Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Henry Mountains; Strange Range

With the coming of spring the call to leave our home range of the Wasatch and head south traditionally comes loud and clear for Salt Lake City Skier Boyz. We desire to leave the comfort of something that is both amazing and common to us and we seek out that which is strange.
On our ever present quest for that which is new, that which is strange, Dave Coyne and I found ourselves driving into the heart of South Central Utah, to the small hamlet of Hanksville with hopes to find the strange.

After driving 19 miles on a dirt road from Hanksville, we found the road snow packed and muddy. We opted for skins- a mode of travel we are comfortable with rather than combining the rubber of our tires with the sloppy passages of Mt. Ellen's foothills. We skinned and walked for three miles through the desert to gain the foot of Mt. Ellen at Dandelion Flats and the Lonesome Beaver Campground. From there, it was an easy bushwhack to gain the snowy south facing slopes of Mt. Ellen.

We summited Mt. Ellen and then spent about two hours exploring the ridgeline while we waited for the sun to soften the snow on the south facing slopes. I have skied in many desert ranges in the past, but the Henry's were the most striking. The landscape transitioned almost immediately from redrock desert, unlike the Lasals or San Francisco Peaks, which at least have small transition zone between redrock and alpine. Looking into the expanse of desert in all directions could have entertained me for several hours longer but the snow started to soften. We opted to ski the a direct and classic south facing line and the conditions were perfect.

The skiing was as amazing as the setting in which it took place. It's not every day that a strange range provides this well- AML