Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ski Touring in the Wasatch

NW Col. Pfiefferhorn

Ten years ago, a man told me tales of getting off the chair lift at Alta and being up to your neck in powder snow. My mind tried to make sense of this....neck deep snow? How could that be possible I asked myself? My mind began to wander, but I could not imagine this "powder snow." It was akin to the human mind trying to conceptualise quantum mechanics.

Rippin' turns with SLC looming below

The following winter I hopped on an airplane in Boston, landed in SLC, took a shuttle, then a snowcat to my new home, a dorm room below Alf's Restaurant 9,240 ft, mid-mountain Alta, Utah. Greeted with 3 feet of fresh powder snow, my mind was blown. "Jumpin' Ja-hoe-sif-at," I exclaimed. Mt. Superior across the canyon from Alta Ski Area

When the storm cleared, I couldn't believe my eyes. Skiable mountains everywhere, covered in snow. The lone sets of ski tracks carved in fresh powder snow, scattered on the mountain faces across the canyon were inspiring pieces of art work. "Dude, its like Tuckerman's Ravine all ovah the place guy," I thought to myself. Ski track set down the fall line, not crossing another track, sheer beauty!

Louie's Rock

A bunch of other boyz up at Alf's Restaurant thought the same thing. We left confines of the resort and went in search of adventure and freedom. This became the regular and now nine years later I find myself skiing with many of those same boyz, The Skier Boyz.

~Richard Pumpington

Monday, October 24, 2011

Skier Boyz: PNW Chapter

For the past few summer's I have left the Beehive state in search of freedom and adventure. My passion for skiing Volcanoes landed me in the PNW. I work year round as a mountain guide and during "volcano season," I work for Timberline Mountain Guides and Smith Rock Climbing School, based out of Central Oregon. This allows me to partake in a plethora of adventures, such as climbing with Sniffles at Smith Rock State park.
The weather is fickle in the Northwet, but with patience and good timing, you can land some incredible corn skiing in pristine locations. Every Volcano has its own energy and scenic vista of the ring of fire. Pictured below is Nick Pope, fellow guide, and soon to be partner of mine in the Patrouille des Glaciers race in Switzerland in April 2012. Its a 3 man team race from Zermatt to Verbier, covering about 53k and 4000m climbing and 4000m descending. We will patrol the glaciers, roped together for safe glacier travel. Here Nick is about ski the east face of Mountain McLoughlin at 9,495 ft in Southern Oregon.
Mountain McLoughlin has desecents on all aspects of the compass. That day we skied 8000 vertical feet on the East, North, and South facing slopes. The Northely facing (pictured below) has the steepest and most BMFR (Big Mountain Free Rider) terrain on McLoughlin. Nick is new to the Skier Boyz organization, but he fits in well. He might be the fastest and most dialed person I've ever been with in the mountains. He is real nice guy to match, which is a must! Thus, I am excited for him to meet more of the Boyz and start shredding expeditions with us. Kazakhstan, Pakistan, etc....Dream BIG!!!
I am trying to ski off the summit of all the skiable Cascade Volcanoes(getting close!!!), but I spend most of my time here at Mountain Hood 11,249. As a guide in the PNW most of my employment is guiding people to the summit and back on Hood. Its "mechanicalized mountaineering," meaning we either take the chair lift up or use a snow cat to access the Wilderness Area and the summit of the great one. Below is Moon Beam, basking in glory in lot at Timberline Ski Resort, with the South Face and Wyeast face of Mountain Hood looming 5000 vertical feet above. When I'm lucky people hire me to go ski corn from the summit! This lucky fellah skied the Wyeast, West Crater Rim variation to the south side, and the Sunshine route in 2 days on Mountain Hood. If you look closely you can see the ski lift and cut trails. This picture was taken from the top of the Old Chute on the South facing side of Hood.
After taking the chair lift up to the top of the ski area at 9,500 ft, we hiked the last 2,700 vertical feet to the summit of Mountain Hood. From the summit you can drop north to the Sunshine route, which is a 4000 ft descent As you can see here Doug is enjoying the perfect corn on the snowdome portion of the Sunshine rt. On this day of Independence(July 4th), Doug and I skied some grade A corn down the 45ish degree upper section of the Sunshine route, between crevasses and above the bergschrund pictured below. I solo skied the route the week before and the shrund was about a 10 foot vertical drop and a 5 foot gap. A week later when we skied it, the shrund opened up and there was about a 20 foot drop. I set up a T slot, put in a picket, and lowered Doug over shrund. After Doug made it to safety, I thought to myself, what would Shreddy do? Thus, I yelled down to Doug to pull the rope. I cleaned the anchor, pointed my skis, and went airborn over the gaping hole. You can see my corn bomb-hole almost diretly above and to the right of Doug's ski pole.
Mountain Hood is home to many steep ski descents from the summit!

If this seems fun to you, you can hire me as a guide for some wicked ski descents here in the PNW during the spring or in the Wasatch range during the winter months for some powder skiing. Here are links to the companies I work for in Utah and Oregon.

Happy Turns!
~Todd Glew

Dog Sh*t Ridge: October 23

Conditions in the Summit / Turnagain area have remained mostly static since last week. Skins go on at 2,000' and the skiing gets good at 2,500'.

There were several large groups on Tincan on Sunday. There's a reason why this trailhead is so popular: the large variety of terrain and easy access. You can hit mellow bowls, pillow lines through the trees, drops big and small, steep faces, and even nordic terrain. And if you can't find a line that scares you going out past Tincan Proper, well buster, you're not looking very hard. There's evan a trail cut through the brush so access is good year round.

Chilkoot Trail Reenactment

We started in the rain and planned to get soaked, but as the day progressed conditions improved. Fog remained the valley but it was mostly sunny higher up.

Above the Fog

There was a heavy creamy layer on top. Snow was boot deep and it the turning was easy and by the end of the day, the Bowl was tracked out.

Winter on top of Fall

The valleys are awash in beautiful fall colors; warm and inviting. Up high, sun with calm conditions made for a wonderful day in the mountains. But the in-between can eat a bag of hot diapers. Hopefully Mother Nature will hit the reset button a few times this week so my Halloween costume can be "a guy getting face shots."

- U.K.