Monday, May 24, 2010

Wasatch Steep Skiing - Intro

Those of us who are lucky enough to live in and around the Wasatch mountains are spoiled when it comes to skiing.  We have some of the world's best skiing just minutes from our front door.  The backcountry is pristine, the access is unmatched, and the snow is phenomenal.  I know of no other place where you can live in a major city (yes, I consider Salt Lake to be a major city) and still be able to be geared up and on snow in about 20 minutes.

But one area of backcountry skiing in the Wasatch that is overlooked by many is the amazing ski mountaineering opportunities that are so accessible.  They get skied plenty, but there remain a lot of backcountry skiers that haven't even touched these lines.  They don't know what they are missing.

Steep skiing has a rating scale that is pretty easy to understand upon first glance: the higher the number gets - the steeper, more technical, scarier, etc. the line is.  S1 is like a green run at a ski resort.  S2 is a blue run.  S3 is black. S4 begins to have dangerous fall potential.  You'd be lucky to live through an S5 fall.  A painful death will occur upon a fall in S6 territory.  S7 is "just plain ol' steep as hell" (A. Mclean).  And S8 is supposedly the future of steep skiing.  Allow me to show this scale in a more illustrative manner:

I would like to now show you my progression in steep skiing, but in order to do so I feel as though you need a physical marker that will give you a sense of time.  My beard.  Those of you who know me are aware that I have had a beard to some degree or another ever since I have been allowed to have one depending on my place of employment.  Again, I think a graphic will help illustrate the different stages of my beard (all self-portraits):

The last several years have been very good to me as I have been able to ski some great lines with great snow conditions and some great skiers.  Here is a little breakdown of how my skiing (and beard growing) has evolved over the years:

Over the next several blog posts, I plan to share with you some photos and experiences I have had as I have skied some of the classic lines here in the Wasatch this season.  Stay tuned.  Here's a little teaser photo for you (you can see a few more over at

Brook Golling - Looking down the NW Couloir of the Pfeifferhorn


Ski Bike Junkie said...

Your graphics rule. Seriously, blogs with graphics are way better than just plain old word blogs. Keep it up.

Grizzly Adam said...

I love the correlation between the ski progression, and the beard. My own experience reflects the same relationship.

Jimmy Bunting said...

Brilliant graphs! Thanks for putting my weak abilities into perspective.

PS. I can't get over how good your photos are.

jeremyv said...

Seriously, the best blog post ever, EVER!!!! I may take after michael jordan and give up on blog reading as I have reached the pinacle of blog reading today . . . But in light of the fact that Michael went on to baseball and then back to basketball I bet I can keep reading blogs also.


Dustin Butcher said...

Thank you, gentlemen. I am glad to finally mix graphics into the blog setting. I figured my strengths lie in graphics, photo, and video; so why not include all of them? Video projects will come soon.

Adam, I have been trying for a while to figure out the exact correlation between beards and skiing, and I feel like I am finally getting close.

Thanks. And keep reading.