Monday, April 20, 2009

Snowbasin closing day

A band on the plaza, good times!

I made it up to Snowbasin for closing day, and took a couple afternoon slush runs. Wanted to hike Mt Ogden (SE chutes, above), or the Taxman steeps (below, center, in the shade, this is a short shot that measures a solid 60 degrees), but the late start, and a pinched nerve aggravated by my boots made it a short day. I did get some more photos though.

On Saturday, April 18, I participated in the first whitewater slalom race at the newly installed course at the Ogden Kayak park. Good times! Water temp was 42 degrees, but the sun made it feel warmer. Someone said I was sixth, just one spot away from the prizes. I'll have to practice for next time!
The last 1/3rd of this video shows the end of the slalom course:

More video to come...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Steep Larrys in good conditions

Steep Larrys, super-filled, with great corn conditions.
The double-fall-line return from Steep Larrys chute.

A crack-of-noon club start on April 7th put me got me on the Mt Allen tram just as the sweep patroller was dropping in to the Fingers chutes. Why such an early close?? They sure don't keep those open until 3! Welll, up the tram, up the boot trail anyway, out the gate, up Mt Allen, over to the Logical chute; at least it wasn't whiteout visibility today; bluebird in fact! I followed my hard left cut from the other day, and my short boot up, and peered into the next chute- looks like it goes!
A new line to explore! This led over to the double-fall-line shot from the top of Steep Larrys, that I had looked down on a couple years ago. Today was the day to explore that double-fall-line.

Looking down and back on the boot trail climb.

A straightforward boot led to unconsolidated sugary snow over a 50 degree rock slab. Two-kick steps soon became 12 kick, 15 kick, hard-to-build steps, over slick rock slab, with decent rock handholds making it possible. Interesting, time-consuming climbing finally led to the "summit ridge", a strenuous pull over the final steep headwall. I was on top of the Larrys entrance through the cliffs! Crazy Larrys, or Extreme Larrys, I've heard it called; "Steep Larrys" sounds better to me. It was way more filled than the last time I did it, no rocks at all in the chute. After a 38 degree start, it rolled to a 51 degree measurement, then stayed around 45 to 50 the rest of the way. Last time, I had a few measurements at 53 degrees; not so today.

It was good soft corn, too. 3 PM by now, and the due west aspects were soft corn, not too slushy though, with NW aspects of settled powder, super nice conditions. The occasional tree branch dropping snow keeps you alert, but no rollerballs, no significant wet slide activity. I did the chute, took the left exit to the top of the bowl below, then climbed back up, exploring the north edge of the ridge.

A future project with a rappel entrance into a treed, secluded little chute.
Grouse tracks on the edge of the ridge.

Coming back, I chose a steep entrance into the double fall line shot, and made it back down into the Banana with no problems. This double-fall-line return was actually the crux of the day: a technical (ie: rocky no-fall zone over cliffs) 55 degree, 2 meter wide entrance, leading to a hard right double-fall-line that was really a traverse (top photo). Maybe not as classic as some of the Mt Ogden lines, but something challenging to do when Mt. Ogden was closed anyway :-). There still seems to be more north-facing potential off of Mt. Allen, but it may have to wait till next year.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Found a one meter wide choke

I found a hard-to-get-to steep chute in Hells with a one meter wide choke yesterday! Just when I thought I had done it all in there :-). From above (above), and below (below ;-). I was able to thread through it without too much rock-grinding.

Today, I went down to the Ogden Play Park with c-dub Craig. Bluebird day, low icy water, good times, more ice cream headaches ;-).

Craig working a spin in the top hole. Thanks for taking the photos Clay!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Banana chute and Mt Allen. Mt Allen's NW rib from the NW, framed by the Banana chute on the left, and Scary Larrys on the right.  There are some difficult lines in here waiting for a wandering alpinist with rock boards. 

Epic day in the Snowbasin backcountry last Tuesday; we did 5 runs off the top of Mt Allen finishing with a run out to 27th street (ok, kind of a loong hike out the bottom ;-)! I thought it was around 16,500 total vertical, but my buddies altimeter said over 17,000. 

Scary Larrys runs from the uppermost left to the lower right. Its hard to pick out here, but it is an epic chute. I'll have to try to get some good photos of this chute; its hard to see it all from anywhere, except from the air I suppose. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

We hit the "two trees" Finger chute today. Its becoming an 8 foot vertical drop minimum off the cornice now, onto steep hard snow, with 8'' of fresh on it; much harder to get into than last time I did it. I tagged a couple rocks moving right, then got down into better snow. The base has settled alot with the warm weather we had; those rocks just don't want to go away this time of year. No worries about cornice stability, after the way they were bombed last storm cycle. My buddy Steve dropped in, and a young visitor from the midwest, Josiah, did it too. We showed Josiah the main Banana chute entrance, and also  some quality north-facing trees toward the Coldwater saddle. I crashed into a stump on the runout, and now have a large bruise on the right hip to show for it.  I talked with my chiropractor about it, and didn't knock anything out of alignment, thankfully. Interesting that he didn't recommend ice for a large muscle bruise; ice for joint injuries/sprains, yes; ice for muscle bruises didn't test out though (muscle testing).  I put a magnet on it, and arnica gel, and it healed quickly. 

Heres a view looking down Two Trees, before the last storm; about the same coverage though.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Got out to the Ogden Kayak Park at 24th street yesterday; the Weber river is coming up! 600 cfs, and icy cold. Gates have recently been installed here, they are cool! I'd rather be snowboarding powder, but the paddling is fun too. I managed a couple spins in the top hole, and hit all my rolls; ice-cream headaches though.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 2009 - The Snowbasin backcountry

Primo conditions on February 19, 2009; but they kept Mt Ogden closed back then. Look at that sun-shadow line! (Click on the photos to enlarge.)
Looking down the sun-shadow line; large rock bands are just below this beautiful looking snow.

I've been getting more photos this season; time to finally put some up.
With the Mt Allen backcountry gate moved up the hill, the top of the Mt Allen NW chute is right out the gate. (I've heard some debate which one is the Banana chute; I thought it was the Mt Allen NW chute, not the next one north, which seems to come out of the Toto area?)

We had a good storm on Monday-Tuesday; on Wednesday (March 11) when they finally got the tram open, I cut a couple pockets out of the top of the Mt Allen NW chute, and then cut the cornice on the west entrance. Last year I was calling this the Logical chute, since its such a logical one to do ;-). Beautiful area; not a place to take a ride though, with scattered small evergreens below the west entrance, enduring the avalanche poundings over the years, branches all stripped off on the uphill side. I met up with Joe H yesterday, and did another run in there, and got some fine Coldwater turns in the northfacing trees.

Dropping the cornice in the west entrance, the "Logical chute", with the Logical point behind.

I missed the opening of the Mt Ogden chutes by a couple days (have to work sometime ;-), but I went up there Saturday morning and dropped in right before the little closed sign headed toward the summit, above the Mt Ogden main chute. I'd prefer to cut that bowl from the top; that sign is not in a very good place; but it was stable, and nice snow, a foot of powder with a soft base. Forgot the slope meter unfortunately; I'd estimate that entrance is over 55 degrees though; probably 58 or so. After cutting right, jump turn, and toeside slip, barely making it over a rock band clean, I cut right again, and tagged a rock just as I was going to start turning. Darn! Then hit another rock, oh well, that sweet Volkl 164 had to get broken in sometime. Hey Mike G, thanks again for that board; its my main ride these days.

On the way up toward the Mt Ogden summit, above.
After the run, with my cut going through the sun-shadow line, right of the summit. Someone did the technical line left of the summit a couple days ago (the "little chute" I wrote about last year), and there are also tracks in the "tower shot". That looks rocky now too. For reference, Snowbasin is reporting 116" today (March 15, 2009), and 339" season total. We had a couple very warm days in the 60s before the last storm cycle, and that really melted things. That last storm cycle really rejuvenated the snowpack in a big way.

February 3, 2009
The Outdoor Retailer show had on-snow demos at Snowbasin today, and it was fun to see some pros up on Mt Ogden ripping the chutes. The main chute got bumped out, and the choke was icy, but that didn't slow this crowd down much. Corky Still from Moment Skis absolutely charged the whole chute; quite impressive. Another guy threw a heli off a hit on below the choke on the right, into less than ideal snow; no problem.
Scoping out the Mt Ogden couloir.
Corky charging the fall line.
Teli turns in variable snow, heading into the icy choke.