Mt. Aire Ski Tour: Take 2
Updated: Jan 31
Base Elevation: 6,100
Summit Elevation: 8,500
Crew: Sean, Cameron & CJ
Date: Feb 21, 2020
I attempted to ski from the summit of Mt. Aire last year and our group took the wrong route up Lamps Canyon so naturally I had some unfinished business.
I got a text from Sean, my nephew in-law, on Thursday saying he wanted to do an early morning tour before work and with the avy danger at low, we decided to tackle Mt. Aire and we recruited Cameron to join us. Somehow Cameron convinced us to meet at the trailhead by 5:00 AM and we were in the middle of a cold front so the temps were expected to be in the negative territory (it was -2 at the start). I had never started a tour in the dark with headlamps required so I was pretty excited for this new experience.
All of the other post about this summit said to head west from the Lambs Canyon parking along the fence which we did and then turn left (south) at .35 miles. It was pitch black and our GPS said we had gone .3 miles and the skin track turned up so we decided to follow the track. We were heading up a ridge and after about 500 years, we realized that we should be on the next ridge over to the west. After much debate, we concluded that turning around and skiing down in the dark through the thick shrubs would be problematic so we decided to play the cards we were dealt and forged ahead. As we climbed away from highway 80, we appreciated how bright the stars shined under the blanket of darkness. The total vertical ascent was 2,500 over 2.2 miles but the last mile of the tour was the most challenging. The switchbacks were steep and tricky and once we got up to the ridge, we had to unclip and btpack up for about 50 yards. From this ridge, we could view some appealing lines in the bowl to the east but we wanted to ski the western side of this ridge so we could get back to the car readily and I think we each secretly thought we could traverse across the ridge to obtain the true summit. Views from the ridge offered a great vantage point of Mt. Gobbler and Mount Raymond.
It took us about 2:30 to get to the ridge but I think we could have done it in under 2 hours with less stops & deliberations. We de-skinned and slide down the ridge to the west until we found our desirable line. There was about 6" of fresh on top of a crust layer but it skied quite well. There were a few short shots and then the bushwhacking began. Many other post about Mt. Aire say that this zone is some of the worst bushwhacking in the Wasatch and I concur. The good news is that if you ski down the base of the ravine, you come to a skied out gully that is fast and narrow but it eliminates having to skin out or continue to bushwhack.
Like any new touring adventure-you never know what you are going to experience. It was a clear, crisp morning and we watched an amazing sunrise, got a great workout and expanded our knowledge of Mt. Aire. We didn't achieve our goal of skiing the east face of the summit that you see from highway 80 so we will be back.