Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ski Season is Officially Over

I went skiing the other day and after doing so finally put the skis in the gear closet until next season. Unlike most, I don't hang up the skis until at least the first of July. Utah didn't have a great winter season by any stretch of the imagination but for me the season that started September 23, 2006 skiing 6" of powder on Mount Timpanogos ended skiing summer snow July 6, 2007 on the same glacial snowfield of Mount Timpanogos. Nine and a half months of a ski season is just about as good as it gets.

I'm not one for ski streaks but the thought of skiing in August would make it 12 consecutive months of skiing, a first for me. Will I make it? Doubtful. By my estimation the snowfield may melt out this year. The snow quantity up there right now is similar to what I saw there last September.

The Timp Glacier - photo taken June of 2006. - photo from Summitpost.org

I left work a bit early (thanks boss) and met up with my touring partner Alex at the Aspen Grove trail head at 5pm. The late afternoon/early evening hike up Primrose Cirque was beautiful with the wild flowers in full bloom, the waterfalls funning full and mountain goats out in numbers. By my estimate we saw nearly 70 goats throughout the hike including a young one that at most was a week old. The smallest mountain goat I've ever seen.

Timp Glacier in 2004 when it dried upTimp "Glacier" in 2004 - the first year ever recorded that it melted out. Actually the glacier is under the talus but the permanent snowfield melted for the first time in 2004. I expect it may melt out again this summer. - photo from Summitpost.org

The snowfield is still continuous (barely) from the saddle to Emerald Lake, yielding 950' of skiing. We arrived at the saddle at 8:45 pm to hughes of red and orange being cast across the sky, having ascended 4200' vertical from the trail head.

We clicked in as the sun went down and pushed off. The skiing was, well, it was good....for July. The snow was quite firm underneath with a couple of inches of soft snow yielding to our turns. It wasn't worth writing home to mom but it was worth the trip. We donned headlamps and headed down the trail.

If you're in Utah and planning on catching the wildflowers or the last bit of "good" snow to ski, head up Timpanogos sooner than later. The views, the goats, a great hiking/skiing companion, wild flowers....it will make a fantastic outing.

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