Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Ogden Ink in Today's New York Times

More Emerald City bait to lure the well-heeled "high adventure" tourist

By Curmudgeon

Interesting article on Ogden and skiing in today's New York Times about skiing the west face of Mt. Ogden from the ridge line to Ogden city.

Here are a few of the opening graphs. It's a very long article, with a good picture included:
It was a Saturday morning, sunny and clear at 8:30. Mr. Robinson, an airline baggage handler and budding professional skier, was transferring his gear to an idling car parked next to his.“I could ski from the summit right to this street,” said Mr. Robinson, who lived five blocks away when he was in college.

The summit Mr. Robinson referred to was Mount Ogden, which, at 9,570 feet, dominates the skyline above its namesake town. In a good snow year, a massive squiggle of white known as the Banana Chute fills in on Mount Ogden’s rocky northwest face, creating a dramatic entrance to a skiable descent that is larger than any lift-accessible run in the country.

Calibrate your altimeter at the top and you can ski for four miles and nearly 5,000 vertical feet, from the thin alpine air, down through the maw of the chute, over ridges and meadows of untracked snow, then into a creek bed that funnels the backcountry line to its unlikely terminus at the residential grid of a midsize American town.

The Banana Chute experience, which can be reached by a short hike out of bounds from Snowbasin ski resort off Highway 167 east of Ogden, is not for the tame or the uninitiated. This is a locals’ adventure, where avalanche dangers are present and real. The terrain is for advanced and expert skiers only, with cliffs, trees, traverses and rock-studded slopes best led by a guide who knows the route.
Ed. note: Well let us see... in order to properly service that route for all those east coast tourists, we're probably gonna need a couple of gondolas, right? It appears as if the gondola cult is putting in a little public relations overtime.

The gondola-obsessed never rest!

Gondolas, anyone?

Don't all chime in at once.


dan s. said...

As usual, ya gotta read between the lines in articles like this:

* Much of the top portion of this area actually isn't USFS land, it's privately owned. That's why Snowbasin can offer a guide service there. I don't think they're permitted to offer any guide services out of bounds on USFS land. I wonder how often their guide service operates, and whether they do any avalanche control.

* Beacons and probes and Avalungs notwithstanding, this is a very risky activity, especially at this time of year. A large fraction of avalanche fatalaties are caused by traumatic injuries (crashing into a tree, etc.), and in these cases, none of these tools are gonna help.

* "In a good snow year" indeed. In a bad snow year, like last year, these folks would have been slogging through mud for the last couple miles of their descent. Even in a good year, if you wait until spring when the snow is more stable, the bottom of the canyon is no longer skiable. The most serious backcountry skiers don't mind this inconvenience, but it's always kept the masses away.

Bottom line: This is a risky back country adventure, not for the casual tourist. Anyone who tries to make money off this activity will incur tremendous liability.

Bill C. said...

There are a few different descents on the west side of the mountain. As long as my memory reaches guys have been doing this stuff, once or twice in a very good year.
Taylors Canyon, the one featured in this article represents the most dangerous of all the descents. A couple of guys were killed doing exactly what these guys were doing in Taylors some years back. Most of the guys come down the slope that the WSU W is on, a much safer route. Taylor's offers the best snow conditions and the best chance to be burried alive.
I wouldn't worry too much, this piece ain't providing any justification for an Urban Gondola. It's high adventure all right, one you might be able to do every 4 years judging by trends in our snowfall.
You could do it every year I suppose if sloshing thru mud and ruining your skis on rocks don't bother you.
With the growth of the heli ski business this really only is appealing to locals, like always, just to say they've been there done that.
For the jetset high adventure tourist, heli skiing offers everything this does without the bottom end. In other words, good snow.

Bill C. said...

Since the topic of gondolas has come up, one of the most self decieved of all the gondola cultist, so inebriated on toxic lying little matty kool-aid, attempts to take Tom Owens to task in the editorial letters today.
This Jeannette Ballentine displays all the symptoms of being subjected to a constant barrage of lies, she repeats them. The truth in this regard is not hard to come by, I have a copy of the lease, and yes, Ogden City bought all the epuipment. I would like to ask her how if the first part of her claim were true, how she came to the conclussion that if and when the jackass center fails Ogden City would then be on the hook.
Such pathetic geigarian rational.

Dreaming of a miracle said...

Another example of the Godfrey machine's disingenuous nature in todays letter to the editor. In this case one Jeanette Ballantyne lamely tries to refute a previous letter writer's take on the inept and dishonest Godfrey.

As usual with the Godfrey sycophants, she offers up no proof, just more of their same mindless mantra.

The parts I found most amusing were where she claimed that the Gold's Gym and Fat Cat guys were in fact not Godfrey cronies but that he had to work "diligently" to convince them to invest in Ogden! This of course begs the question of why no one else was given an opportunity to belly up to this no risk trough.

The other gem was where she claims that no tax dollars were spent on the Gondola and Mt. Ogden Park fiasco, and that they are both of the radar now.

Reminds me of the old saying: "none are so blind as they who will not see"

Check out the letter here:

through the fog

Tec Jonson said...

Even in a great ski year like this one, Taylor Canyon has been offered a quality and relatively safe descent on a total of maybe 4 or 5 days. Coldwater Canyon is a little better and offers more shade and space between the trees. I missed my chance to do Taylor on the good days. I was resting from incessant Powder in bounds and Hell's Canyon. Maybe later this season if we get another sustained cold snow cycle. Today may have been one of those good days but I think the snow cover at the very bottom may be getting thin. It is indeed high adventure but hardly a reliable or safe descent for a ski resort.

Howbout a Link said...

Is there a way we can get a link to the lease agreement? If the SE wont do ITS job, we can do it for them!

Wrong Picture said...

the picture in the ny times article does not look like it was taken in taylor canyon from what i can tell. look at the view of the valley and the direction that the sun is hitting the skier. looks to me like this picture was taken on a southwest facing slope somewhere else on the range.

Tec Jonson said...

Good eye, wrong picture.

I, too, cannot put that background into the view I regularly see from Mt. Ogden or No Name Peak. In fact, I cannot put it's relative aspect into any view and slope that's familiar to me from Snowbasin. Typical for newspaper accuracy.

The ridges in the background look reminiscent like they may be Strong's and Brushy but the skier would have to be skiing on the Porky's side of the towers to get that view. Still doubtful it's Basin.

The story states he could not edge into the wind pack at the top of the chute this also displaces the picture. He is clearly edging nicely.

Bill C. said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but, this particular chute would not really be made accessible by thorazine basins resort plans. It would require a very long traverse and a climb of about 1000 ft. Snow Basin would still be the easiest access and that's not saying it's easy.

Tec Jonson said...

Right Bill, That chute drains off the NW aspect of Mt. Ogden. You can drop it directly off of the Tram. It is actually easy access. Any Peterson lift would terminate far to the south on the other side of Malan at a lower elevation and would require climbing Mt Ogden to reach.

The article makes it sound as though this chute could offer a quality descent most anytime, although it does say he would do it "when conditions permit" which is extremely rare. Some skiers will ski absolutely shit snow conditions and call it great where I am picky and would run it only when either it is virgin untracked >8" and less than 72 hours old give or take a day depending on sun exposure, temperature fluctuations, settling, etc. Skiers tend to make endless turns down these chutes exposing themselves to more avalanche potential by cutting the slope excessively while chopping things up for the next guy. Better snowboarders run it nearly pointed turning less than 1 in 8 to a skiers turns if not totally pointed in deeper conditions where the powder provides sufficient speed control. These conditions are, again extremely rare for a top to bottom soft experience. They also omit the very tight trees you must navigate in one section that if icy or tracked will be tiresome. This descent is largely for local talking points and is certainly not for the visiting Easterner who has not been following conditions and may not be as backcountry savvy. It's not just the avalanche awareness.

Note that the young man who died in Hell's last season was from Mass. or Vermont I believe. Although there were many riding Hell's Canyon safely that day, they were not familiar with the huge whale of snow that builds right over the death line. Most of us avoid that line as the days when it gets run the most it is at it's ripest to fail. Those days offer the best conditions in the more sheltered zones. Still this is highly risky. No amount of caution can be excessive. You must be able to ride fast and straight in the case of a slough and that is no guarantee. There are terrain traps everywhere and places you simply cannot point if you are going at such a speed.

Tec Jonson said...

I have to wonder about the motivation of this article. Why would a baggage handler/budding pro skier(what is a budding pro skier anyway? any racing wins under his belt? any video cameos?) assemble a photographer and travel writer to do a story for the NYT? I can't help but wonder if this was LO generated. No doubt Descente or Salomon in cahoots with MG and co. decided that something is needed to make a point of the potential for a west side descent thus bolstering their nonsensical fantasy that west side skiing is a reality.

Finding a skier, writer and photographer is easy as is getting published in travel sections. Just submit. This was locally generated with an agenda.

Good Reader said...

Tec, after a little research and Google, it turns out JT Robinson is sponsored by DNA and he likes to hangout with a Ben Geiger. Kendall Card is sponsored by Black Diamond and the photographer is from Salt Lake. So I can think the motivation is to promote skiing in that out of bounds area, and keep alive the gondola to nowhere. I did notice some ski tracks from the top of the mountain in that area while driving south on Fillmore the other day and wondered what kind of fool would ski there. Oh wait they all had beacons, shovels, and locator poles in case of an avalanche.

Bill C. said...

Tec, do you suppose this and other articles are being done for an audience of one or two? Like the one about the via feratta that seems to have been put up for show?
I wonder if these things aren't part of an attempt to con some not too wise person into investing,(losing),in Malan's Basin, also know in these parts as thorazine basin. A very small draw on the western slope of Mt. Ogden.

Tec Jonson said...

Likely they want to keep the interest alive in the west slope. JT seems to be a very strong tele-skier. See him rip on you-tube. Got 6th at Crested Butte. Karhu is his ski sponsor, owned by K2. DNA provides his duds. Google is helpful. Thanks Good Reader.

Wouldn't doubt that the Peterson Land Cartel has some unwitting fool wrapped up in the whole thing. It really is amazing how attractive the whole idea of a west side resort is to the untrained eye. The mountain looks awesome caked in snow and your attention cannot help but wander to all the potential extreme lines any powder hound would recognize. From Taylor Canyon on the north to Spring creek on the south reveals some amazing bowls, chutes, cliffs to make any hardcore rider drool. I am sure they use this winters solid snow cover to repeat all the old foolishness about skiing to WSU and all. The grandeur of the west face masks the pitiful reality of a resort based in Malan Basin.

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