Forums Trip Reports Tour De Southern Utah
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  • #781071
    136 Posts

    The last ten days have been great. Wasatch Splitfest, followed by a sweet storm, and finally capped off by a long weekend in southern Utah. My girlfriend and I had planned to do a weekend trip in Escalante a while back. This was mostly going to be a desert trip but I always wanted to put a line on Boulder Mountain (mostly just to say I did), so we decided to give at least a half day to that. Then it started snowing is southern Utah. A lot. The trip plans quickly transitioned into ski trip plans. Then it kept snowing and all of sudden avalanches and access became an issue. Luckily it stopped snowing and the sun came back out a few days before we left.

    First stop was in the Dixie National Forest.

    As long as I’ve been backcountry riding, riding through red rock has been near the top of the list of goals. Every year I kept one eye on weather day and the other on a map trying to make it work. Now that it was finally happening, I was pretty stoked.

    This place is a wonderland. An explosion of color and texture.

    It has a thriving population of bristlecone pines.

    Note the bristles, on the pine cone.

    We got as high as we could.

    And went down.

    And repeated.

    Next we got in the truck and backtracked a bit to get groceries and headed to Cedar Breaks National Monument. I thought my engine was going to blow up on the 13% grade to the pass with a few hours of daylight left. This is another place I had wanted to ride for awhile but the terrain is so complex and snow so unpredictable that it took some time to finally make it.

    The area had so much snow that many of the hoodoos its know for were buried. We didn’t have enough time to venture into the unknown but we were able to get some cheap powder turns in the mellow upper bowls.

    We got back to the truck as the sun was setting and headed towards Escalante.

    …To be Continued. Soon…

    Evidence of the ridiculous snow totals were everywhere. Elk and deer didn’t know where to go. Had too many close calls on the road to count. Panquitch didn’t know what do with all their nwo. 10 foot plowed snow bank were not uncommon. Snow totals decreased as we headed west but Red canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park had plenty of snow. Im sure it would have looked pretty cool in the daylight.

    The next day we hung out in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The snow was gone by time we were a couple of steps of the Staircase from the Escalante River.

    Snow on the other side.

    We eventually crossed over into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The Escalante was running high and muddy so we turned around and headed back.

    Passed through a Craig Childs approved landscape and headed back.

    On the last day of the trip, we went back into the Dixie National Forest to explore Boulder Mountain. I had scouted out a few locations worth skiing the week before on hillmap but as we ascended, it became clear that a fresh 2 feet of snow wasn’t enough to cover the heavily dead fallen landscape.

    This was only the lady’s 4th time on skins (and 2nd outside of Grizzly Gulch) so in the spirit of partner retention, we decided to spend the afternoon making hippy turns on whatever long white patches we could find. We had a fan club of Japanese tourist on this one waiting for us at the road.

    We did that until we got hungry and headed towards Torrey.
    Capitol Reef did not appear to have any skiable snow 🙂 but the Henry’s are on the shortlist for next weekend.

    On the drive out, it looked like the slopes I had wanted to ride on Boulder Mountain were filled in nicely. Maybe next time.

    Overall it was a kick ass trip through some colorful country. Im now resigned to the fact that my powder days are numbered for this dud of a season but shit is still looking pretty white and I look forward to starting sky island season.
    Hope you all enjoy and sorry for the long post!

    601 Posts

    Just wow. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    1448 Posts

    Wow, this made my morning Switchback. What a fantastic trip and your timing couldn’t have been better. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Curious, are you planning a Sawmill Basin approach of the Henrys? 50% chance I’ll be in that area.

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
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    351 Posts

    Awesome!!! I love that area and enjoying some quality powder turns in the red rock landscape would have been surreal.

    2486 Posts

    That is about the same distance from my house as Mammoth. I have to get out there. That is a bad ass area if the snow is there.


    Rico in AZ
    559 Posts

    Rad, glad to see someone got there after this huge storm.
    I’ve been dreaming of riding that area since Dirksen did it in Deeper. I need to get serious about it.

    830 Posts

    Way to motivate. Been jonesing some desert hiking lately. Thanks for the beta too, it would be nice to make something happen.

    237 Posts

    @switchback, That red rock area is so picturesque! Sweet trip and thanks for sharing.

    136 Posts

    I went back to Cedar Breaks hoping to ride the some spicier lines down in to the abyss. Unfortunately, it got to warm and the snow was locked up in the shaded aspects and patchy to non existent in the sun. I wasnt sure I could get back up if I went down. Fortunately,corn on the south side of Brian Head peak was ripe for the picking. Super easy roadside access meant laps all morning.

    Maybe not worth the drive but I was enroute to the desert for a business trip so it was worthwhile detour.

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