Photos: Ben Eng, Devin Overton, Victor Major, Dustin Hinde
The Northwest face of Little Wasatch Peak stands in plain sight directly across the valley from Telluride Ski Resort, scarred with long and narrow fissures that at first glance appear impossible for a human to descend. It is an ominous beast; however, each year numerous thrill-seekers ride down this wild gem on snowboards and skis, testing out their skills in an apparent ”no-fall zone.” Most descents on Little Wasatch take place on a handful of days following the most recent substantial snowfall event and include copious amounts of slow, tight, and cautious turns (for good reason). In fact three weeks earlier, I had ridden the line know as Oblivion Bowl under those exact circumstances, but on April 1st, 2016 I was lucky enough to find myself back atop Wasatch for one of those afore mentioned anomaly powder days.
Riding adjacent terrain during the two prior storm days provided ample amounts of data on the newest addition to the snowpack. The fresh blanket bonded to the existing snow surfaces incredibly well, sticking tightly to the steepest and most precarious features without fail. As I tightened my bindings two extra clicks, staring down the gut of the most beautifully terrifying patch of pristine powder I’d ever stood atop, I took one final deep breath before setting sail into the gut of Oblivion Bowl. The ensuing handful of high-speed turns flashed by in a matter of seconds, yet live on in my memory as if they lasted for hours. This peak moment I had fantasized about for years had finally come into fruition. From my safe location tucked away to the skier’s right, I radioed a few crucial pieces of beta to my partners Dustin Hinde and Victor Major as they anxiously awaited their turns to drop in. Victor took his stab next, displaying his refined ski-racing technique in a highly consequential backcountry setting. Hinde was the third to drop, but in proper last-guy fashion “leap frogged” Victor and I at the safety, slashing his way through Oblivion Bowl in one fell swoop to the conjunction with the Grandfather Couloir.
Unfortunately by the time all three of us arrived in the Grandfather, the sluff we each generated exiting Oblivion had flushed out the fresh snow in the couloir down to the apron below. Nonetheless, the conditions for this section of the line were above average. We took turns wiggling between the narrow walls of the couloir en route the crux of the Grandfather, a sequence of excessively steep rocks (cliffs) that usually require visiting parties to implement a rappel. However, on this fortunate day the harnesses remained zipped away in our heavy packs as we made quick work of the smaller-than-usual drop. Feeling relieved, ecstatic, and accomplished, we descended the remaining thousand feet to the valley bottom, which conveniently led directly to the bar for a couple rounds of celebratory drinks.