ode to reed and benson

January 5, 2011

I realize writing up a ski day from Saturday the following Wednesday is a bit lame.

But I also realize that for most of you, you know, since I don’t actually KNOW you, well, you don’t know if I’m actually skiing at all, or if I’m just making this s$%t up.

Anyway. Saturday I hiked and skied. And it was spectacular. In fact, I’m going to call it one of my top five all time ski days, hereafter known as the Reed Benson Tour.

As in, we did all the northeast facing shots (not ALL, but all of the main shots) off of the Reed Benson ridge into Days fork.

We’re enjoying one of the deepest, stable-ist early season snowpacks I’ve ever seen in my decade of touring. Last week we got about 3 feet of snow on top of an already great base.

So, Saturday morning, an entire passel of us met at the Church across from Alta, and headed up to Flagstaff. Passels tend to sort naturally, and this passel was no exception. By the time some of us arrived at the ridge, some others of us had already dropped into Days. Which is as it should be. Because some of us had miles to go before we slept.

From the bottom of Days a portion of the passel went back up and down to the Church, and the rest of us went up to do Main Days, the next shot to the north.

Jamie wore his helmet cam, and posted a video of his Main Days shot to Youtube.

I know, I know, it looks like it’s totally flat. Well, it’s not. You’ll just have to trust me. Helmet cams do funny things to slope angles.

More Main Days:


rb paul dropping banana days


rb jon dropping banana days


rb me dropping banana days

At the bottom of Main Days, me, Mark, Paul, and Jon stopped just short of the flats, to skin up the next ridge for Banana Days.

Oh, except Jon couldn’t stop and went ahead and skied the last pitch to the flats. Jon, hope you enjoyed skinning back up that thing. Ouch.

At the top of Banana Days, we reached the best skiable chutes just as the wasatch powderbird helicopter started dropping groups of skiers on the summit.

Go ahead and ask me, How satisfying was it to drop into Banana Days moments before the heli skiers?

Well, I’ll tell you, I might have joyfully flashed them some hand gestures and said some things I’m not proud of. All of which was drowned out in the helicopter wash. So it’s as if I never did it, right?

But I still meant it. We were in that drainage for an hour, and the entire time, the helicopter was shuttling groups to the top of that ridge. I felt like I was back in Nam.

But enough about me and my flashbacks. Here is Banana Days.

Me, killing time, after I cut the chute and was waiting for Mark to drop:

rb me killing time in days draw

Mark dropping:

rb mark dropping days draw

And Paul, disappearing:

rb paul dropping days draw

The final skin up to Days Draw was actually really pleasant. Mostly because Paul had forgotten to bring water, so I gave him my full Gatorade bottle and said “okay then, this means you break trail.”

I was only half joking, but Paul is a very serious guy. And he broke trail all the way up. Thus, it was very pleasant.

Jon shot some really sweet video of me dropping into Days Draw.

Okay, I lied, it wasn’t that awesome. But the shot itself was awesome. Here’s the view back at that damned heli, still dropping skiers off on Banana Days:

rb top of draw heli on bananas

The view from the top of Days Draw into Cardiff:

rb top of draw view

Each of the four lines was better than the last. Scads of fresh snow. (What a word, “scads.” It sounds like a word my Mom would use. Well, now I’m my Mom.) No tracks. Four big drops. So, so good.

I’m telling you. If you don’t do this, all I can say is WHY?

21 Responses to “ode to reed and benson”

  1. Nate Says:

    Why indeed? Did you schedule your appt with the Bishop yet?

  2. Paul Says:

    Dug, I linked to your blog from Elden. I’m a long time reader across there and have been subscribed to your feed for a while now. Since you’re a skier I figure you might be able to help. I’m looking for accommodation for four of us in SLC Feb 19th – Feb 26th in a condo somewhere without breaking the bank. We’ll have a car so no big deal where we stay, and we’ll be driving to different resorts. Who should I contact for rentals?

    Long shot I know, but I’d appreciate the help if you can provide it.

    • dug Says:

      paul, as you might have guessed, i don’t rent a lot of condos in the salt lake area, but greatrentals.com seems to list some that might work.

      if you’re looking to ski mostly frontside (snowbird, alta, solitude, brighton) then stay in salt lake city. if you’re looking to ski mostly backside (canyons, park city, deer valley) then stay in park city.

  3. Grizzly Adam Says:

    1/1/11 will live in on in memory….

  4. Daren Says:

    We saw your tracks before dropping into the Hallway. A great day indeed. We managed 5 big drops into 5 different drainages. And yes, we mocked the heli’s as well.

  5. KanyonKris Says:

    Looks incredibly fun.

    Why not? Got no gear, and it’s expensive. If you’d leave your garage door open tonight, problem solved.

    Reed & Benson sounds like a cigarette brand from the 50s.

    • dug Says:

      kris, that’s a non-starter. i know how much your bikes (plural) cost. and i know you ski. that is, you have skis.

      you can get into this for much less money than you can get into serious biking. and once you’re in, it’s just gas to the trailhead.

      • KanyonKris Says:

        Yeah, if I really wanted to do it, I’d find a way. But still hard for me to cough up $1000+ just to get started, or am I wrong here?

        • Flyin' Ute Says:

          I think you can buy your gear for less.
          skiis with skins and Marker duke bindings.
          on ksl for about $400
          Boots-use your down hill boots- $0
          Poles- downhill-$0
          Beacon-used BCA on ksl- $150
          Probe- used ksl- $20
          Shovel-used ksl-$20
          Pack-you must have a pack for $0 or I bought a used avilung for $100 on you guessed it-ksl.

          Total cost for a ticket to ride-$590 bucks. Best thing money can buy. Wish I’d done it sooner.

  6. Mark Says:

    I need to book one of those heli trips! 🙂

    • dug Says:

      that’s a good call, mark. only $1200 a day. six runs.

      i’ll be waving at you from the top of the reed benson ridge. i wear mittens. it doesn’t mean i’m using that finger.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Only a few hundred dollars more than my season pass! If only it gave me 50 days too. Guess i’ll have to pass on the heli. Bummer.

        What mittens do you use? My fingers get cold in my gloves all the time so I’ve been thinking about a 3 finger glove or mitten.

        • Flyin' Ute Says:

          I’ve got the Hestra 3 finger glove and it is super warm. I love it.

        • dug Says:

          actually, i use black diamond gloves for the up, and big black diamond mercury mittens for the down. i only use light gloves in the warmest conditions.

          i’m not what you’d call a hardman.

  7. Flyin' Ute Says:

    My brother started a silly Polar Bear Plunge tradition 4 years ago for New Years Day.

    So, I missed this epic day so I could jump into a freezing cold pool of water and defend my title of King Polar Bear by staying in the water for 4 minutes and beating all the challengers.

    I’m not going to miss the skiing again.

    Time to start a better tradition.

  8. bikemike Says:

    My Ode to Snowy Mountains,

    Today it rained and wet the leaves
    It was almost 72 degrees
    Tomorrow in Florida
    It will not snow
    Alas, i am sad

  9. Jonnie J Says:

    All I can say is Amen and Hallelujah. Dug is a great writer but you can’t give that day justice through the written word. Loved that day even though I was totally cooked by the end. Ya and the reason I skied the second shot all the way down is because I simply couldn’t stop. Mid thigh powder does funny things to the mind. It also does funny things to the legs on the way back up!

  10. […] But it was also the best skiing of the season—so far. Deep, creamy, and plentiful. There were ear-to-ear grins all across the Wasatch. In fact, skiing fresh powder has an effervescent quality about it that […]

  11. […] An Ode to Reed and Benson. […]

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