2010 Spring Blog (8 ski days in May/June/July; last day: June 6)

June 6. Chet Roe and I skied the large face on the south east side of Arkansas, facing the Arkansas River Valley. We had thought the crazy N-facing couloir might be doable, but it was not: rocks, runnels. So we circled around and booted up to the 13300 level in mushy but skiable snow. At the end I went up a steep rocky gully that I was familiar with from an exploration last summer, while Chet went over the vertical headwall/cornice. Both worked. One could call this line Louisiana since it is south of Arkansas. Matt Jones was with us but decided to wait at the bottom of the steep slope because of knee-related issues. I think this will mark the end of the season this year; it is just too unesthetic skiing in the snirt. But today was yet one more new line in a season where everything I skied, save one descent of Lakeview, was new for me. That is satisfying. Does anyone out there read these musings? I have no idea, but keeping such a diary is nonetheless useful and fun.

May 30. Chet Roe and I skied the obvious couloir on the NE face of Coon Hill. The ascent (boots all the way) was very quick from the west portal of the tunnel. The descent was in perfect condition: Steep, but soft; just right. Then we just climbed back via the Coon Hill - Golden Bear saddle, though one could climb back to the summit of Coon on the other side and ski down from there.

May 28. Kim McGranahan and I met at the Herman Gulch TH and tried for a line off the NW side of Pettingell that I had seen for several years from Buffalo summit. Actually, it seems that this side is pretty much west-facing. We headed left in mid-valley towards Snoopy (aka Citadel) and then back right so as to get to the Snoopy-Pettingell saddle. We left snow for grass-and-rock slopes, but it all went fine. Once on the ridge -- the Continental Divide -- we looked over to where I thought the line was to be, but there was only rocks. Slightly discouraged, we headed up Pettingell but quickly found a line on the Pacific Ocean side of the divide that looked like it would work. Skiing was very firm, despite the hot temperatures lower down. I side-slipped a ways but it was not a problem as the slope was not all that steep. This put us in the headwaters of the east branch of the Williams Fork River. Very scenic (except for the dust of course). Then the route back, around to the saddle just W of Hagar worked well, and we finished this 9-hour, 4300-foot day by descending a little on Hagar slopes and then climbing and contouring around to the Snoopy-Bethel saddle, and back down Herman Gulch. I'm on a roll as every line skied this year, except Lakeview, has been a new one for me.

May 25. Jonathan and I skied to the top of Peak 13010 (apparently known as Golden Bear Peak; just N of Trelease and W of Hagar) and skied a good line on the E Face. It was very firm, but with enough give to be quite enjoyable. And the forest snow held firm. Summitted 10 am. Back at the house by noon.

May 22. Jonathan and I went for Sniktau E Face. Ascent was easy; 90 minutes. But the face looked a little boring so we did the south face instead. That was quite firm, so not greatest skiing for me, though Jonathan did fine. Saw big white animals crossing the slope under us: Took me a moment to identify the running goats! The return to the bump above Loveland Pass was straightforward as far as terrain went, but the winds were howling. I had never been in such strong winds. I was knocked over once while skinning uphill, and Jonathan four times. The transition at the bump was nearly impossible. Back at the pass, only about 600 feet lower, people were in shorts and winds werre mild. I cannot say that the gusts were 100 mph, but it would not surprise me if they were (keeping in mind that at altitude wind has less mass (therefore higher speed for same "feel")).

May 20. Jonathan and I went to Jacque Peak above Copper to try for the NE shoulder route known as "Wilson's Rage". The entrance was a little tricky -- not impossible, but we decided to instead go to the summit and ski the SE face which was clean, long, and very white. That went well. The descent on Copper trails was ridiculously slow because of the new wet snow. Still a nice summit on a fine day. And no unpleasant interactions with Copper staff (a couple of years ago I was told that I was trespassing and to leave when skinning up after the area had closed).

May 19. Tour on light gear at Vail Pass in a snowstorm. Excellent conditions and coverage. Felt like winter. Went to top of Machinegun Ridge.

May 12. Back to it after two weeks in Escalante. Skied the east face of Little Bartlett with Jonathan Kriegel, Maggie Gaddis, and Elke Dratch. Conditions were quite good, though the dirt layers are worrisome.

April 21. A few solo runs at Loveland ski area. Conditions were pretty bad up high.

April 18. Buffalo Caldera from the summit, with Jonathan and Bob. Bit of a hairy day. The woods were the worst I've seen them: extremely rotten, though okay on ascent. The caldera below the cliff was fine. Getting through the cliff was a challenge as the route we thought we would take did not work. So we went to the far N end and had continuous snow through the cliff.

April 17. Light gear tour behind Arkansas. Some rotten snow.

April 14. Jonathan and I skied the Buffalo Caldera below the cliff. That is, we climbed to 12350 (400 ft below the summit) of Buffalo South and dropped in on very good north-facing snow to hit the caldera in the basin just below the giant cliff. The descent from there back to the car was excellent. Under four hours round-trip.

April 10. Jonathan Kriegel, Bob Portmann, and I climbed and skied Lakeview on Buffalo. Ascent went very well. Car-to-car skiing of course. Upper section of descent was crusty but it steadily improved. There was evidence of recent dust blow-in from the west. Hard to predict how bad it will be later as the surface melts.

March 19-22. Jonathan Kriegel and I camped in the LaSals and skied the S Face of Haystack, N Face of Mellenthin, W side of Tomasaki, and W side of Burro Ridge. Details in LaSals link on my main page.

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