doing the equinox right on coalpit
March 22, 2010
Okay, I didn’t even know it was the first day of Spring Saturday, but in retrospect, we (me, rick, ben, jon, tyler, and mike–others were invited but found various reasons not to come. They chose poorly.) celebrated better than any pagan ritual could have managed.
By getting up at 3:55 in the AM. And then skiing the Coalpit Headwall.
But not before hiking for about 6 hours up White Pine, Red Pine, Maybird, and finally Hogum.
And THEN booting almost 2500 feet straight up lower Hypodermic Needle to North Thunder Mountain, and the top of the Coalpit Headwall.
The Coalpit Headwall is easily visible from Salt Lake City, especially as you drive south on the freeway from downtown (which I do, pretty much everyday). Just look up to the right of Little Cottonwood Canyon until you see the big U-shaped bowl, and look left of that to the giant north face in the shadow. It calls to you. Can you hear it?
It’s funny that on a day where the hike lasted 6 hours and the ski about an hour, I got the least good video and fewest good pictures. It’s because I was either too cold, too hot, too tired, or too scared to really operate machinery very well.
But here are some pics, and my Nora Ephron-level video (for those of you keeping track, that’s a few notches below the coveted “Scorcese-level”).
Once the sun came up, we found ourselves in the shadow of the Pfeiferhorn. I’m smiling weird because I’m losing feeling in my hand, and won’t get it back until we’re on the OTHER side of the Pfeiferhorn:
Also, I really want some of that Coke. And yes, glad you asked, that beenie I’m wearing WAS knit by a 90 year old woman in Alagna, Italy. I watched her knit it:
From the look of it, this is the main event, but turns out, we’re just dropping into Hogum Fork:
I don’t have any pictures of us booting up the Hypodermic Needle, because by then we were in the sun, had been hiking for 4 hours, and we were all in our own little pain caves. But here we are when we’ve finally reached the upper shoulder of North Thunder Mountain, Needle to one side, Coalpit to the other, and a short 15 minute boot to the summit. Unfortunately, when Tyler arrived here, he thought we were at the top. He’s in the green “top” getting ready to ski. I still feel bad about that.
Here’s a hijacked picture that shows the line we took up the Needle:
We’re at the top. Check out the backside of Lone Peak in the background. People ski that. Someday, you’ll read about me skiing that. But it is not this day.
Ben, enjoying the view (with a fairly large, if-you-fall-you-die drop his feet are hanging over):
And our line. From here we have a vertical mile of skiing to reach the car.
You can barely see Ben at the bottom of the main shot. You have to watch the video to appreciate it, but Ben made no more than 6 turns in that entire 1800 feet of fall line. Also, we read about a party dropping a cornice the day before, which initiated a pretty decent sized hard slab on this slope, so we specifically found the spot they did that, and skied on or near that slide path, to reduce our own pucker factor.
And here’s that video I’ve been babbling about. The gully at the bottom of Coalpit is an adventure all in its own, including a short rope-assisted drop around a waterfall, and some nasty bushwacking.
But in the end, nothing but smiles. Epic. I don’t want to do it every day, but maybe every week?