Last night, I wasn’t even sure I was going to ski today. My buddy was out, and I didn’t know who else I could go with, especially considering it was already after 10:00. But then at 10:30 he texted me saying he was actually down and so we were all good. We pulled into the mouth of AFC at a little after 8 am and there was stopped traffic. We waited for a few minutes before checking out the Udot traffic cams which showed us that the canyon was closed.
So we did some quick decision making and opted to go try and ski Lone Peak. We have skied Heavens Halfpipe a number of times, but have never been to the summit of Lone Peak, which is only a few hundred feet higher, for a number of reasons. We only had about 4 and a half hours, so we knew we would need to be quick.
We were pleaseantly surprised how much snow was still at the trailhead at three falls, so we were good skinning and skiing form car to car, which was sweet. In fact, there was more snow there than there ever has been in the past. The first 1200 feet to the first Hemongog were firm and icey, which made for a couple of tricky sections, but it was better than braking trail. Once we met up with the school house springs trail/ road we connected with another skinner that had been set in the morning.
We were able to quickly follow their tracks and make good progress. At the second hemongog we ran into a solo skier who was heading up for Heavens Halfpipe. And then about 2/3rds of the way up the halfpipe we saw the people who set the skinner skiing down. It looked like really good skiing which made us happy, because we thought it would maybe be firm as could be.
While going up Heavens Halfpipe I realized at one point, that all of the big rocks were covered. ALL OF THEM. When we skied it in December there were Rocks 15 feet high! Now they’re completely invisible. So crazy.
It was one of those days when we got really lucky and everything worked out for the best, even with zero planning. Doesn’t happen often.
We kept working our way up the mountain and made progress WAY faster than any previous time in this area, summiting Lone Peak in 2 hours and 50 minutes! It felt pretty surreal and we were feeling extra grateful for fit bodies, good equipment and nice weather.
Just before the top of Heavens Halfpipe there is a gap in the cliffs on lookers left, cut through those, and then just work your way up the ridge to the summit! It’s all pretty low angle and easy skiing.
Once we made it to the top we enjoyed the feeling for a few minutes before ripping skins and starting the long decent! Other than the first 500 feet or so, the skiing was phenomenal all the way down to the second hemmongog. From there it was a little bit grabby down to the first hemongog, and then it was easy all the way back to the car! It felt satisfying to summit Lone Peak and ski down in just over 3 and a half hours! I think we could do it in sub 3 pretty reasonably!
Today we had low expectations, and were met with some of the all time most beautiful skiing. That’s a win.