May 2, 2011

May 1st - Gone Chuting

Andrea showing how its done in May... seriously... May!!!

Well, today was another one of those "best days ever." We thought that the sun had done a good job baking the snow yesterday afternoon, and NOAA predicted a cloudy day. We were wrong, and they were wrong, and everyone was better off because of it!

We woke up to clear blue skies as far as the eye could see (which has been a rarity lately w/ the nonstop storms). After a nice run in the sunshine, we headed up to Brighton and started skinning up towards the top of the Milli Express lift... then strapped the skis to our packs and booted another 500 feet of so up the ridge to the top of Mt Millicent. The weather was perfect... sunny and (relatively) warm.

The first objective was skiing a fun little NE facing chute called the Elevator Shaft. It falls at 40 degrees right off the summit of Mt Millicent, condenses into a rock choke, and then opens up to a huge apron / bowl below. I've skied this line before a few times this season, but Andrea hasn't, so we thought it would be fun to repeat. Conditions were the best (BY FAR) I've ever experienced on this run. It was powder right off the top, sloughing but easily manageable. I skied first and Andrea followed. This was probably one of the steeper/tighter lines she has skied, and she nailed all her jump turns in good style. The rock choke towards the bottom (which I negotiated using a rope 6 weeks ago) was completely filled in. Once we hit the apron it was nonstop powder turns!...

Here's Mt Millicent and the Elevator Chute is ID'd by the red arrows

On the ridge

Andrea booting up

Andrea skiing off the top under some gigantic cornices (which are everywhere right now and are going to be a huge hazard once it starts warming up)

Andrea working it through (the mostly filled in) choke

Skiing the apron

Looking back up from the apron

We skied down to this point, transitioned, and then headed right back up. This was Andrea's second week in a row skiing a line from
The Chuting Gallery :-)

After skiing the Elevator Shaft, we skinned and booted back to the top of Mt Millicent, then skied west down the ridge to the top of another chute that has been on our hit-list, Stupid Chute. This is a north-facing, wide open chute that empties down into the Twin Lakes area from the Millicent/Wolverine saddle... probably starting at around 40 degrees, rolls over once, then mellows out into a gigantic bowl. When we got to the top, it appeared to be a little wind-scoured. Andrea suggested that I throw a snowball (a crafty move) down the chute to see if it was softer down low. I threw it about 20 yards down and it just sunk into the powder. Game on!

I skied first and made about 3 jump turns on a windboard surface... and on the next one, just sunk into amazing powder and started ripping turns down the chute. Another guy we met at the top (John) skied next, and then Andrea followed. The snow was light and bottomless... hero snow! One of the best lines we've ever skied... just the combination of perfect snow (especially in May!), a scenic location, and incredible weather...

Those straight lines in Wolverine Bowl are snowmobile tracks. They are not allowed in this area. Hate to see snowmobilers poaching areas that they don't belong. According to some other people we talked to, apparently some skiers almost got in a fight with these jerks.

Mt Tuscarora's Seagull, X, and Y chutes all looking pretty tasty. Might be back to get some of those lines soon.

Dropping into Stupid Chute on the upper windboard section

Andrea skiing Stupid Chute

Incredible conditions...

Maybe incredible isn't strong enough of a word to describe it?

Looking back up the upper section of the chute at our tracks. I love this photo.

Skiing out of the chute...

... and onto the endless apron

Andrea following behind... we had the only tracks in the chute... awesome for a Sunday afternoon!

Looking back up from where we stopped. You can see our tracks in the upper chute (in the center) and then we came down the bowl, over that rollover, and got a bunch more perfect turns.

After skiing Stupid Chute, we skinned back up to the top of the Milli Express lift (again!) and booted it halfway up the ridge. We skied a nice line off the shoulder of Millicent back to the car, finding some more light powder in the north facing trees that hadn't seen much sun.

Our 10-day forecast now suggests that winter is finally over. Temperatures will be warming up, and we probably won't be skiing anymore powder (although you never know!), but the snowpack is at record depths across Utah, so we'll be skiing well into July!

Panoramic from the top of Mt Millicent

More photos here.


  1. Hey, saw you joined the fast running blog. On there it appears your name is the same as this site. I think I'll just call you "Sandbagger" instead. Hahahaha. Yeah, I know who you are and how good you are. I also know you hang with Wesemann which is a bit of a ding to your character, but I'll let it slide. Seriously, I dig this site.

  2. Thanks Jun. I'll take the compliment... but I honestly have no idea who Wesemann is!

  3. Ha. Sorry, I was thinking of Seth at the time, not you. Keep up the posts with pics, they make me ache to be in the back country.