One of the longest days I’ve spent in the mountains (16hrs 6mins) is going to make for a long blog entry. This is just a warning that this read might take a bit longer than the average of 1:57min per visit on this site.
The Plan: Start at Alta Ski Area and traverse West to Salt Lake City by tagging all the major peaks on the way and exiting out Bells Canyon. This is similar to the classic ‘Super Tour’, but much farther, gains more vert, and is considerably more challenging.
A visual aid so you can follow along at home.
This is a similar variation to a route completed by Andrew McLean, Lorne Glick and others a few years back.
Who would be mad enough and fit for the challenge. Meet Jared Inouye!
Starting at Alta we skinned up to Sugarloaf and got a tiny glimpse of our final objective way off in the distance.
Straightforward short distance to Baldy.
Don't believe everything you read.
Jared takes flight on our way out of the bird.
Jared working his way along twin peaks ridge.
5 peaks down and many to go, but we both felt great and the snow was friendly for travel.
On big long outings like this every little route decision counts. I chose the snow couloir, which turned out to be too soft.
Jared got us out by hitting the rock.
Descending Red Baldy with White Baldy ahead.
The ascent of White Baldy was spicier than we had pictured. This became the running joke for the day as we encountered many more 'cruxes' than we had expected.
This was the first time on White Baldy in the winter for both of us.
Picnic on the summit. Jared wanted me to explain that the spandex may appear to be for their lightweight performance, but in fact he wears them because he likes the way they look.
We took a nice 30min rest to dry out our boots, make some phone calls and eat some ‘real’ food.
What still lay ahead. Our guess was things would be cake if we could just make the Pfieferhorn.
The drop into upper Red Pine was really good corn.
One of the best things about this traverse is how you get a good mix of skiing, skinning, climbing, booting. It keeps it fun and your always contemplating what will be next and how should we proceed.
Booting slop, was next on the final pitch of the Pfieferhorn.
And then skinning slop! Whatever it takes, you just have to keep moving.
Looking back to the East from the Pfief.
Off to Chipman Peak! It was nice to get a break from the sun as it went behind a thin layer of clouds.
The snow was saturated, which made it slow for travel and suspicious for wet slides. We stuck to the rocky ridge.
It was a fun mix of rock and snow.
We ditched packs and skinned to the top of Chipman Peak.
Two more peaks to go, man this is a long f'ing blog. Thanks for sticking with it. We made a high traverse to the right and wrapped around to the base of Big Horn.
I think I got some GU on the camera lens. I wish I had known I would have licked it off.
We were still feeling quite good and joked about adding Box Elder to the mix.
At this point Jared did turn to me and say something about fatigue kicking in. I thought it was about time!
He then proceeded to climb rock,
wallow in waist deep slush,
and just plain kick ass to the top of Big Horn.
Momentary celebration that wouldn't last long.
With one more peak to go it was fitting that THE REAL CRUX would appear. I had assumed that the ridge from Big Horn to Lone Peak was continuous and we could just traverse it. That is not the case. It’s a rocky ridge with steep ice gullies and stout rock moves.
We considered dropping this couloir to avoid the ridge, but it looked like it had a cliff in it.
With the aid of a little webbing we down climbed a small couloir.
Then skied out onto the North Face of Big Horn. It was getting late in the day and the snow was freezing back up.
Looking back at the Big Horn crux from the shoulder of Lone Peak.
It was sooooooo nice to finally top out on Lone Peak!
Looking into the huge rock cirque at the wall some friends and I had tried to climb with skis on. Seems like as good of an approach as coming from Alta.
We started working our way to the North summit, but the snow was terrible and we were loosing light fast.
We left Alta at 6:40am, it was now 7:40pm. Time to get the hell out of here!
Slicing up the funky conditions on the shady NE Face.
Jared looking back up his line. Yes, he aired the lower rocks.
The first melting water we encountered was quickly gulped down. I had been out since the Pfief, but had successfully melted small amounts of snow by putting it in a nalgene and placing it inside my shirt.
Snow turned to dirt and day turned to night. We were lucky to find the trail before it grew dark. Headlamps had been laughed at when brought up earlier that morning.
Jared was an amazing partner for this journey. Thanks for all the trailbreaking and the magic potion. Let's do it again sometime? Maybe not?
Wow, what a crazy day! A classic route with a little bit of everything. With firmer snow conditions this would be a lot less grueling and you could knock several hours off.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventure as much as I enjoyed doing it. If this wasn’t long enough for you, Jared has some cool pics on his blog– SLC Samurai-