Personal Blog

2017-06-04 Uintas Skiing to Escape the Heat

Shimbob taking a look at the approach.
Shimbob taking a look at the approach.

June 4, 2017

Today Carly and a couple of her friends from her MBA program escaped the heat of the valley–currently sitting at approximately 93°F here in SLC–for a morning of spring skiing in the Uintas.  I haven’t done much spring skiing so Carly and I were potentially under prepared without crampons or a piolet.  However the snow was forgiving enough that it didn’t become a problem.  We skinned and booted up Bald Mountain in the Uintas.  As we neared the top the snow was getting less supportable so we switched over a few hundred vertical feet from the summit unfortunately and skied down.  The turns were better than expected though and perhaps we should have gone to the top.

Chamonix in May

Panoramic from the bridge at the Midi station.
Panoramic from the bridge at the Midi station.

May 6-25, 2017

What a trip is all I have to say to start.  

In November 2016 I headed to Chamonix, France to feel out a seemingly unbelievable opportunity.  That trip was my first to Chamonix and I didn’t get a peek at the riches that the area has for mountain scenery and fun.  The clouds hung low for the duration of that trip and snow fell frequently.  Since that date things have accelerated significantly and at the beginning of May it was time to return for a longer and more productive trip to solidify the gel that has started setting.  In short the opportunity was to work with Blue Ice, a small Chamonix based climbing company.  I would go along with Bill Belcourt to discuss opening an additional office in Salt Lake City.  We would head the hardgoods design effort here in SLC and softgoods would continue out of Chamonix.  Six months after the project kicked off we are six strong in Salt Lake and augmenting the team of 13 in Chamonix.  Stay tuned to see what we’re working on…

As for the trip.  Adam and I headed out at the beginning of May just as one of the team from France was leaving a visit to the US.  The itinerary was to visit a number of suppliers, climb, ski, and live in France for the bulk of May.  Check, check, check, and check.

Looking up the cable for the telepherique.
Looking up the cable for the telepherique.

In Nov. ’16 I didn’t get to witness the scale since the place was socked in and we didn’t get out for any climbing.  This time however, our ride in from Geneva left us with a clear view of the magnitude of topography that is Chamonix.  The elevation at the cable car, téléphérique as it’s called, in town is 3,379′ (1030 m).  The top of the Aiguille du Midi which the téléphérique brings you to is 12,604′ (3,842 m).  Mont Blanc, the highest point in Europe, is 15,774′ (4,808 m) and only 3.4 mi (5.4km) away.  I thought that Salt Lake City had some of the best relief in the world and it is only half of that of Chamonix.  The scale is mind blowing.  Looking up at the peaks from the center of town almost hurts your neck in how high you have to look.

While there was quite a bit of working on the trip we were able to get out and do some fun in the hills and mountains.

Travel

Skiing the Grand Envers variation of the Vallee Blanche

Ablon Sport Climbing

Cosmique Arete

2017 April Fools

Carly admiring the views.
Carly admiring the views.

April 1-2, 2017

Just a quick post to share some images from a recent ski/climbing trip to the desert.  Yup, the desert for climbing and skiing.  Outside Moab, UT are the La Sal Mountains, with many peaks topping 12,000′ they are even higher than the Wasatch outside our front door.  We gambled on the weather and got some fresh snow in the La Sals and enjoyed ourselves exploring a new area.  That day after skiing we camped in Moab and enjoyed a desert sunset.  Awesome place this UT.  

Return of Winter 2017

Carly making some turns on a bluebird day.
Carly making some turns on a bluebird day.

February 23 & 26, 2017

For almost two weeks in mid-February I was a bit worried that our stellar skiing winter had come to an end.  Luckily the warm weather seeing temperatures up to the high 50’s and 60’s in the valley, and rain up to 9,000′ came to an end last Tuesday/Wednesday.  Winter returned and returned with a vengeance.  A storm dropped between 3-4′ of blower powder Wednesday thru Friday.  I was able to get out Thursday and ski the deepest powder I’d ever experienced.  Because of the amount of light snow it was tough at times to keep the tips up and it was an exhausting day, but it was so good we did a triple lap at Short Swing.  I wished I had something wider than 105mm skis.  We were in the white room much of the day with the blower pow.  :-)

While Carly and I headed out yesterday, Saturday, and the conditions were quite good, both of us were feeling off and on top of that it was cold so we only did a single lap at USA Bowl.  Today the weather broke and the sun came out making for a stellar bluebird day for some powder skiing.  We headed to Silver Fork, a zone we haven’t been to before.  The views were gorgeous and the snow was great.  The amount and lightness of the snow from late in the week has settled quite a bit and the powder was much more bouncy.

2017-01-21 thru 22 Porter Fork and Promise Land

Brett breaking trail the last little bit before we switched over.
Brett breaking trail the last little bit before we switched over.

January 21-22, 2017

Well what a goddamn mess is all I have to say.  The canyons were screwed, no police screening cars getting up canyon and no snow removal.  These added up to a mess trying to get up into Little Cottonwood.  We scrapped our original plan and decided to head toward Millcreek and ski there with Kelly.  We ended up doing a bunch of skinning and very little skiing.  The surprise storm, predicted to be 4-5″ overnight turned into 8-10″ at the house with high precipitation rates, was even more in the canyons.  It was all very light, which was good, but very sensitive.  We ended up at the end of Main Porter Fork and just switched over and skied out because of the sensitive snow.  Still a fun day out and the toboggan run out was fun.

The next day we skied Promise Land with Brett, a friend out from CT, but now who lives in Colorado.  Conditions weren’t quite as pleasant.  In between storms the skies cleared a little, but the window shut quickly.  Winds picked up and temps were cold.  We switched over before the summit of 10,420′.  The run down was pretty darn good.

Grizzly Gulch Skiing

Carly roostertailing in Wolverine Bowl.
Carly roostertailing in Wolverine Bowl.

January 14-15, 2017

Got a chance to get out skiing over the weekend with some pretty awesome conditions.  It stormed Wednesday-Friday and there wasn’t much wind for Saturday and Sunday.  This lead to the great conditions we found in the backcountry over the weekend.  Almost no wind at 10,000′, plenty of sun and fresh powder to be found.  Saturday just Carly and I got out in Grizzly Gulch and East Bowl.  Sunday we went out with Della and Kevin and had a pretty long day.  We scoped out Wolverine Cirque but passed on it for the bowl off the top of Mt. Wolverine.  Perhaps one day I’ll feel good about dropping into a steep chute in Wolverine Cirque.

In other news I’ve got two new cameras, to some degree anyway.  I’m planning to get rid of my SLR and my high-end compact in favor of a more all around solution.  The SLR (Canon 50D) takes great photos and I’ve got a great line-up of lenses for it.  However it is too big and bulky to bring around most of the time on skiing or climbing trips.  It is also over 8 years old so the focusing and low light performance can’t measure up even close to newer stuff.  My compact (Canon G12) is 6 years old and has a really small sensor.  While small, light, and taking some great photos of mine over the years, it doesn’t have the flexibility of interchangeable lenses.  It can’t match up to the newer cameras out there either in focusing, frames per second or responsiveness.  All that said I’ve been very happy with both of these cameras.  They have been on countless trips and taken some amazing shots I will remember for many, many years.

Technology moves along and today there are a lot of options out there for taking pictures.  My iPhone 7 takes some amazingly good shots now that the OS allows RAW image storage.  Obviously these are on a tiny sensor, fixed lens, and limited control over the settings.  Nevertheless my phone takes some really nice shots and the bonus is I rarely do not have it on my person.  SLR, compact and the hybrid of them, mirrorless 4/3s take some amazingly high quality photos.  I’m pointing my attention to mirrorless cameras because they offer a bit of both worlds, interchangeable lenses but still small size.  

The two contenders I’ve got at my disposal right now are a Fuji X-T1 on loan from Ben with an 18-55mm f/2.8 lens.  The other is a Sony a6000 with the kit lenses, 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 and 55-210mm f/4.5/6.3, which I found for a good price on KSL.  My intent is to give these two cameras some field time to see how they work for my needs.  My first field days with these cameras are below.  I took one each on the two skiing days.  I won’t spoil which is which.  Try and guess without looking at the EXIF data.

Saturday

Sunday

Favorite Photos of 2016

2016 was an interesting year.  I started freelancing, took some trips to British Columbia, Alaska, Zion, the Wind River Range, and many others.  I think I got some good photos from those trips and more importantly great experiences with friends.  I’ve compiled some of my favorites below as well as my #2016bestnine on Instagram.

Didn't get any good shots on our tour of Mt McMillan today so here are my #2016bestnine

A photo posted by Pete Wilk (@pete_wilk) on

Skiing in December 2016 and Early January 2017

Sunlight through the aspens on some great snow.

Various days

Carly and I have been out skiing basically every weekend the last few weeks of December and the first couple of January.  The snow in the Wasatch has been fabulous this year.  While not every storm has been cold smoke, many of them have and they have been coming through between 5-7 days between each.  This has kept the snow awesome in the backcountry with constant refreshes of even the most popular areas.  We also had one ski day in Red Mountain Pass Colorado on our New Year’s trip to Ouray.  While the snow sucked at the top of Mt. McMillan the views were good and the wind blown hard snow of CO made us appreciate the Wasatch a little more.