Alpine Meadows, CA.
Bluebird At Snowbird
As Mr. Clinton once realized (George, that is), "The solution lies within the problem, the answer is in every question." I pondered and like always, my MountainZone.com credentials gave me props about things to which I have no relation or knowledge, but I nodded in agreement a lot and the next thing I knew we had a guide explaining we needed peeps and shovels and tomorrow we shoot.
So after a day of exploring the big ass "Birds" expanse of slush, with a few select stashes of fresh in the trees; we borrowed transceivers, shovels and improvised some hardcore backcountry attitude and slept with visions of freshies dancing in our heads.
I awoke on a friend of a friend's floor with his huge 150 pound dog straddling me and licking my face. Ahhhhhh, life on the road... The glamour, the airports, the ladies...oh, I mean the dudes, and dogs. We packed our rucksacks and headed out from Salt Lake where the weather was scorching and with a couple of palm trees, it could of passed for Florida in February.
When we did reach the summit, we sat and tried looking over the edge, but the fear kept us crawling and giggling. We saw a gaggle of patrollers headed up and we sat and tried to look professional. They joined us and began to inquire as to where we were headed. We confessed we hadn't a clue, but were told that they didn't either. Our uneasy nervousness returned as we realized that these patrollers were here from Solitude and Alta doing a little investigating themselves. They chuckled at us as they descended over the edge, hiking down into the pipeline chute.
Knowing the "safety in numbers" theory, we quickly followed our two planked friends. Our footing, however, wasn't as sure and we soon watched our guides descend into the chute and out of sight while we slowly slipped our way into the entrance.
Soon realizing our fates were in our own hands and fully dependent on our abilities, our attitudes changed. Darren turned on command and descended without hesitation or intimidation. As I stood alone in the steepest chute I've ever entered with my overloaded pack I quickly surmised that approach would have to do. Now all I had to do is get outta there. Like Darren, I turned quickly and precisely down the dense windpack and out into the bowl above the tourists. The elation grew with every turn and I soon found the reward pulsing through my veins with increasing speed. We looked back and smiled at our feat and joked that the climb was more burly than the descent.
The rest of the day we spent hiking small offshoots of untracked and sat steaming in the high alpine sun. Snowbird treated us to green beer on the patio afterwards with local folk music strumming while we sat in unspoken bliss looking up at the chute that from there looked more like a coffin nail than a pipeline. Of course I couldn't see a damn thing because I was completely sunblind by then and was being led around by my new escort, who helped me into the ladies room, into exit doors and down wrong way streets. What are friends for. Snowbird on St. Patricks Day is magically delicious. See you a little earlier next year for that ever-enticing Utah champagne.