking up our passes but that was not to be due to the time constraints of USAW later that morning.  We weren’t the first on scene today as a party of 2 were heading out to the lot at first light.  We made relatively quick work of the skin up to Pioneer Ridge where some thing coverage and windy traversing found us above a pretty decent face that we ended up skiing 2x that morning since it was pretty darn good the first time around.  We have to constantly remember that it is early November and not the heart of the season so there will be stumps, rocks, ice, trees, and dirt that will be hit if we aren’t pretty careful.  As a matter of fact I think all of those were nailed this weekend and some of that resulted in a few tumbles but no serious damage to any of us or our equipment.  Today’s true delight (not counting the skiing which goes without saying) was Phil’s deployment of his personal signature move, the MS!  The Manger’s Special is a day old rack found at Smith’s Grocery store around here and its bountiful delights blessed us with Mini Pecan Pies to fuel the second lap.  Little treats go a long way.

Sunday was the best day of the season so far with us finding ourselves with French Toast in our bellies, coffee in our mugs, an extra hour of rest, and a close call on the slippery road up Little Cottonwood Canyon!  All this before 6am.  We ended up at the Alta area before the lot was opened since they were still moving snow from the previous days.  We ended up parking on the road which worked out well since we are all eternal optimists so that meant that we would get a few extra feet of vert walking back up to the road, I’ll take em’ where we can get em’!  On Saturday night, I was thinking about the Lone Ranger from Wednesday morning and it got me thinking, we should ski Baldy Main on Sunday.  And as you get to know the Buzzards, you will know that the prospect of an adventure or a good time fraught with some sweat and hard work will almost always be met with grins and nods of approval.  We fired up the mountain passing the snow guns to gain the ridge beyond the Wildcat Chair we made quick and windy work up to the drop in.  Some wind loading on the Northern aspects had set up some interesting snow on the way up and we were interested what it would look like in the chute.

The last time Phil and I were up here it was early August and the coverage was thin… now it was early November and the coverage was inviting.  But like all things, the past links to the present and we found an icy bench just below the first drop that might be problematic later in the season as it gets covered over and new snow forms on this garbage ice bench.  Just below the ice bench there is maybe a 10-15′ icy headwall at this time which we rightly thought would be crux of the pitch.  Phil dropped in first and found that his beater rock skis weren’t up to the task of biting into that headwall and he ended up slipping down it before firing right back into form and shooting down to the safe zone and calling Tris down.  He picked his way down past the ice as well to the good stuff below, and finally I did the same.  The advantage of being 3rd in the lineup is I was able to figure out where most of the rocks were so I could link turns without much concern.  After regrouping at the safe zone we again leap frogged to the exit and then blasted out onto the apron into the first of the sunshine we’d seen all day.  Those were some amazing turns and plastered smiles on our face for the rest of the day.  We had time for one more lap before Phil had to get to work so we made quick work of a skin up the Collins chair from the angle station just as the hoardes were beginning to descend upon the area.

Always a great feeling to be finishing up with your tracks the lone ones on the snow from a great line on a great day, when others are just rubbing the sleep out of their eyes.

"It seems so easy climbing to the top, you better know the way back down..."

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