don't call it a comeback...

Never before have I been so nervous for a low angle glade loaded with new snow.  I stood quietly for a moment above the mellow line I had chosen to be my first turns of the season.  It was my first mental challenge coming back from my most severe injury.  My mother will testify to the fact that I have been crashing and burning my whole life.  The local clinic probably thought my parents were beating me up because of the frequency of our visits.  I've broken over a baker's dozen bones, countless muscle and tendon injuries, knock outs and concussions to boot.  Needless to say, I have always bounced back, and I intend to do more of the same this winter.  Everything felt significant from my morning pack up, to the drive, to the skin ascent, and then just before the drop in.

^My own little tailgate party.  There were a good amount of folks getting out and getting after it.  Alta looked like it had been open all morning with Collins chair running.  It was good to see.
^This was a nice "winter is here" moment.  We have a little more precipitation coming Saturday that will hopefully be snow up high.  Last I heard it could be warm.  Temperatures are forecasted to pick up next week as well, but it is hard to believe that we will loose this snowpack.  

^On the skin up it was looking better and better.  It was a game of balancing snow depth, aspect, and a the rockiness of the underlying terrain.  I chose a little northy in Grizzly Gulch with an additional factor in mind, my health and strength.  I took my "half that" strategy for rehabing. In this strategy I ask myself what I feel like I can do today, and then I do half that.  So far it is serving me well.

^Looks good, huh?

^Then I did it. It was a great walk, and a good test of my strength of body and mind.  Once I got my head right and I got in, all things faded away.  I was back in the moment.  This top section was a bit rocky, and I took it real slow.  Where the turns disappear the slope rolls over more north into an open clearing that delivered me to the float.  Those few deep weightless powder turns in that clearing were transcendent.  I was so happy to be back in the saddle, that I turned into the mad man laughing at the trees.  I did one more lap, and then called it a day.  I think I will go ahead and call it a "good" day.

dramatic seasonal shift, welcome...

It certainly seems that winter has arrived in dramatic fashion in the Wasatch. The change happened fast. At least as far as any snow rider is concerned, winter is here. I have been itching for it for a while. Now I find myself trying to suppress my urges.  The salty older dog in me is trying to hold down the urges to get out in it. He knows that this needs time to settle out and fill in the cracks.  Besides it was still fall just a couple days ago.  

^It was just a few days ago that Murphy and I were up scouting new terrain for the season that we were looking forward to. It was warm enough for Murphy to want to be playing in the creek. She was getting after it that day. Maybe she knew something I didn't.

^Even up at like 9,500 feet the weather was still pretty warm. I was scouting a zone up in this bowl that will receive killer morning light. There are cabins down in the basin of this bowl. Would love to gain this from the doorstep of one of those cabins on a cold clear morning for first light turns. 

^I was fortunate enough to have good luck in timing. As I arrived to work on Saturday I was able to snap this pick of Old Man Winter arriving in Utah. This was the front of the first storm to arrive in this series of waves of precipitation smashing into the Wasatch. I felt blessed to be witness to his arrival. I found myself sitting outside in the weather in full rain gear on my airplane gate.

^This morning the clouds lifted for a little while and the foothills showed us what they've been up to.  The snow line here is probably around 5,000 feet or so. It got pretty cold last night so the line dropped down quite a bit. This is a pretty dramatic one. The resorts could see 20-40 inches by Wednesday morning. I have yet to get up in it to check out the composition of this stuff. Hopefully it is some good basal snow for the setup of a spectacular winter. It certainly feels that way from where I am. However, my emotional bias should be accounted for. Feels so good it hurts.

more scouting terrain...

I have been scouting this area for two years in the off season, and I have been telling my oldest tour partner, Ben Geiger, about this area for just as long. I still have not gotten up to explore it in the winter, but this is the year. Ben and I are flirting with going without a season pass this winter, and simply earning our turns all year. If we did that this area would prove more and more valuable. This zone has skiable terrain for any type of day. Even the gnarly high danger days could be mitigated out in this zone. I probably will get a weekday pass, but it is good to scout with no pass in mind.  I am pumped to finally put all this scouting to work and make this zone our private ski resort. Pretty much.

^Here is Ben pointing out a route that we both agreed would be a good place to start in exploring this area. It is a lot of walking, but the long shots are money. There is an endless supply of fantastic skiing out here. We were like kids in a candy store going from bowl to bowl and ridge to ridge.

^The views from the top of the most prominent peak are spectacular. I can only imagine the shots and photos we will be able to get from this zone. The sunsets over the great Salt Lake from this zone will be so good looking that I have no doubts that we can get some work done up here.

^Our friend here decided to come see what we were up to. I think she was a bit irritated that we were scoping her zone. Murphy was giving her the what for from the back of the truck as well. Get'er Murph. 

^A sneak peek at one of the zones in our new playground. This is a East and Northeast facing bowl on the East face of the range that we have been looking at. There are five or six bowls just like this one that litter the eastern slope of this range. We could ski this range for decades and never get to it all.

^Now this is the South Southeast face that rounds out the other side of the bowl pictured above. These lines would blow up pink in the sunrise and make for some killer photos and film. I could make a whole career up here and never get the same shots twice. That is what I am talking about.

^Ben and Murphy are taking in the finer aspects of life from a perch like this. I could never get paid a dime and still be a happy man doing my work in places like this. I guess that is why they don't pay us very much money to lead this lifestyle. I get bonus checks in the form of this. Oh well, I'll take it.

^Murphy likes it too. 

^More views of the lake and the sunset potential up here. I know the photographers I work with would be salivating over this zone. I know there are very few skiers up here, and even less photographers and filmers if any have done much shooting up here. That is what is so nice about the area. Snowmobilers get out here a good amount, but they are not getting into the same terrain that we are, and we have the benefit of the access that the machines can provide. Sounds like win/win to me.