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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    TR - Pilot Peak NV, 01/2017

    I've been too lazy to post right after it happened but now that the season is winding down a bit it feels like a good time to go back and look at one of the high points of 2017... Warning: lots of scenic and panoramic shots, not much actual skiing. Also, cell phone pics. And lots of text.

    Pilot Peak has been on my tick list for a long time. It's right across the UT/NV border and it's impossible to miss when you're driving west across the salt flats. It's basically its own small range sticking out nearly 6000' above the sage brush. Apparently you can see it from the top of the tram at the Bird on a clear day.

    When I started looking into it I found a few TRs, most from spring missions (boring) and a couple from TGR peeps. One was from Trackhead who got massively skunked and the other from JTrue who scored big. I figured I'd probably land somewhere in between and it was worth a try. January was going off in the Wasatch and it was hard to justify leaving town, even for a day trip, but after scoring some incredible days of low elevation pow it didn't take much effort to convince slog master Drew to wander a bit further than the Cottonwoods. All the reports I had see were from the E face but I had spied the W aspect on a previous trip and thought we could make it into a weekend adventure.

    We left SLC at 4AM and several thermos of coffee later barged in a gas station off I-80 for burritos before getting off the pavement. The approach road goes back and forth between UT and NV and we found out that while UT plows dirt roads in the winter, NV doesn't. We followed ranchers' tracks for a while, got lost, woke up some dogs and horses, got lost some more, and eventually found the dirt road heading to Pilot. It wasn't plowed but someone had driven up it so we followed. This is what navigating snowy dirt roads in the dark looks like when it goes well:

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    By 7AM things had stopped going well and we had slid the 4-runner off the road and high centered it with 2 wheels in a deep runnel. FYI this is what navigating snowy dirt roads in the dark looks like when shit is about to go south and you're not making the turn:

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    Out came the full size shovels (smart move by Drew is smart).
    By 7:30 we had managed to get the truck completely across the runnel but on the wrong side of it. A bit better I guess...

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    The sun came up while we were digging and we realized that we were much further from the peak that we should have been. Things were looking a bit less promising at that point. At least the views were OK.

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    We discussed going for it and worrying about the truck when we got back. That seemed like a recipe for disaster and a really long skin to Wendover so we elected to get back to work.
    At 8AM, after gathering every rock and uprooting every piece of sage brush within a half mile to build a rock + sage platform, we gunned the truck across the runnel and back on solid ground.

    The GPS had us 3 miles away and 1700' lower than the end of the approach road where most people get to park. Time to slog.
    You can see some of the truck carnage on the right...

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    I hate walking on flat ground and by the time we got to the end of the approach road I was starting to see red and the peak wasn't getting any closer:

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    The fog engulfed the salt flats, the car, and was threatening to catch up with us. Creepy:

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    The slog continued and we started actually going uphill. I think this is the massive talus filed Trackhead is walking in one of his pics:

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    Then this came into view and I stopped whining. The Sky Pilot:

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    We finally made it into the lower cirque. It's huge, threatening, full of massive chopped up trees, and obviously not a place you'd want to be when Pilot decides to let loose.
    Drew admiring his surroundings:

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    Then taking off and breaking trail (which he does 90% of the time):

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    The wind picked up when we got into the upper reaches of the cirque and we were happy to find steeper but more sheltered terrain:

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    The windboard down low turned into pow with a smidge of wind effects. Heading into the old growth:

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    And onto the upper face. The views got more and more expansive and impressive:

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    Proud stump:

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    The summit ridge was a frozen mess with howling winds:

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    Obligatory summit shot with the Wasatch way back there:

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    Summit panos with DPS spray:

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    The full-size high res shots are amazing, you can see the whole Wasatch range from Ben Lomond to Nebo, Deseret is pretty obvious, and looking South Ibapah and a number of other big peaks are poking out. Pretty spectacular views.

    The West face did not look so good unfortunately, we took one peek and realized this would be a day trip and we would not be skiing the other side this year...

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    We lapped the upper 1200' a couple of times since they held non wind-fucked snow:

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    Once the legs started complaining too much we decided to go look at the main chute instead of reversing the approach. Drew following the ridge into the abyss:

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    The abyss, which I launched into without realizing it was bulletproof and ended up bouncing off one of the walls and ass-sliding a way. Proud:

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    1500' in and 1500' to go, Drew was charging through the small ice drops while I was dealing with a serious case of jello legs:

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    Last break before the long slog out, the mandatory point. Behold the Sky Pilot:

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    Turns out those 3 miles which felt completely flat on the way in are just steep enough to cruise through on the way out. It was a fun hour of skiing brush and dodging exposed rocks or barbed wire while the sun went down:

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    Decent views on the way out:

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    And the blessed burrito for the drive back, along with a slew of beers:

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    Total time on snow was 9.5 hours and we were back to SLC by 8:30 PM. No injuries other than brutally sore legs.
    The next day I went from a recovery tour in Summit Park, turned around after 1k, and managed to clip a tree with my ass. Almost cracked my pelvis, the hematoma is still there. Goes to show...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Props for the TR. We needed one.

    I've driven by that fucker so many times past SLC from CO to NV and never even thought it was a possibility.

    Good on you. Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Awesome TR, I've also driven by it too many times but after trackhead's TR so it was on my mind.

    Looks like you could see the Rubies from the top too!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    On your tic list
    Great tr. thanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    very cool, thx for posting!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Sweet TR dude. Gracias. The stuck truck shenanigans bring back high school and college memories.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest_Hemingway View Post
    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Amazing report! Had a trip out there last March and summited Graham and Pilot. Neat area!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    That looks like a great day. Thanks for TR!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Paper St. Soap Co.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Very cool. Way to earn it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    yeah I've stared at that thing and thought "well, maybe..." a few times... now I'm thinking more maybe not nice write-up and pics

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Yeah. That is some real nevada.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Fresh Lake City
    awesome write up, it wasn't on my list before but it is now, thanks for sharing!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Rad trip report man! Looks like a pretty unique and gorgeous place to ski. Love checking out those isolated "sky island" type ranges when the conditions allow!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Verdi NV
    Great adventure.

    Great pictures from a place I will never be.
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Sounds great! Love to go there!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    needs musical accompliment

    great tr thanks for sharing the goods
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    ski on in eternal peace

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