In January my Mom told me she was planning a family trip to Moab in late March, and asked me if I was going to be able to make the trip. Having never been to Southern Utah before, I told her I was in, and was stoked. The focus of this trip was non-splitboard related, but I had heard good things about the La Sal's, and thought I would take my gear to check them out. After a family emergency, the trip was almost called off. My uncle Chris decided he was still going to make it out, and I tagged along with him.
Chris was kind enough to take me around mountain biking with his friends for a couple days. I haven't been mountain biking in recent years but, had a lot of fun riding.
Thanks to my Aunt Jen for letting me barrow her bike. (Photo: Chris Sandvig)
Reading about dinosaur tracks/fossils in the area, of course I had to check them out. Super cool
Each day biking we got good views of the La Sal's, and it was obvious they had good enough coverage. I started watching the weather and checking data sites religiously, trying to estimate when the conditions would be best. It seemed like, a couple days after my family was leaving offered the best riding opportunities. After they left, I camped on the Colorado river for a night, and then it was into the mountains.
Camping on the Colorado, I shared a campsite with another solo traveler, Ed. Ed was a river guide from New Mexico, getting his last bit of fun in before starting the work season.
Heading into the mountains the next day, stoke was high.
Arriving at the the trailhead there was a pair of skiers packing up. After talking to them for a while, I asked if I could tour with them the next day, as I was by myself. They said that would be OK, and I ended up touring with them 3 out of my 4 days in the mountains. They were awesome.
On 4/02/13, Matt, Nora, and myself toured up a centrally located ridge in the La Sal's, to see how coverage and lines were looking. It was cloudy/snowing out, and the higher we climbed, the worse our visibility got. We were able to get a few glimpses of lines before we retreated off the ridge and out of the storm. We rode a gully off the ridge in fun vertigo-like conditions.
Matt and Nora leading the way.
Nora navigating the upper slopes.
Matt ripping down the gully.
The next day, the storm had passed, and clear sunny sky's were forecasted. Breaking trail on the approach, stoke was flowing throughout the group.
This classic line was the first objective. I took this picture on the previous day.
Booting through the first crux, conditions were looking prime.
Now, to gain the ridge and scramble to the summit.
The view looking west off the summit. From the mountains to the desert plateaus. There is over 8,000' vertical relief, from were this picture is taken and the lake seen in the distant valley below.
Fresh snow? Dream line? Oh yeah, this is gonna be good.
With a gold star next to the first objective, the week was off to a great start.
The next objective of the day, was this west facing couloir.
Lines in the La Sals are big. The apron of this couloir was much longer than it appeared from a distance.
Getting higher in the couloir, again, conditions were looking prime.
Gaining the ridge, no named Peak 12,220' was a couple hundred yards away. With Cold temps and wind preventing sun effects on the snow, I hiked over the to the high point. Looking north from the peak, Castleton Towers can be seen in the distance.
Morgan with Mt. Peale (12,721') in the background.
A great day capped off with a beautiful sunset.
Wednesday, 4/04/13, we were off into a different zone, for another "classic" La Sal fall line. This day the crew was Matt, Nora, Gary and myself. The approach to this line included 3 miles of road skinning.
Getting our first glimpse of the face, it was looking to be another great day.
On the approach, we skinned past this cool birds nest.
After a short climb we were at the base of the slope. Matt scoping the options. As you can see, coverage wasn't great. Exposed rocks were complicating entrances, and exits. The La Sal's are notorious for getting hammered with high alpine winds.
Time to climb.
This little guy knew the way to the summit.
A quick knife-like ridge traverse was required to get to the goods.
Looking east from the summit, the San Juan's(?) were visible.
The view into red rock country, from alpine slopes never gets old. From the summit, looking towards Castle Valley and the Castleton Towers.
Time to shred.
It was super awesome.
On day 4, I decided to go for the only objective left on my list, Mt. Tukuhnikivatz. Unlike the prior 2 days, sunshine was not in the forecast. Some weather was forecasted to move in by the afternoon, so I got an semi-early start, skinning out of the lot at 6:40am.
Traveling solo today, I was able to make great time. By 9:00am, I had skinned the approach, and scrambled up Tuk's north ridge to point 11,359.
With 1100' vertical left to reach the summit, I was looking to be on the top in an hour or so.
Mt. Tukuhnikivatz's northeast face.
Booting up towards the saddle/ridge.
Climbing up the summit ridge.
South Mountain and the Abajo's seen from the summit ridge.
As predicted, by 10:00am, I had reached the summit. The view from the summit, down the main NE chute. A short down-climb was rewarded with 1000' of steep wind buffed pow.
Careful navigation was required on the exit.
View of the face from further down. The NE chute I rode, is the looker's right snow field.
I was transitioned and refueling in Gold Basin at 10:30am. With the weather holding up, I decided to go after another line.
The goal was this side-winder chute.
Yeah, it was steep, and tight. Good thing the snow was stable and perfectly edge-able "creamy wind-buff".
From the top, I got a good view of the NE chute on Tuk, I'd ripped 2 hours earlier. Another dream line shredded.
Enough sentiment, time to shred.
Looking back at the side-winder, post shreddage. First descent?? I doubt it, haha.
A parting shot from the way home, after a great week. I was able to complete every objective I started the week with, and ride every line I wanted with fresh snow. I don't think things could have gone better. Until next time, stay classy La Sal Mountains.