tanners again

May 6, 2013

Tanners is maybe my favorite chute in Little Cottonwood Canyon. And even though it’s been a crappy snow year, Tanners skied like butter, totally filled, creamy corn, and the approach was as good as I’ve ever seen it.

Also Steve almost died.

I’ve taken some heat for taking noobs on difficult hikes. (Difficult for normal people–not for those supermen who bag 10 peaks a day in tights.) But Steve snowboards and doesn’t have a splitboard, so a straight-up booter like Tanners is perfect. I mean, sure, it’s 4,000 feet of vertical, and the skiing is a touch steep at the top. But mostly it’s a straightforward endeavor.

Apart from over turning a bit on his first backcountry turn ever and then sliding and tomahawking about a quarter mile down the upper chute, Steve totally nailed it. And he says he wants to go again. So win/win.

Some pics, then a video.

Hobear negotiating the water hazard

Hobear negotiating the water hazard

Rob n Steve enjoying finally reaching the sun.

Rob n Steve enjoying finally reaching the sun.

Hobear says it's getting steep

Hobear says it’s getting steep

It's definitely getting steep

It’s definitely getting steep

Crawling the last 10 of 4,000 feet.

Crawling the last 10 of 4,000 feet.

Hobear ripping the first of 4,000 feet

Hobear ripping the first of 4,000 feet

Me enjoying a bit of the picturesque ridge

Me enjoying a bit of the picturesque ridge

Me n Hobear enjoying the sun

Me n Hobear enjoying the sun

I think one more time before we’re done this year.

the primrose path

April 15, 2013

I’ve been wanting to get Kim’s dad out on a bigger type day for a long time. Cuz it was Kim’s dad that got me into backcountry skiing in the first place, and then took me n Kim to Italy to practice it.

Our objective was to go from Aspen Grove and get as high as we could up the Primrose Cirque, maybe to the lake, and if the weather and Senior’s knees held, to the south summit of Timp (and then ski back the way we came).

Well, contrary to all early weather forecasts, Saturday’s weather was as blustery as Pooh’s day, no sun, and constant snow flurries. Since when does a storm come in early?

Oh, and I should mention that there wasn’t much snow down low. That is, we walked with skis on packs past the first waterfall. Two years ago, on Memorial Day, me n Steve n Rob went up the Primrose Cirque en route to the East Ridge of Timp, and were on snow almost from the car.

Oh, and once past the waterfall, the snow was so firm that except for a small flat patch, we didn’t even bother taking our skis off our packs. Just booted the whole way. No big.

Senior and I were joined by Hobear and Kim’s brother Daniel and Kim’s sister Jaynann. Kind of a family affair.

When we all finally got back to the car, I heard a lot of jokes about the route and conditions. Like, what if I had emailed the crew beforehand and said “hey, how bout we go hiking with skis? We’ll walk a mile or two on dirt, then boot/crawl 3,000 feet with skis on packs, then ski variable snow for 2500 feet, the totally bushwhack a while before finally getting to walk on some more dirt to the car. Oh, and we might fall 50 feet or so into a waterfall.”

Well, if I’d put it like THAT, who would have come? See? And now they’re all happy they did. You know what they say–there is no bad snow, only bad skiers. It’s pretty rare to regret a backcountry skiing outing. We didn’t regret this one.

K, here’s lots and lots (and lots) of pics, and then a video.

jay so excite

jay is very excited at 5 in the morning

so happy to be walking

still dark, still not aware of how far we would have to walk to hit snow.

Notice how optimistic we are, some of us even carrying skis on shoulder, just waiting for snow.

Notice how optimistic we are, some of us even carrying skis on shoulder, just waiting for snow.


We hit snow finally, it just wasn't skinnable (by us anyway).

We hit snow finally, it just wasn’t skinnable (by us anyway)

Still happy

Still happy

Jay crawls alone

Jay crawls alone

Still smiling

Still smiling

Almost to the top of the cirque

Almost to the top of the cirque

Hobear got tired of waiting, and crawled on ahead

Hobear got tired of waiting, and crawled on ahead

Hanging out top of the cirque

Hanging out top of the cirque

Just wandering around the upper massif behind Timp

Just wandering around the upper massif behind Timp

We also skied

We also skied

Jay skied

Jay skied

Daniel skied

Daniel skied

There was some lounging

There was some lounging

Some route finding

Some route finding

More "route finding"

More “route finding”

Does it go?

Does it go?

It sort of goes. Yes, I thought I might die.

It sort of goes. Yes, I thought I might die.

Some heinous bushwhacking

Some heinous bushwhacking

And we finally ran out of snow

And we finally ran out of snow

And, here’s that video I was telling you about. (It’s about 3:40 where I thought one of us might not be coming back. Spoiler–we all came back.)

snowbird con la familia

March 25, 2013

I remember a couple years ago, Ian wanted to go to Park City to ski with a bunch of friends, and he was working out logistics of rides and lift tickets and all that.

He worked it out, but sadly, with no help from me. Cuz I told him, “so, Ian. We are a Snowbird family. You’re on your own with this.”

Saturday, taking advantage of the 20-30 of new they got up in LCC, we used the last of our 10 to shares .

Kyle gave me some good advice today.

“If your kids are throwing real tricks off the cat track, maybe you shouldn’t jump. It just looks lame.”

Sage advice.

snogression session

March 15, 2013

My friend Burke told me about Snogression over a year ago, but the idea of a foam pit kept me from visiting before now. Watch the video below and you’ll see why foam pits and I don’t get along. You know how nobody gets out of Dante’s Inferno? Foam pits just barely missed the cut. I have it on good authority that Dante was totally on the fence with the foam pit, and only went with the Harpies because foam pits hadn’t been invented yet.


I took the boys to Snogression last night and we spent two hours on the kicker. Holden and Ian got their big air groove on, and I let the steep kicker work its magic. Big night for me. That is, well, let’s let Gene Wilder say it:

From that fateful day when stinking bits of slime first crawled from the sea and shouted to the cold stars, “I am man.”, our greatest dread has always been the knowledge of our mortality. But tonight, we shall hurl the gauntlet of science into the frightful face of death itself. Tonight, we shall ascend into the heavens. We shall mock the earthquake. We shall command the thunders, and penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself.

Okay fine, maybe I’m overstating it. But I did a backflip or five. Which, tragically, we did not capture on video. No, just me getting out of the foam pit like a beached whale.

I’m not bitter. Ian didn’t get any pics, but at least he got video.

Some pics. Then some video of the rescue operation.

taking the plunge

Will he? Won’t he?

He will!

He will!

Holden gets a new perspective

Holden gets a new perspective

Holden getting crossed up

Holden getting crossed up

I think Dante was wrong–foam pits are waaay worse than Harpies.

a good day to do scotties

February 27, 2013

Me n Holden n Mark, we few, we happy few, did the early morning thing in Scotties Bowl this morning. And even though the skinner was in, even though we had that Wasangeles feel with headlamps ahead of us and headlamps behind us, and LCC got a foot while other places, you know, like BCC, got mostly nuthin, we still had a pretty good day. On a shot where you pretty much ski 2500 feet of north facing powder car to car.

scotties top looking down

hey, i can see my car

scotties holden coming down chute

holden chasing his sluff

scotties holden side in chute

crazy how you can see the city, kind of, over there

scotties holden below in chute

there goes holden

scotties holden looking down lower chute

there went holden

scotties holden close in chute

the skiing was good. real good.

Just before we dropped out into the bowl, Holden yelled “Hey, there’s a nice air to get out of the chute.”

I said “Um, mandatory?”

And he said “Don’t be such a baby.” And he turned and aired out into the bowl.

The whole drive home, he kept turning to me and saying “Hey Dad . . . Mandatory?”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

scotties holden airing

little mandatory air exit from chute

scotties dug tips airing

Yes, I “aired” it

scotties holden lower bowl

good all the way down

Here’s the motion picture version:


big days day

February 18, 2013

Me n the two Tylers got out Saturday trying to get deeper into Days. About 4,000 feet later we were satisfied. There’s good snow in them thar hills. The helis beat us there, but they left a little for us.

I’ve only been getting video of the descents lately, cuz I broke my Contour, but I still have my magic goggles.

Maybe I should sell the magic goggles and buy some new base layers. Because now, I can wash my smart wool base and new Artcteryx shirt over and over, but the moment the hike begins, all the stink returns, like Hamlet’s sins. I don’t know if I’m attracting or repelling the wild life.

Don’t answer that. It wasn’t a question anyway.

groundhog day on lone peak

February 3, 2013

I loves me some Lone Peak, and weather and conditions aligned perfectly on Groundhog day for another outing. I think I’m going to make this a Groundhog day tradition. (I’m not sure I have a choice. Do I?)

We started with seven from Alpine, and first to drop was Kyle, who later found out he was sporting a nasty fever. Second to drop was Rob, who hiked to the second hammongog and had to bail for family stuff, meaning he hiked halfway, and before the sun did its work on the snow, he had to ski the old road back to the car on what he called “the worst snow he has ever experienced.”

The rest of us kept at it, and the day turned glorious. Not a cloud in the sky, no wind at all, and not another soul in sight. For a while I thought we were going to be skiing breakable crust for 6,000 feet, but the higher we climbed, the better we felt about the conditions–the descent was going to be good. Not real corn, but soft, fast, creamy goodness.

But enough talk. Pictures tell the story.

first hamongog

Tyler at the first Hamongog.

burke approaching second hamongog

Burke making his way to the lunch spot above the second hamongog.

bottom of heaven's halfpipe

Tyler enjoying lunch at the halfway spot.

burke in all his glory

Yup, he hiked in that. All day.


Back on the trail

tyler up track

Plenty of snow, just need it to soften (it did).

holden at the notch

That’s Holden up there. Leading. By a lot.

holden in the rime

Did you see that sky today? Talk about blue.

summit ridge

Tyler and Jon on the summit ridge

what inversion?

Holden looking down on the valley

tyler above it all

Tyler above it all

jon rock star

Jon’s rock star pose

holden looks into bells

Holden thinks about that Lone Peak East Chute

holden looks into bells

Holden looks into Bells Canyon



dug was here

And, yes, I was in fact, there.

burke summit

Burke tags the view out his back window

starting down

And, then we enjoyed the awesomeness

I should mention here, that Holden, all 14 years of him, led most of the day, including all of the second half. I hear we have Whitney’s spin class to thank. So thanks Whitney’s spin class.

The descent was fast. Or, rather, the descent to the second hamongog was fast. Then the descent to the first hamongog was half fun, half tricky, half super tricky. And then the descent to the water tank was icky. But we all agreed, a thin veneer of snow on dirt and rock was waaaaay better than booting down that last mile with skis on packs.

Here’s a little summit video. Just as a bonus. (Just summiting really, with a start on the descent, but camera battery issues prevented good video.)

See you next Groundhog Day. Duh.

skiing is fun

January 17, 2013

I like backcountry skiing. I’m not awesome, and I’m not fast, but sometimes the awesome and fast guys accidentally include me on the invite, and then are too embarrassed to uninvite me.

That happened twice recently. Yay me.

First, we got a big group out to hit the Pink Pine upper ridge in LCC. Once you’re past the booter, the whole northeast face of that ridge is a series of great shots, all of which are skiable.

Well. That is, we had skis on our feet. The middle portion gets a little spicy, at least for the likes of me.

Then last week, we hit the Superior shoulder in LCC with a well-deserved afternoon tour. We conga-lined our way up to Pole Line pass, and along the ridge to Two Trees, the first real south facing shot once you’re around Cardiff Peak. While we could feel the bottom (ha ha ha ha ha), the boot-top super light on top was well well worth it. And sometimes the apron is the best part. This time, for example.


backyard magic

January 13, 2013

It was about this time last year that I returned from a bit of a sabbatical. Last year I needed some time away, cuz like Peter Cetera says, “everybody needs a little time away.”

This year, I got lazy and thought the newfangled short form would suffice as an outlet. So I’ve spent some time on Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram–although, I’m not giving up on Instagram cuz it’s awesome. I commit to keeping my dog pictures on Instagram).

Turns out, Facebook and Twitter suck. That could be the grumpy old man in me talking.

Anyway. Enough old man ruminating about how letter writing is a lost art. Today’s feature is a video of Holden trying tricks in the backyard. We used to build tube runs and sled tracks in the backyard, but the kids growed up. Now it’s all kickers and stuff.

Holden is trying to perfect the switch 360 and the 540. I’m trying to get my 300 down. I think I’m just about there.


here we go

October 30, 2012

After last year’s horrible snow year, we have high hopes for this year. Holden has four standard questions for me. He asks them of me every day.

1. When is it going to snow?

2. What day will Snowbird open?

3. Will this year be better than last year?

4. I want to ski.

Okay, technically, that last one isn’t a question. But still.

Anyway. Holden also asks me if we’ll ski before Halloween this year. Asked and answered:

Alta got 12 inches. Powder Mountain got 42 inches. So when Mark called (well, texted–men don’t call), it didn’t take much convincing. We faced the long dark of Moria and made the drive. 1.5 hours.

Totally worth it.

ultimate fun ride

August 12, 2012

Eric Morgan, CEO by day, ultimate cyclist by other parts of the day, got me n Ricky n Jody to ride the Tour of Utah Ultimate Challenge, which is a super fun, super relaxing 105 mile ride from Park City through Kamas and Heber, up and over the Alpine Loop (Sundance side), through Alpine, over Suncrest, along Wasatch Boulevard, which is by the way, a totally sucky, not at all flat section that leads directly into the bowels of Hell, namely, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and only finishes once you’ve climbed 6 miles to Snowbird (entry 2, not 1, but entry 2).

The other guys rode strong all day. They kindly waited for me until I finally wore out their patience along Wasatch Blvd, when the rubber band snapped for the last time. I never saw them again. Not even at the finish. Not even later. I still haven’t seen them.

The LCC climb will count as one of my darkest hours (Ha! I WISH it was only an hour!). Darker than Churchill’s dark hour for sure. Luckily the pros were hot on my tail at Tanners Flat (flat? FLAT?!), so I had to sit and watch Adam Lisonbee chase the pro riders up the hill in a dress for about 40 minutes, after which I remounted and staggered the last two miles to the deserted finish line. Well, not entirely deserted. The caterers were still there, putting everything away.

A big shout out to the family and friends at the top of Suncrest, who upped my finishing likelihood from 35 to 42 percent. If not for the rest at Tanners Flat (!) I wouldn’t have made it. But I was meant to make it. As I pulled up to the hamburger stand at the Snowbird plaza, my left pedal broke in half. See? It was meant to be.

Remember all those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials, where someone is inexplicably walking down the street eating out of a jar of peanut butter like a homeless person?

So, when we visited City Creek Mall downtown over the weekend, and made the mandatory stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for some fudge (spawning the phrase now written on my office window “the fudge counter is always packed”), and saw their brave new confection “Chocolate Dipped Bacon Strips” I, of course, had to partake. I mean, bacon? And chocolate? Shyeah.

Welllll . . . not so much.

of course it looks yummy. they could make my spleen look yummy dipping it in chocolate

what we call the hopeful “please be good” stage

reality sets in

disappointed resignation. “at least i still have this diet coke. i love you diet coke.”

ian was not impressed.

In short–two great tastes, NOT great together. No creepy man appeared behind us to bless the union.

Also, me n Holden n Ian hiked and skied the main baldy chute at Alta yesterday (Memorial Day). It was good. Unfortunately, the Contour died just as we got to the top, so only still shots for the descent.

ian showing some leg

holden navigating the mank

yes, i was there too

not dead yet

April 16, 2012

I put away all the ski stuff right after Holden and I did Lone Peak. I mean, after all, this season is bumping up against the all time record for badness.

But we got like 18 inches last week. Gotta take advantage.

So, Tyler H. got all excited hearing the reports of last Winter’s bounty, and he went and bought BC gear this year. And then this year, um, sucked. And the one time I had him all set to go, and we got a big dump, the canyon closed.

And so. When we got 18 inches last week, well, it only seemed right to get Tyler and his new gear out.

Saturday was the day. Me, Ben, Wonder Twin Rob, and, of course, Tyler. (The kids were too tired to get up, so I met them for some nice resort powder a bit later on.)

We met at the mouth at six, hiking from the church around six thirty, two unreal shots in north facing Days, and the big return shot.

The shots in the back were uncut, deep, steep, and soft. The return shot had about 4 inches in a supportable crust which made for 100 foot schmear turns with the spray up and over the head.

Hey look, I have video of Tyler’s first big outing.

Oh, wait, I forgot my camera mount. Um. Whoops.

So here’s a short video of Tyler climbing to Flagstaff. I’m kind of like the dad who forgot to charge the camera battery for his kid’s first big game. Sorry Tyler. And sorry to you, dear reader.

the greatest generation

March 12, 2012

When I was but a wee lad of about 15 years old, my dad took my brother Steve and me to the Philmont scout camp, in New Mexico.

We didn’t want to go. Not because Philmont isn’t awesome, because it is. But I was 15, and I wanted to hang with my friends, go to the lake, and generally lounge.

But my dad insisted, we drove from Minnesota, towing a little tent trailer, to New Mexico. Once we got there, we got to pick from a variety of 4 day backpacking tours (not my dad, just me, Steve, a couple friends who met us there, and some wilderness survival guide guy).

Did we pick the giant, awesome, gnarly tour? Of course not. We picked the shortest, easiest route, with the least elevation gain. And we whined every step of the way.

Why do I tell you how lame and stupid I was as a teenager?

Point, counterpoint.

Friday, I asked Holden (13 years old) if he wanted to hike and ski Lone Peak.

He didn’t hesitate. “Yes. I look at that mountain every day from my school. I’ve always wanted to ski that giant half pipe. When can we go?”


“I’m in.”

The rising generation rocks.

We had breakfast at 5am, before we headed out, then stopped after a couple hours for second breakfast.

Holden, admiring the sunrise (in his own way):

Enjoying second breakfast:

We took our time, and stopped for Elevensies somewhere short of the top.

We maybe took the hobbit pace a little too literally, and it got pretty warm on us earlier than expected, so we stopped just shy of the ridge, and got ready to ski Heaven’s Halfpipe. The corn was a little overdone, and got a bit grabby here and there on the down.

Notice the camera on my head? I know it’s not as easy to see as those giant GoPros, but it’s there.

Here’s what it captured (notice the part where it captured the slightly overcooked nature of the corn and its effect on my skiing):

We have a new candidate for the Greatest Generation.

that’ll do

March 3, 2012

Since the Cottonwood canyons got 40-50 inches this week, and since all big lines are pretty much off limits for easy going folks like us due to the fact that you could die, Holden and I got up at 4:30am to go do short swing in Mill D North, up Big cottonwood Canyon. We didn’t get the text alert saying BCC was closed until after we’d shoveled the four foot drift in the driveway and gotten halfway out of Suncrest (which was sooner than Nate and Tyler got it–sorry Nate and Tyler).

But we would not be denied. I dropped holden at school and went to work, but only until 2pm. We met Mark and Dan in the parking lot. And we partook. And we were satisfied.

serenity now

February 29, 2012

I had an all day work offsite in a stuffy conference room. Snowbird had 14 inches of new.

Holden texted me the serenity prayer from the lift:

God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change


At least Kim had to go through what I’ve been going through the last several Saturdays–trying to keep up with the boys is not tough, it’s impossible. It’s hard to stay in front of the camera.

What I’m struck by is how it’s all about getting into nasty places, and jumping out of them. I like it. Also look for the the moment Holden and his helmet cam get smacked down by the rope.

3 for short

February 20, 2012

We’ve finally gotten enough snow to build some stuff in the backyard. Not like the golden olden days, but these days we’re more into teenage stuff.

Like this:

Holden likes the new way of doing the backyard.

Me too.

Ian has a “is it a huge line?” test, and a “did it snow two feet?” test. Today didn’t pass for him, so he went to school.

Holden, however, is less stringent, and so we went up Little Cottonwood Canyon to enjoy the new foot of snow we (finally) got. South facing Flagstaff is the perfect line for this kind of morning. 50 yards from car to steep skinning, straight up the ridge, and right back down, with fun features and safe skiing.

Afterward we ate Robin’s minstrels.

This image, just because I can:


Skiing is fun. And while skiing deep powder is the pinnacle of fun skiing, that doesn’t change the fact that skiing is fun.

I remember a long time ago, riding the lift at Alta with my brother Dave, and him talking about his dream of one day skiing with his wife and kids and having his kids be faster and braver than him.

Through some twists of fate, my kids are older than his, but the sentiment remains, and I share it. My kids are faster and braver than I am. And I love skiing with (behind) them.

And that’s just the places I managed to get there in time to “film.” They did their best work off camera.

I can’t keep up. And it’s awesome.


September 19, 2011

Holden turned 13 this Summer.That’s a big deal in our family. Maybe a bigger deal than turning 16.

It means he gets his first top shelf pair of skis.

He’s kind of excited.