Report from November 1, 2023
The true grind for “The 300 Project” is here…
Daily grinding up and down Utah’s Wasatch mountains in very low snow conditions inching closer to my goal of 300 ski days in one year.
Yesterday I headed up to Alta midday with my sights set on Main Chute for day #274 (I have until Dec 8, 2023 to complete the 300).
Only 2 days prior on October 30, 2023, I’d skied another killer chute on the very tip of South America in Tierra Del Fuego.
It felt surreal to be back in the USA and to be thrust into the mountains so quickly.
The funniest part was that the first person I saw was a classic SLC skimo racer guy skiing down the fake snow groomer at Alta.
I waved and said “hi.”
He neither waved back nor said anything…
I was clearly not in Argentina anymore where everyone is warm, open, and engaging…
Later on, that skimo racer blew my doors off on the up track and I tried again.
“How you doin’, man?”
He robotically answered back beneath a stiff blond mustache, “I’m fine, and you?”
His spandex made swishing sounds as he marched like a mercenary on a mission before stopping, violently ripping off his skins, and dropping in on the lowest 200-vertical-feet of the mountain that has the best fake snow coverage.
He was doing mini laps where the coverage was best.
Man, was I ever not in Argentina anymore.
3+ months in Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica had made me socially soft!!
As my brain adjusted back to the cool, calculated social interactions of the USA I realized how tired I was.
I was fing exhausted…
I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the top of 11,000′ Mt. Badly for Main Chute.
Maybe I’d just go to the top of the Collins lift?
I did see 2 spiders, 3 deer, and a cirrus cloud rainbow on the lower mountain and took them all as good omens.
As I ascended higher, I loosed up a bit but the lack of sleep on my 30-hour travel home from Ushuaia, Argentina the previous day was beating me down.
I switched to boots and crampons on the Baldy Shoulder and the grinding really began…
I made it to the top in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Maybe my longest time to summit Baldy ever.
The soft November light bathed everything and made the reds and whites of the jagged Cottonwood Canyon peaks seem more friendly.
Mt. Baldy isn’t any prettier with the 8-new avalanche towers they installed this summer but I understand why they’re needed.
I took my time on top resting, eating, and drinking.
Hoping I could ski Main Chute top to bottom without stopping.
The top looked rocky, dirty, and bad – but I’d seen it look worse.
I eventually dropped in around 3pm and negotiated my way through the dirty rocks.
Once solidly on snow I rested again, mentally mapped my line, and dropped in.
The snow was just what you’d expect on the first day of November and 100 skiers had already hit it.
Chalky, scrappy, beat up, slightly moguled.
Fortunately, nearly all of the hittable rocks were showing.
One just had to times one’s turns appropriately and there wasn’t too much rock to the ski base pain.
The narrow part of the chute felt very narrow and fun.
I was doing all I could to keep my skis parallel in each turn but the firm textured snow had other plans.
My skied bounced and skittered all over the place and I would have smiled and laughed about it had I not been breathing as deep and hard as I possibly could.
Once through the choke, my body was begging for a break but here the chute opened up and the snow got smoother and I was able to force sinew and flesh to hold on a bit longer.
At the base of the chute, I glided to a stop and ripped enormous hits of oxygen from the thin Utah air.
I’d been at sea level for about a month in Argentina and Antarctica and I had no defense for the 11,000-foot air of Mt. Baldy.
Once reoxygenated, I took the path of least resistance and the path of packed-down snow to the bottom.
This often meant riding on a zig-zagging road.
At the bottom, the omnipresent U of U park rats were sessioning a little rail and jump line they’d built.
One came up to me and asked for a photo and was a total sweetheart.
Maybe I’ll bring my in-bounds set up tomorrow and hit the jump with them for a bit…
Day #274 was a grind and it was also great.
We hit up the High West Distillery for dinner in Park City.
I’d never been there and I get why people think it’s cool with its fancy drinks and cowboy ambiance.