timp east ridge (finally)
May 30, 2011
Me n Rob have been talking about the East ridge of Timp for a long time. Years. We like doing something kind of huge (huge for us) to cap off the year. Last year it was Cold Fusion on Timp. The gigantic snow totals for this year warranted something less Spring like and more huge like for this year’s finale. And this year Steve was the only other crew member who hadn’t hung up his skis already.
Here it is in all its glory:
Rob took this picture from the bottom, after we were back on dirt (but miles from the car), in the swampy area just below Stewart Falls, and just above Sundance. The line is from the peak center of the picture, and down left along the cliffs, then down the chutes, then skirting Stewart Falls and down to Sundance. Sounds simple enough, right?
I’ve read some great accounts of East Ridge descents as I’ve lusted after this line–accounts by real skiers and mountaineers (as opposed to punters like us). Wait, I was going to say, they didn’t mention laughable misadventures like we had, but then I remembered–one account included Jared going off a cliff right behind his brother. So maybe we should have expected some trouble. “You give HIM some trouble.” Sure enough, we ran into trouble. But the pic above was taken from below, AFTER we skied it. So it all worked out, right?
We got a crack of 6am start from Aspen Grove. The route was up Primrose Cirque to Emerald Lake, up the glacier (it’s a fun word to use, even if it’s not a glacier) to the saddle overlooking Utah Valley, then boot the southern portion of the Timp Massif to the top of the east ridge, and down past Stewart Falls to the car we left at Sundance.
The weatherman said partly cloudy and 60s in the valley. For us, the sun came out early and late, but for the entire time above about 10,o00 feet, we had heavy clouds and nasty winds. So we had that going for us. Which was nice.
We didn’t see a single other person on the mountain, from start to finish. That felt weird.
Rob took lots of pictures, and I’m going to just lay them out here in order. I like what Rob does with a camera.
I brought my Flip for the up and the Contour goggle cam for the down. Unfortunately, since I’ve mounted the Contour on my bike helmet, I’ve misplaced the goggle mount. I brought along some tape to attach the camera to my goggles, but the hurricane force wind and freezing fingers kept me from executing on that. So all I’ve got is Flip footage. I’ve got a lot of it though. I’ll be sorting through it this week, and post the video when, you know, I get around to it. Someone send me one.
For now, pics.
We got on snow very quickly, maybe five minutes in.
Me and Steve, chatting it up in the sun in the Primrose Cirque. What they call in a marathon, “the stupid miles.”
Climbing the lower cirque with a funky sky behind us.
Rob getting in on the action.
Too firm to skin, too soft to boot.
Steve taking a turn at the front.
Me, taking a turn at the back.
Nearing 10,000 feet, top of the cirque. It got steeper.
Me n Steve, below the building size cornice at the saddle, Utah Lake in the background.
The awesome main massif of Timp.
The transition to booting at the top. Steve’s face looks like we all feel.
Heading toward that far summit and the east ridge.
Rob on top of the east ridge.
Steve goes first. About 5,000 feet to go.
The snow was both punchy and very firm for the upper 1,000 feet. Is that possible?
Regardless of conditions, we were happy to be there. Until later. Later I went into “no one talks to me” mode.
Steve got cliffed out a bit south of this chute and had to boot back out a bit, so Rob and I left him. Just for a bit. He caught up.
Here comes Steve, safe and sound.
We did have a little excitement down below the cliff bands. Steve above the crown, notice Rob’s tracks where he skied off it.
More chutes. It’s a looong run.
Steve in yet another chute. The snow is changing. I can smell it in the air. Or whatever.
Unfortunately our completely unanimous group decision took us skier’s right of Stewart Falls. It cliffs out. But not before you think it won’t. And not before you bushwhack to this waterfall, crawl around behind it, and down climb below it.
See how much I loved that waterfall traverse? After Rob down climbed another hundred yards only to report cliffs everywhere, we climbed back around it. At least I wasn’t Rob, down climbing and up climbing. That would have been worse.
Finally below the falls. Skier’s LEFT was the correct answer. LEFT.
And, there it is again. So good. And so far. But, you know. So good.
We had some heinous bush whacking down here. As in, remove skis, huck them through downed scrub, follow, huck again, etc. And then a few miles of dirt road back to Sundance. But that’s the price you pay for epic.
Oh, and I’ve mentioned this before, but I really love Sundance. So much. LOVE them.
We weren’t hiking. We were skiing.
And, finally, some real food to get me back on track.
Next year, epic-er. Who’s with me?