The weather forecast for this past weekend wasn't looking ideal for a camping trip to the LaSals we had planned so we had to post pone
. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off and didn't want to waste a day off of work so I spent a few hours Sunday looking at NWS forcasts and Snotel data to see where it would be sunny and free of the dreaded dust on crust. I decided that a solo trip to Great Basin National Park would be worth the effort.
I've wanted to tour at "Utah's 6th"(a stones throw over the border in Nevada), least visited, and closest (to SLC) National Park for last two seasons. Both years I decide to wait until the summer road opened to 10000 feet in may and both years I was too busy with work to make it happen.
This past August I did a back packing trip there and it immediately jumped towards the top of my list of favorite places.
I was pretty stoked to finally heading there with my splitboard. For me, planning routes and finding access is almost as fun as the trip itself. There is a OK amount of beta on the web about touring there except all but a couple sources describe the route for when the road is plowed to the Wheeler Peak trail head in May. The rest involve hiking the a lower trail (7700 feet) to the Wheeler Peak TH (10000 feet) and following the summer routes to the peaks. Looking at a map, I saw that I could shave a few miles off by leaving the lower connector trail early and making a cross country B line to the base of the slope I wanted to ride. Hope I right.
It was supposed to be a warm and sunny day Monday but it got down to single digits Sunday night after almost of week of hot temps and I planned to ride a NE facing line so I saw no need for an alpine start. Left SLC a little after 5AM and pointed the truck towards the monster blood moon setting to the west.
I bought my post tour burrito in Delta at sunrise and headed down US 50, the "loneliest road in America"
I made quick work of the long flat and open stretches of road. I think the longest stretch I traveled goes for over 40 miles without changing course 1 degree.
I got to the park at 830, ate some breakfast and started hiking.
"Always leave a note"
I started leaving notes like this on my dash when I go on solo trips to less frequented places, along with leaving an itinerary with my roommate. I figure its another level of protection should something happen. Maybe a ranger taking out the trash or another hiker will notice see it. I know I'm always peaking into cars at TH's to see what they are up to.
After a mile of hiking on dirt and snow patches, I saw my objective Jeff Davis peak (12771), left, and Wheeler Peak (13063) with its bad as cirque . From here I would be bush wacking.
I aimed for the low point of the treed bench. The other winter routes I saw on the web had you hiking all the way to high side of the bench.
Travel was pretty easy going. I ended up booting the entire way. The snow was firm with just enough give to give you solid footing. Trees were well spaced. Had to cross a few creeks. Always fun.
The snow was starting to soften when I got to the toe of the slope, around 1100. Good news. I continued up the gully, stopping mid way to eat lunch. And give the snow more time to soften.
From where I stopped, the slope makes a little bit of a climbers right. That was enough of a change in aspect (or maybe elevation?) to change the snow from a softening melt freeze crust to a chalky wind buffed powder. :thumpsup:
Made it about 200 feet from the top before I started to run out of snow and started to run into sharks.