February 13, 2011

Lone Peak and Bighorn Peak ski descents

Lone Peak on the left, Bighorn Peak on the right, viewed from the town of Alpine

On Saturday (Feb 12, 2011) we went out looking for an adventure and ended up having another perfect day in the mountains. Early in the week, with warm & sunny weather in the forecast, Andrea suggested that we take a shot at skiing Lone Peak. That was an offer I couldn't turn down! :-) I stare at that mountain every single day and have been itching to climb/ski it since moving to SLC. I see it from work (so does Andrea; here's the view from her office), on the drive home, and from home. It beckons to us every day! Its often considered the hardest Wasatch 11,000 foot peak, simply because there is no short, easy way to get to it. On this outing, we ended up climbing 7,929 feet!

We parked my jeep in a McMansion subdivision (elevation 5,400 feet) in the small town of Alpine, Utah, and with our skis A-framed on our backpacks, started walking up a dirt road at 7:30am. After gaining just over 1,000 feet, we put on our boots and started skinning. The approach was long, but the weather was warm (almost to the point of being downright HOT once we got above 8,000 feet and the sun was beating down!). By noon we were standing on the south summit of Lone Peak (~11,250 feet). Lone Peak has 3 summits - the north summit is slightly higher than the south summit, but it requires a really sketchy traverse with double exposure (and not just minor exposure, we're talking thousand foot sheer cliffs. To give you an idea, here's what it looks like from the west. We were standing on the high point in the center of that picture.). After hanging out on the summit for a half hour, we skied several thousand feet down the south face. Then we decided "What the heck, we're already up here, so we might as well climb/ski Bighorn Peak too!" So we started climbing again, up 2000 more feet to the summit of Bighorn. From the top of Bighorn Peak, we skied about 4500 feet (my quads were burning!) until the snow started to thin out and we decided to carry the skis back to the car. We made it back before 5pm, and drove straight to Smith's to get some much-needed and well-deserved ice cream! From the valley below, we could see our ski tracks 6000 feet above us, which was really, really cool, and was a fitting end to a great day.

Enough text... lets get to the pictures...

Skinning the old jeep road

Lone and Bighorn look really far off

Long approaches and obstacles like this = you don't see anyone when you ski in the Southern Wasatch

Andrea doing a little "aid" skinning

The south face of Bighorn, hanging over the cliffs. We'd ski that later. First we headed to the left, up the giant snowfield which is called "Heaven's Halfpipe"

Andrea near the top. Big vertical relief (~6500 feet) down to the valley

Working the summit ridge. The south face of Bighorn is behind me, above the cliffs. Its an aesthetic peak, and its easy to see why we wanted to ski that one as well!

Andrea on the summit

My summit shot

Here's a 360 deep zoom panoramic I took from the top. About 30 pictures stitched together. Its really cool!

Mt Timpanogos. The cold fusion couloir is looking sweet.

Looking West from the summit. Don't slip here, because you would die.

Andrea relaxing on the top with a Diet Dew

Looking east... lots of ski possibilities

About to ski the south face

Andrea skiing the gigantic South face of Lone Peak

Cutting off the south face, and into the "Heaven's Halfpipe"

Andrea skiing under Bighorn Peak's western cliffs

A couple thousand feet of nonstop turns. Easy to see why this is called Heaven's Halfpipe.

Our tracks in the halfpipe. You can't even see Lone Peak's summit from here.

Transitioning back to uphill mode for the climb to Bighorn

Box Elder Peak. We'll be back for this one.

On the summit of Bighorn, with Box Elder and Timpanogos behind me

Andrea on the summit, ready to grip it and rip it

One last scenic from the top. I couldn't get over the vertical relief. You feel so far above the world up here.

Andrea ripping it down the south face of Bighorn

My turn. Lone Peak is the high point in the background.

It was getting hot outside... the snow was turning to rollerballs on the steeper aspects, which means its time to head home

Andrea skiing... still several thousand more feet of skiing to go

Linking some turns on corn snow. It felt more like June than February.

A look back from the meadow at 8,000 feet. You can see our tracks all the way down.

Walking out the last stretch back to the jeep

Back at the jeep... hard to believe we just skied those two peaks, they look so far away from here.

Lone Peak (left), Heaven's Halfpipe (center), Bighorn Peak (right). If you look close, you can see our tracks.

Zoomed-in view of Bighorn, with our tracks clearly visible. I took this photo from the town of Alpine, 6000 feet below. We could see our tracks from the supermarket, miles away in the valley.

Here's the GPS track of our route. Red = up, Green = down.

The elevation profile

The next day (another warm, blue sky day) we opted to stretch out the legs with a short tour from Alta. Basically, we just wanted to be in the sunshine and the mountains for a few hours. We skied 2 southern facing laps off the Emma Ridge (a quick & easy 3000 feet) and called it a day.

From the parking lot at Alta... the two peaks we skied on Sunday

Andrea traversing on the Emma Ridge

I love summer! (Wait, its February? Its 50 degrees outside!)

Our route on Sunday. Easy breezy.

More Pictures (92 total) in my Picasa Gallery.

Another awesome weekend. As I was writing this blog, I started wondering about how many females are climbing and skiing at the level that Andrea is? Not many, I presume. She's been killing it this season (her first of backcountry skiing)! Quite impressive, to say the least. :-)

1 comment:

  1. That is awesome! Hoping to do it very soon! Awesome job on the website as well!