For the second year in a row, five High Adventure Coalition members set out late Friday night, February 27th, to xc ski around the Alpine Loop--a scenic road that traces the back edge of Mount Timpanogos (11,750' towering over Utah Valley). For the second year in a row, we chose one of the coldest nights of the year.
We left the cars around midnight and skied till maybe 4:00 a.m. At one point, we got off the main trail on a snowmobile track. In the dark, only two shades are visible: gray snow and gray everything else. About 150' above us on the mountain side, we thought we saw a steady break in the aspens and pines where the road might be.
To find out, Shaun dropped his pack and climbed the steep hillside. It turned out to be the road, and Shaun got in the best skiing of the outing as he telemarked back down to the group through thin trees while Jared shouted,"Don't pull a Ted Kennedy!" Rather than try to climb the steep slope through powder with our heavy packs, we retraced our steps and reached camp an hour or so later.
We named our camp Anatevka, and recited lines from Fiddler on the Roof such as "People who pass through Anatevka don't even know they've been here" and "Our ancestors have been forced out of many, many places at a moment's notice. Maybe that's why we always wear our hats."
Temperatures dropped well below zero as everyone climbed halfway into their bags and waited for spaghetti and hot chocolate to cook, which was slowed some because all of our water had frozen solid. Within half an hour of settling in and trying to sleep, the sky began to grow light. Morning came an hour or two later.
Shaun heats water for hot chocolate and oatmeal at Anatevka
We reached the summit not long after breaking camp and broke out the cider to initiate Jared, Antone, and Chatal into the Hardy Dogs.
Jared, Antone, Chantal, Mary, and Shaun at the summit
Finally, the "easy" part had come. A few-mile ski to Aspen Grove a hundred or so friends were having a party and we knew there'd be food. We sometimes followed the road and sometimes opted to go overland through heavy powder between switchbacks. We all returned home that night with a renewed appreciation for soft, warm beds, carpted floors, and hot running water.
At one time, as many as 17 people were more or less "committed" to making the trip. Four ended up going. Sadly typical, and for once, we didn't freeze! Chantal, Shaun, Robby and Chris left late, as usual and skied a few hundred yards past anatevka to our new camp--Normandy.
We prepared tin-foil dinners before leaving (but Shaun forgot to put the beef in--oops!) and it was warm enough to sit outside toasting with the traditional sparkling cider for as long as our firewood lasted. The next day was perfectly beautiful and warm enough for some to ski shirtless on the way to the summit. Everyone got at least a taste of telemarking on the way down. Some got more tastes of the heavy snow than they'd have liked.
and LDS Singles Calendar.com