Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On the inside looking out

Last year I had a great ski season. It snowed a lot by Boise standards, and I made it to Utah for some epic days. But I still felt like I was on the outside looking in when I read dug's and Rick's and Dustin's posts about dawn patrols in the Wasatch.

The one that really got to me was last April, when skiing was pretty much done for the year in Boise, but the Wasatch was still going off. A large group convened at Little Cottonwood, and Rick and the first half of the group made it up before the canyon closed, while dug and the rest of the crew got turned around by UDOT because somebody forgot to bring socks. Poor dug and crew were stuck skiing Big Cottonwood instead of Little.

At RAWROD, I gave Dug a pair of Smartwool ski socks to keep in his glove box, you know, so nobody would have that excuse again. And I told him I didn't ever want to hear him complain about having to ski Big Cottonwood instead of Little. Because some of us didn't have regular access to either.

Yesterday morning, seven of us convened at the mouth of Little Cottonwood, hungry to get out for the first time in weeks because avalanche conditions have been so bad throughout the West. At 6:15 on the nose, we got to the gate where they close the canyon for avalanche control. We were under the impression they would close at 6:30 and thought we had plenty of time. But the truck was there, lights were flashing, and even though the gate was still open, he wouldn't let us pass.

Somewhat annoyed, we turned around and headed towards Big Cottonwood. Let me make it clear, however, that we were annoyed that we got that far and had to turn around and NOT that we had to ski Big instead of Little. On the way up BCC, dug mentioned how nice it is that when one option gets shut down, we still have the other (and American Fork canyon and Millcreek, for that matter). I couldn't agree more.

I don't even know the name of the place we ended up skiing. Butler Fork maybe? All I know is that the skiing was sublime. Face shot after face shot all the way down. I regretted not zipping my jacket all the way because I was getting so much snow down my collar. Then back up and down the other side where even on the South-facing aspect we found light, fluffy goodness all the way to the road.

I didn't stop smiling all day. Sorry, Paul (and Brad and Bob and Chago). Wish you were here.