September 21, 2010

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 visible on the East Chute of Lake Peak in the central background. The shadowy north aspect of this 10,700' summit is usually the prime line. Further back, on the left, is the triangular Pfeifferhorn, centerpiece of the rugged and beautiful Lone Peak Wilderness. It is a common mountaineering objective, requiring an overnight snow-camp.


As the sun drops to the west, a final untouched shot begins the "home run" to Little Cottonwood Road, 2,000' below.




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