Riders in this news
It all starts with a phone call… then usually follows with someone saying I have a crazy idea… then almost every time what comes after is, “I’ll meet you there.” Usually at some ungodly hour.
And that is exactly how the phone call with Rachel Burks fellow Dynastar/Lange/Look teammate went when she called and told me of the epic line she wanted to ski.
This line is a line that does not go unnoticed. You can see it from the highway as you drive southbound from Salt Lake City, UT past Mount Timpanogos.
It leaves you thinking, “Wow that would be a really cool line to ski, but it looks so far away.”
After some discussion, we decided to tackle this line a bit differently. With the dirt road melted out from the warm spring thaw we elected to ride our mountain bikes for the 4 mile approach with around 1,400 ft of elevation gain to the base of the couloir rather than hiking in. From there we would stash our bikes in the bushes and then boot pack the remaining 3,500 ft to the summit. The multisport adventure would be a perfect way to cap off the ski season.
The night before we prepared and packed everything. The Lange XT3 TOUR check, Dynastar M-Tour 99 check, layers, tennis shoes, lots of snacks, water, and bikes check, check, and check. With my alarm set for 2:40 AM we headed to bed.
We arrived at the parking lot around 4 AM to find Rachel Burks waiting. My partner Thorn and I stumble sleepily out of the car, while the ever-energetic Burks is buzzing with excitement and perma-stoke. There’s a slight warm spring breeze in the air coaxing us to wake up. We repack our bags under starlight and our headlamps and begin our approach.
As we start to move, I slowly realize this mission was going to be way harder than I anticipated. Everything felt heavy.
My bike felt heavy, my legs, my eyelids, everything was telling me to stop. Yet, as Burks rode by me and cheered me on, I knew that turning back wasn’t an option today.
As the sun began to rise, we could see our objective in the morning alpenglow, and the first patches of snow began to appear. Stashing our bikes in the nearest cluster of trees we continued our journey on foot.
I am not saying it is essential to have the perfect set up when you’re about to summit a 3,000 ft vert mountain, but let's just say it is quite nice. Armed with the new Lange XT3 Tour, my confidence was at an all-time high. The lightweight construction made the daunting bootpack fly by and the dual core technology and active power V-lock gave me supreme confidence for the decent.
In my experience, having gear that is the right weight is much better than using ultra-light gear that doesn’t inspire confidence in spicy situations.
When going on a mission such as this, something is bound to go wrong. There’s a scale of course, from catastrophic to eh could be worse. Our mistake leaned more towards, eh could be worse. Looking at the temps the night before, we mutually decided to not bring any crampons or ice axes as we expected pristine spring corn. Unfortunately, we were greeted by cooler than expected temps that froze our line solid. The higher we climbed the harder the snow got. This was NOT the buttery soft spring snow we were anticipating. Luckily for us, there was a previously set bootpack to follow that gave us much needed grip as we inched closer to the summit. The further we booted, the better the views. To our left Utah Lake, a beautiful freshwater lake. To our right the vast valley below.
As we summited, we found that we were not the only group crazy enough for this objective today. Only in the mountain community could you feel so alone yet when you get to the summit, five of your buddies are up there too! We waited patiently for the snow to soften, but to no avail.
We laugh, maybe it’s from exhaustion or maybe it’s because right then and there we couldn’t think of one place that we would rather be.
Skiing down was like skiing a water injected World Cup GS. Thank goodness for good gear and sharp edges! We made the most of the decent down the teeth chattering couloir, savoring every last turn, not knowing if this would be our last ski day of the season. When we got down to our bikes, we were exhausted but too stoked to feel it. Ripping down the gravel, a bit delirious from our adventure, there were a few wipe outs, the ass over tea kettle type. Thank goodness for soft dirt and tough people.
When we got to the car there were people all over the trailhead preparing for their own hiking adventures. They came up to us to ask about the skis on our packs. They couldn’t fathom that we skied today. We sipped our beers and just laughed as we pointed to the line we just skied.
These spring missions offer the ultimate reward if you are willing to Get up to Get down!