May 27-29

Great Basin National Park

In an attempt to extend the winter fun for as long as possible, at the same time, postponing summer, I once again attended the GBNP ski society gathering for the third consecutive year.

Edgar and I left Thursday evening, almost making it to Delta, when a stop for a sunset photo almost halted the trip. The engine compartment was smoking and I learned a head gasket had been replaced within the last week. There was no overheating, the fluid levels checked out fine and no smoke came from the exhaust. We proceeded although Edgar was a bit stressed.

We arrived at the campground, finding all camp spots full and flooding keeping the overflow area closed, so we poached a spot out in the desert at the Baker group site. The trip could certainly have gotten off to a better start.
The next morning, we brewed a pot of coffee and headed for the park, finding the road was not plowed to the upper campground.

After all the fuss about global warming, the heat wave and wet spring snow slides, the first thing on the agenda upon arrival was, of course, the digging of a snow pit.

As can be seen, the snow is not only deeper than previously viewed in the past, but well consolidated, although still showing layering.
We skinned the extra mile in to the trailhead and started heading up towards Wheeler to get a handle on refreeze and supportability of the snow.

Ascending the looker's right gully or the Stella Lake ramp we found a good refreeze with a shallow damp layer underneath. Later it was learned, that layer was the result of a thundershower the previous evening. On the way up, we decided the snow had refrozen well enough for a shakeout run before summiting Wheeler so, we skied the first shot off the ridge into Teresa Lake cirque.

Not the boldest line, but the snow was going off in the sun. A little surface sluffing from a shallow refreeze in the choke, otherwise very skiable.
Traversed around and followed the ramp to the ridge, then up the ridge to the summit of Wheeler. One of these days or years I gotta get to some of the stuff viewed to the south, from the top.

Anyhow, we skied from the summit finding one short down climb and a welled filled northwest face, extending over 3'000 vertical down into the desert.

Well, that put us in a hole, so after a safety meeting, where options for the ascent were debated and discussed, we just put our heads down and skinned up for several hours. Reached the ridge and checked the time, determining we'd have to haul ass to get a campsite for the evening. And we did, just barely, dealing with minor flooding for the rest of our stay.
Others rolled into camp throughout the evening, including a couple of JW's friends from Ely, who donated firewood and Alex, Tusher mountains yurt keeper and mountain guide. The next morning a good-sized group had gathered, indicated by Edgar's picture, for an attempt on Jeff Davis and the ditch.

We also spotted the chutes far looker's right in Wheeler peak cirque, attempted the following day.

Ascent was through the Bristle cone and up the looker's far left ramp. On the way up, we decided that aspect was getting a little soft so the first decent was down the middle ramp on Jeff Davis.
Here my dumb ass skills took over and I blurred the lens of the camera, in a cleaning attempt, so picture quality is hereafter poor.

Edgar has wanted to ski the ditch for God knows how long. We made no attempt at dissuasion for fear he'd pee his pants if made to wait.

An hour or so later, the rest of us followed, skied back around through the forest returning to the parking area.
Everyone found a campsite for the evening, we made plans for the next day and it only sprinkled that night.

The third morning was a bit warmer and the refreeze wasn't as good. We headed into the Wheeler Peak cirque for more sun-sheltered terrain, walked all the way into the back, climbing the gully to see if it went to the ridge. It didn't, there was a sizable wet sluff in the middle and the skiing was only passable.

While fighting up the back gully, others had ascended another one, finding it did go to the ridge, but hadn't gone all the way as it hadn't yet softened, so up we went.

The higher we went the stronger the wind. About the same time we switched from skinning to booting, the wind speed increased, with gusts over fifty, possibly higher. We ended up crawling on hands and knees hanging onto skis and poles tightly to prevent them blowing away down the gully. Giving up prior to the ridge we skied from the high point in a failed attempt, naming the gully, the Vortex.

There's one little steep hill left before hitting the flat and the walk through the forest back to the parking area. manged to get a picture of g in a telemark turn

Back around and headed for the parking where I suffered my second rando racing breakdown, having broken off the forward lean lock on the left rando boot earlier, using a voile strap for two days, I discovered the toe of the left binding had also broken, forcing a twist out to remove the ski and no hope of repair.


Thoroughly disgusted with the equipment, I convinced Edgar to leave the park and head back to SLC. He ain't to happy about it, I guess, but we skied everything we wanted and missed the stronger thunderstorms rolling in that night, coming home with a good adventure and dry gear.

No trip to GBNP is complete without viewing some roadside attractions,. This one's called the horse with no name.

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