Monday, June 24, 2019

Winter Conditions on the Summer Solstice at Beartooth Basin

Beartooth Basin in all her glory. Summer hours are 8 am – 3 pm every day, weather permitting. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
Clearly, Beartooth Basin – the cash only, summer-only ski area located on the border of Montana/Wyoming, didn’t receive the memo that summer had officially arrived. Because they had gotten 3-4 inches of new snow the day before (on the summer solstice!), the resort was closed last Friday and had a delayed opening when we arrived on Saturday. So much for the summer solstice party that was supposed to go down. But who really wants it to be summer up there anyway?
highway 212
U.S. Highway 212 – otherwise known as “Beartooth Highway” – stays closed the entire winter and is only open in the summer. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
Last Saturday, June 22nd, we skied there in winter conditions. It was 24 degrees in the morning when we arrived. At around 8:30 am, we went up as far as we could on the road only to find that the gate on the pass leading to the mountain was still shut. We were tense – we had driven 4 hours to come to ski this place yet the road wasn’t open to get there – a recent dump of 3-4 inches the day before was keeping it closed. However, we did not lose hope.
Snowboarder Tyler Mayer waiting patiently in freezing conditions for the road to open. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
When an official looking guy pulled up on the other side of the closed gates we went to pry about the resort’s chances of opening that day. That’s when we met Brad, Beartooth Basin’s one-man ticket sales operation. After some joking around about how much it had felt like winter, Brad reassured us that he would allow some riders in through the gate and let them ride the mountain that day, even though the road would still technically remain “closed.”
beartooth passes
Beartooth Basin is a cash-only ski area. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
Then at 9:45 am, when he got word that lifts started spinning, Brad lifted the gates and allowed us, two large caravans of mogul skiers who were training at Beartooth, and a group of cars to pass through the gates and start skiing. The people who made it past the gates for this brief 10-minute window were the only ones to ride the mountain that day – the entire day.
We basically had the whole mountain to ourselves! It was us two, a few other riders, and then all the mogul skiers and those traveling with them. That’s it. Those were the only people skiing Beartooth Basin that Saturday. Plus, the mogul skiers stuck to the mogul courses so the lift-lines stayed short.
Deserted! Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
When you drop into Beartooth Basin from U.S. Highway 212 where the parking lot is situated at the top of the resort, you have to send down a gnarly, 55-degree slope of rock hard ice. This was the only way to ski to the lift at the bottom of ‘The Basin,’ and it is not for the faint of heart.
The steep and icy drop in to the ski area. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
Beartooth Basin features 2 tow-rope lifts, one at the bottom that drops you off about halfway up the mountain above the terrain park, and the other that takes you from there to the top. There are no lodging or facilities at Beartooth besides an old airstream trailer that sells ski passes.
beartooth ticket sales
An Airstream trailer turned ticket office. Image: Powell Tribune
Skiing from the top is steep and challenging – you drop down an icy, 55-degree slope and have to navigate around cliffs and moguls made of ice lurking around every turn. But man is it fun.
beartooth's park
A side-view of the park at Beartooth. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz
Beartooth Basin also features a terrain park consisting of a couple of jumps, some rails, and a funky, natural wall-ride feature at the bottom of the park. Skiers and snowboarders were getting all sorts of creative with this feature – hitting it like a jump, doing stalls/butters, or just spinning on it like a top.
Getting buttery at Beartooth. Image: Tyler Mayer. Skier: Martin Kuprianowicz.
After a hard day of skiing, we capped the day off with beers and banter with some locals in the parking lot. When the resort staff finished closing the mountain for the day, Brad led the wagon trail of ski vans and cars back to the gate and set us free. Before we hit the road, Brad told us he had been skiing Beartooth for 40+ plus years and running the resort since day 1. The man was the definition of a legend.
These guys really work hard to keep those lifts spinning, and “it’s more than just flipping on a switch,” said Brad. Well, we sure as hell appreciate those guys and their hard work for keeping the dream alive, all summer long.
Another view of ‘The Basin’ from the top. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cocaine-fueled Escapades on the Beach in Nicaragua

The author on a beach in Nicaragua in 2016.

When I was 18 and reckless I took a trip to Nicaragua. The trip in itself was nothing short of electrifying and I did more than possible to describe it all in just one blog post. But I will elaborate upon a brief, three-day excursion within the adventure that, in my opinion, is worth sharing. What entailed after the cute Canadian girl invited me on a trip to a remote beach in coastal Nicaragua in her group's school bus that had been refurbished into an air-conditioned, bunk-bed-adventure-wagon was almost more than I had bargained for. But it was a damn good time to say the least. Here's my best recollection of the excursion.

This dark-haired Canadian girl on the beach in San Juan Del Sur tells me about a trip that she and her friends had been organizing with their bus and hands me a flyer. They are going to a beautiful and remote beach up north with great surfing and no people, she says, and they are leaving at 8 am the next morning. I say "Sure, I'll be there. No problem." I was already mildly buzzed when I had made this promise in the early afternoon, and would only work to strengthen that buzz for the rest of the day and well into the night. After getting back from the bars to where I had been staying at about 3 am, I crash and do not wake up until about 11 am the next day. I missed the bus.

I emailed the girl who told me about the adventure and she gave me directions as to where the beach they were going, was exactly. It was not easy to find. I would have to take a "chicken bus," she said. "What the fuck is a chicken bus?" I thought.

I went down to a side street in the beach town I had been bumming out in for the past few days and found the shitty little bus that would take me the 4 hours up the coast to some town that I could barely pronounce. There, I would catch a taxi ride to the beach that I was supposed to have already been at.

How did I already know that this bus was going to be greasy, hot, and wildly uncomfortable the whole way there? The hangover I had been nursing all morning didn't help either. I then figured out why they call it a chicken bus. Because there are literal live chickens in there being transported by the locals. "Fair," I thought.

After several hours in what felt like a mobile swamp, I made it to the town where I took a taxi 45 minutes down some desolate dirt road to this hidden beach the girl from the adventure bus had told me about. The beach was definitely as abandoned and far away from civilization as I had pictured, if not more so. There were miles of Pacific coastline and great waves for surfing. I had never surfed before, but that Canadian girl was nice enough to teach me the basics while we were staying there. Apart from the beach, there was nothing there besides one restaurant that had the nearest real bathroom for miles in every direction. It also had decent food and a nice bar that served up some mean daiquiris.

When I finally got there I introduced myself to the group which consisted of about a dozen backpackers from Canada, The United States, Australia, and varying countries across Europe. I was a bit shy at first because I was the kid who missed the bus and had everyone waiting for him in the morning. But after a few drinks and conversations between me and the other backpackers, we were all friends in no time. Then I met this dude Johnny, from Britain.

Johnny from the U.K. is the definition of a coke-boy. His favorite thing to do is cocaine. You couldn't have a conversation with him without the subject getting brought up at some point by him. Johnny is very chatty and one of the most hilarious persons I have ever met. He seemed like a pretty cool dude to hang out with. At least, so I thought before going on a mission with him to find his coveted white powder in the depths of rural Nicaragua.

The day started off around 9 am with a breakfast that consisted of fruit, daquiris, and a 40oz of local beer. I had only started drinking this early in the day because I was not so sure about partaking in this scavenger hunt with Johnny as it seemed a bit sketchy, but he insisted that he would buy me booze and get me drunk all day if I accompanied him on his quest so I obliged. He also needed someone who could speak a little bit of Spanish since he knew none and I knew some.

By 10 am I was drunk and the taxi had just arrived to take us to the nearest civilization so Johnny and I could start pestering locals for drugs. On the way into the nearest town, we stopped at the first bar we saw on the dirt road for more beer and to ask around for some coke. This is the first instance where we got robbed that day when we gave a man some money who claimed he had access to the good stuff, yet would only proceed to disappear with the cash as quickly as possible. We would end up getting robbed like this a total of 3 times over the course of this day. Well, Johnny did at least -- I had no more money after we got robbed the first time at the bar.

"Oh well," I thought. We were sure enough to find some blow eventually, plus I was day-drunk and had no more money to spend so I started to care less. After the bar, we ate lunch at a family-owned restaurant and asked the waiter if he would happen to know where a couple of backpackers like us could find some "coca." The waiter said he could help us which got us excited, especially when he came back with some white powder we initially perceived to be cocaine. After lunch we scurried into the nearest bathroom to try it, only to find out that it was not cocaine at all. Rather, it was some sort of cleaning chemical in the form of white powder that produced no effect other than sheer disappointment. Fool us twice shame on us.

The third time we got robbed was when Johnny gave money to a taxi driver that never came back with the product. I warned Johnny that this is probably what would happen, and it did, but he was willing to take the risk anyway. By now we were sick of getting ripped off and probably the drunkest we had been all day, so we decided to cut our losses and head to the nearest strip club.

When we got to the strip club it was closed. By this time it was nearing sunset and we were the only tourists in sight in this tiny little town in God Know's Where, Nicaragua. The strip club would open in a couple of hours and Johnny was adamant about staying until they did so. He pitched a plan to stay here and find a place to crash in town for the night instead of getting back to the beach where our camp was. I was not in favor of Johnny's plan.

I told him that he could do that all he liked but that I was going to call it a day and head back to the beach. However, I had no money on me at this point and was relying on Johnny as my sole means of transportation. Johnny knew this and told me he would not buy me a taxi ride and that we were going to stay in this little town tonight partying with strippers and continuing our search for cocaine. At this point, both belligerent and extremely angry with one another, we were at each other's throats. I was about to throw hands with this greasy Brit right then and there outside of this closed strip club in this dirt-road town in the middle of the jungle when we had a change of fate...

A taxi was driving by as we were screaming at each other so I flagged it down and proceeded to get in. Johnny, now realizing he was the only gringo left in this shady part of this shady little town outside of this shady strip club was now forced to get into the taxi with me. He was steaming. I figured I'd try my luck once more and ask this taxi driver if he knew where to get the stuff we had been sticking our necks out all day looking for, because why the hell not? What else had we to lose besides more of Johnny's cordobas?

He immediately told us yes, that he could get us "coca," and said that if we gave him the money he would be right back with the stuff. Johnny and I were both apprehensive of this claim. Something about previous experiences that day had made it challenging for us to trust this humble-seeming taxi driver. However, I got a good feeling from the man and convinced Johnny to try his luck one more time and give him the cash. So he did.

We waited outside the strip club for what felt like the longest 5 minutes of our lives, becoming increasingly anxious as the clock ticked on.

"This is bullshit we just got robbed again!" Johnny spat.

"Let's just wait a little longer," I reassured him. "If this guy is smart he will get money from us twice: once for the yayo, and again for the taxi ride back to the beach."

Just as it was getting dark and the alcohol was starting to wear off, our nerves were at an all-time high for the day. Then, our eyes lit up as we saw the shitty little green sedan pull up and heard the skinny taxi driver tell us to get in. Both Johnny and the taxi driver had enormous smiles on their faces. As soon as I sat down in the backseat I could smell the diesel-like smell of what was sitting inside of the taxi driver's pocket. I immediately knew that all of our hard work that day had just paid off.

The taxi driver whipped the yayo from out of his pocket and I became very excited. Johnny took one look at it and assured me that it was some disco shit. Then Johnny busted out a Nicaraguan coin and started doing coin bumps with the taxi driver and me as we sped down the dirt road at an alarming speed. The three of us were doing bumps the whole 45-minute ride back to the beach, which felt like a lot shorter this time around because the taxi driver was driving like a coked-up maniac, hitting the occasional drift with his sedan if the turn was sharp enough. It was one of the more entertaining taxi rides I had ever taken.

When we got back to the beach and regrouped with the others it was well after nightfall. Certain members of the group had begun to worry if something bad had happened to us as we were gone a lot longer than we had told them we were going to be. We didn't give them the details about what had happened during the day. But we did supply the drugs for one hell of a party on the beach that night.

 While we were away on our narcotics scavenger hunt, the others had befriended a group of sorority girls from Pennsylvania that were visiting the area and convinced them to stay and party with us on the beach for the night. A bonfire ensued, along with music, dancing, and Willie Nelson quantities of cocaine. The party lasted all night and everyone seemed to be having a hell of a time.

An Irish man who was camping with us thanked Johnny and me for going out and getting the goods that made for a fun party on a remote Nicaraguan beach, and he described us two as a "Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo type combination," like in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." I got a major kick out of this.

I spent the rest of the night having a good time running around the beach yacked out of my mind chatting up sorority girls and swimming. The next morning, we all went our separate ways and I never heard from Johnny or any of the other persons on the beach that night ever again.

A remote beach somewhere on the Pacific side of Nicaragua 

Product Review: 2016 ON3P Kartel 98

Image: Martin Kuprianwciz

            With Snowbird proclaiming its “longest season in Utah,” and the fact that they have yet to announce a closing date for skiing operations, it's apparent that there’s still plenty of summer laps left to enjoy up there. But with more and more snow melting off the mountain by the day, you are going to have to get a bit creative with how you ski. The 2016 ON3P Kartel’s 98 are exactly what you need for days like these. 
            Quite possibly the most versatile ski in ON3P’smen's line-up, the Kartel 98 excels everywhere from the park to the pow. ON3P’elliptical sidecut and tapered tip and tail allow the Kartel 98 to carve effortlessly. Throw in ON3P’s extremely durable construction and you have yourself a ski that charges hard. With 40.5 cm of rocker in the tip and tail, the ski is playful while remaining rigid enough underfoot to charge in variable snow, and its bamboo core keeps it light, poppy, and flexy as hell – perfect for butters and getting creative on the hill. All these skis want to do is play. 
Rocker Type
Elliptical rocker profile –  The rocker profile and tip shape are combined into a single elliptical arc, which allows the tips to float better in powder, deflect less in variable snow, and helps the effective edge running within the rocker length to ski in a more natural, effortless way. 40.5 cm tip rocker / 40.5 cm tail rocker.
Elliptical sidecut –  Thesidecutconsists of an elliptical arc that begins at the center of the ski and gets progressively smaller as it extends toward the tip and tail, resulting in a ski that carves harder the more it is put on edge, yet remains stable when it is skied flat.

The Kartel’s have a tapered tip and tailThe greater the taper, the easier the ski will be to skid. They are a true twin tip as the tip and tail are both the same diameter (40.5cm) and have a 98 mm underfoot.

These skis have a 100% bamboo core.  At the heart of every pair of ON3P skis is a vertically laminated, 100% bamboo core that provides a responsive, yet powerful ride. The ON3P core gives the ski strength where it needs it to better resist warping and deterioration. Because of the bamboo core the ski is responsive and playful without having to sacrifice durability or weight. 
UHMW sidewalls and tip spacers –  Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene is not only a mouthful, but also an incredibly strong material. It has a higher resistance than steel, and results in less cracking than other conventional ski materials. 
1.8 mm 4001 Durasurf sintered base –  ON3P Durasurf 4001 base material provides their skis with better glide and protection from damage compared to other common base materials, and it is 38% thicker than the industry standard.
2.5 mm x 2.5 mm extra thick edges –  ON3P uses a 3/4 wrap for their 2.5 mm x 2.5 mm Rockwell 48C steel edges. The 3/4 wrap allows the tips and tails of the skis to flex, decreasing the risk of delamination.
Additional Features

Handmade in Portland, Oregon. 

The skis are listed as $679.00 MSRP, however, there are many sellers who offer these skis for less. 
Where to purchase
 They can be purchased online, on websites such as, or directly from the manufacturer at Varying ski shops may also sell this model depending on availability and location. 

The Bottom Line
A sturdy and adaptable ski that knows no top speed and has virtually no limitations. It is light, playful, and responsive with a high flex rating. The ski holds an edge well in variable conditions and will also float in boot deep powder. They are flexible when they need to butter, and reliable when they need to charge. They are a perfect fit for ripping around the mountain in variable conditions or getting a little weird with your style on the hill.  


Monday, June 10, 2019

Best Places to Ski on the Fourth of July this Summer

Fourth of July skiing
PC: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

How many Americans can say that they’ve skied on the Fourth of July? While most skiers and snowboarders have already made the shift from skiing to summer activities such as hiking, biking, or climbing as ski resorts shut down for the season, there remain a patriotic few who are not quite ready to call it a season just yet. Luckily enough for these snow junkies, there are still several places to ride this summer up until the Fourth of July – and even beyond.

With Fourth of July skiing comes Fourth of July ski parties – truly a sight to behold for anyone who wishes to see skiers and snowboarders dress up in funky costumes and drink to excess while enjoying the pleasant weather and slushy snow. Here are the top picks for ski resorts to ride at on the Fourth of July this summer:

Spread-eagles are for America PC: Liftopia

Snowbird, UTThe last time Snowbird was open for the Fourth was 12 years ago, and many skiers are ecstatic to get up there celebrate the national holiday by doing what they do best - skiing and having fun. Being that Snowbird will be the only ski resort in the state to be open on the Fourth of July, the turnout ought to be good, and the party even better. Be sure to check out the Bird’s pond skim as this is where most of the partying will be done on hill. Also, make sure not to miss the last tram ride of the season as that is sure to be full of drunk skiers in costumes yelling nonsense the whole way up.

beartooth basin fourth of july

Sending the cornice at Beartooth PC: Missoulian

Beartooth Basin, WYWelcome to America’s one and only “Summer-only” ski area. Beartooth Basin is the only ski area in the country that will open in June after all the other surrounding ski areas have closed, and proceed to stay open until the Fourth of July weekend. Skiers and snowboarders travel from all over to ski this remote ski area located in the desolate Shoshone National Forest, and they come ready to party. The resort features two towrope-style lifts and a massive cornice on the upper portion of the mountain that only the daring will send.

mt hood timberline

Mt. Hood in all her Glory PC: Snowbrains

Mt. Hood, OR Timberline is the only mountain in the United States that allows lift-accessed skiing 12 months out of the year. During summer operations, Timberline is best known for its abundance of terrain parks and private race courses, attracting park skiers and ski racers alike from around the country to come enjoy the sunshine and get their fill of slush skiing.  Many of these ski bums camp at or around the base of the ski area, creating a popping yet mellow scene of riders who came just to ski and enjoy the vibe. Fourth of July here is definitely a fun place to be and ski.

Mammoth mountain girls

Mammoth or the beach? PC: Adventure Sports Network

Mammoth Mountain, CADue to a record amount of snowfall that fell upon Mammoth Mountain this winter, the ski area has announced plans to remain open until mid-August. With only 2 ski resorts in the state open this late in the season, Fourth of July celebrations are expected to pop off at the ski area. Be sure to check out their world-famous terrain park, “Mammoth Unbound,” for proper summer park laps and beer drinking with the locals. Don’t miss the fireworks display shot off from the top of the mountain either!

squaw valley freedom fest

'Murica PC: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CAAfter having received a whopping 35” in the month of May, Squaw Valley has announced that they will keep their lifts spinning up until the 7th of July. Because their closing weekend falls on the same weekend as the Fourth, crowds of locals flock here in outrageous costumes with intentions to party. “Squallywood,” as some call it will also host the “Lake Tahoe Freedom Fest,” which entails 3 days of live music and festivities as well as a massive display of fireworks. How many other ski areas have a closing day party as patriotically labeled as, “Freedom Fest?” Showcase your patriotism and ski your heart out at the same time this year at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for the Fourth of July.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

10 Ways That Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Credit: Imgur

We are just now beginning to delve into the unfathomable mysteries of nature. Yet, poetically, due to the alarming rate that global temperatures are rising, many of these mysteries and the hundreds of new species we are discovering every day will vanish along with them. Only in the last twelve years have we discovered the world’s largest organism – a fungus in Oregon that covers over 2,200 acres of forest soil. That’s 665 football fields of a single organism called the honey mushroom. And now, with advanced research in mycology, we are starting to realize the complexity and usefulness of one of our planet's most ancient kingdoms – fungi. Mycologists are speculating that the potential mushrooms hold for useful human applications may be the future of sustainability for our planet. Here are 10 reasons why:

Clean polluted soil. Several species of mushrooms are able to decompose harmful chemicals or toxins that humans have contaminated the soil with. They can and will also enrich the soil with carbon dioxide through decomposition.

Paper. The cell walls of fungi are made of a biological polymer called chitin, which is similar to cellulose – the key ingredient in plant-based paper. They could help to substitute paper made from trees, a diminishing resource.

Safer insecticides. Insecticides and pesticides can be made organically from mushrooms. They could eventually replace traditional chemical pesticides that are harmful to humans and the environment. Certain pesticides developed from fungi seem delicious enough to lure insects to them, and once the bugs have eaten them, the fungi sporulate and sprout inside them, feeding on their internal tissue until they die and a tiny mushroom sprout from their heads, which is how you know it worked.

Treat mental illness. Studies have shown that psychedelic mushrooms can show positive benefits or relief in individuals living with mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. They can replace controversial anti-depressive medications such as SSRI’s.

Vaccines for deadly diseases such as smallpox or the flu. Mycologists believe that mushrooms may hold potential for better immunizations. Fungi will not only survive but thrive in harsh environments. Because of these inherent characteristics, scientists are able to extract large amounts of vaccine proteins from the proliferating fungus.

Clean up plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. A rare species of mushroom from the Amazon rainforest called Pestalotiopsis Microspora has been discovered to actually feed on plastic. It uses plastic as its food and decomposes it, which on a large scale could be utilized to clean up the plastic waste that is littering our planet. It also produces an edible bi-product that we as humans can use as a food source. Efforts by researchers are underway to use this mushroom to clean up plastic waste in various locations on the planet.

Sustainable fuel. Yes, that’s right, fuel you use to drive your car or fly your plane or power something can be made from fungi. This could be a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Clean up oil spills. There are projects already underway that use mushrooms to decompose oil spilled in natural areas by oil companies. The mushrooms will actually feed on the oil spilled and eradicate it.

Protect bees from common diseases that are causing their populations to rapidly decline. Bees are incredibly vital to the ecosystem and the food that humans consume. Without them, humans may face serious consequences with how we produce our food. Luckily, a certain kind of mushroom has been shown to protect bees from diseases lowering their populations and is currently being developed into a broad-range protection agent for bees. Save the bees!

Terraform other planets in the galaxy. Leading mushroom scientists believe that sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds can aid in creating an ecological footprint on a new planet. Mushrooms may aid in space exploration one day.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mount Tuk No - Skiing Southern Utah's Hidden Gem

mt tuk
Mt. Tuck No PC: Park City People
At 5 am we awoke to a cool morning in Indian Creek off highway 211 near Moab. Although we had been rock climbing in the scorching heat of the desert for days prior, we scurried our things into the back of Nick's truck and hit the road to do one of our favorite things ever - go skiing. This time, we would get to ski one of Utah's lesser-known backcountry areas and one of southern Utah's tallest peaks. We set off for Mount Tuk No.

Waking up at 5 am in the desert to go ski PC: Martin Kuprianowicz
The Manti-La Sal National Forest is just outside of Moab by about 30 minutes and has snow covered mountains that you can ski. It's a weird mountain range because its completely surrounded by desert on all sides. I have been dreaming of skiing the La Sal's since I first moved to Utah three years ago. So when I ran into my buddy Nick from my university climbing in the desert, and when he asked me if I wanted to borrow his spare set up and go ski the La Sal's, you know exactly what I said.

The backside of Mount Tuk No captured on the drive up PC: Martin Kuprianowicz
By 7:30 am we were at the trailhead to begin touring. In the parking lot, we made friends with a skier named Cameron who had been camping near the trailhead and skiing in the area for the past couple of weeks. He knew the area well and was enthusiastic to not only tag along for our tour but lead the way up Tuk No. We began climbing.

Skiers Nick and Cameron touring in The Manti-La Sal National Forest PC: Martin Kuprianowicz
To our surprise, it had begun snowing about 30 minutes after we had begun our tour! Nor did it let up at all when we were out there. We toured for about 2 hours through the forest, up and over ravines, passing an uninhabited Yurt until we reached the bottom of the peak. From there, we assessed the safest way up the face of the peak and commenced boot packing up it. It was a solid 2 hours of some of the most grueling boot packing I've done all season.

Nick Burr scoping out the ascent up Tuk No PC: Martin Kuprianowicz
"How do you climb a mountain?" were the first words I managed to push out from my burning chest cavity to Cameron and Nick as I gasped for breaths at the top of Tuk No. "How?" They asked. "One damn step at a time," I joked. The hike exhausted us but as soon as we flipped our bindings back to send mode and got on top of the nearly 2,000 vertical foot line we were about to shred down we had all the energy and excitement in the world. By this time, about 3, maybe 4 inches of powder had accumulated and the stoke among us was real. One last check that we were all beeping and down we went.
Skiing a 2,000-foot vertical line down one of southern Utah's tallest peaks with about 3-4 inches of new snow and simultaneously accomplishing a dream of mine was beyond surreal. Who knew the desert gets good snow, let alone on May 10th! The Manti-La Sal's are an incredible mountain range and truly one of Utah's hidden, lesser-known gems among skiers. However, these mountains are infamous for having an incredibly unpredictable snowpack and must be treated with the utmost respect. Nick and I were extremely fortunate to have run into someone as knowledgeable with the terrain at hand as Cameron as his level of skill and comfort out there was very inspiring.
In terms of raw skiing, I definitely recommend going and skiing Tuk No. It's a long, steep, line down a face of a massive peak, with fingers that produce righteous miniature chutes that are excellent for bombing through at terminal velocity given stable snow conditions. Just keep em' pointed straight!