Motorcycling Ski

2023-04-15 Deseret Peak

Heading up the beginning section of the couloir.

With the record snow year we’ve had in Utah I’ve been psyched about doing some spring skiing. Deseret Peak, to the west of Salt Lake City, has a pair of couloirs that face north and are easy, as far as couloirs go. The trick is the road is closed about 4 miles from the true start of the approach. Andreas, Kasi, and I tried to get around this by loading up the motorcycles and riding around the gate. While this was not a bad idea, we didn’t get as much advantage as we’d hoped.

I met Kasi and Andreas at their place. After a little bit of adjustment to the skis strapped to the racks on my motorcycle we were off. The ride over to Grantsville was uneventful, but pretty in the morning. The view of the Stansbury’s made it obvious there was plenty of snow over there.

We got to the gate where the road is still closed for the winter and rode around it via the ATV/snowmobile bypass. After less than a quarter mile we saw some patches of snow and quickly thereafter we encountered a downed tree blocking about 75% of the road. Unfortunately, beyond this tree there was mostly snow/ice covered road. We walked but a little to see if it would go back to dirt, but it didn’t that we could see. So after only about half a mile beyond the gate we shouldered our packs and skis and started walking the rest of the 3.5 miles to the end of the road where the actual approach starts. We did see that if we’d decided to push a little farther from where we stopped, we probably could have gotten about 1.5 miles in since there was a good stretch of dry rode after the snowy bit.

We had 3.5 miles of road walking to do before the actual start to the approach.

At least we had good weather for the walk in, sunny and nice temps. Near the Upper and Lower Narrows there were some large debris piles from wet slides on the road—these certainly won’t be melting out soon. After finally rounding some trees in the upper basin we got a view of the North Twin Couloirs on Deseret Peak. They are broad and low angle as far as couloirs go. Andreas and I headed up the apron of the left one and Kasi stayed below. With our casual day and all the walking we’d gotten to the base around 4pm, much later than you’d normally plan to. Despite this we figured we were so close it’d be a shame not to ski one before heading home. The snow was hard and a peppered with wet slide debris from earlier in the week.

Andreas handily got to the top before I did and switched over. The first few turns weren’t too bad—icy, but smooth and with an inch or two of fresh stuff. After than the middle half was pretty terrible, icy, littered with debris and other stuff that made it tricky skiing for me. By the time I’d gotten back to where Kasi had waited she was in the shade. Being so late in the day some of the snow started to firm up again depending how long it had been shaded. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten a thumbscrew for my GoPro so I didn’t get any footage skiing the couloir itself, just some hand held shots on the way out.

We arrived back at our shoes and swapped over for the 3.5 mile walk out. It had been a long day so far and our Wasatch spoiledness of skiing to the car hadn’t mentally prepared us for this end of the day. Nevertheless our spirits were high as we finally got back to the bikes. Not the greatest snow, but almost no other people and fantastic views of Deseret Peak and east to the Great Salt Lake from an angle I hadn’t seen it from before.

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