May 31, 2015

Pipeline Couloir

This is American Fork Twin Peaks (viewed from the Snowbird tram... a photo I took 5 years ago), and the Pipeline Couloir is the obvious route with the red dots that starts near the summit of the West Twin.

This week has been pretty awesome. We skied Main Chute on Monday, Suicide Chute on Friday, and did a couple laps in Wolverine Cirque on Saturday. Our plan was to head up to Bald Mountain Pass and see what the Uintas had to offer today, but a photo posted on Instagram on Saturday night made us re-evaluate. Snowbird was open to hiking from the Gad Valley side, and Andrea suggested we finally take a stab at skiing the Pipeline Couloir. Game on!

We started from Creekside and covered the first 1200' of uphill in running shoes with skis A-framed on our packs. It should be noted that Andrea was out of the gates QUICK this morning and I could barely keep up for the first 30 minutes. We made the switch to skins and headed up into the bowl below the West Twin. At the base of the couloir skis were strapped back on the packs and it was a direct climb up the gut of the Pipeline. Fortunately, a booter was in place from a group that skied it on Saturday, which made the final climb go quickly.

At the top of the couloir we made a sidetrip to tag the summit of the West Twin before getting set the for ski down. The couloir is ~42 degrees... steep, but the snow was soft so it didn't feel that steep. We had fun on the descent through Pipeline and out on the apron below.

Lots of photos below, but first, my favorite Andrea quotes of the day...


"I can eat ice cream as many times as I want today."

"We should ski Coalpit #4 next winter" (this only is funny with context... she was reading The Chuting Gallery while laying by the pool in the afternoon... it's like we have gone back in time 4-5 years)

Starting from Creekside

Light on the West Twin

The bowl below Pipeline

Looking back towards the Cottonwood Ridge

Starting the couloir climb

Perfect steepness

Stunning backdrop

Getting close to the top

Topping out on the West Twin

Timp still has snow

Skiing down

Andrea's view

Andrea skiing the apron below the Pipeline. This gives a good sense of the scale.

Summer-style exit back to the jeep

May 30, 2015

Wolverine Cirque

Wolverine Cirque

Chute skiing has taken over as our primary interest of the moment, so after skiing Suicide Chute yesterday, we decided to check out Wolverine Cirque this morning. It got hot quick, so after two laps in the cirque we headed back up to Twin Lakes Pass and skied out. Overall the snow in the upper cirque is in excellent condition. 

Another beautiful morning...

Teton-style approach...

Some interesting skinning conditions...

But then it turns to all snow

Still good coverage for the end of May

Ski time

Back for another

May 29, 2015

Suicide Chute

Andrea skiing down Suicide Chute aka "Country Lane"

Chuting season continues... Suicide Chute has been looking good from the Alta parking lot recently, so we figured we better ski it before it melted out. This morning we decided to head up in the morning before work and check it out. The snow was firm enough to allow a quick bootpack up the chute, and the strong sun softened things up enough for the descent. It was a fun little adventure to start the day and set the tone for the weekend.

We are having a really, really fun month of May!

This photo is from last week, but it gives you the scope of Suicide Chute. It isn't nearly as steep as it looks.

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Main Chute

We spent two-thirds of Memorial Day weekend in Nashville TN for a wedding, but since there is only one direct flight from Nashville to SLC and its at 7:30am, we ended up back home early on the Monday holiday. We swung by home to swap wedding clothes for ski gear and then headed up to Alta to ski Main Chute again. The line is in great condition right now, and we really like bootpacking, so that was an easy choice for a quick hit.

The sun came out in full force during our booter, which has led to a pair of semi-sunburned faces a few hours later, then the weather went back to low-visibility fog during the ski down (of course) and it even snowed a little on us. We'll take it.

Last time we skied Main Chute, we took our skinny rando sticks, so it was nice to have adult sized skis with us today :-)

May 17, 2015

You never know what you're gonna get...

We skied 3 times this past week, and every day was dramatically different. Spring weather in the mountains is awesome and a bit crazy.

Let's take it from the start:

Tuesday May 12th

Slush. Slush. Slush. We did a lap at Alta after work and the snow was mashed potatoes. It started raining at 8500' when we got back to the car. We remained optimistic that the ski season wasn't over, although it wasn't looking good.

Friday, May 15th

A couple inches of snow during the day covered up the snirt (dirty snow, for those of you who never lived in Colorado and endured the wrath of Utah/desert dust storms blowing all kinds of crap across the state line... although this year Colorado has stayed snirt-free and we had it all over the Wasatch after a mid-April dust storm). 

We caught a perfect break in the weather after work and had fun skiing in the sunshine. The conditions were good compared to a few days earlier.

Saturday, May 16th

We didn't ski. Instead we went to see Pitch Perfect 2 and let it snow.

This happened:

Where did that come from?!?!

Sunday May 17th

We got up early and headed up to Alta with the powder skis - 16 inches of new snow since Saturday afternoon! It was pretty dense (probably would have turned into several feet had it been just a touch colder) and due to fog you couldn't really see anything, but who cares? When it snows 16" on the back end of May, you can't ask for it all - you just ski! We got in 5 fun laps before it started to get a little too soggy. 

It's not over yet :-)