Friday, February 17, 2012

MIllcreek to American Fork Canyon

We're still a little scared of the snowpack this year so we decided  to go for a safe tour.  The idea was to start at the winter gate in Millcreek Canyon and end at Tibble Fork Lake in American Fork Canyon, purposely avoiding any high risk avy terrain.  Avoiding avy terrain detracts a little from the tour but what can you do?  Once we're more comfortable with the snow, adding classic shots off of Raymond, Kessler, Superior, The Pfeiffhorn, Box Elder, etc will make this tour a classic!

Since Andy had to work at 5 we set a strict finish time of 2:30.  If it looked like we weren't going to finish in time then we'd pull the plug wherever we were and try to hitch a ride back to the car.  Andy also worked until 1 AM last night so we (he) didn't want to start too early.  This left us with a leisurely 8 AM (exactly) start and a race pace effort all day to try and squeeze it in.

Climb 1, Millcreek winter gate to Dog Lake.  This was a pretty upbeat effort and set the tone for the rest of the day.  I think we both felt sluggish right out of the car but a little high cadence skinning let us find a good rhythm.  Thanks to whoever put the skinner in from the summer parking lot to the lake, 1:42 (total time).
5 miles of road to start

Descent 1, Dog Lake to Cardiff Fork.  Most of this was a bobsled track out Mill D.  We were fortunate enough to catch a little breakable crust heading to the BCC road.  It's great, all day we skinned up the powder and skied the breakable,  2:12.

Climb 2, Cardiff Fork to Little Superior.  Once again we found a nice skinner leading up Cardiff, under Toledo peak, and up to the ridge just east of Little Superior.  Since we were racing the 2:30 deadline, we kept gunning for this whole section, 3:25.

Decent 2, Little Superior to Snowbird.  This was fun. Breakable crust the whole way down.  What more can I say, 3:48.

Climb 3, Hidden Peak.  After a going hard all morning we both started to feel a little heavy.  We figured if we could top out around 1 PM then we'd look at the map and make the call.  Once in the warming hut the Snowbird Ski Patrollers were kind enough to offer up a little help.  They recommended descending Mineral Basin, heading out of the lower backcountry gate, and then following a snow mobile trail out to Tibble Fork.  Since it was just before 1:00 and we had good beta it seemed like a good idea to push on. Of note, we both looked like clowns heading up Snowbird in full Lycra.  Our favorite heckle came from  a "rad" skier.  He skied by and just yelled, "LAAAME!"  Given what we looked like I can't really blame him for stating the obvious, 4:50.

Lame, full lycra at the Bird
Turn around?
Descent 3, Hidden Peak to Tibble Fork. This descent went exactly as the patrollers said it would.  A lot of low angle skating.  Turns out it's a LONG way down from the Peak to Tibble Fork, 5:52.

Lucky for us little sister Aimee agreed to pick up her two dirty brothers and shuttle us back up to SLC.  Sorry about the foul smelling boots.

 Even though we only toured on mellow terrain, it was still good to get out and cover some ground.  I'm not sure how many people have done this little tour but I think more should.  It's safe, you see a ton and it's good exercise.  Do it.
Glad to be done

Official Clock
Stats: (both millage and elevation are estimates, lost my Garmin)

Millage - 25-30 miles
Elevation - 7-8000'
Time - 5:52
Food- 2 Gu's, 1 bagel, 1 fruition bar, 2 32 oz Gatorades


  1. Nice tour. I did that about five years ago, but started in AF, went up Mineral and Major Evans? Then up Snowbird, down Alta, up Flagstaff. Two laps in Days, exit days, up Mill D, out the road. Fun day.

    A nordic skate tour from Provo Canyon to Millcreek would be cool too. Up Alpine Loop, down to Cascade Springs, down to Midway via Snake Creek. Up Guardsman from Midway, down to Brighton, across the Crest, descend to Park City or Millcreek

    1. Derek, going south to north seems to make more sense. Better skiing at least, maybe next time. I do like the Provo to Millcreek idea. I just need to get better at skating, as of now it would kill me.

  2. Somehow blending nordic skis with skins, and horrible hack turns on descents would certainly be fast, and improve the heckling ratio from the chair lift with the addition of the nordic fruit boots.