Skip to main content

Posts

Beat the Heat: A Guide's Secrets to Climbing in the Wasatch at the Height of Summer

Beat the Heat Where to climb this summer in order to stay cool by UMA guide Alex LemieuxRock climbing in the Wasatch on a hot summer day can be a treacherous endeavor if you don’t choose your venue wisely. Between rattlesnake encounters, greasing-off a polished handhold while sweat is running into your eyes or simply trying to stay hydrated, climbing in the heat is just no fun. When the temperatures rise, otherwise do-able routes can suddenly feel like an impossible task. Put the odds in your favor, and consider these tips in order to stay cool throughout the summer. While you may already be familiar with some of these suggested Wasatch summer climbing areas, hopefully this will help you expand your hot weather climbing “repertoire”…Happy climbing! Photo: Alex taking advantage of some cloudiness on S-Curve Overhang, 5.11c, Big Cottonwood Canyon. Credit Lane Peters Stick to The Shade I always try to consider the aspect of a wall depending on the season. When I have an entire day to cli…
Recent posts

Superior Chute Skiing

Despite the meager snowpack this past season, there was still some exciting skiing and climbing to be done on Mt. Superior, one of America's 50 Classic Ski Lines. On Jan. 5, we climbed and skied Suicide Chute, then continued up the knife-eged South Ridge with skis on the back. We finished by dropping the "W" or "Pinball" Chute, another East-Facing couloir. It required 2 small "mandatory airs" and a bit of creative route-finding. But, all in all, a fine day on the mountainside. Crampons recommended for the lowest portion of Suicide Chute, aka, Country Lane.
Paul gets it done in the well-travelled, but smooth-skiing Suicide Chute. The Knife-edge section of the South Ridge. Note the quality snow in Couloirs below.
This old goat had no harem, but seemed to be living out his years alone and happy.

The final slab crux before topping out on the "Sharks Fin" where the Quartzite ends, and Slate/Shale friable rock leads to the summit. The first few tur…

Early Season Powder Turns

Thanksgiving Weekend in the Wasatch is usually a good time to tour, despite the 30" snowpack and warm, dry weather. We headed into Silver Fork and were pleasantly surprised by some high quality turns.
Beacon Check...All Good
Snowpit...No Slab = safe...for now
Rip the skins and...
Rip the Pow
See you at the next Island of Safety!
One good run deserves another...Back up through the Aspen Forest we go.
This shot looks fresh, and the snow is soft...hmmm

What better way to enjoy the Autumn sun?

Than by working off some Turkey and shredding the meadows!


SOUTH RIDGE SUPERIOR

The South Ridge of Mt. Superior, 11,050', is a classic, mixed alpine route. It starts with a low-angle "apron" leading to a 45-degree Couloir. This connects to the knife-edged rock and snow "arete." After a spectacular summit the route descends the easier East Ridge.
Crunch, crunch, crunch...up the solid spring snow of Suicide Chute. Zigging back and forth with cross-over steps we move efficiently keeping the feet flat and crampon points in the snow. This "French Technique" propels us far up the Couloir in the early morning hours. Sherman keeps his Ice Axe pick facing forward as he belays himself for security on the firm, steep slope.
Ahhh...Sunrise...and we're nearing the col. The snow climbing is just about over.
Keeping the crampons on for the occasional snow step, we find the points work fine even on dry Quartzite. Using the rope for added security we employ "running and fixed belays" on the more difficult and exposed sections.
Althoug…

CARDIFF CANYON TO CANYON TOUR

Cardiff Fork is home to the universally acclaimed Cardiac Bowl (left with shadow) and Cardiac Ridge (far right), two of the finest backcountry runs in the USA. The fall-lines are long and wide enough for dozens of runs, side-by-side; they get snow early and share the Northeast Aspect, where the more snow falls, less wind blows and the sun is rarely strong enough to crust the surface.
Many touring parties stay in Lodges at Alta or Snowbird and can basically cross the street (Little Cottonwood Canyon Road), slap on climbing skins, and start touring. At the end of the day, they will catch a Utah Transit Authority bus in Big Cottonwood Canyon and ride back up to Alta. Parties staying in Salt Lake, Park City or such can meet at a bus stop and take public transit to the trailhead.
Before entering avalanche terrain the guide checks everyone for beacon compatibility and range.
After 1400' of skinning the party reaches Powerline Pass on the divide between Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. Po…

SKI TOURING IN WHITE PINE GULCH

White Pine Parking Lot, 7,700', one mile below Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon, is THE trailhead for a mega-zone of backcountry ski terrain. White Pine itself is the eastern-most of the 5 skiable gulches that drain into LCC. The forested terrain down low is great for safe, peaceful, and scenic skinning.
Skins come off at the top for blissful wiggling through the fluffy meadows.
Mid-altitude evergreen glades offer wind-sheltered powder on the edges of the more open terrain.
Before venturing onto more committing lines, avalanche danger must be carefully assessed. The guide performs a Compression Test in a snowpit
and decides to open up this tasty poke underneath a rocky point called The Spire.
If the snow and weather are both stable, the bigger lines on Red Baldy (in background between skiers) and Lake Peak become great options.

Below, a skier reaps the reward of his labors with untracked powder on the broad Northwest Face of Red Baldy, 11,170'. Another set of tracks is just vi…