Tagged ‘Wasatch‘

Mt Olympus

Mt Olympus is one of the most imposing peaks on the Salt Lake City skyline, and also one of the most popular. It’s West Slabs, which face the University and downtown area, are a popular scramble that starts with 5.4 climbing before mellowing into a few thousand feet of class III-IV. This route also becomes what is perhaps the most asinine of the descents chronicled in McLean’s ski guide, The Chuting Gallery. A real collector’s piece.

While the West slabs top out the North summit of Olympus, the hiker’s trail tops out the main peak, which is a few feet higher and is divided from the North summit by the West Couloir of Olympus.

The bird hangs out on the pad, with Mt Olympus between the rotor blades.

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Mt Kessler

With Taylor back in Portland and my parents off to Iceland for a few weeks, I’m left to my own devices here in the Wasatch. Despite a pretty solid schedule of 16 ER shifts including 4 overnights as well as 4 days of lecture, I’ve still been sneaking out into the hills.

That’s the great thing about Salt Lake City. The city itself is not much to write home about– not terrible, but not amazing. I spend my time writing home about the Wasatch, the beautiful and steep range that I can be sweating my way up just half an hour after leaving the hospital. This is why people like me live here.

Looking down the aptly named ski pitch, God’s Lawnmower.

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Gobbler’s Knob and Mt Raymond

Having road biked up Guardsman’s pass and ridden horses around Silver Summit, a wanted to squeeze in another big day before she had to hop onto a flight back to Portland to return to her real job as the house breadwinner.

We’d originally planned an even bigger day, but after multiple night shifts and 4-hour naps, I was feeling pretty crushed, so we toned it back and decided to tag two peaks I’d seen often but never visited, Gobbler’s Knob and Mt Raymond.

Taylor heading through meadows towards Gobblers.

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Pfeifferhorn and White Baldy

Because she’s amazing and wonderful, my wife Taylor somehow managed to get time off from work to join me out in Utah for almost a week. As soon as she arrived, she was pressing me to fill my limited free time with as much adventure as possible. With almost a full day available (so what if I had to work overnight that night?) I decided to take her back up to the Pfeifferhorn and continue along the Little Cottonwood ridgeline to the neighboring White Baldy.

Taylor approaching Red Pine Lake

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I’m in Utah now for a month of emergency medicine at the University of Utah, trying to persuade them to take me as one of the nine emergency medicine residents that they accept each year.

Travel, particularly airport travel, really wears me down, but getting my feet back into the Wasatch range brought my energy right back, and I quickly made the decision to risk heart explosion and run an 11k’ peak unacclimatized.

The line at the Delta baggage drop at… 4:30 am.


Upper Red Pine Lake. Past two to three miles of steep roots and rocks, a small slice of alpine paradise.

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Holy Molé! Heart of Darkness!

This has been the busiest winter of my life, and it’s hardly over. School, Japan, Christmas, School… it has been nonstop. The blog has been silent.

For the last week, I’ve been in Utah skiing a great run of high pressure with my fiancé Taylor and staying with my parents for a belated Christmas. A couple of days ago, Taylor had to take off for a work conference, so I was left without a partner for today. That meant that it was time to check a couple of boxes in the back of my copy of the Chuting Gallery.

With low danger throughout the avalanche rose and protected powder on northerly aspects, conditions were right to do some silly things.

North Face of Cardiff Peak, the first run of the day.

North Face of Cardiff Peak, the first run of the day.

The day started with a cruise up the highway that is Cardiff pass, and I picked the first line that looked good and tight for a warmup. A few jump turns through the choke and a short powder apron were my reward before I climbed back to the ridge to boot up towards Mt Superior.

Along the catwalk atop Little Superior on the way to Mt Superior. The drop to the road is impressive.

Along the catwalk atop Little Superior on the way to Mt Superior. The drop to the road is impressive.

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Wasatch Powder Keg 2014

Packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

Nearly packed for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg

I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport , waiting for a flight to Denver. My heart rate is chugging along at 86 bpm, and I’ve just downed 1400 calories in under 15 minutes. In spite of my bulging gut, I feel lean and worn in a deeply satisfying way that I have seldom been able to access. It’s 6:00 pm, and I’m waiting for my flight home from the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg (ISMF North American Skimo Championships).

With recent local success racing at Mt Bachelor, I was ready to have my ego destroyed at the Powderkeg. The race is the longest-running skimo event in the US, and this year it was chosen to be the North American Championships. That meant that in addition to the strong Wasatch crowd, a pack of Canadians, Coloradans and other far-flung speed suit types would be coming to downsize my opinion of my own fitness. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump in and tangle with much better racers in three different race formats; sprint, individual, and teams races against the best on the continent.

Start corral for the individual race.

Start corral for the individual race.

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Wasatch Powder Keg Registration Now Open

wasatch powderkeg

Registration for the 2014 Wasatch Powder Keg is now open!

The race will span three days on March 7th – 9th:
March 7 – Sprint Race $20 – one climb/booter/descent
March 8 – Individual Race $65 – 6500′, 10 miles
March 9 – Technical Teams Race $130/team – 8600′, 14 miles


Wasatch Powderkeg

Register Here   $140/person for all three!


In addition to being one of the longest-standing, best-organized, and most entertaining skimo races around, the Wasatch Powderkeg will be the ISMF North American Championships this year.

What does that mean?

It means that racers can score points for ISMF and USSMF standings by racing at Brighton,  so the race will draw the best talent around to race on Dry Wasatch Snow.

Additionally, the race will be the third stop on the OR Subaru Vertfest, and they’ll be putting on clinics and events to benefit the UAC.

Come race!


(The blustery summit of Mt. Superior, LCC, UT)

Some lines steal your imagination the first time that you see them.

That’s what happened to me the first time that I saw Mt. Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT, three or four years ago.  At the time, the South Face of Mt. Superior had yet to be listed at one of the 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America.  It was simply the largest skiable face that I’d ever seen, and it flowed all the way to the busy Little Cottonwood Road.  If you ski at Snowbird, or at Alta, then as you turn to ski downhill, you turn to ski towards its steep white face.

When I first saw Mt. Superior, I was impressed to learn that people skied it, and as the bumblie that I was, I told myself that one day I’d ski the line.  I’m now sitting in Salt Lake with the first of the summer’s thunderstorms shaking my windows, looking back on the season, and my descent of Mt. Superior marks a distinct high-point of personal satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not special, gifted, or even really that talented a ski mountaineer.  On any given day of the week, almost regardless of snow conditions, someone will lay turns down Superior’s South Face.  So often, in fact, that it’s a fairly common question to hear batted around at the bar; have you skied it?

However, I like to think that Ian Donovan and I not only skied the line, but we got on the line in near perfect conditions.  Because of its popularity, as I mentioned above, the face is skied in almost all conditions.  In many cases, the skiers who lay tracks down the face do so in such unstable conditions that I don’t hesitate to call them morons, fools, avalanche poodles, or all the above.  They’re likely unaware of the hazard to which they’re exposing themselves, or they just don’t care, both of which are unsustainable options.

(Sunrise on the ridge to Mt. Superior’s summit.)

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