All Good in Low Tide

Low Tide. It is a catchy phrase in the ski world to explain thin coverage. As in, no snow. It is a problem for a variety of reasons. The obvious coverage concerns, but the future avalanche implications also become paramount with new storms. As I write this, Northern Utah just received those new storms, and the avalanche curtains are indeed coming down out there. The low tide conditions leading into these storms was long and difficult, but I tried my best to make the best use of it I could. Despite all the glorious photos and Instagram posts there is actually a tiresome amount of work involved in what I do. I have to do it all at some point. So when the snowpack is thin, I might as well catch up on office work, training, scouting terrain, and holidays... oh yeah... holidays.

^I am a backcountry ski guide with Ogden, Utah based,
Bear House Mountain Guiding. This picture above is the crew taking over a local Salt Lake City coffee shop as we ventured south for some training. The Ogden Wasatch was still to thin to even fake it.

^We found some good terrain to make it work for us though in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Brighton. It was good to get out and work on some skills, as well as get to know the Bear House crew better. 

^Even though the skiing wasn't any good the fitness and skills practice still needs to get worked to get ready for when the storms finally do come. Bear House is permitted to guide a large swath of terrain in the Wasatch and that includes the Cottonwood Canyons in Salt Lake City as well as the Ogden Wasatch so it is good to get out in Salt Lake City too.

^Part of the crew skirts the lake toward some classic Cottonwood Canyons terrain. The coverage is obviously lacking, but the rocky terrain still worked for some training purposes.

^Anchors, ropes, etc.

^I also tried to be super diligent about attempting to bang out as much office work as I could while the high pressure persisted. I do have a certain load of computer time required to make this ship sail, and often that means slipping laptop time into the cracks of my schedule. Here I have a breakfast meeting with two of my favorite boys while I crank out a little due diligence. I am an intense guy, and I have to stop and smell the roses from time to time amidst the madness. These two boys are gonna grow up fast, so I am told, and I really want to make sure I am still as present as I can be. I have a lot of work to do indeed, and I am really not so good at the balance yet, but I value it and am determined to do my best. Loosing a year with Amos in his cancer fight was a huge ordeal that threw a wrench into a lot of things in my family's lives, but it also gave us pause, reflection, and extreme gratitude. Even as I work through this delectable breakfast of plastic grub I do my best to be attentive and gracious to my waiter. He lost track of what he was doing a lot, but he was adorable company and the little one on the floor kept pulling himself up on the table and peeking at me!

^I also got a chance to poke around in the rocks with some dear friends of mine, Shaun and Weston Deutschlander. These two run Inspired Summit Adventures in Park City, Utah. They are long time strategic partners of my company, Vertical Integration, and it was good to talk shop with them while working our way through some terrain we plan to work in.  

^Weston scrambling.

^Shaun working her way through tighter then usual switchbacks. 

^What would typically be a chute was a dirty boot pack to get up to some snowfields that actually held some coverage. 

^Shaun spaces Weston out across a slope in this picture above. 

^This classic Wasatch cirque was looking rough. Once the storms come it is gonna be a bit of a gong show out here for a little while until things start to settle out. I will probably avoid this one for a bit personally. I will be in Japan most of January so hopefully that is enough time.

^We did manage to find a couple smooth turns. Not many of them, but they were glorious in the moment! It did feel pretty good. Weston snapped this picture above of me as I gently skipped by. 

^Weston works his way slowly through the gully chute with the coverage rather evident. Makes for an interesting photo though. 

^The Ogden Wasatch was shaping up a bit differently then the neighbors to the south. The snowpack had a few less layers and the latest storms fell largely on bare to nearly bare ground. This will aid the avalanche scenario in Ogden a bit, but it will still be rather sketchy with the new snow. I took advantage of the access through Snowbasin though to get up on the Mt. Ogden ridge line to poke around a bit to see what was going on before the new storms arrived. 

^Always a good view. 

^I found a spot to make some slow gentle turns too. The tours have been all about fitness and beta, but it is a little bonus to make some slow wiggles and giggles too. 

^What I found gave me hope for the season, and left me more optimistic for the snowpack then I expected. It will still be difficult for a while after the new storms, but not quite as bad as I had thought before I got a chance to get up there and dig around into what is going on. 

^Just before the new storm I got out on a fun little meadow skip just outside Snowbasin's early season boundary and actually got it pretty well skier compacted before the wind and new snow came in. I had hoped I could aid the situation, and to my pleasant surprise, it actually worked out pretty well when the new snow came. 

^My lunch-time bench-seat the next day during a break in the powder skiing. The small sheltered, treed, and low angle slope held up throughout the dense new snow. I was able to have a fun day making more slow wiggle and giggle turns on a relatively safe slope with the higher elevations still sketchy and suspect. For me now-a-days, that is just as good as getting a huge line used to be. A quiet lonely day on a small meadow skipper slope with smooth powder and stability? Yeah, I will take that any day. 

So although the winter has been slow to start, I am fine with it. I worked on other things, and got ready as best I could. I worked on sharpening the skills in my kit, got a feel for the set-up, worked on some fitness, and then enjoyed Christmas with my crew. Watching a classic Charlie Brown Christmas with my oldest boy on my lap, my wife holding our baby boy in the rocking chair in the window with a Mt. Ogden alpenglow sunset, and everything is just fine. As I said, as I write this, the snow has arrived finally in a substantial way and the winter is kicking off. The snowpack will need to settle, and I will leave for Japan soon, but everything comes in time, and I am all good... with whatever comes.