Scouting Terrain Pays Up

I had been scouting this particular section of the Wasatch Range on my own for the last three summers. You see, I live in Farmington, Utah. Right across the street from me is Farmington Canyon. I have been hiking this terrain with an eye to skiing it for the last three summers. However, the last few years the road has been closed to uphill vehicle traffic all year-round due to landslide issues. Thus, I have not been able to cash in on my summer explorations. The gate finally opened this spring. It was time to get up there and collect. Day one in the zone, and I had to trek it solo. Thus, I chose to explore some sheltered tree skiing for those days when the avalanche conditions on the big lines are just a bit too much. Solo missions are a little scary, but very good for the soul. I was excited to get up high to look around, and take it all in...

^The drive up is on a gnarly gravel road, but by the time they open it up to vehicles in the spring it is usually pretty well melted out. It is not for the faint of heart, but this is not my first rodeo. The area is snowmobile accessible, but I do not own one. I have been holding out in order to get a better feel for the terrain before I go buying an expensive machine to access it efficiently. Snowmobile accessible terrain is not as huge in the Wasatch as some other places. I just so happen to live right in the shadows of one such spot, but I have done well without one so far. However, as such, there are a lot of questions I need to answer before I go spending $10,000 on a machine and it's accessories.  

^The view on the drive was awesome.

^The long and winding gravel road ended at an intersection with the outlets still gated as I expected. I geared up and got ready to head out into what was were brand new mountains for me on skis. I know that many folks have done some skiing up here in the past, but not me. Anytime I come into somewhere new I ski it like no one has ever been there before. I enlist a ramping up strategy in which I bite off little bits at a time. This particular tour was about trying to find sheltered and treed slopes for more dangerous avalanche days. I had scouted some of these kinds of zones here in the summers passed, but now I finally had a chance to ski them.

^This zone pictured above is of a relatively longer slope with decent vegetation on it. It has a bit of a terrain trap run out and some good sized start zones just off the ridge. It is probably a great ride on most days, unless the avalanche conditions are pretty high. Then I'd probably stay off it.  

^This photo is a pretty wide view of a lot of the terrain, which includes Bountiful Peak. The high terrain is pretty sick stuff. Plenty of ridges and bowls with big chutes, cliff hucks, and all around dirty ass lines. The low terrain is littered with small treed slopes at pretty low angles. There is plenty of both "hero day" and "mellow day" kind of slopes in the area. That is what I was looking for. If I am going to purchase a sled to access this terrain, then I need to be able to ski it 30 or 40 days a season. That means I have to be able to ski it safely on days when the avalanche conditions are more dangerous. 

^In order to ski on more dangerous days requires finding the coveted sheltered high terrain that is heavily treed with smaller and lower angle slopes. In the photo above I was hiking out on Gold Ridge to get a look at just some of that kind of terrain. I was happy to find that my hopes based on my earlier summer scouting were totally confirmed. I was able to link up three relatively small and treed slopes right off the gravel road. They have varying severities of terrain trap run outs, but all of them are relatively good. I was pleasantly surprised with my explorations for the "mellow day" terrain. I found more of it then I expected.

^My lunch spot by this small creek was nestled between two of the quant slopes that could prove to be filled with a plentiful future of mellow meadow skipping for me. I sat and quietly ate my lunch as the soundtrack of the trickling water rang in my ears. I was in deep contemplation as to how I was going to try to talk my wife into letting me buy a new snowmobile. I have always known the larger terrain up there is good. Anyone with binoculars can see that from the small towns that surround this part of the Wasatch. However, now that the road had opened allowing me to get a better on-snow evaluation of the zone, my poor wife should be prepared for the onslaught of begging. Looks like I will have some honey-doo list overtime to do this summer. Fingers crossed. I guess the scouting missions and laboring has finally paid up. Interestingly enough though it seems it will be me having to do the paying up. Weird.