Ryan and I left SLC around 2:30 am, Sunday.
Later, we ate McDonald’s in Elko, NV while we waited for the sun to rise. Fueled by trans-fat and bad coffee, we drove to the trailhead and started the short approach to Terminal Cancer just a few minutes before a party of two guys who slept at the trailhead.
Soon after leaving trailhead, before we even had the chance to get tired or regret our decision to drive all night, the couloir came in to view from behind a ridge. Even in our sleep-deprived and real-food-deprived state, we were stoked.
The approach was easy and we were in the couloir proper 15 minutes later. We could hear the other party behind us and I made a goal to reach to top before they caught up. Unfortunately, the snow was just soft enough to make breaking trail a chore, and they caught up with me 100 meters from the top. They were, however, nice enough to let me go first for the last twenty meters and soon we were standing at the top of the most aesthetic couloir I’ve ever seen.
We took our time on top. We ate and took pictures and tried to stay warm before we switched our boots and skis and boards to “ski mode” and dropped in.
The snow was tracked out by the time I dropped in, and the first 15 meters were riddled with sharp rocks. There was no serious fall potential, but there was a lot of potential to ruin your skis, so we went carefully and sidestepped over rocks. Then the snow was soft and the setting inspiring. We took turns taking pictures and tried to savor the experience. As it is with backcountry skiing, we were soon battling unruly bushes and then skating down a mostly-snow covered road and then taking our boots off and drinking a beer and laughing. After much planning, driving, caffeine, climbing, and sweating, the only thing left to do was drive back through Elko and merge on to the 80 towards SLC.
Time in the mountains is ephemeral. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem real. It’s hard to really remember the joy or the fear or the fatigue you felt on your last trip while sitting at a desk. Sometimes it’s hard to even relate to your own past experiences. I think this keeps those places a mystery, separated from us not only by distance, but also by time. And that mystery compels us to return some other time, some other place.
Loving winter: looking forward to summer.
Here’s some pics from the past few weeks of walking in the hills.
Suicide Chute, Mt. Superior, from Little Cottonwood Canyon. With Ryan N. and Impromptu Stranger.
Argento/Greaseball Couloir, Kessler Peak, from Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Spence W.
God’s Lawnmower, Kessler Peak, from Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Spence W., Court P., and Steve L.
I have nothing to say about today’s short tour. The details are boring. No significant peak was bagged. No personal fitness goal was reached. I didn’t learn anything about myself. It was just another day out in the mountains. Just another day of skiing. Just the same actions, repeated: put jacket on, remove skins, tighten boots, change gloves. Lock the bindings down and step in to the skis – downhill ski first. Shuffle back and forth a bit and feel how the boots are tight now and the bindings locked. Discuss plans and avalanche possibilities and also discuss how cold it is today. I’ll watch you from that spot down there. Ready?