After a busy work week, initial plans were made to help a friend break in his new (used) sled before he leaves for a month-long film mission in AK next month. Free sled laps all day Saturday?! HELL YEAH! Details of where and when we were going hadn’t been ironed out yet, and I made it all the way to 8:30pm Friday night before passing out on my couch. I guess I valued sleep a little bit more. Ok, a lot more. 9:33am Saturday morning, I hadn’t budged an inch from my spot on the couch. 3 missed calls, 4 missed texts. Fuck, whoops.
Sled laps were out, and with temps in Salt Lake City approaching mid 60s, it would’ve been a recipe for a wet-slide impending slush-fest. So now what? Fuck it! Let’s go camping! We’d been eyeing a zone up Mill B South near Lake Blanche since last season, and with this spring weather, no wind, and full moon, it was looking like the perfect weekend for an overnighter.
We got a late 2:00pm start at the trailhead with hopes that we’d reach the lake and find a camp spot before the sun set. The trailhead started off as packed snow and we skinned no further than a quarter mile before the southern aspects of the trail turned into dirt and mud forcing us to strap our boards on our already heavy packs. Thoughts of the brutal 9-mile slog we endured, twice, in Southern California’s San Gorgonio Wilderness a couple seasons ago immediately came to mind.
Pro-tip: Never cross your tips with a full overnight pack on!
As we slowly and sweatily climbed higher, some fun zones started popping into view.
With just enough sunlight remaining, we finally reached Lake Blanche. Now we just needed to find a sick spot to post up our tents.
Pro-tip: If you’ve never winter camped before, stomping out a level area for your tent is key.
All posted up and settled in just in time for the sunset.
This particular night was one of, if not THE, quietest nights of camping I’ve ever experienced. It was an almost trippy silence. Zero wind, I mean, zero. No animals, no people, no sleds or airplanes. Dead silent. Temps only dipped down to the low 20s, and I slept with my rainfly door wide open. I was awakened around 3:30am to what I thought was the sunrise. It was the nearly-full moon reflecting off the mountain faces surrounding us. I wish I had taken a photo of it.
The first rays of sunrise cast upon Dromedary Peak, a beautiful site to see right from the warmth of your sleeping bag. The birds began chirping their morning songs, and a couple distant woodpeckers were heard going to town on the trees down by the lake. Spring was indeed springing.
Motherfuckin’ coffee time!
After a slow breakfast, taking in the views, we geared up and started skinning up toward a fun looking zone that already had a couple tracks in it.
With wet slides plastered on the west and south faces, and some large slabs scattered about the north and east aspects, we decided to play it safe and follow the tracks through the more mellow terrain.
We dug a quick pit and did an ECT with stable results before dropping our lines through some of the more playful terrain we’ve had the privilege to shred this season.
We ended up riding nearly 2000′ feet down to Lake Lillian. It was a short skin back to base camp from there. Packed up our gear and managed to shred another 1500′ bypassing a large section of the main trail.
Once we reached the rocky, shallow section of trail, we tossed our boards on our packs again and walked back out to the car. As much as it sucks skinning up with heavy packs in the beginning, it’s almost always worth it in the end. What an awesome overnighter in an epic, hardly-traveled zone in the Central Wasatch.
Sweet! That place is such an anomaly during the winter. As Im sure you know, the longish, steep, narrow and rocky approach keeps people out. In the summer, literally hundreds of people a day visit the drainage. As Im sure you know, the longish, steep, narrow and rocky approach keeps people out.
I had only been up to Lake Blanche in the summer / fall, and yeah, it’s not exactly an easy stroll with heavy packs. I think the approach to our camp spot was around 3.5 miles and 3000′ vertical. I’m still trying to figure out how we managed to slog 4 days worth of gear and food up San Gorgonio’s South Fork (in Southern California) a couple years ago, two weeks in a row. That brutal sufferfest is nearly 3 times as long as this approach, and it really puts things into perspective. It’s always a blast though!