Deseret Peak on a Green Avy-Danger Day

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Apr 11, 2006
Activities:
Hiking
Season:
Spring
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Deseret Peak on a Green Avy-Danger Day
Created On: Apr 25, 2006
Last Edited On: Apr 25, 2006

It was supposed to be a quick run...

We pulled into misty, snowless foothills of the Stansburies, only to get a rude surprise. The FS gate was locked, the first such winter closure in my memory. We already got a late start - and I needed an early return to make it for a party tonight - and what seemed like a quickie ascent suddenly got 4 miles longer each way. Or well.

I figured it's time to leave my Tuas in the car - it would be too great a distance to carry them, and the skiing may be very iffy up there. Little did I know about the creamy powder awaiting us beyong 9,000 ft elevation - or of the trouble soon to develop with Grizz's old snowshoe which he kindly lent me once again.
Snowshoeing through Upper NarrowsThrough the Narrows

We put the snowshoes on at Medina Turnoff, a couple miles up the road. One of mine had a strange clanking sound, but heck, I am not a big 'shoer, I glanced at it once, didn't notice anything, and ignored it. The route through the narrows was beautiful and the snow was reasonably supportive despite a warm night. And the current temperatures, even with the clouds blocking morning sun, were so balmy that I walked barechested. The mountain ahead was throughly covered by the mist. Only once did it part, and we glimpsed the majestic notch of the North Chute.
The fissure of North ChuteGlimpse of the Peak

People familiar with the area wouldn't be surprised that I lost trail immediately after Dry Lake Fork crossing. Anyway it was just a bit of upward traverse to the left until we crossed Mill Fork. Soon the woods parted, and we continued up the meadows and open gullies, where the snow was better consolidated by the wind. Only by now, the second side of my snowshoe binding fell apart (doh! it was the crack in the other side which was making the strange metal noise before!). With some duct tape, I got it back together, if quite a bit wobblier than it used to be. I really didn't expect this shaky contraption to last even a hundred yards, but it just needed 3 or 4 refresher duct tape layers for the rest of the tour!
Mill Fork SaddleMill Fork Saddle ahead

We still didn't see much around until we hit the saddle. We only started to apprecate the visibility *after* we crossed it. Now it was a complete whiteout, and it was blowing hard. We couldn't see the little spur ridge ahead until literally sticking our noses into its cornice. After passing the Twin Chutes saddle, it's actually got worse - at one point I lost Grizz, even though barely 50 yards separated us.
Not much to see at the topThe top, make no questions about it

A couple times we were ready to conclude that we topped it, but after continuing a bit more, we'd discover the next hump in the milk. But soon it was an unmistakeable summit, and the clouds even lifted a nudge, just to reclose again.
Twin Chutes Saddle, 4/11/06Twin Chutes are stark

Back by Twin Chutes, we finally got the first nice views of this beautiful area. It looked like there was a good deal of wind-moved snow below the cornices, and probably in the cornices too. So even though a shortcut to Dry Lake was tempting, and even though the avy forecast was all-green, we chose to retrace our route back.
Twin Chutes Saddle and Summit RidgeNot dropping into the chutes after all...

Good decision! Just steps East from Mill Fork Saddle, I broke loose a soft slab - not too thick one so I was able to self-arrest and watch the darn thing rush hundreds feet downslope. I shrugged with the thought that we've just avoided a higher, steeper chute. OK, now it's time to butt-slide in the avalanche's wake, and hurry on to our car!

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Travis Atwood

Travis Atwood - Apr 25, 2006 6:34 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice report

Thanks for the report MOCKBA. Glad the slab didn't take you down with it. It sounds like a fun peak to do in the spring. I'll have to add it to my list.

mountaingazelle

mountaingazelle - Apr 25, 2006 6:51 pm - Voted 10/10

Good trip report

even though you had bad weather. I didn't know it was possible to lose sight of Grizz ... in fifty yards.

Scott

Scott - Apr 25, 2006 7:51 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice TR

I climbed the peak in December 2000, but we did it as an overnightner, camping not far below the Mill Fork saddle. It was stable for us, but a huge slab released just above the saddle a week before (according to the climbers that set it off).

It was actually iced up for us, on sections of the ridge, and I wish I had my crampons (I had only an axe).

Dmitry Pruss

Dmitry Pruss - Apr 25, 2006 8:16 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: wish I had my crampons

I've been there in spring before, probably 3 years back, we followed a ridge separating Mill Fork from the Chutes and it was bad sh*t w/o crampons. And a portion of the summit ridge was nearly as bad. Nothing of the kind on this year's tour though. If you noticed I had a very tentative snowshoe and even that was good enough.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4