If you have read this space for any prolonged amount of time then you no doubt, by now, understand that backcountry skiing is rather like a Hollywood movie. That is, there is a certain formula that is almost always and forever followed:
Hike. Ski. Hike. Ski.
It’s that simple. But, like the movies, the beauty lies in what happens between the lines.
Our quest on this day was Wolverine Cirque. And so we started hiking up Patsey Marley* Hill.
*Contrary to popular myth, Patsey Marley was not a prostitute at an Alta brothel, but rather an Irish miner who knew his way around a bar fight.
The wind and the cold bit at our extremities, and for a time, it seemed would turn us away from the end in mind.
As you can see from the photo above, the Patsey Marley trees are no strangers to wind. Dug (and the rest of us), on the other hand, is. But we pressed on, and soon laid eyes on Wolverine Cirque and it’s many chutes.
Which Chute did we ski? Why, the Granny Chute of course.
Wolverine Cirque is massive. Huge. Really, really big.
See that speck in the middle of the frame? It’s Dug. I told you Wolverine Cirque was big.
At the top of the Granny Chute we poked around a little before diving into what we hoped would be soft, creamy snow. Instead, we found a bullet-proof wind slab, interrupted by choppy, invisible powder. If powder can be used in that context without being insulted. Nonetheless. We made our turns into the empty void of the cirque. And we were all reminded that some days are more about the lines, than the snow itself. We all gazed up with satisfaction at the chute, despite the varied conditions.
However, we were still hungry. And so we hiked. Again.
We crossed through Twin Lakes Pass, and made our way to the East Bowl of Silver Fork. The hope of soft snow pushed us onward and upward. We were not disappointed.
The more wind-protected aspect held plenty of grin inducing fluff. I can’t entirely claim that the cold and the wind did not play it’s part, but at the bottom of the hill, the smiles on our faces were frozen in place. But, and not surprisingly, we then found ourselves separated from our parked cars by yet one more climb, and one more ski. And so, up and out of Silver Fork we hiked. And after an exit through Grizzly Gulch we were done.
Hike. Ski. Hike. Ski.