Friday, May 14, 2010
^Leaving AltA, at 630 am alpenglow was off the charts
Mt. Nebo stands at 11.928, the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. Accessible from Mona, UT, majestic Mt. Nebo is a true gem. You approach via 4×4 road which you drive to the snow line. The climb is big 5-6,000 feet, so what better time to start hiking than 10am. The weather called for cloudy conditions so we were banking on that to aid our ascent and safe ski decent. We got our hands on a truck, with one kicker, it had summer tires. We made it up the steep 4×4 road then got shut down at the first inch of snow. We parked having no idea how far away from Nebo we were. We packed up our gear and expected the worst, potentially a massive approach on a muddy road. We walked for about 10 minutes and realized there was alot of snow on the road at this point. We put our skins on and our hopes blossomed.
^Jake starts skiing up the slide path we stayed next to to gain the upper ridgeline
^grandaddy of slide paths
^epic scenery made a long hike easy
^will split boarding up the never ending wooded ridgeline
We arrived at the base of the slide path we followed to the ridge line. We were in this gully for about 5 minutes then headed for the glade on the side of the path. This path is massive. It went from really hot, to cloudy and chilly. Head down, skinning through the woods, can create an incredible rate of time passage. Before I knew it we could see the top of the slide path where it met the ridge. Here again the sun came out for 2 minutes, and that was enough to send tons of roller balls down on us. We were discussing dropping in and getting out of there and yet again the clouds came in thick and it started to snow.
^the couloirs show themselves, we ended up skiing the left one
We stopped for a snack and to put some layers on, it went from 70 degrees with the sun out to about 25 and snowing. The snow let up, and it looked like it was going to clear. This was amazing because we had clear travels nearly all the way to the summit. We were able to take in the ridiculous surroundings we got ourselves into. I set a traverse across a massive hanging snowfield that I would have never put in if it wasn’t mid may and 8 inches under the new snow was a fat layer of impenetrable hard pack and rocks. This traverse allowed us to gain the summit ridge line.
^view towards mt nebos summit
^the couloir we ended up skiing, skinning by it on the way to the summit i was able to get this photo before it went to white out. We are officially renaming this couloir "hair raiser couloir" the northwest couloirs are too boring.
About 6 hours it took us to summit. Here is where the epic adventure gets insane. Jake and I are on the peak, total whiteout blizzard. I snapped this summit photo, and thought I heard the sound of my water bottle pressurizing. Like a crackling plastic sound. I could also hear the noise coming from my jacket, my backpack, and my ski poles planted in the ground were also making that noise. I pushed them over, and they stopped. I had no idea what it was but wrote it off as being dehydrated and exhausted. This is while Jake is yelling into the whiteout for will who was a few minutes behind. I heard Jake holler “Will get up here, we are on the top”. Will replied, Jake thought he said “I couldn’t see” Jake says something along the lines of “yea none of us can see, get up here” Will yelled again at us ELECTRICITY! Just as Jake turned around and dropped to the ground I felt the air go massively thick, I could have cut the air with my skis, it was even hard to move. Then the skin on the back of my neck felt like someone was picking me up by my neck and we both dove off the peak into the abyss. We had gotten charged for contact, I have read stories of people getting struck by lighning, and if you feel what we felt, it usually ends in a lightning strike. There was no flash, no thunder, no warning. It went from partly sunny to blizzard white out to electrical cloud in less than 5 minutes. We waited a few minutes off the summit, crawled back up and got our gear clicked in and slid down to the thinner, more eastern couloir, and dropped in. At this point the clicking stopped, all three of us got that feeling on our necks moments prior.
We regained composure running off mother natures electricity and our own adrenaline, we dropped in I made a few cautions cuts and let go of a few 8″ deep mini slabs, that disapeared into the void. Then I started skiing and it was heavenly. DEEP cream to blower. Skiing an unreal couloir in whiteout blizzard and its May 13th. We stuck close together so we didn’t lose sight of anyone. As we worked our way down the couloir snow rates were easily 2 inches an hour. One of the slabs we released, caused the chute to clean its self entirely. We could now confidently ski this thing. We skied the super soft debris, or dip to the side and get some turns in the blower. The clouds were lifting. The snow depth in the chute was shocking. We figured 20-30 inches of fresh cream. Never did we hit one patch of questionable snow.
^boyz hide in a safe zone for a break
^mother nature sending intense snowfall
^buffalo nearing the apron
^boyz conquering something fierce, charged up from mother nature!
We got to the apron, and made endless powder turns all the way to the basin. The apron is massive on this thing. We all looked at each other at the bottom wondering all of that really just happened……. Incredible highs of summiting Mt. Nebo turned to possibly a near death experience, then turned into some of the most divine skiing any of us had ever encountered on any date let alone MAY 13TH. Still feeling mother nature’s charge (even today) we exited out down into the Vermont style slush woods. The whole all of the way back to the road, and the walk back down the road still wondering, did that really just happen?
Majestic Mt. Nebo in beautiful Mona, UT