Friday, March 14, 2008

Skiing in the Dark

My alarm went off at 4:30am. I don't remember turning it off but I do remember waking up at 4:51 in a panic. I knew I had to be some where but couldn't remember where. Then it hit me....crap. I was supposed to meet Dug and Ben at 5:15am at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I had my truck all packed up with my backcountry gear and a change of clothes (work clothes) the night before so I'll I had to do was throw in my contacts and grab some fuel. I made the mistake of eating a Clif Bar that I found after digging around in my cycling bag. Who knows how long it had been there. It could have been left over from any number of rides I've done over the past 3 years (along with 3 or 4 Gu packs and a handful of Shot Bloks that have been there forever). The Clif Bar would come back to haunt me later.

With the recent cold front that hit SLC (or as the kids say..the "801"), we gambled that Friday morning would treat us to some fresh powder. We were right. About half way up the canyon, the roads were covered in snow and it was dumping. Our original plan to ski something off of Superior changed to something more mellow in Days Fork. Superior is nasty with low visibility and with the recent snow and wind it wasn't the best option.

The good thing about getting to the trail head early in a storm is the fresh tracks factor. You can pretty much ski any route and not have to fight for first tracks. However, this comes with a price. It meant we would need to break trail. I traded turns with Ben breaking trail up to the Flagstaff ridge and that's when the Clif Bar started knocking on my door. I almost made myself vomit so I could get it out of my system. I'm not sure if it was the Clif Bar or the pace but I was feeling it. Ben is a mountain goat. He can climb fast and do it for hours. Just once I'd like to get Ben out on a road bike and race him up Suncrest. I wouldn't be surprised if, on his first road ride ever, he could drop me or anyone else I ride with.

About 3/4 the way up the climb, another group caught us (it's much easier to climb with a skin track already cut). No surprise they were BlackDiamond employees. It seems most of the people I see early morning backcountry are BD people. We chated breifly then they went West and we went East along the ridge. With DST, we didn't take into consideration it gets lighter later, so we knew that the first shot would pretty be skied in the dark with our headlamps on.

We dropped a cool steep northeast facing shot into Days and then climbed back out to the ridge. Dug and Ben would do another shot into Days and I took off down the South side to the car so I could get into work before 9:30.

I don't ever want to move. I love that at any time in the year (depending on the weather), I can access some of the best backcountry terrain in the country in a matter of minutes. There are miles and miles of cool single track for mountain biking that starts 30 seconds from my driveway. And I live at the top of 2 really good road ride climbs (North or South side of Suncrest).


Anonymous said...

you know what rocked about this morning? that i was so obviously the slow guy that i didn't have to take a single turn breaking trail.

oh, and the fluffy powder face shots were cool too.

KanyonKris said...

My wife ate a Gu that was past it's prime and it made her violently ill, until she threw it up. When sports food goes bad, it goes really bad. Maybe Sly can use it for his purge sessions? ;-)

I agree, I never want to move. Every outdoor activity I enjoy is right here or close by.