Forums Trip Reports TR: Heli-Free Stylin’ the Tushars
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    4 Posts

    Borrowed this most excellent TR from Ttips figuring y’all might recognize some of our partners in corn from this forum. WoW=Jivestick, DJ=DJ Barney, and No Gloss=Funseeker (but I don’t know if he ever posts here, does he?). Also, a VIDEO for those who just wanna get down to the action. Enjoy!

    Great weekend with Team Voilé down in the Tushars.

    We loaded into the PoserMobileâ„¢, and hooked in the iPod, cranking B.B.King as we headed outta town. The drive went fast – a 200 mile high-speed straight shot down I-15 to Beaver, then upcanyon for 22 miles to the now-defunct Elk Meadows/Mt. Holly ski resort. We arrived at Puffer Lake a little after midnight, hailed MC on the radio, then headed in. Arriving at the yurt around 1, we didn’t really bed down ’till almost 2am.

    Morning dawned through the yurt skylight and we were up and about, preparing for the day. Alec, the proprietor and guide of Tushar Mountain Tours is a FOV (Friend of Voilé), and select members of the crew come down to visit him annually. Alec is privy to all the vast terrain and secret stashes of the sparsely visited area, replete with 12K’ peaks, huge bowls and couloirs, gladed woods and plenty of snow, with over 500′ this year. In fact, the section from the Tushars in Tyson Bradley’s book on Ootah backcountry skiing comes primarily from Alec’s vast experience in the area. I really had very little experience in Central Ootah, having skied in the Elk Meadows ski area about a decade ago when the lifts were still running, and doing a little regional biking, hiking and x-c skiing over the years; I had no idea of the potential of the touring terrain we were about to be treated to. Alec mentioned he’d had over 100 powder days this season, and with the paucity of fellow skiers and no helis, he rarely went a day without getting fresh tracks. It hadn’t snowed for awhile but the weather had set up for a good corn cycle.

    wow and dj barney waking up and getting ready.

    As wow mentions, he’d never been on a guided trip before, and was a tad leery, musing aloud “Where is the line between guide and client responsibility?” as he signed the release form. Actually, since Alec is such a good FOV, it really was more like going skiing with a local bud. As mentioned, our group was MC, gumby, no gloss, dj barney, Alec, and of course wow and myself.

    We headed up towards Lake Peak (in the background) for some early morning turns as the snow softened.

    Atop lake peak, ready to get started: wow, no gloss, MC.

    After a nice warmup, we headed up to of Mt. Holly, and spent the rest of the day doing laps off the summit in the ripening corn.

    Pano atop Mt. Holly

    gumby’s World

    Make sure to dig plenty of snowpits along the route.

    The snow was classic corn-turning-into-slush with plenty of solar radiation yet very little evidence of instability or even minor sloughing. I felt a bit silly wearing the AvaLung in such low hazard conditions, but do it just to make it habitual – plus it’s a pretty comfortable layer.

    Throughout the day, I found it amazing that I could actually keep up with (and sometimes even get ahead of) wow, until I realized:

    1) He wasn’t even trying that hard.

    2) He was prototyping a stiffened-up set of these: (image – jw)

    that were paired with some beat-up skins far too narrow for the ski.

    3) He hadn’t brought his secret ingredient:

    and was therefore as mortal as Superman exposed to Kryptonite or Popeye sans a can ‘o spinach.

    We finished the day dropping down a nice red rock-lined couloir off Lake Peak, continuing below to an aspen grove with soft corny turns.

    After lounging around the yurt in the afternoon sun, napping and recovering, Alec cooked a great dinner for us. We stayed up ’till around 11 with good conversation, rum, wine and whiskey.

    The next morning’s objective was a cirque out past Mt. Holly. We hiked up to the pass, and dropping down the saddle, we were surrounded by a magnificent snowy amphitheatre.

    Pano surrounded by the cirque

    MC contemplates the chutes on the East Face of Mt. Holly while G prepares a snowball for murph.

    The plan was for a run down an unnnamed couloir off of an unnamed peak opposite Mt. Holly. gumby and I headed up the peak, while the rest of the crew did a warmup lap (only about a 1000′ or so) across the ravine.

    Feeling adventurous, we did a bit of steep bootpacking up a couloir, ascending pitches over 60 degrees. The snow was easily kick-stepped 2-buckle deep, but it still was good to have the Whippets handy.

    g climbing – the pic on the left doesn’t do justice to the scale, but the closest rocks behind her are several hundred feet below. The valley is almost 1000′ beneath her boots. Pic on the right is where it levels off a bit as we approach the ridgeline.

    The winds really whip, coming off the Central Ootah plateau at a steady 40mph that day. Several times I felt like my A-framed skis would carry me away when an especially heavy gust hit me.

    The team gathered at the summit for a snack and some recuperation.

    Pano atop no name peak at ~12K’

    no gloss lost his vintage Heli-Free Wasatch cap to a mighty 60+ mph wind gust and sadly watched it sail off the edge of the mountain. We therefore christened our descent the HeliFree Couloir, in honor of his sacrificed hat, as well as another way to commemorate the end of the flying season.

    wow descending HeliFree Couloir, with no gloss and Alec above.

    MC and g make some nice tandem turns.

    MC ‘The Puma’ in his characteristic stance.

    The descent was fantastic, some 1400′ in wonderful corn. After making our way back and regaining the pass, we did one last run off Mt. Holly, which had now turned into windhammered sastrugi/coral reef. We skied back to the yurt, packed up and skied back out to the cars. We stopped for a nice Mexican dinner in a campground (of all places) downcanyon named Maria’s. The cook is from Mexico, and the place has limited hours and is open only half the year, but Alec knew it would be the best place for good food and lots of it. After saying our goodbyes to Alec, wow and I headed back north in the PoserMobileâ„¢ with the rest of the crew in MC’s VoiléMobile.

    All in all a great weekend with great folks, good skiing and great terrain. Well worth returning to or checking out, and a gem off the beaten track.

    282 Posts

    Looks like a great time. Gotta love “friends”, especially with yurts.

    1669 Posts

    Right on G. Glad you made it over here. I saw the Ttips TR, but this one’s better with the addition of some good comedy. 😆 Haven’t seen many of your and MC’s (and murph’s) TR’s, but I haven’t checked your site all season. I’m sure you got lots of great days in.

    Cool to see the Voile crew out havin’ fun. Where was Wally?

    4149 Posts

    Right on G!

    I saw this on ttips but didn’t post a reply yet, I’m glad you shared it here too. 😀
    A Tri-Ungulate/wow TR and gumby video all rolled into one is a good recipe for stoke.

    Cool pics and words Tri-U and of course the viddy is sweet too gumby! 8)

    Thanks again for sharing and don’t be a stranger. 🙂

    740 Posts

    Looks cool…thanks for the chuckles. 🙂

    4 Posts

    Thanks all. I wasn’t sure I could register here without knowing the secret knuckleshake but guess I squeezed through 😛

    PJ, team MGM (MC, G, Murphy) indeed has been having a great year getting out there and it is evident in the lack of updates on the site 😕 Getting out = lots of footage and stills = no time to get stuff together. Hopefully, we’ll catch up over the summer. And as for Wally, he’s out surfing a different kinda board.

    Chris, I know it’s late but I’ll add my congratulations for the great job on the site. Will definitely try to make it here more often.

    jive stick
    110 Posts

    I’ll admit to being integrated here in the new millennium and yeah, I was on a pair of skis for the weekend.
    They were a great big pair of fatties though. Matching up with No Gloss indicated about the same size, as a splitter in ski mode.
    Anyhow thanks for the invite gumby. Fine weekend of corn planned out just about perfect.

    Tr-u did a great job with the tr on teletips.
    Some different pics and tr can be found here, including one of gumby, carving on teles.

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