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:

group maybird 2

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:

straring at the coke

From the look of it, this is the main event, but turns out, we’re just dropping into Hogum Fork:

dropping into hogum

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.

coalpit shoulder

Here’s a hijacked picture that shows the line we took up the Needle:

hypo and ridge and coalpit

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.

lone peak backside

Ben, enjoying the view (with a fairly large, if-you-fall-you-die drop his feet are hanging over):

down coalpit

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.

down coalpit 2

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?

24 Responses to “doing the equinox right on coalpit”

  1. KanyonKris Says:

    Looks like a pagan ritual to me. Your beenie is the clincher – I’m sure that old Italian woman is a high priestess.

    The video looks good. Did you shoot that with your iPhone? If not, what camera did you use?

  2. Rick S. Says:

    It wasn’t half bad WITHOUT an ipod either….

  3. mark Says:

    I’m jealous. I know, I chose poorly, but I can still be jealous. Enough so to try and get a group together to do it again. Rob? Where’s Rob?

  4. Elden Says:

    I’ll be happy to assist you in choosing more exciting music for your videos. Just ask.

  5. evilbanks Says:

    that’s not epic………..that’s fucking epic.

  6. dug Says:

    brandon, i couldn’t have said it better.

    at least, not without getting in trouble with at least two of my kids.

  7. Nate Kingdon Says:

    I agree with Banks! Nice report, I actually like Beck. Good song choice. Kind of mesmerizing.

  8. Daren Says:

    Makes my Timp adventure look rather tame. Good work.

  9. tibiker Says:

    You’ve definitely got me in the shopping mode for backcountry gear now. That pagan ritual is my goal next year, that’s amazing. I also would gladly allow you to borrow my HD GoPro helmet cam anytime you want it.

  10. gbrown Says:

    Dug,
    Amazing… no… epic adventure. Thanks for documenting it so well. The video was better than that porn movie you lent my brother. Seriously good stuff.

  11. Simon Says:

    I feel somewhat emasculated when I compare this adventure with my own equinox celebration. It was the first equinox I ever skied with my 5-year-old daughter. We ripped the green runs at Solitude playing airplanes, cars, and follow the leader. We covered 800 vertical ft every run, and waited 2 minutes to ride the chair. A celebration is a celebration, right?

  12. Dave Says:

    Awesome adventure. Most porn videos have better music than this though. Snow looks great. Congrats on a huge adventure.

  13. Kendall Says:

    Great post and vid! We were over on Timp and like you had the place to ourselves.

    Wondering why you didn’t go up the needle proper on the ascent? The only time I did Coalpit we actually chose to ascend Hogum vs. the White to Red to Maybird to… method. It’s got it’s pluses and minuses.

    But I see your ascent route on the photo you went right before the choke on the needle. By design? Was the upper needle sketch looking? Curious is all.

    • dug Says:

      kendall, your timp line is a classic. love that line.

      we went right because there was a lot of snow there, and it looked easier. and i’d heard the upper needle could be sketchy, especially in a low snow year.

      also, the guys in front of me went right, and no way i was setting my own booter.

      while going up the Y would be shorter and faster, the long way around is incredibly scenic. i generally prefer scenic. it’s one of the main reasons i’m out there.


  14. […] so, feeling rather left out after missing out (due to my own flawed decision making skills) on two spectacular and capstoning tours last week – including that afore mentioned southwest face – I came to the […]


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