Wasatch Snow Forecast
The previous three winters, or is it four, have been somewhat of a bust snow wise. While great turns have been had here and there, they’ve lacked consistency. Trying to make sense of the cluttered NOAA discussions can be challenging if you are attempting to storm track and give your boss the heads up that you won’t be making it to work tomorrow. Enter Wasatch Snow Forecast. This one-man show has given powder freaks something to stand on when they plan their outings. His layperson vernacular and to-the- point info makes my breakfast reading much more entertaining. He even throws in a few colorful graphs and pictograms to keep you scrolling. If you are tired of wading through the mess and can’t stand the weatherman’s hair on your evening news, check him out. In my experience he is as least as accurate as those who get paid to do the job.
UTA Ski Buses for Bi-Canyon Touring
Utah Transit Authority offers ski touring buses from Big Cottonwood Canyon park and ride to Alta, and from Silver, Days and Cardiff Forks back to the base. While it’s not quite as sexy as riding a train in the Alps, it represents the same concept: world-class, point-to-point backcountry skiing via public transit. To reduce your carbon footprint, do as Cowboy does, and ride your 70-mpg motorcycle from home to BCC base. And remember as you squeeze onto the bus for a 45-minute ride up LCC, your doing your part to save the planet earth!
Local Bike Mechanics
The unsung heroes of the bike world are the techs that hang out in the back of the shop, tinkering away with your toys. They spend day-in and day-out tweaking subtle screws and tensioning this or that to make sure your machine is ready to shred (dirt or pavement). Diagnosing those creaks and cracks that come up when you are “Just Riding Along” takes finely calibrated senses and patience. Profanity, Red Bull, and rock music helps them maintain their sanity as the occasional Huffy rolls through the door needing a complete overhaul. But they get a real sense of pleasure when taking a several-thousand dollar machine out in the lot for a test ride. So keep them in mind next time you are abusing your rig out there on a long summer’s day, and be thankful you have someone to call on.
Favorite Weather Prognosticators
For year-round commentary by a pro (Jim Steenburgh – U of U Atmospheric Sciences Professor), Wasatch Weather Weenies cannot be beat http://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.com As a backcountry skiing aficionado, Steenburgh speaks to our similar need for the deep fluff. For the rest of the year his humor and attention to detail serve up interesting info on weather and climate of the Wasatch Front and beyond. My go to for scheduling work around powder storms is Wasatch Snow Forecast http://www.wasatchsnowforecast.com Predictions for storm timing and amounts help me prioritize my life off the slopes to maximize time on the slopes when conditions are best.
Fuel Your Body with Quality Eats
If you are near down town Park City on route to an outdoor adventure, there is absolutely no better fast food than Fairweather Market. All deli and bakery items are hand made in a small open kitchen. If your timing is right pastries will be warm and the sandwich case will be filled with creations for omnivores and herbivores alike. If you need some warmth after a long day in the cold try the crockpot soup. The food is made with organic ingredients, lots of love and tastes like heaven.
Get Down with Mountain Town
Local bands. Nationally recognized bands. Internationally recognized bands! The music doesn’t stop when it comes to FREE and LIVE music in Summit County and Park City. With over 200 programs a year, Mountain Town Music, a non-profit organization, believes in fostering live music to enhance cultural experiences for residents and visitors alike and they’ve had huge success in chasing their mission. Grab your coolers, pack up dinner and head to the Canyons, Deer Valley, Oakley and Kimball Junction with the family. I guarantee your first dance off won’t be your last dance off. Get down, get down!
Favorite Après Backcountry-Ski Hot Tub: Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville
Hot tubs are pretty much key to the art form that is Après-ski. But when backcountry skiing, you’re pretty much out of luck. That’s why when I tour in the Bear River Range near Logan, I make the trek to the other side of the Wellsville Mountains to the tiny town of Honeyville. There lies Crystal Hot Springs – a hot-water oasis 11 miles north of Brigham City. Sure, it’s a developed pool, which makes it far less desirable than a secret, undeveloped spring where you can skinny dip and drink beer. But if you ignore that flaw, you can ease those aching quads in several pools ranging from lukewarm to piping hot.
The Great Salt Lake…a Dwindling Resource
My personal association as a brine shrimp fisherman makes me keenly aware of the shrinking Salt Lake, and conversely growing dry lakebeds surrounding it. It is a unique natural resource worth saving, even if it means using less water for agriculture, golf courses and private yards. Burgeoning growth demands fresh water, and ongoing drought means less of it. The Bear River provides 60% of the lake’s inflow, and it is slated for more dams. Are these reservoirs more important than the environmental, aesthetic and economic impact of the GSL drying up? Tough choices lie ahead if the last vestige of ancient Lake Bonneville is to survive.
SUP Lake Powell
There are a thousand and one ways to explore Lake Powell, but one of the most active ways is by standup paddleboard. A beginner-friendly sport, this is the perfect way to glide over the calm, turquoise waters of Powell under your own power. Rent a top-of-the-line board from Lake Powell Paddleboards in Page, Arizona for a half or full day and take to the water. Not comfortable out there on your own? Pay their trusty guides for a tour to staggering Lone Rock or picturesque Antelope Canyon, and if you want, pair it with a jeep tour to adventure by land after your killer SUP arm workout.
Favorite Backcountry Slopes
My favorite access to outstanding Wasatch skiing is at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Grizzly Gulch. This threatened area offers the last easily accessed green and blue terrain outside resort boundaries for backcountry skiers and riders. The possibilities are endless: stiff lines in Wolverine Cirque, rollers off Twin Lakes Pass, tree shots off Davenport Hill and a wham bam workout up the cattrack in Grizzly Gulch. This priceless gem is proximate to Alta and Solitude, both resorts seek to encompass portions of Grizzly Gulch for their lift-served clientele. If powder exists anywhere, you can find some in Grizzly Gulch.
The Golden Light
The time is 2 PM and our group of five squeezes through a deep, narrow crack known as the Belfast Boulevard. Forces of nature have carved this canyon over millennia, creating a hallway barely wide enough for a climbing helmet turned sideways. One breathe out, we move to the confluence of the Right Fork, preparing for the final walk out when a ray of light rains down in front of us. Then another. Then another. Before we know it, the dark hallway has been transformed into a photographer’s dream and a room, of golden light.
When the summer heat is on and the sun warms the climbs in Big and Little to a slippery broil, Ferguson is the place to be. Because most of its climbs are north facing, the routes stay shaded and cool almost all summer long. Lots of the climbs here are mixed, so be sure to read ahead on the beta and bring a rack of cams. If you’re nervous to plug gear or can’t find a rack, hop on one of many bolted routes. If you think bolts are for wusses, get over it, or hop on one of the abundant traditional climbs.
Favorite Backcountry Coffee Stop: Café Ibis
Enroute to the Bear River Mountains near Logan, it’s my tradition to stop for a hot cup of coffee before cruising the narrow, winding highway in Logan Canyon. Luckily, my favorite cup of joe in Utah is roasted right there at Café Ibis. This tiny downtown shop is a funky spot that just oozes delicious espresso scents. They have every coffee variety you can shake a stir stick at like cappuccino and chai tea, but I think their best offering is straight up black coffee. And I never forget to load up on pastries for fuel on the trail.
Farr Better Ice Cream, Ogden
I know this is the Utah Adventure Journal, and adventures take place outside. However, I spend of good portion of the year residing, adventuring, and sweating profusely during the summer months in Ogden. The Farr Better Ice Cream Shoppe is an Ogden Landmark and stepping inside is like taking a step back in time. Some advice from a local; know ahead of time that you need to take a number when it’s busy, and it usually is. Don’t be shy, go for at least a double dip and lastly, in true Utah fashion, they are closed on Sundays.
Boulder Mountain Lodge
Situated at the base of Boulder Mountain, adjacent to the Escalante National Monument and Dixie National Forest, at the junction of Scenic Byway 12 and the Burr Trail, the Boulder Mountain Lodge is the perfect base camp for exploring everything from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon. Originally built by a local craftsman and recently expanded, the rustic, well-appointed lodge features a spacious, stone, outdoor hot tub, for resting your weary limbs, and the nationally-recognized Hell’s Backbone Grill, for feeding your hungry bellies, with locally-grown, organic, comfort food (from March through Turkey Day). BML is proven kid-and-dog-friendly and many units have kitchenettes. But it books out early and often, so plan ahead.
–Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar
Favorite New Backcountry Ski Libation: Zirbenz
As mountain men, we must imbibe in mountain drinks. Not only does it make beards thicker, but it also pleases Ullr, who will hopefully deliver his white bounty upon us. This ski season, my buddy Mason discovered Zirbenz, and it has become a favorite new mountain booze. Zirbenz is a Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps made in Austria. I think it tastes like pine cones and newly-fallen snow. To make Zirbenz, they say mountaineers and farmers must journey to high peaks, then climb trees to pick the wild pine fruit. Kind of makes you want to wet your beak with this sweet nectar and yodel, doesn’t it? The best part: it is sold in Utah liquor stores.
All those who have contributed time, ideas and expertise toward developing a blueprint for the future of transportation, access and development in the busy Wasatch Range between Salt Lake and Park City, deserve kudos. A tremendously important problem (population growth in the mountains) must be solved in a satisfactory manner. The solutions are not easy, and the impact is far-reaching. Yet great progress has been achieved by this body of experts, officials, resort managers, and dispersed recreation representatives (like Wasatch Backcountry and Salt Lake Climbers Alliances.) We need a cohesive plan, and it will necessarily be a compromise. We’re all in this together!
Best Short Ride in Moab
Moab is a mecca for mountain biking, and it’s no wonder. The landscape was practically built for tumbling down on 29” wheels and back up again on sticky slick rock. With so many options to ride, it can be confusing to know where to begin. If you’re looking for something other than one of the shuttled long-rides, head to the Captain Ahab trailhead. A one-way, 4.3 mile trail, it’s a moderate intensity ride with almost 1,000 feet of climbing. The views more than make up for any lactic acid, and I would argue they rival those of Porcupine Rim. Photo-ops and stats aside, this is one loop that will have you wishing it were at least twice as long!
Chossy, flakey, phallic: mud towers are all of these things, though the latter goes unnoticed once you’re chin deep in choss and smiling ear to ear. There is a lot of history behind climbing these muddy monsters and any tower enthusiast will regale you with some version of oral history regarding first ascents, whippers, and piton placement. All are to be taken with a grain of sand. Gear placement and difficulty are to be researched prior to liftoff as some towers are muddier than others and climbing them can be dangerous but the feat of standing on the summit is a feeling unparalleled in the desert.
Are We There Yet?
In 1879-80, the Mormon San Juan Expedition—236 men, women and kids, 83 wagons, and over 1000 horses and cattle—blazed a 180-mile wagon trail from Escalante to Bluff. They met with many obstacles, not the least of which were the 1200-foot sandstone cliffs surrounding Glen Canyon. Not to be deterred, they located a crevice in the cliffs and spent 6 weeks blasting the upper section, hand-chiseling anchor points, and jerry rigging a wooden track, before finally lowering their wagons by rope, and their families and livestock, down the 45-degree slopes. A long, bumpy journey even now, but worth it to scramble down the Hole and find blasting holes, anchor points, and wagon gouges. And, when your kids ask that timeless question as you head home, just tell them that the pioneers still had more than 3 months and 100 miles of trail-blazing ahead of them.
–Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar
Favorite Trail Pick-Me-Up: Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
I love coffee. I probably drink 20 cups of java a day. I ingest so much of the stuff that I don’t bother bringing coffee on the trail with me because I’ll just drink it right away and then have to carry an empty bottle the rest of the trip. My solution? Chocolate-covered espresso beans. They come in both dark and milk chocolate. I buy them in bulk. These delectable nuggets are like trail crack that give me those jolts of energy needed when I bonk. The only downside is the tiny, black pieces of chewed bean that get stuck in my teeth. It’s totally worth it though.
Salt Lake City has been my residence for nearly a decade and its hard to imagine living anywhere else. However, the poor air quality makes me want to leave town faster then seeing Cardiff Fork on a snowy Saturday. Which is why I am glad that our fair city has invested in a bike share program for the greater downtown area. This economical solution for commuting is not only reducing pollution, it is way more fun than driving. The shiny green cruisers are a snap to rent and you can pick-up and return them at any kiosk across the city. They are also a sweet weekend diversion heading from watering hole to watering hole with your buddies (wear a helmet). I hope to see this program grow to other parts of town as more and more people see the value in going by bike.
My favorite time of year to ski Suicide Chute is late May or early June. Because of its aspect and shelter beneath steep rock walls it holds onto its snow well into late spring/summer. The hike through the scree-filled apron of Superior makes your adventure that much more badass and the corn harvest that follows dropping in makes you forget your summer blues. If you’re really feeling it you can approach with a class 4/5 rock climb up the SW ridge of Mt. Superior, which intersects conveniently with the top of the chute.
For Whom the Bells Toll
My first multi-pitch climb was tucked away in Bells Canyon. April left the trail coated with snow and my trail running shoes made just getting to the crag an adventure. I was feeling a little nervous about the rope work and somehow hauling the three of us up six pitches. The rock was mesmerizing. The six pitches and many hours were quickly over. The reward was an extraordinary view of Little Cottonwood Canyon and Salt Lake City. I will forever be trying to locate the exact top out spot For Whom the Bells Toll.
Does a trucker hat count as clothing or equipment? True it is worn on the head but conversely it is essential to successful outings. It keeps the snow off my head while allowing sweat to escape, keeps precip out of my glasses and shields my eyes from ruthless solar glare. It can be worn ironically, best complimented with beer brands or semi-nude clubs advertised across the front. Or it can be a genuine promoter of legit brands like Patagonia or Kühl while displaying the wearer’s humble roots. Never leave home without one.
Dead Horse Point
This is truly one of the most magnificent spots in the west, if not the world. The panorama that opens up on the edge hardly reveals the depths of the Canyonlands below, as it is simply too intricate below the rim. Taken with a big picture view however, the expanse of this wonderful landscape is revealed. In addition to the amazing vista, the park also boasts a great singletrack trail system for biking and hiking, and one of the best and most popular campgrounds in the state. Bonus- go for a big ride encircling the park by going down Long Canyon, around on the Potash Road and below Dead Horse Point, and then up the Shafer Trail. A big day of 37 miles, but worth every mile.
Mt. Nebo Spring Ski Peak
Standing tallest at the south end of the Wasatch, Mt. Nebo is the most serious ski peak in our little range. It has severe weather, long, rugged approaches and no easy way up or down. In May a 4WD can rally to 8,000,’ and make the 11,928’ summit a reasonable day trip, with crampons and ice axe up and whippet for descent. Corn is the most realistic snow for safe passage, but beware the rockfall hazard! The Nebodacious SE Face is the premier line, falling 3,000+ toward Salt Creek. Finish down the NW face via the Champagne Couloir.
If you run, hike, or bike on local trails, listen to public radio, check the avalanche forecast, have adopted a pet, enjoy arts, music, and theater, or even just drink water and breath air, you depend on some of the hundreds of non-profit organizations that strive to make our community a better place to live and work. These benefits are not free. Live PC Give PC on the Wasatch Back in November and Love UT Give UT statewide in March provide great opportunities to celebrate what these organizations provide and give back to those that contribute to our quality of life.
Road-biking into Long Canyon
The Burr Trail is perfect for a Sunday morning before you have to strap your road bike back on the car and head north. Paved for 31.2 miles to the western boundary of Capitol Reef National Park, it is downhill most of the way in. Gradual at first, but steeper as you head down to Deer Creek and then screaming into Long Canyon. Long Canyon winds through sheer walls of Wingate sandstone, ancient sand dunes stained by desert varnish. Even on warm mornings, this stretch is cooled by the Escalante River and looming rock walls. Take in some water and a striking view of the Waterpocket Fold, the Henry Mountains, and the Circle Cliffs, before heading back—and up.
–Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar
Favorite Wilderness Areas: Mount Olympus, Twin Peaks, and Lone Peak
How lucky are those of us who live in Salt Lake City? Here we are, residents of a major metropolitan area, and there are three wilderness areas right alongside the city. Lone Peak Wilderness was established in 1978, while Twin Peaks and Mount Olympus were both created in 1984. Considering their proximity to massive civilization, just think how easily development interests could have ravaged these places by now if the Wilderness Act didn’t exist? With that in mind, I hike with a level of appreciation not felt in more remote wilderness areas in Utah.
Tram Operator- Rich Duckworth
Duck, as he is commonly known, has been driving the Tram at Snowbird for XX years, through winter and summer, day in and day out, up and down the same line all the time. Never one to complain, he’s always there to answer the dumbest of questions, deal with the pushy masses on the most minimal of powder frenzied days, and get the skiers and snowboarders up to Hidden Peak with the utmost efficiency. He commands an automatic silence when making his required announcements as the tram pulls into the top terminal, always ending with his signature refrains “and as always….”
Gourmet Car Camping
It is too often that a moonlit meal consists of hot dogs. If your car is carrying your gear, why skimp on the luxuries? Necessities for delicious outdoor meals are: a camp stove with plenty of fuel, a pot and pan, a French press, tinfoil, eating utensils and a cooler. Pre-make or buy a big batch of potato salad, hummus, and pastries. Plan your meals and pack accordingly. For sturdy produce try apples, oranges, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, zucchinis and onions. Remember to put delicate foods like grapes or eggs in tupperware and use screw tops for potato salad, hummus or anything that would be ruined with water. Don’t forget the Sum’r Ale!
The Wildcat Traverse starts atop Mt. Olympus and hugs the ridge crest whenever possible, to Mt. Raymond. I descend Neffs Canyon, because the limestone ridge is just a walk east of there. Challenging and aesthetic scrambling on mostly solid quartzite with spicy exposure leads to Triangle Peak. Three small towers make the next section tricky, and a roped descent is advisable, before an easier bit. By June the route is mostly dry, but below Peak 9,587 I cool and replenish my camelback from a snowpatch. A mix of easy hiking and exposed scrambling characterizes the 6-12 hour adventure.
Stick ‘um up and spread it out! Spread eagles make me feel like a kid again. You can do them off of just about anything, therefore Utah is the perfect place to spread your wings. There is nothing quite like sending a massive spread in the middle of a mogul run or off of a cliff into pow. Back in elementary school jumping jacks were the bane of PE but after they were rebranded and could be done going a thousand miles an hour over snow I couldn’t get enough. Spread your wings and fly!