I am really excited about this hike. I feel like it is a big step in a new direction of backpacking and mountaineering, especially in the winter, for me.
This hike consisted of a lot “firsts” for me. It was my first time using a splitboard, it was my first time hiking with my new adventurous friend John, it was my first time reaching a summit with the intention to snowboard down, it was my first time hiking in the backcountry in less-than-day-old powder and in “considerable” avalanche conditions, and it was also my first time watching someone paraglide off of a mountain.
Our hike began across the street from the “Donut Falls” trail head. We started heading North, but almost immediately the trail turned East and began gaining elevation. We glided along the snow covered trail until we reached a fork. We turned left and began heading North again.
The snow on the south face of any hill or mountain in Utah gets beat down all day by the heat of the sun. The trail we climbed was no different, and the snow became heavy on my board. Our trek North was beautiful and passed through groves of aspens that waned and waxed as we moved upward. The trees appeared to be a cream color against the absolute white of the snow. The black knots on the trees provided us with a world of contrast when the trees became increasingly dense.
The route turned West and broke free of the trees and we made our approach to the summit of Mount Reynolds. We realized that the skin trail that cut through the fresh snow was only a few minutes old after catching sight of a small touring group on the ridge above us. Their sight inspired us and our speed increased.
The angle of the slope became more drastic and the steep exposures on each side of the ridge moved inward, towards us on both sides. Fresh wind slabs were beginning to create shelves of snow and we moved along side them, some of them reaching my shoulders.
I imagined a beautiful view, but all I could see was a few brief moments when the dark trees stood out against the overwhelming whiteness hundreds of feet below.
My friend, John, set up his paragliding wing as I converted my splitboard from skis to a board. He glided to the edge of the peak and flew away.
The people that reached the peak before us took their turns down the North face of Reynolds, and I followed. I cut to the far right to avoid the tracks of the group before me. Picking up speed, my first cut threw a 20ft tall wave of the most amazing powder I have ever ridden on.
Lost in the snowstorm that I created with my board, I continued downward. I regained visibility and cut back and forth several times throwing incredible waves, I would imagine to only see in magazines. The slope leveled out below and I pointed my board downward and leaned back.
I found John down another slope and rode down to meet him. We boarded down through untouched snow, weaving through aspens as we went. Eventually, our route turned into someones tracks and increased in popularity until we were riding on a beaten path of ice and slush.
By this point, I unstrapped and walked down a few minutes to the car. We threw our gear in the car and began the drive out of the canyon. We were both excited about the day!