deja vu (update, which is a weird thing, right?)

April 16, 2009

[I’ve updated with Ben dropping the cliff and Mark’s video of Ben’s front flip.]

My third post ever, just over a year ago, was about skiing Scotties Bowl in early April in fantastic conditions.

This was last year:

scotties last year

Well, this morning we skied Scotties in even better conditions, so good we lapped the upper cirque three times. In this economy.

We almost didn’t get to ski it though. We gathered at the Little Cottonwood parking lot at 5:15 instead of 5:30, because the UDOT website said they were bombing the North side of the canyon (for avalanche control work) and were closing the road at 5:45. We wanted to head to the very top of the canyon and hike up Grizzly Gulch where they don’t ever bomb, and maybe ski down into the Catherines Area of Alta, since Alta had closed that half of the mountain, making it perfect for backcountry beaters like us.

But when we got to the Grizzly parking area, the UDOT guys came over and said “Hey, we’re bombing! White Pine only is open. And you’d better hurry, they’re closing the road down.” My guess is they weren’t actually bombing Grizzly, but there was no time to argue.

We raced back down below Snowbird to get to White Pine and Scotties, but the gate was already closed, and guarded by a uniformed posse. Ben jumped out and sweet talked the guy into letting us down to White Pine, where ANOTHER UDOT guy came and yelled at us. “Don’t leave this parking lot while we’re bombing!”

We get it, you don’t want to kill us with your howitzers. Well, maybe you DO want to, but that would look bad on your resumes.


See that lip and cliff to the left of where I’m heading in this picture from last year? Here, I’ll show you. Imagine that I am Ben. Which is a stretch, since Ben is the best skier I’ve ever skied with, and I’m a putz. But work with me here:

scotties last year ben cliff drop

This morning, I was below the cliff, having just skied the chute to the right, and had Ben’s camera. I took pictures of Ben dropping the cliff with Ben’s camera, but the chances of getting those pictures from Ben before the Fourth of July are the same as me ever dropping that cliff. So you get this little modified picture instead.

UPDATE: Ben sent me the pictures already. It’s time to walk to Missouri people.


scotties ben cliff

And halfway down:

scotties ben cliff 3

And, landing it (you may have to trust me):

 scotties ben cliff 2

On the first lap, Ben did a front flip off a cornice on the other side of the trees. Mark has video of that, I think. If he posts it, I’ll link to it.

UPDATE. Here’s the front flip (which he mostly lands, but again, you may have to trust me):

Here, a couple lame pics from my camera. Adam and Aaron, who are vying for alphabetical pole position, might have pictures too. For my birthday I want a new camera. Something nice. Now you know.

Here’s Mark, dropping in the East side of the cliffs. The snow didn’t suck. 4 feet this week I think, 700 inches this year. That’ll do.

scotties mark east

If we end the season with today (we won’t), I’ll be happy. Here I am being happy:

scotties me bottom

See how happy I am? I’m very happy.


22 Responses to “deja vu (update, which is a weird thing, right?)”

  1. Rick S Says:

    If this is global warming, I’m all for it. Probably the best snow year I can remember. Worst early bike season but best late snow season. I’m torn.

  2. Grizzly Adam Says:

    Was that an intentional “Incredibles” reference there at the end?

    And yeah, what an amazing day.

  3. Grizzly Adam Says:

    Oh also, see how the cliff he dropped has that sharp little up hill to it? Well this morning I was wathcing him from just about the same spot that your photo was taken from. Ben skis down, hits that uphill tick and stops. See, at that point most people would have said, ‘oh well…’. Not him. He scoots up to the edge and drops it anyway, with no speed or momentum.

  4. mark Says:

    I’m not walking to Missouri. Have you seen how flat it is there?

  5. JB Says:

    Nice pics.
    Dug, do you know what the Austrian/swiss/french/ski guru term for the snow that comes down in little frozen balls? That’s what it is doing here today in Estes and we are having a debate here at work since there is not much to do as the lumber business continues to be AWOL.

  6. bikemike Says:

    the first picture with the drawing, kinda, sorta, with the dotted lines, looks like you were drawing him peeing of the edge…cool.
    i’m sure the weee was meant to say, peeeee.

  7. Aaron Says:

    I am totally kicking Adam’s ass in alphabetical pole position.

  8. Tom in CO Says:

    So, I look at these pictures with some envy, though I probably shouldn’t since the skiing in my neck of the woods is pretty great. The problem is, I only ski the piste (how’s that for a pretentious word). It seems like a lot of prep to ski bc without risking death by avalanche. Yet, none of your dawn patrol reports talk about on site av’y risk assessment. Do you know the terrain so well that you don’t need to? Maybe being Mormon gives you special powers – if so i’m likely to convert :-). I have no problem getting up early to skin up a mountain, I just need to figure out how to not spend an hour digging a pit and testing the snow.

    • dug Says:

      hi tom. get off the piste.

      being mormon hasn’t helped so far. wait, actually, in the almost 10 years i’ve been doing this, i have never initiated, been caught in, or even had a close call with an avalanche. so really, maybe being mormon IS the ticket. who knows?

      here’s how we do it–
      1. i read the avalanche report every single day. literally. whether i’m going out or not, i ALWAYS read the report. as a result, i always know what the snow is doing, and i always know which aspects and elevations are on or off.

      2. i avoid danger. i stay home on high danger days, and on considerable danger days i stay on low angle slopes and in the trees. i’m a pussy.

      3. we go where we know. that is, we try to keep it predictable. for a place with a crazy embarrassment of riches of backcountry (and on piste) skiing, we have regular spots that tend to behave predictably.

      4. in the event of sketchiness, we either just turn around, or we dig a pit. but digging a pit isn’t really very interesting to write about. of course, you may say that none of what i write about is interesting to write about. but then i guess you wouldn’t be here now, would you? we also give every slope we ski a pretty heavy ski cut. that is, cut across the top of the slope from point of safety to point of safety.

      5. the wasatch is not colorado. your snowpack is thin and sketchy. ours tends to be deep and stable. you know. generally.

      • Tom in CO Says:

        Snowpack thin and sketchy in CO…I think the words you were looking for were light and fluffy…Thanks for the info. Looks like it is a long process to take advantage of the bc safely. I guess I better get started.

        • mark Says:

          No, Tom, I’m pretty sure he meant thin and sketchy. We’re snow snobs around here.

          Favorite quote ever while touring: guy I’m with telling us about going out with some friends from Colorado the weekend before. “By the time we got to the top, they were pretty cooked. They don’t get out much because the skiing in Colorado pretty much sucks.”

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