Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Break Canyoneering

I've always loved Spring Break; when I was in school in Oregon it always happened right around my birthday and usually meant a good ski trip, and I love the transition of winter into spring and think it's great that public schools "celebrate" that; I wish more businesses did the same!  Even in my careers I've tried to do a fun spring trip, and over the last few years the timing of my trips have corresponded to a the timing of a school district in Lyme, NH, where young Sawyer Hanlon typically confounds his teachers.  Greg dragged Sawyer out to Utah to go canyoneering when he was nine; I wasn't on that trip but didn't need to be; Greg had Sawyer drive for him while he navigated! (lots of seat cushions so he could see AND reach the pedals!).  Since then myself, Sue, and more recently Mike and Jane have been joining the mid-April canyoneering fest, and this year proved to be yet another good one. 

We started out in Robber's Roost, a veritable canyoneering hotbed.  Mike, brother Paul and I missed the first day in Larry Canyon, which sounds like a nice long technical grovel - and a bit wet and cold, which was NOT the beta - and the next day the boyz headed into a canyon called Not-Mindbender, while the girls and Sawyer decided to forego another possibly-frigid day and explore Aron Ralston's Blue John canyons.  Paul and I had done a shorter adjacent canyon some years ago and weren't that keen on it; our recollection of the 150 foot free rappel from an "anchor" of a small pile of rocks was still somewhat fresh in our minds.  But Not Mindbender was awesome:  full value slot groveling/down climbing:

some nice swirly canyons:

And a final rappel from a far-better anchor:

Here's the best canyoneer in New Hampshire:
And here's some homeless guy we picked up along the way:
I love having someone else to beat on about looking like almost as much of a ragamuffin as I do!

We next hit up the infamous Chambers Canyon, a tight one.  Sawyer is now 13, but he's still a waif, and it wasn't a walk-through for him:

and Mike, with The Ass that has propelled him to much hockey success, wriggling along behind:

Team Hanlon just before things got a little tense in a particularly-tight spot:

and the cool exit that begs for a team photo:

In the words of the ever-glib Greg Hanlon:

"Blown Trow on day 2 is sub-optimal"
One somewhat overlooked aspect of canyoneering is that the exit hikes are about as sublime as hiking gets:

but even mellow terrain can be dangerous, so it's best to hike flat slickrock in full protective gear!

Over in the San Raf swell we did some more slot-grovelin:

with some interesting moves:

and some natural rock art that was quite inspiring:

And as our friends were skiing in the Wasatch, we got the dregs of the storm:

As a result, a night of sitting around the campfire turned into a cozier night of hunkering inside the Suburbian Falcon:

Undaunted, we dropped into the bowels again the next day:

Hoping that we didn't rap onto this rock:

and upon our re-entrance to the surface, we saw something that got Mike playin' the blues:

but at least the rental Jeep SUV's spare tire was one of those limited-use go-kart tires.....
I was trying to get back to Green River in time to catch a train back to Salt Lake to attend Craig's memorial service, and despite this setback things were still going well, until.....

At least it was snowing too!  Sue is really happy about this new development:

this isn't very fair, because Sue is pretty much all about positive energy, and this is a much more-typical view:

Upon our return to Green River I find out from Virg at Ray's that the train doesn't stop in GR unless the conductor knows there's a passenger waiting.  In classic TD form, despite the fact that I have known for days that I wanted to be on this train I haven't bought a ticket, but hey, no problem, I'll just use my handy-dandy smart phone to buy one and they'll be able to....I don't know, send a Morse Code message or somesuch to the conductor of our archaic train to tell him I await his arrival and hopeful stoppage. 

But lo and behold.....the train is sold out!  Huh?  But people don't ride trains in America!  How can it be sold out?  Did they fill it with livestock, or coal?  In any case, it's clear that train was not going to be pulling into the station for me to hop on, so I had to go to....plan B.  If I had one, that is. 

After an hour of fruitless asking of gas station visitors - most of whom cringed when they saw me coming, knowing whatever came out of my mouth was not what they wanted to hear - for a ride I went back over to Ray's and immediately saw a few folks in a booth who were halfway through their burgers and sho nuff, not only was one of them heading back to SLC but he was driving right through Sugarhouse.  So I made it back in time for the memorial, despite myself. Craig - if you are out there, and shaking your head at me in wry dismay....thanks!

And another in a long string of great spring breaks....thanks again to Teams Hanlon and Elovitz for making it out here.  More canyon adventures await. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

A few days in Moab

This past weekend Geoff Lane was kind enough to let us join him on a trip that was supposed to be with our buddy Craig.  I knew that Geoff was of half a mind to go down by himself to ponder the meaning of life and death and reflect on the loss of Craig and the ferocious emotions that battered him particularly hard the week prior, but the possible angst of him doing so alone was painful for me, Brother Paul, and (unbeknownst to Geoff) his wife Heidi, so Paul and I happily invited ourselves along.   We brought plenty to keep us busy:  mountain bikes, skis and accoutrements, rock shoes/rope/rack, running shoes, and plenty of Craig-appropriate refreshments:

Even though Geoff was unsurprisingly keen to do a lap on the White Rim, Paul and I were able to talk him out of that (the three of us had done a total of about 6 rides this year!) and it seemed like a good way to get overly saddle sore at best and tweak our IT bands for weeks at worst.  So we found ourselves on the relatively new Mag 7 trails near the Gemini Bridges that we rode last fall.  I didn’t get any shots from this weekend, but for a flavor here are some pics from the fall day:


On Sunday we had a great time trying to ride every inch of trail in that area and were able to keep ourselves busy for over 6 hours, so while it wasn’t as “fulfilling” as the WRAD, we were sufficiently torched but not blown enough to enjoy the next couple of days.     

The next day we headed up into the La Sals to do some skiing.  I had only skied the La Sals once before, on a memorable weekend of late-March deep blower powder in nineteen hundred and ninety-five, if memory serves.  But that was so long ago that it was essentially new, and this weekend we realized that we had neglected it for way too long.  The La Sals are super accessible with a plowed road that goes up over 9000 feet and the peaks are over 12k, so there’s plenty of snow and terrain to be had quickly.  It was a pretty short day since we were tired from the prior day’s riding and the fact that the snow was going to be going off in the afternoon, but we were able to ski two ~2000 foot lines off Tukuhnikivatz (“Tuk”) and Tuk No (it’s actual name).  Here are some of Geoff’s pics:
Paul booting up the summit ridge of Tuk No with Canyonlands looming in the distance.

Paul just below one of the "Rectangle Chutes" off the summit of Tuk No

me starting into the right Rectangle Chute

being a cool mountain guy, apparently. 

We had the good fortune to hook up with our friend Teague, who had just tried a full traverse of the La Sals a few days before; details here:  http://slcsherpa.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-long-day-in-la-sal-range.html
 who skied a couple of cool short, steep chutes off the Tuk ridge. And we met a handful of other Salt Lakers who were there doing the same. 

An awesome campsite overlooking the lifetimes of desert adventuring with our peaks looming behind us with a near-full moon standing guard capped a great day. 

The next day we hit up Elephant Butte, which is the highest point in Arches (not saying that much) that’s one part hike, one part technical scramble, and one part canyoneering.  Easy and quick, with just enough “technical” to keep the Arches hordes at bay.  

A bit of scrambling

A little canyoneering

it's true that there are little green men on Mars!

G Lane, pondering life

According to the beta we had, "one of the most beautiful sights in the world."  Hard to disagree that day. Tuk No is the second peak from the right (above the pass at the far right of the photo)
I must say, for some years I had sort of written off Moab as too crowded with joeys and jeeps, too little singletrack, too little canyoneering, etc and had spent more time in the Zion area, San Rafael Swell, Robber's Roost, and other desert areas, but the last few times I've been there it's been regaining its stature in my mind; there's a lot of fun stuff to do there, and it's easy to stay away from the hordes with a modicum of creativity/exploration. 

A weekend of fun like that doesn’t make up for the loss of a good friend, but it’s a good reminder that there’s a lot of awesome stuff to do and a lot of great people to do it with. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Musings on life, death, and risk

Thursday morning was Craig Patterson’s memorial up at Alta, and it proved to be as heartwrenching and powerful as the attendees undoubtedly anticipated it would be.  I’m not sure, but Tom’s Official Police Estimate put the crowd at several hundred; we talked to a ton of people, saw many people from afar that we didn’t get a chance to talk to, heard about many others who were there whom we didn’t even see, and of course there were many, many people there from the many walks of Craig’s life whom we didn’t know.  Bruce Tremper stepped up to take on the possibly-awkward role of being the Master of Ceremonies, welcoming a crowd that didn’t want to be there and opening the morning of heartfelt talks by talking directly about the accident, which was an elegant opening for the emotional eulogies that followed.  As I later told Craig’s old BD boss Garrett, an ah-shucks good southern lad who – like all of the speakers – delivered a heartfelt speech, eulogizing a son/friend/brother in front of hundreds of people is one of the hardest – yet, in a weird way, one of the best – things that we do.   I think the entire crowd had so much admiration for the passion, poise, humor, and emotion that Craig’s dad, his sister, Renee’s mom, Geoff Lane, Jay Byer, AK buddy Josh, Craig’s high school and college buddies, and lead UDOT avy guy Liam invoked, all with the strength of a thousand men in keeping themselves composed enough to finish. 

This is what the speakers were seeing.  A lot of people, but one heart. 
Our day began as many do: Ash and I met Scott and we started skinning up for a couple of nice powder runs under a brilliant blue sky.  

This day was unusual in way besides the obvious poignance; when we left the car it was less than 10 degrees, but at least it was quite windy up high (can't really tell that from the picture) so not only was it really cold – for the Wasatch in mid-winter, much less in April – but also we had to be concerned about increasing avalanche danger.  The fact that soon enough soon enough some of the “biggest names” in avalanche safety were going to be at Alta soon, we definitely did not want to put their expertise to the test, much less ruin the day!  

For us, and for many, the skin track is the equivalent of the golf course or the Japanese steam baths; it’s where we chat about not only the banal stuff like gear and The Big Game but also the stuff that matters, like life, death, our loved ones, etc.  And of course Thursday morning was provocative enough that it engendered plenty of fodder for skin track chatter.  Scott said that he’d had some people ask him if he “was reconsidering backcountry skiing” now in the aftermath of Craig’s accident, and asked what I thought of that.  I had given this a fair bit of thought over the last week.  On one hand it’s painful to acknowledge that we are pretty akin to junkies:  “wow, Billy Bob went down yesterday.  Bummer.  Oh well…. give me another hit.”  On the other hand, as I rode through Sugarhouse park the other day I looked at all the people exer-walking and jogging around the park and sorta wistfully thought “those guys don’t have to worry about dying during their recreation.”  But I realized that we are different than junkies and joggers. 

To make a bit of a trite summary I borrowed a line that I remember from local mountain bike hard (and nice) guy Alex Grant talking about why he raced:  it’s simply What We Do.  I have been skiing for over 40 years, as have Scott, Ash, Brother Paul, and many more, and as Scott said, whether it sounds shallow or not, skiing is  - in part – what has defined us as people.  Here’s a pic of the notebook I toted around in Junior High School:
Not one but two Garmont stickers!  And a Hanson sitcker!  And note the 1980 Lake Placid sticker.  Why do I still have this?  I have no idea.....
And at the ripe young age of 48 I’m as stoked about skiing now as I was when I was thirteen.  For better or worse, those original days of skiing within the relatively safe confines of the resort have evolved to skiing in the more-dangerous backcountry, but clearly the risk of getting killed in an avalanche is a risk that we all assume. It’s not that the risk is “worth it”; it’s that we are willing to assume it.  And as Bruce said in his opening statement, the odds of getting killed in an avalanche are quite low.  Considering the loose statistics of how many people across the West ski multiple runs in the backcountry every year versus the number of people killed in avalanches, statistically-speaking the odds are very much in our favor (I’ve been reading Super Freakonomics, which is full of great versions of statistics completely refuting  popular emotion-based societal perceptions). 

That said – as Bruce again emphasized in his introduction (which was a bit of a stump speech to what was probably the biggest/strongest single group of backcountry skiers in recent history, all in one room sitting at rapt attention) shit (“stuff”) happens.  Even to the best guys.  At last fall’s Avalanche Center annual seminar a guy gave a talk on “why avalanche pros still get caught in avalanches, despite years of not only experience but formal training on the job, which most of us don’t do.   Fundamentally, it’s because – once again, as Bruce reiterated – none of us, even avy pros – are infallible.   A year ago – two days after Jared Inyoue got hurt in an avalanche, that elicited his own eloquent life/death 1-year-later muse here: http://slc-samurai.blogspot.com/  I dropped into a chute that I felt would be safe, but a quick pit a few turns down – after I was already over-committed – was a dramatic indication otherwise.  Fortunately, I was spared and was able to humbly grovel my way back out of that situation.  But prior to that, and since then, I’ve made mistakes that have infuriated me, because I shouldn’t have done that, but I did.  Including mistakes that have come within a hair’s-breadth of killing me.  But with every mistake we learn; not only about the situation and our environment, but also about ourselves and our decision making.   The (unfortunately, now-defamed) author Jonah Lehrer summed up his book “How We Decide” by saying something along the lines of “it doesn’t necessarily matter what we decide, as long as we are conscientous as to why we decided the way we did.”

So why did Craig, as a DOT avalanche guy known for his knowledge and conservatism, make some decisions that led to this accident?   As Brother Paul and I discussed yesterday, there are many times where he and I have – somewhat counter-intuitively – actually taken more risks than I would with someone else around.  I don’t want to subject anyone else to my risky decision, I’m not sure that my partners would “appreciate” the decision, I don’t want the responsibility of their safety as a result of my decision, or perhaps I don’t have anyone around to talk me out of a dumb move?  So was Craig  - the model of a great, safe partner in adventure – safer with other people than he was by himself?  Some people – who don’t know – have decried this accident as an example of why people (much less pros, as example-setters) should not ski alone, but the mechanics of this accident don’t lend themselves to a partner being able to help at all, unless……our risk tolerance actually goes up when we are alone.  But even so, if I had been out with Craig (and I had actually had loose plans to go there that day and may have bumped into him, but I wasn’t able to sneak out) and he had wanted to go up higher than is normal, I may have acceded to his desires because he is “better” than me.  Or maybe he wouldn’t have done it because he wouldn’t have wanted me to see that Craig the Conservative was actually Craig the Risk Taker?  We’ll never know. 
As ever when someone dies prematurely, so many questions arise, and there’s a lot of genuflection:  why him? Why not me?  Should I do this?  Could this happen to me?  What about my family?  Should I change my outlook/goals/temperment/activities?   Is this really worth it?  How much risk am I taking?  Fundamentally, whether we are fighting other drivers on the freeways on our way to work or tickling the belly of the avalanche beast, we need to acknowledge that NOTHING is worth getting killed for (or even hurt, for that matter).  But whether we like it or not, we all assume some risk one way or another, and we need to be ever-more tuned to that all-important decision-making process, because it may only be a couple of steps – as in Craig’s case – between yet another fun run and a bad accident. 

Yet we should have the humility to acknowledge that despite our best efforts, not only does shit happen, we are infallible.    And life is short and more uncertain than we care to admit, and it’s good too, so we should be sure to keep the pedal down, but do so carefully. 

And so we soldier on……

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ode to Craig Patterson

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this, for this morning we got the shocking news that our friend Craig Patterson was killed yesterday skiing Kessler Peak, which Ash calls The Best Ski Peak in the World. 

Craig was a very impressive guy, on many different levels.  I first met him as one of the guys in the Black Diamond warranty department, and was always impressed at how positive his vibe was (not unlike Elmo, who was there with Craig, left for a period of time, and is now back) despite being the recipient of everyone’s gear problems.  As I chatted with him while waiting for my various gear to be repaired,  he was always keen about backcountry skiing and avalanches, but I didn’t think much of it; aren’t we all?

But next thing I knew Craig had a letter that was reprinted in its entirety in the “Avalanche Review”, the trade magazine for avy professionals (yes, there is such a thing; there’s a magazine for everything).  The letter was an eloquent complaint/request regarding the lack of mentoring in the avalanche world, and the fact that he was willing to make the sacrifice necessary to become a career avalanche professional - but was not really a ski resort type - but there was no process for bringing young enthusiasts such as Craig up into a world that was starting to look a little grey around the fringes.  It was a clarion call for these guys that they needed to tap into the enthusiasm of the prospective avy professional youth to bring them up into the ranks, and happily, that letter was a strong contributor to Craig getting a job as one of the Utah DOT avalanche guys in Provo Canyon.    

For several years Craig worked hard in Provo canyon, often regaling me with tales of epic skiing in Happy Valley that I should join him for.  Ash went down one morning to ski a line on Timpanogos with Craig and his UDOT partner in crime Bill Nalli that is only accessible from Sundance’s lifts and still raves about the day.  While the schedule was challenging – especially for a new father – to get down to their office by 6am, and storms rarely worry about being convenient, Craig lapped it up and learned as much as he could, which – as a highway department guy – also added the concept of copious firearm training since circa-1950’s howitzers are used for control (Craig’s opportunity for a job came as the result of a misfire that went over Cascade Ridge and blew up a shed in a Provo backyard!).  Craig rose to the occasion to figure out a new way to calibrate the guns (or something like that) that raised the level on all the avy pros who fired them scary guns.  And every once in a while he’d post an observation on the Utah Avalanche Center’s site that was quite comprehensive, and sign it as “Patterson”, which then made people ask Ash if she had posted it, and she’d laugh because she would never have the experience that Craig had. 

Craig also supplemented his income by teaching avy classes to newby – and experienced – backcountry skiers, and I remember at least a few days when I’d come upon a group huddled around a figure holding a block of snow in his hands and I’d bellow “don’t listen to a word that gumby says!” which would elicit some good guffaws because we all knew that Craig would always know more about avalanches than all of us ever would combined.  I’ve called avy education classes “backcountry skier factories” because they create more people who would be competing for lines in the Wasatch backcountry, but of course Craig didn’t share my cynicism and was genuinely stoked to be sharing his knowledge with enthusiastic students. 

Ash got to know him better via his summertime gig, which was buying auctioned homes in the Salt Lake valley and refurbishing them, and he tried to utilize Ash’s Green Building Center as much as he could.  Like our mutual fast friend Geoff Lane, I admired Craig for his ability to build house stuff as well as he skied and knew avalanches.  And Ash and I both came to really like Craig for his all-too-unusual ability to be super interesting, smart, and thoughtful yet also ask a ton of questions and being truly interested in what you were up to. 

As a summer activity Craig started running a few years ago, and quickly gravitated towards ultra-running; not really racing, per se, just running.  He’d just head out from his house and run for 5 or 6 hours on Wasatch singletrack.  Last year he decided he might as well try the hardest race around for a lark, and entered the Speedgoat 50k at Snowbird, billed as one of the hardest ultras in the country with over 11,000’ of climbing in only 30 miles.   As Craig recounted a couple of weeks ago at a birthday for our friends the Bracklesbergs, early in the summer he was running on relatively-flat Mid-Mountain trail in Park City when he bumped into Ash, who was riding.  Ash asked him what his program was for the day, and he said he was training for the Speedgoat.  Ash hesitated for a long moment, and said “What are you doing on the Mid-Mountain trail?  You gotta be going UP and DOWN!”  As Craig related, the rest of his training was done on burly trails with a lot of vertical, with Ash’s words ringing in his ears, and it paid off by being about 30th of 350 and right in the thick of things against some of the fastest and toughest guys in the country.  

And even though he had not been doing much mountain biking in lieu of trail running, for Geoff’s 40th we had a big posse doing an all-day ride, and Craig – doing what I think was his first ride of the year that hot August day – did just fine with both the distance and the technical riding, without mising a beat. 

But more important than his impressive athletic achievments and career drive was Craig's famously-friendly demeanor.  He and Geoff climbed and skied Denali together a couple of years ago, and they both love to talk about how the other climbers would slog past them daily with their heads down in grimacing agony and then would later remark about how much fun the Lane/Patterson camp was having!  He had that unusual combination of quiet confidence yet endearing humility that are the earmarks of a great mountain partner.  Ash and I were both surprised to read in the paper today the account of the “34 year old man” because the wisdom he displayed seemed to be well beyond those years. 

Craig had just gotten the dream job this season:  avy professional in the Cottonwood canyons, which meant not only a shorter commute but a coveted spot on one of the most well-respected and active avalanche teams in the world.  I bumped into longtime UDOT Avy guy Chris Covington earlier this season and said “you must be psyched to have Craig on your team” and he nodded gravely:  “yep, he’s a great addition.”

Craig, you have been an inspiration to us all in so many ways.  It’s hard to believe your big smile will only continue to exist in our minds, but there it will stay.  Renae, Kaya, and Geoff – your hubby, dad, and friend will be sorely missed, but very fondly remembered. 

(photo Bruce Tremper)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ash's letter to the editor

A week ago the Salt Lake Tribune published a letter to the editor that was a bit of a headshaker:

First Published Apr 03 2013 08:51 am • Last Updated Apr 03 2013 08:51 am
I live in a nice neighborhood in Taylorsville with really nice neighbors. Behind my property are about three acres of vacant land. This property has been leased out to someone.
At first, they had some chickens and some goats. The neighbors and children liked watching them.
Now, they have added more animals, including cows. The smell has everyone in the subdivision upset. We called the city and were told that the occupants have "granddaddy" rights and there is nothing the city can do.
Thanks a lot, Taylorsville, and welcome to Tijuana, Mexico.
Mike Hughes

This guy is such an idiot in so many ways (most of which were pointed out by people who posted comments:  here is the link:  http://www.sltrib.com/pages/comments?cid=56093852)  but at least he's racist as well (I suppose idiocy and racism many/most of the time goes hand in hand).  I don't think I've ever been to Taylorsville (the south/west side of the Salt Lake Valley is pretty much the other side of the earth for us), but it wasn't that long ago that the area there was ALL agricultural land, and zoned as such, and perhaps he should have looked into the possibilities of what could happen to that unusually-large lot before he threw down in the "nice neighborhood."

And ironically, his reference point of Tijuana not only has over a million people it's become quite the tech center as well!  I guess that because it's Mexico it's therefore full of lots of little brown people, whom everyone knows are all farm workers!   (Ironically, Tijuana gets a little more than half the rainfall that we have; it's hardly an agrarian capital!) 

But Ash, as not only an avid gardner herself but also now the director of Wasatch Community Gardens - which has 30 plots around the valley - took the guy to task in a bit different way and used the opportunity to remind people in these parts how important local farming is.  Here is her responding letter to the editor that ran in today's edition:

In "Welcome to Tijuana!" (Forum, April 3), Mike Hughes portrays the smell of neighborhood farm animals as negative and incongruent with American life. However, nothing affects public health in America more than food. In heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, diet is a primary cause.
The root of this hazardous diet is our industrial agriculture system. It has been a major contributor to climate change, enabled the obesity epidemic, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, generated dozens of toxic, food-borne illnesses, and mistreated animals.
However, we are a nation built on agrarianism, and much of our population regularly consumes meat products. So when did producing food begin to be seen as incompatible with urban life?

With 79 percent of our population now living in cities, it’s increasingly important for us to produce food locally. Urban gardens and livestock can help reduce the truly problematic smells of lawn mowers, pesticides and the diesel trucks that ship our food an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

Backyard and community gardens are an inexpensive way to combat these major, widespread problems.

Ashley Patterson Director, Wasatch Community Gardens
Salt Lake City

As they say, You Go, Girl! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Skiing

I've always loved spring skiing, starting all the way back from the family trips to Jackson and Sun Valley (where I destroyed a pair of ski bases by insisting on skiing across gravel roads and up sidewalks "right to the door of my condo" so I could tell my fellow 8 year old ski buddies I did that) , to a memorable day at Mt Hood Meadows on my birthday when a redheaded friend forgot sunscreen, to one of my first "backcountry" ski experiences of skiing from the summit of Mt Hood in about nineteen hundred and eighty somethin':

I've had the good fortune of skiing a lot of days this year, but typically I don't really post much about them because it's typically something along the lines of "skinned and skied somewhere between 5000-8000 feet of great powder in the central Wasatch", and that's so commonplace that it's really not worth braying about.  And I don't necessarily feel compelled to encourage anyone to go out backcountry skiing in our nice little backyard; clearly there's plenty of incentive as it is, given the reams of people out shredding during/after storms in the heart of the season. 

Spring, however.......is a different story.  I don't feel bad about divulging that there's still great skiing because people still won't go.  Perfect corn followed by great powder followed by some good challenging stuff followed by perfect corn, etc.  And if you don't like the weather, just.....oh my, I simply can't say it!  Too much of a cliche'! 

Here are a few shots from the last coupla weeks since we returned from "real" winter in the Sawtooths:
High above the Salt Lake Valley

Some nice couloirs, protected by the infernal sun (I feel like a vampire this time of year)

Colin:  "Grrrr......is Tom going to shred this coolie before me?"

"Yup,  I guess he is......"
Ash on the summit ridge of Lone Peak, still booting after 6000' of climbing:

Colin in the early turns of a 3000' corn harvest:

And Colter chasing after him:
you gotta love the gang-bang stability of the spring snowpack
I haven't been on my board much this year, but snowboarding on buttery low-angle corn is about as fun as fun gets:

Timpanogos in the morning sun and moon:
We had intentions of skiing the Grunge Couloir tucked into that corner, but punchy snow kept us on the prominent aprons below.
And after a nice little refresher storm we headed up into Little Cottonwood, where we haven't been hardly at all this winter
Danger Diamond throwin' down some fine Wasatch Wiggles
The northern powder circuit of the Wasatch has been called the "sheep pen" due to the midwinter crowds, but after not going up Little Cottonwood Canyon pretty much since the beginnning of the year I gotta say - after hitting Days and Silver Forks and White Pine over a few days this week - it's pretty damn good terrain, and when you are looking down onto multiple 1-2000' runs with nary a track sullying the perfect powderafter a 45 minute hike....it doesn't get much better than that. 

Of course, great spring skiing doesn't come without a price: 
This debris-fest was impressive, and this was below The Hallway, which was a stellar mix of large bulletproof debris and gleaming ice after a quick heat wave-induced avalanche; enough to make any Middle Aged Powder Pussy (MAPP) blanche.....

but another foot just arrived....
remember, if you don't like the weather......

(thanks to Colin for some nice pics!)