Thursday, January 21, 2016

Back in Salt Lake City

It would be a lie to state that I attend the Outdoor Retailer show every winter for work alone. And nobody would believe me anyway. However, this year was good on many fronts, both in terms of seeing old friends in the industry and making a few new ones, and some really nice skiing. I participated for the 2nd time ever in 'demo day' at Solitude, where you can ski some great boards and the entire mountain for $40. On a run to the top I took SolBright - right between that ski area and Brighton, and was very pleasantly surprised. The skiing was great on piste, but as I was taking one of many 'acclimatizing breaks' two locals stopped to ask where I was from. When I admitted Brooklyn, and they confessed to be locals, I thought the conversation might grind to a halt. Not so - they quietly told me a route through some low angle trees where I found fresh powder aplenty. I'm not sure how many folks would usually be so generous, but it set a great tone for the trip.

I did actually go to work the show, but the weekend was my time to catch up with legendary guru Andrew McLean, who had enticed me with a stellar view of the Pfeifferhorn from Red Pine the previous year. He thought I was up for it, so we made a plan. Two very fit friends joined, and we were off. A 7am trailhead start was slowed a bit by malfunctioning water bladders (avoid them) and then we were off.

At Red Pine Lake we took a break and got a good view of the ridge. The peak is not the Pfeiff, but is on the way there. The skiing between the clumps of trees was just as fantastic as it looks, as was our second run to the left of the left-most trees.

Copyright Andrew McLean

This is our brief but stressful boot up to the ridge which leads to the Pfeiff. We had fantastic weather until we achieved the ridge, when things got pretty socked in. 

Once we got to the base of the col which then leads to the last 500 or so feet of climbing, we considered our options. 2 of us had no climbing experience, and only 2 of us had headlamps. An attempt was not going to get us much of a view, and would have returned us home after dark. We decided to try another day, but were favored with a very brief view of a peak I'll be back to enjoy again some day.

The ride back down the plateau was non-eventful, but the reversing of the very loose power/rock section below the ridge was far from trivial. No accidents on the job, but it felt a lot like ski mountaineering.

After that the fun began, and we skied the terrain pictured above Red Pine lake. It was the best powder I've had in about 5+ years and well worth the effort.

Size of smiles = quality of company and skiing. I'll be back next year for sure. Thanks as always to Andrew, who continues to demonstrate a high tolerance for my pokey ways.