Monday, February 27, 2006

A fateful day in Utah

This beautiful day of ski mountaineering with Rees and Exum guide Craig Patterson was very near the beginning.  Before this my mountain experience was limited to ski resorts and a parachute cord rappel out of my bedroom window in middle school.  Here's what Craig had to say about the day:

"We met at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon around 8 a.m. and rallied up to the head of Little Cottonwood, catching an early chair on the Albion lift at Alta. A traverse and a chair ride later we exited the ski area through the Point Supreme gate and headed over to Rocky Point, a popular cliff dropping area for the local contingent of rock stars and photographers on pow days. After talking about avalanche awarness, beacon drills and a quick warm up lap into the basin, we skinned back up to Catherine's Pass, and then boot packed up to the top of Mt. Tuscarora. After eating lunch, we made the decision to drop into the Seagull chute, a 46 degree, 1600ft line that faces NE. I was surprised how creamy the shot was, especially in the lower apron. From here, we skinned back up to the Mt. Wolverine ridge, tagged the summit at 10,350ft, practiced building snow anchors using ice axes (T-Slots), belaying off of an ice axe, the sitting hip belay, the boot axe belay, and eventually skiing andski-cutting on belay. Rees, you remember all of that, right? The line that we skied here is called the Scythe, and is NW facing, 43 degrees in steepness and approx. 1300 ft long. This brought us into the bottom of the drainage where we donned skins again and headed up to Twin Lakes Pass. A short shot through the trees and fast turns down the cat road brought us back to the head of Grizzly Gulch and a stellar ending to a fantastic day of ski mountaineering the Central Wasatch of Utah. I was stoked to be out with you boys today in the February sunshine and impart some skills to tackle the larger lines in the mountains (hopefully some of what I was babbling about made sense). What struck me the most about you guys was your soul and passion to be in the mountains. You wanted to get after it, and that's pretty rare . I hope that you guys can take some of what we discussed and practiced, and put it to use on your own adventures travelling amongst the hills of the earth."


Craig Patterson