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Thread: Pink Cliffs TR and Reminder
10-25-2004, 03:00 PM #1Registered User
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
- S. Utah
Pink Cliffs TR and Reminder
10/23/04 – My first dawn patrol. With 48-52 inches of new snow reported at Brianhead, my local resort, I had to go skiing. Because I am a backcountry JONG, Shadow and I made plans to hike inbounds at Brianhead where the avy danger is next to zero. Friday night, however, we were invited to go BC by a group of knowledgeable skiers who don’t mind a couple of JONGs tagging along as long as we have the proper gear, a little knowledge, and a willingness to listen and do what they say. Over the summer I have worked on putting together my avalanche gear and have been reading avalanche safety books, as well as gleaning what knowledge I could from this board. This was the opportunity that I was hoping for.
At 06:30 we met up as a group at the mouth of the canyon to discuss the plans and to make the 30 min. drive up the canyon to where we would leave a vehicle to shuttle us back to the drop off spot. We then all piled into the other vehicle to the beginning of the trailhead. From there it is a 2½ -3 mile hike to the top of the ridge. At the top we regrouped, dug several pits and discussed several of the terrain traps and safe zones on the intended route. The route that we were going to take included two cliff bands that ranged anywhere from 15 to 70+ feet. The snow pack was stable, and deep enough that we were not worried about rocks, however we didn’t feel that it was deep enough for the really big airs (which, to me is anything above 20 feet). One at a time we skied down to a safe zone just above the first cliff band. The snow was deep, face shots on every turn, thighs burning, and adrenalin pumping. At the first cliff band we lined up again, picked out our next safe zone and took our turn. The drop that we picked out, figuring it to be 10-15 feet turned out to be more in the 25-30 range. When it was my turn I went a little higher that the previous two as to avoid the bomb holes. After making a crater of my own I skied down through the narrow chute, made a hard left and worked my way over to where we would have to traverse two chutes over to access a area where we could clear the next cliff band.
We traversed to the first chute, where we had to make a boot pack up, so we could make the traverse to the next chute. It was during the boot pack that I first realized that I might be in trouble. I have been running and lifting for two months now, and figured I was in decent shape. However, during the boot pack, it was all I could do to lift my legs each step. I reached the top, rested several minutes, and rejoined the group at the end of the next traverse, where they were ready to go. One at a time they went down the chute, off of the cliff band, and to the bottom, just above the traverse out.
I am alone at the top, the last one to go. I ski down to just above the drop, rest for a few minutes, legs burning. This is a smaller drop than the first, and wide open below. I point them and drop. The landing is packed, no bomb hole to slow me down. I am out of control, but recovering, all the while gaining speed. Should I bail out or try to recover? I have plenty of room, and decide to try for the recovery. Then I see it, a giant chunk of ice directly in my path. I try to make the turn around it, but there is nothing left in my legs and they don’t respond. I hit the chunk of ice and go down, twisting my knee. After the pain subsides somewhat I give the “I’m OK” sign to the party waiting below and proceeded to gather up my gear. I click back into my skis and start down. I start to initiate a turn, putting pressure on my right knee when it buckles and I hear the “pop” that so many on this board have described in such vivid detail. Shit. Now what? I get back up and try to make it down on one ski. Not happening. Am I going to have to be “One of those people” who have to be extracted from the mountains? No way! I let the rest of the group know what had happened and that I would make my way down to them. I found that the deep powder going down the steep slope would actually help stabilize my knee where I could step on it. I worked my way down one step at a time to the remaining of the group, (the rest had gone ahead to get the vehicles and help if needed), where I strapped the snowshoes back on and walked the rest of the way out using my poles as support. I don't know the exact time it took me to get out, but it was probably an hour to an hour and a half to travel what should have taken 5- 10 minutes. The guys I was with were very patient with me and supported me and helped out in any way possible. I thank them for that.
I have been told that the area we skied has only been skiable two or three times over the past several years. And here it is October and we were ripping it. Unfortunately, this time the mountain ripped back. I have an appointment with the Dr. in the am to find out the extent of the damage. At this point I am not holding out much hope that I will be skiing again this season, maybe in the spring. It was an incredible day until that happened and I do not regret going. I don't think that I will get invited into the backcountry again, but will jump at the opportunity again as soon as I am able. I do get depressed from time to time as I think about what is ahead of me, but maybe I will get lucky. Use this as a reminder to know your limits and do not get your self in trouble in the early season before you get into “ski shape”.
Sorry, no pics, as nobody had a digital camera or wanted to carry the extra weight. It was incredible country and the next time I go there I will carry a camera as it will be worth it.
10-25-2004, 03:25 PM #2
Cliffs notes version:
He went skiing, was killing it.
He got tired, and fell, possibly whelking his knee.
Sorry dude! Keep the ice on, and just wait until the MRI comes back before you start boozing too hard.It's idomatic, beatch.
10-25-2004, 03:31 PM #3have not
Originally Posted by Cornholio
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
- the tinfoil aisle
serious downer moe, but don't count yourself out yet. here's to hoping you will be able to kill again this winter.
10-25-2004, 04:27 PM #4
thanks for the cliff notes cornholio!
10-25-2004, 05:00 PM #5
Wish we had a camera with to give you guys some pictures. It was incredible terrain. After skiing around 7 years at Brian Head I didn't think there was any challeging terrain in Southern Utah. The only challenge at Brian Head is getting enough speed to make it over all the flats. The whole time we were skiing the Pink Cliffs I was thinking what incredible action pictures you could get in there. The terrain is similar to the red rock cliff bands of Cedar Breaks National Monument, people also refer to the Pink Cliffs as the "false breaks". Hopefully syslak won't be out for long and we can get some pictures next time we are in there.