Utah was blessed with some of the deepest snowfall of the season over the last weekend of February, when Snowbasin got buried in 26 inches in two days. After pigging out on powder Sunday, Adam and I headed north on Monday in search of backcountry turns untouched by the masses on Logan Peak in Dry Canyon.
Originally, we considered the Wellsville Mountains, but that same deep snowfall made the dirt road to the trailhead impassable. So we u-turned across the Cache Valley to Logan and made our way up through a ritzy neighborhood to the mouth of Dry Canyon.
Skins and beacons on, we trudged up the narrow gulch through thick stands of trees on a well-packed path. It seemed yesterday’s powder drew Logan ski-tourers in droves, as skin and ski tracks webbed out in all directions in the lower hillsides. Looking for fresh turns, we continued up beyond a steep hill that led to a wide shelf in the upper part of the drainage. From here, all the big, skiable lines surrounded us – Little Baldy to the south, Logan Peak to the east, and Dymerski’s Folly, a 1,000-foot open bowl, rose to the north. We decided the prudent course of action would be to climb the peak, so we soldiered on despite now having to break trail.
The Logan office of the Utah Avalanche Center reported that the area around Logan Peak got two feet of snow over the weekend, and all that fluffy white made breaking trail a strenuous affair. Taking turns and navigating in a canyon we have never been before, we hoped we were going the right way, lest locals who follow our track ridicule our terrain choices. Breaking trail is a big responsibility, because it becomes the route everyone takes thereafter, at least until the next big storm buries the skin track and a new one must be cut, leaving the task to the next touring party.
At the end of the canyon where the creek bed sank into a narrow gully, we headed north, switchbacking up the south face. Contouring around the open meadows, we ended up at a saddle overlooking massive slide paths that spill down Logan Peak’s north face. Our late start in the morning meant we would not have time to ski those choice lines, so we skinned up the ridge and finally, exhausted from trailbreaking and the constant, cold wind battering our hooded shells, made it to the summit marked by a giant communications tower. The total trip took 5 miles and we climbed almost 5,000 feet.
After a quick snack in the wind, we quickly geared up for the ski down. Traversing south, we found a wide, open face between stands of pines. It was a blank slate, a canvas of white beneath our skis just waiting for our signatures to be carved in the deep. Adam dropped in first, spraying powder with every turn. The Wellsville Mountains loomed in the distance, providing an appropriate, dramatic backdrop.
Then it was my turn. I pushed forward with my poles onto the slope, gained speed, and leaned into my first turn. Soft and plush storm snow that had a day to settle out enveloped my tips. Shifting weight, I released the edges of my skis and floated into the next turn. On and on it went this way until I stopped by Adam, when the weightless flight through snow ended. One by one we continued through pines and drainages until we were back at the head of the canyon. That single run of untracked, backcountry powder was better than an entire day of skiing at Snowbasin the day before. It reaffirmed my love for the backcountry.
If only slopes and snow of that caliber could last all the way back to the car, but instead our return consisted of flat-tracking, bobsledding, and performing thigh-burning snowplows of speedy death through that narrow, bushy canyon bottom. It’s a good thing there were no snowshoe parties coming up, or a collision would have been unavoidable.
And just like that, our tour was over. We had a celebratory beer, and headed off to the Beehive Grill, our favorite post skiing establishment in Logan for more beer and some tasty-ass burgers where we talked about our run, and how we would have to return again and ski the other numerous lines that we saw in the canyon just waiting to be marked by our signatures.