words and photos by Ryan Mulcahy
After waking up last week to numerous days of snow on the ground in town(Ogden) and a deep low pressure system lingering over the mountains above all I could think about as I went through my week of school was getting to the mountains to reap this early season blessing. Flashbacks of previous seasons and big days consumed my mind with such weather in the sky. As the week progressed I started making plans and checking reports to insure safety and the best experience possible for my upcoming adventure. My beacon, shovel, and probe were all pull from under my bed and checks were done to insure proper function and conditions. I was able to recruit a sidekick in the adventure and it was decided Saturday November 2 would be the day.
After checking reports from the Utah Avalanche center we headed up little cottonwood canyon with adventure on our minds and motivation in our hearts. With skins and snow shoes on hand we started our adventure from the Mid Gad lift parking lot. There was very little trial broken and about 10in of snow at the base of the chair. We made our way via skins all the way up big Emma. From the top of big Emma to the top of lunch run there was a nice cat track that provided some easier uphill movement for us. For the last section of uphill traverse of regulator Johnson we decided to use snow shoes due the terrain and steepness of the pitch. After taking a short break and double checking all the gear we did a basic snow evaluation to insure stability and all seemed very stable given the conditions.
We used road to Provo to access the gad valley bowl which consisted of knee deep or better perfect snow that had very little sun exposure, and to my surprise I did not hit a single rock in my decent. But this is not to say there were not rocks exposed but with a carefully picked line and some luck I was able to avoid them. Making our way back to the top of big Emma and following our skin track to where it opens into a wide open, decently steep, straight shot to the bottom we decided to get a little more aggressive with our skiing. I personally had a least one face shot of cold UT blower. Toward the very bottom a few rocks could be felt under the skis but nothing to complain about.
All in all a good day my only regret was not using a slightly better, fatter ski, but I expected a lot less snow, but hey it’s only November.