The Horn of Plenty
|Jared approaches A-1 Peak|
Blogs about pre-season ski rituals are as ubiquitous as overly optimistic pre-season ski forecasts. Yet, we all know that shitty ski seasons will happen despite what the over caffeinated talking head from Ski Utah says, and we also know that people like me and my friend Jared will spare no preseason blog-space on chronicling our mythical snow god liturgy. I’ve written quite a bit about my pre-ski season rituals in the past, most notably, the annual mountain hike to offer liquor to Ullr, the Norse god of winter-- but not last year… and that’s because I didn’t make an offering last year. I think after I tore my ACL in 2012, I felt forsaken-- my faith waivered. To borrow from the Mormon movie billboard I pass on my way home, “I strayed.” I am a man of logic and analytical thought; there is no rational evidence that proves pouring out 3 oz. of alcohol on top of a peak is going to make a difference in our snow totals.
Yet, as much as the empiricist in me hates to admit, I am also a spiritual person; a Zen Buddhist who struggles to silence his monkey mind long enough to enjoy the present. So superstition aside, I seized on the opportunity of a unseasonably warm November day to go hiking in the Uintas and, if I just so happened to spill a little liquor while asking Ullr for a bountiful winter, so be it. What better way is there to get exercise, enjoy the present and practice mindfulness. With packs full of layers and libations, Jared and I parked on the side of the Mirror Lake Highway with a goal of climbing A-1 Peak.
|A-1 Peak viewed from the saddle |
|Bald Mountain and Reids Peak|
A-1 peak has multiple approaches, but going up and over Kletting is the most direct. The shortened days make hiking summits this time of year a little more interesting than in the summer, so direct was definitely our friend. From atop Kletting, A-1 seemed much higher, although the difference in elevation was only 300 feet. I think the reason it seemed much more lofty was the severe amount of elevation we would lose going down the east side of Kletting to the saddle between the two peaks which tacked approximately another 600’ to that 300’ peak difference. Make this eastern course over a mile and a half even more fitting for the purpose of our hike was the ankle deep snow we were now walking on down the backside of Kletting and back up the north facing side of the ridge. As I told Jared while we worked our way down between the two peaks, it felt good to be in snow again.
|Jared just below the sumit ridge of A-1|
While the summit of Kletting was broad and flat, the pinnacle of A-1 felt more like a perch. We found some spots to situate ourselves between the rocks and absorbed one of the better views I've had from this section of the Uinta's. The peak lies just north and west of the main crest and is high enough that you can see the depth of peaks for four, maybe five drainages. In addition to awesome views of Hayden, Spread Eagle and Ostler, you could make out some of the giants that guard the depths of the upper reaches of the East Fork of the Bear River. These guys are giants, and when they are fanning out in front of you from a 12,400’ perch, you have a hard time convincing yourself it's time to head back down, even if you are running out of daylight. The Wasatch were a universe away, but still visible in the clear western sky. I ended my season in the Uinta mountains, skiing into June on some of the peaks accessible from the highway, so even though I wasn't on skis this time, I felt like I was now starting my ski season.
So the 2014-2015 season is supposed to be a good one. Not because of weather