Posted by: wasatchprotocol | March 22, 2010

2010.03.19-20 – Puffer Lake Yurt

Last week I got the invite from Wills to join him and his friends at a yurt down in the Tushars.  Wills and Co. (Ben, Sharon, and Jake) went down on Thursday, but I had to work and play an indoor soccer game on Thursday so I drove down on Friday morning.  Since there was room in the yurt for one more, Steve joined me, which was nice so I didn’t have to drive down alone.

SLC to the Tushars.

The Tushars are a weird area.  To get there you drive to Beaver and then head east into the mountains.  You drive right through the no longer functioning Elk Meadows ski resort.  It looks like investors sank a lot of money into that place.  The houses and condos look rather new and quite nice.  Unfortunately, Elk Meadows is just too far away from any real population centers to be a successful operation.  The mountains in the Tushars were formed by volcanic activity way back when.  Most of the higher peaks are kind of like the Uintas – completely bare and rounded off.  Not at all like the Wasatch.  But still pretty nice.

We parked at the end of the plowed section of route 153 and geared up for the 2.5-3 mile skin to the yurt.  It went pretty quickly (about 60 to 75  minutes)  despite hauling overnight gear.  Once at the Puffer Lake Yurt (elevation ~10,000) we ate lunch and waited for Wills to come back from a morning tour.  When he and Alec (owner/guide) checked in, we headed right back out for the rest of the afternoon.

We started off skinning up to the top of City Creek Peak (elevation ~11,150 or so) to take a look around but the wind picked up and blew some clouds in.

Skinning up to City Creek.

We then jumped onto the south-facing slope to look for some corn snow.  Up high off of City Creek it was pretty bulletproof, but further down it was nice and soft.  We skied down to about 9,500 and made our way back up to the ridgeline for another shorter lap.  On the first lap I unfortunately took a weird fall when my ski punched deep into a saturated spot in the snow and I torqued my ankle pretty bad.  It would make Saturday’s skiing not so great for me.

Steve, on our way up for some more corn harvesting.

I thought that I had snapped some killer photos of Wills and Steve shredding the corn, but unfortunately I had the exposure time set way to high from previous shooting so the pictures turned out white.  Here a photo that Steve took.

Ripping corn. Photo by Steve Gourley.

We got back to the yurt around 5 or so after about 4,500 vert (estimated).  There we ate beans and rice with tortillas for dinner #1 followed by High West whiskey, some good beers, and card games.

The yurt window/ceiling.

The sunset was pretty nice. Jake, our skis, and the yurt.

Same stuff, minus Jake.

Jake, Sharon, and Ben.

Ben really had the lumberjack look down.

Then Ben put that plaid shirt to use chopping some wood.

Cards. We played Asshole and even some Norwegian "Gris" (Pig).

Card games get intense when you add whiskey and arugula. Photo by Steve Gourley.

We played around with the cameras for a while.

Steve's head is exploding with thermonuclear white light, courtesy of Wills.

Then it was decided we needed a second round of dinner.  This time it was pasta, with a brownie for dessert.  We demolished it all in about 2 minutes.

Wills likes his late night pasta.

Skis and the yurt at night. The moon is behind the trees.

Overnight the stove went out so we woke up to a cold yurt.  Nice to have a 0-degree bag in times like that.  Wills spent the next 30 minutes getting the fire going again.

Need warmth.

After cleaning up, Wills, Steve, and I were planning on heading over to check out Mt. Holly.  We went up to City Creek Peak and headed north along the ridge.

Steve and Wills on the ridge. Mt. Holly in the distance.

Cornices on the ridge.

We then skied some nice preserved pow in the north-facing trees.

North-facing dry snow. Photo by Steve Gourley.

At this point my ankle was a mess so I had to make the call to go back to the yurt.  Wills and Steve went back up for a couple of short corn runs before we took off.  Back at the car we ran into a clan of snowmobilers.  Since they were loud and obnoxious and throwing their spent beer cans around I think I’m justified in saying that they were a bit redneckish.  I honestly don’t understand how drinking cases of beer while driving fast and powerful motorized vehicles in potential avalanche terrain seems like a good idea to some people.  Oh well.

On the way down the canyon we stopped so Steve could check out the fly fishing potential in the creek.  There was potential.  Before hitting the highway we grabbed burgers and malts at Mel’s in Beaver.  Highly recommended, but make sure you bring cash.  It wasn’t long before the appearance of Mt. Nebo signaled our approaching the Wasatch.  Wills snapped some photos since Mt. Nebo is high on our tick list.

Nebo. Summit is up on the leftish. There are two rad couloirs up there. Could potentially happen next week.

Back at Wills’ house in Sandy, Steve did not end up needing to pee in a bottle, which was nice.  And we realized how badly the car and/or we smelled.  That’s an indication of a good trip.

Thanks to Wills, Ben, Sharon, and Jake for the invite, Steve since I grabbed some of his photos, and Wills for the Nebo photo taken while I was driving.

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