Ogden Valley abundance...

I had three days to get after a project I am working on for Telemark Skier Magazine about Utah's Ogden Valley. My flight to Japan was fast approaching, I was way behind on getting ready, and my Dad and brother were flying in to Salt Lake City in order to hang out for a few days before I left. Needless to say I had a lot to attend to when you throw in my night job as well. Just a day in the life this time of year though. Kjell Ellefson, was coming into town to shoot the photos for the project and we only had three days to make something come together. 

^I set up an early morning rendezvous at Snowbasin for day one. I had scheduled two days to get some shots there, and the conditions were going to be tough. We had received a lot of wind, and I was worried about windslabs up in the higher elevations. Sunrise on the peaks was a good start to the effort.

^In typical Snowbasin style though, we prevailed. I had a great crew that included Kjell, myself, Matt Shortland, Loren Griswold on day one, and Andrew Schauer on day two.  In the photo above, Matt, is making a big fast swooper turn with a glorious looking inversion setting in behind Snowbasin's Sister Chutes. After two days we had enough in the bag to be able to feel good about this aspect of the project. We will still need to shoot some more, but we at least have a good start.

^It is easy to smile on the drive home after two days of getting after it with some success. This project still has a lot left to wrap it up, but a good start is comforting. A view like this on the drive home doesn't hurt the spirit either.

^A good day in the mountains must be served with a hard nights work in the bucket. Deicing airplanes suits me because it runs in lock step with the winter state of mind I reside in this time of year. The deicers are the only other folks I know outside the ski world that pay as much attention to storm cycles and the intricacies of precipitation. They don't look at me like I am speaking spanish when I start going off on the factors that accelerate the faceting process. They know that frosty wings are created by the same factors. 

^On day three of the shoot we traveled over to Powder Mountain. These tracks in the morning came via the Adventure Center at Powder Mountain. Chad Hart runs the program at the Adventure Center. What a fantastic program it is too. Powder Mountain offers up the guided backcountry experience to all levels of snow riders with Snowcat Powder Safari tours, Single Ride Cat Skiing, and Guided Inbounds and Backcountry tours. From the die hard touring monster to the weekend warrior, there is something for everyone to get their powder fix. I had a four-man crew with myself, Kjell, Andrew and local Ben Geiger. We scored these glorious tracks shown above in Powder's guided skin and ski terrain. Our guides, Brian Pollick, and Chad loaded us into the Lightning Ridge single ride cat and took us out for these goods. A short skin back to the ridge, and we rallied another lap before lunch. 

^Chad treated us to some delicious burgers for lunch in the Powder Keg, and we talked over the afternoon plan. He arranged the Powder Safari cat to load us up at the top of the Hidden Lake chairlift. The afternoon would be the grand tour of the vast accessible acreage of endless powder. Powder Mountain never ceases to amaze me when I get a clear day to see all of the skiable acreage they have. It is just so vast, and so fresh. Rolling around in the cat skiing terrain brought it home even more to me just how much terrain there is at Powder Mountain. Now with the Adventure Center backcountry program they are finally able to properly offer all of it to the people. 

^Chad capped off our day in perfect fashion with a "Sunset Safari" cat tour. Right after we skied some clean powder through Mary's Bowl the cat picked us up, and rolled us up to an amazing overlook. As the sun began to set on our day we were all high fives at the views. Each of us were snapping Instagram photos to brag to our friends that we were finishing out a day of untracked guided cat skiing with the best kind of sunset over high alpine terrain. As the cat rolled to deliver us back to the real world in the glow of the sunset and high spirits, we passed more and more untracked acreage. After all, it is called Powder Mountain for a reason. I could not have asked for a better finish to a three day shoot that was put together in crunch time fashion. Kjell was shortly off to Sweden, and Ben and I were heading to Japan. Time was short, but the Ogden Valley Wasatch provided. As usual.

Back in the high life again...

Cruising up Little Cottonwood Canyon at sunrise and the local radio station orders up Steve Winwood's, "Back in the High Life Again". It could not have been more appropriate. A dismal Utah winter last year forced me into a road warrior winter. Early October snows got my hopes up for a banner winter at home, just to see it all dissipate rather quickly. My expectations were no longer very high. Not on this particular day though. A few weeks back we had started receiving some significant snow. The base was becoming dependable, and the avalanche conditions were at least on the charts. I got invited by my long time touring partner, Ben Geiger, to join him and a friend of his, Scott Levine.  I have come to know Scott by reputation before ever exchanging a handshake. I was glad to finally get to put a face to a name.  As well as maybe soak up some knowledge from a guy who has been doing it a lot longer then me. I never pass up the chance to gain some influence from folks like Scott.      

^As Steve Winwood finished proclaiming my current place, back in the high in life, the sun was tickling Mt. Superior.  I geared up, and rendezvoused with Ben and Scott.

^We hit the skin path, and the scenes and spirits only got brighter.  Scott is all smiles in this photo with pillows still clinging to the trees, and blue skies on creamy peaks.  

^Ben and I were solving world problems as usual on the skin path, but never getting too serious to stop and take a look around. Most conversations were ending with our gratitude for our own situations that afford us the opportunities to be in places like the picture above.


^Ridge running and cautiously peering into the north facing terrain that was a bit more sketchy then we wished to test on that particular day.  That aspect was the prime target of the forecast that day, and most folks were avoiding them, including us.  For us, the southies were the name of the game.    

^These were not our lines down a beautiful sunny slope, but ours were pretty darn good too. We were stoked to watch these two fellas get some sweet action from across the ridge. Mostly because we knew we were in for more of the same all of our own in just a few moments.  

^Ben, "Let's go get our own now."

^After a glorious first run we wasted little time choosing our fate for lap number two. We made a plan, and got after it. Munching trails snacks as we stepped, and guzzling water between breaths.

^Scott is a talented guy that knows his way around the snow. I was pleased to get inside a pit with him to watch his style. His wisdom was obvious in his deliberateness. I love getting out with badasses like Scott in any hopes of gleaning some of there wisdom from them.  That is also the nice thing about great guys like Scott is that they are almost always willing to share if you just ask.

^Ben posed in front of our tracks on the last lap I was able to take before I had to run to work at my night job. Ben and Scott rallied for two or three more after I left. They are strong dudes on the skin path. Good guys to chase up to get into shape. Good guys to take backcountry risks with as well. Scott was a real treat to get out with, and learn to learn from a new perspective. I am looking forward to having more opportunities to do more of the same. As I gave out pole taps and "see ya laters" I was still humming the days anthem from the flashback stylings of Steve Winwood. However, as soon as I got to a wifi signal at work I was on iTunes downloading the soundtrack to my day, and reliving it in my headphones as I got down to the nightly grind.  "I'll be back in the high life again,..."