Saturday, May 9, 2009

Timpanogos East Ridge

Bret Beattie was able to take me out of my comfort zone of Little and Big Cottonwood Canyon to a real big mountain just a few canyons away. Bret has been telling me all about Mt Timpanogos for a long time now. This was his fifth trip into the many cirques Timp offers and my first. Our objective was the East Ridge off the South end of Timp. This contiuous line is a bit intimidating because there are many cliff bands and it is a huge avalanche path especially if it warms up quickly.
Bret called me at 2:45 a.m. and said he was on his way over to my new residence The Falls, a high class community on State St. We drove down through Provo Canyon and up the access road to Sundance ski area. We pulled into the Aspen Grove parking lot at 3:45 a.m. and geared up. We needed to hike the first half mile in sneakers because the snow has been melting out. It was very reminiscent of Tuckermans Ravine trips, pre touring bindings. After a hour or so following the summer hiking trail we made it up to the snow line and began skinning with Roberts Horns walls to our left. The skinning did not last long because of frozen wet slides and potential slide for life conditions, we were booting and it was not fun.
After two hours of switching leads trail breaking we made it to the top of a headwall which Bret promised was the crux of the climb. Skins were back on and Bret was racing to get to the top of the glacier, a saddle between the North and South summits. The winds were blowing pretty strong here and we were wondering if the colds temps would allow the slopes to corn up. Once to the saddle it was straight forward firm booting up below the South summit and across the ridge to our descent.
We made it to our objective a little before 9 a.m. and immediately realized the sun had begun to melt the snow and we didn't waste any time on the top. The skins were off, boots clicked into ski mode, backpacks zipped up, cameras ready to document a perfect corn run. We carved into only 1 inch of corn for most of the run and towards the bottom just two inches. It almost didn't seem possible to have such good timing, but sometimes the boys get lucky. The skiing almost seemed easy and the xposure was low because the corn was so carvable. We skied through the first choke and stayed on the ridge proper most of the way down. We left the ridge proper and skied a second choke. Seeing the bottom of the run we linked big turns aiming right to traverse the large lower cliff bands. After this it was some gully skiing to the top of Stewarts Falls by 9:30 a.m. We put our sneakers back on and bushwacked down along the north side of the falls till we reached a nice hiking trail and out to the road at 11:30 a.m.
Hitch-hiking back to Aspen Grove was not as easy as we hoped. All the SUVs driving up were not willing to pick a boy up because of the inconvenience to their busy lives or risk of getting their leather interior dirty. We managed a ride from a community employee and a good view of the line we has just skied driving back to Safe Sandy, UT. I think I will get out of my comfort zone more often now. Stay tuned for more Timp descents. Thanks Bret.
Jake the Buf

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