“Im going to ski that some day.”
Wistful, wanting, prophetic words. Words that are uttered infinitely by every skier that’s ever laid eyes on the other, the out there, and the untracked.
I’ve always been a window gazer, if such a term even officially exists. Each morning I look out the window. It’s been a ritualistic habit for as long as I can remember. Wake up. Go to the window. Throughout the day I often return to windows, glancing at the sky, studying the mountain, and watching the weather. I assume that my perpetual window gazing is rooted in my ongoing desire to constantly be out of doors. If I can’t be there, I may as well imagine I am.
Towering above the northern borders of Utah County is Lone Peak, along with its sub-peaks and ridges, all of which are mockingly spectacular ski lines. Specifically is a line so alluring, tempting, and completely awe-inspiring that it has caused me to be nearly constantly, if in the back of my clouded mind, plotting and scheming and planning a trip to its confines. Flanked on the east by Bighorn Peak, and on the west by a spiny cliff lined spur of the Lone Peak summit is what will heretofore be known as Heaven’s Halfpipe*. A south facing, wide, enormous, open bowl of uninterrupted decline – the perfect corn snow buffet.
Not only is Heaven’s Halfpipe a prominent Highway Line for northbound drivers in Utah County, It’s also, if you live in my house, a rather dominant Window Line – and each day I mutter with anticipatory prognostication those ever present, ready words: “I’m going to ski that some day”.
*Jason Mitchell christened the line, quite appropriately no less,
After hiking some 4,000 vertical feet, through scrub oak, mud, crusty rotted snow, and the serene pine flanked meadow known as the Second Hemangog, we came to the Bighorn Saddle and feasted on the view into Bells Canyon. We eyed lines off of the north east face of Lone Peak, and plotted future conquests on that, and other seeable lines. In fact, there was little that was not visible from our 11,000 foot crows nest: The Salt Lake Twins, Thunder Mountain, and others. A 180 degree turn to the south revealed the peaks of the southern Wasatch: Nebo, Loafer, Timpanogos and Box Elder. And there, as it always is, staring us blankly in the face was the ever tempting Cold Fusion Couloir. Right then and there, standing atop one mountain, and gazing across at another appeared those words once again: “Im going to ski that some day.”
However, our attention was focused pointedly downward. Unfolding below the tips of our skis was one of the lesser traveled, although great lines in the Wasatch. Primarily a corn run, because of its south facing aspect, Heavens Halfpipe falls over 2,000 vertical feet between massive granite walls. It is almost entirely empty of any vegetation or growth. Save for one large, lonely, broken, lightning addled evergreen, the only signs of life came in the short stretching tops of spruces and firs, struggling to keep their heads above the rolling winter snow.
The snow itself took on an animated, flowing appearance. A river, only slower. The wind scoured patterns were smooth, like the sandstone waves of Moab. We were dwarfed by the yawning gap, grinning as we hustled up the hill, our climbing skins holding fast as we straight-lined up the steep, marble snow.
After lunch in the shadows of Bighorn Peak we pointed our skis downward. Stupid, excited grins spread across our faces as the sun climbed out from behind the clouds with a serving of one last dish to add to our high altitude meal: Spring corn. White velvet.
And then, it was over. We stood once again in the Second Hemangog, blinkered and smiling.
“Anyone want to lap it?”
We hesitated, each considering the option. But, alas, the day was growing old.
Late in the evening I sat at the kitchen table, my legs dull and achey, my head groggy and foggy. I looked out the window at Bighorn, and Heaven’s Halfpipe.
“I’m going to ski that again some day.”