I haven’t figured out how to ski Spring snow in the Wasatch. In the Pacific Northwest, spring skiing is easy. The spring season is long, the snowpack is deep, the nights bring a strong refreeze, and the days a predictable cycle of softening and great skiing.
Not so in the Wasatch. Here, it seems, as soon as the sun and daytime temperatures become strong enough to consolidate the snow, so to do night time temperatures rise to above freezing, making for an unreliable refreeze and prevalent gloppy, unconsolidated, isothermal disaster snow.
Still, clear nights seem to do the trick. A little breeze, a temperature around freezing, and an open sky is enough to freeze up the snow surface and permit some exploration. Not to waste a sunny Monday, I called up Noah for an earlyish start and a look at the East Face of Twin, a line that had been on my mind for a few weeks.
For better or for worse, we were a bit lazy, and didn’t get up into Broad’s Fork early enough to make East Twin seem like a safe idea. In retrospect, we were probably just put off by the enormous piles of debris from glide avalanches off of the Blue Ice slabs. We made a game-time decision to try something shadier and headed up towards the saddle below Dromedary peak.
From the Saddle, we threw skis on our packs and headed up the North ridge, hoping to bag the summit and perhaps find a skiable line. The snow was surprisingly suitable– the Northerly aspect had protected it some and it was largely soft and consolidated. In a few places, just a foot or so of snow sat atop rock slabs, but it was willing to stay put.
The summit was much smaller than expected. Perhaps the size of a sprinter van. The Wasatch around us was beautiful, and we lingered for a bit. We’d entertained the idea of launching onto the East Face, but the snow there was sun-crusted, and a google photo showed a cliff band in the middle that would ~probably~ go without a rope, but lacking a cord, we took a pass. The North ridge offered a logical route and protected snow.
Noah took point down the initially breakable NE facing snow, onto the narrow lane of 40-degree snow on the due North, and finally sneaking a shady passage back to the saddle on choice, soft snow. The exposure was pleasantly exciting and the skiing was just fine.
From the saddle, we decided to go have a look at the East Face of Twin and zipped over into the sun to have a peek and ski the corn snow below it. The sun had softened it just-so, and the turns were good. Below, we quickly snuck through the kill zone below Blue Ice, gaining an intimate appreciation for how small and easily-crushable the human skeleton could be.
The ski out of Broad’s Fork was predictable Wasatch hiking-trail-covered-in-pinecones spice skiing. By the time we got back to our cars at 11 am it felt like summer in the valley. The access here still amazes me.
…and the weather. It’s now snowing in town and dropping another two feet up high. I’ll be working nights this week, maybe an ideal situation for some morning tours.