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Day 59
April 1, 2006
Mill B South / Wasatch Mnts / Utah

Went to Snowbird today for a full day of McSkiing. 
Just kidding.
Storm day today so I had to find a spot that was off the ridges and 
somewhat less avy prone. As I learned in Morocco the easiest way to avoid 
getting too lost in a storm is to choose a route that goes up a narrow box 
canyon. That way the options are more or less just uphill or downhill. With 
that in mind I decided on an ascent of Mill B South from the s-curve in Big 
Cottonwood Canyon.
Parking lot was empty (I haven’t run into anyone in four days out here, 
where is everyone?) and the forecast snow was just starting. Yesterday 
produced 4”-8” and I was going to have to be aware of that, especially 
because strong winds were sure to have loaded lee slopes.
The cool thing about Mill B from Big Cottonwood in a good snow year (like 
this one) is the relative low elevation starting point (6,200’) means a 
long descent. From the trailhead to about 7,500’ the trail was fairly easy 
to follow as it ascended along the Mill B river and features thwacky bits 
reminiscent of home. The snow was soft and spring like. 
From 7,500’ and on the snow became much dryer and deeper until about a mile 
and a half up the canyon I again found myself snowshoeing through knee to 
thigh deep powder. Nice. 
At 8,100’ the canyon reaches a bowl of steeper terrain acting as a dam of 
sorts for Lake Blache and Lake Florence above and here I had to start 
really thinking about what I was doing. There wasn’t a trail anymore as the 
aspen and spruce trees had thinned out and open bowls and faces took over. 
The snow storm was getting pretty aggressive at that point and it was only 
with intermittent clearing that I was able to even see where I was and 
where I wanted to go. I did some snow analysis and found a layer about a 
foot deep on top of the first shear layer which was on top of denser snow 
that seemed pretty solid. Good news for continuing but the wind was kicking 
up and during the open breaks I could see the snow flying over the ridges 
above loading the highest slopes. Not good.
I chose a route on the east side of the canyon that seemed to offer the 
least resistance and traveled in the most (relative) secure slopes. The 
snow at that point was really thigh deep and just great. 
I got above Lake Blanche to 9,300’ and it really got kind of spooky. I was 
traversing a slope under a steep rock and snow ridge about 700’ high and 
there was a bona fide snowstorm going on. I did more snow analysis which 
indicated acceptable risk but the steep slopes above me were not making me 
feel at all safe. There terrain was very convoluted and featured open snow 
fields with the occasional spruce tree. Through the heavy snow I could make 
out Lake Blanche below me and that was pretty beautiful, as was the upper 
reaches of Mnt. Superior above. I was pretty soaked from the constant 
exertion of the deep snow climbing and the heavy snow. Time to call the 
ball.
The snowboarding from my high point down to about 8,000’ was really good. 
Deep powder skiing in a canyon all my own. 
Three thousand vertical feet later I hit the trailhead. 

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