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Let's ski Beaver Mountain

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey, did you miss out on the fresh stuff in Utah Tuesday last? Then let's take a ride to Beaver Mountain. I called in sick. I'll drive. Bring your skis. Midfats will do nicely, but fatties are fine. I'll be on my Dynastar 8800's. The roads are snow covered but the day is blue-sky bright. Just sit back and enjoy the view. Logan Canyon doesn't get any prettier than this. Yellow and gray limestone cliffs are etched in white. Logan River is lined with willow and Douglas fir. If skiing weren't a priority, this would be a marvelous day for photographs.

But we have more important things to do. Logan River is named after a poor, obscure Hudson Bay Fur Company trapper who, thanks to a Blackfoot up in Idaho, met his end before even seeing his namesake river. We're the fortunate ones today. We get to see the beauty and then ski it. 7 inches new last night on top of 14 the night before. Should be fine skiing.

That's the mountain's backside up ahead. Beaver Mountain is just under 9000 feet with only 1600 vertical, but I guarantee fresh powder, especially if you're willing to hike a bit. There's more snow and steeper skiing to our left up by Tony Grove, but the access is more difficult so the original rope tow was placed at Beav. But even that required a substantial hike in from the highway so the Seeholzer family moved the tow up to the Sinks area near the summit. Later, the access road into Beav was built (one mile) and a ski area was born.

We'll park in the upper lot. That way we can ski right onto the Dream lift which gets us to the top. The two doubles to our left are older, but their motors have been replaced. The Dream chair is slated to be replaced with Alta's old Germania triple, but Ted Seeholzer won't do it until he has cash, so it may be a year or two. He also bought an old triple from Keystone and had it installed a couple of years back. It serves the next draw to our right. It's got the terrain park and some nice glades, but nothing worth our efforts today. The good stuff is right off the top.

We're third chair! Looks like the new stuff last night didn't quite cover yesterday's tracks. Shouldn't matter much. Not much traffic up here during the week so the old tracks are spaced pretty far. I like to start off with pressure so we'll ski right under the lift. Harry's it's called. Named after Harold Seeholzer, the original owner and patriarch to the family business. He was my counselor for my skiing merit badge. He and his wife have since passed away and the children and grandchildren have continued their legacy.

We drop straight off the top on Nasty, a bit of a moguled pitch, but they're soft and round. Hey, this stuff is nice. The fresh from last night is very light while yesterday's snow is a bit heavier. This makes for a very smooth ride. The light stuff flies up around our waist while we ride a smooth meringue underneath. We skirt into the aspens then drop onto Harry's. We get a few “whoops” from the chair. We continue all the way under the lift, even popping off a few small moguls. Smiles all around.

Next run: Stan's (named for a longtime patroller). We'll actually ski the trees between Stan's and Lue's (named for Luella Seeholzer, wife of Harry. She cooked the chili for the shack back when I was knee high to a Henke boot). Ah yes, this is even nicer. The trees have collected a bit more snow in places. This next shot is sweet – a bit steeper with – WOW – no tracks. The fresh stuff is so delicious. It's the perfect snow for Beaver's rather tame slopes. The steepest is probably 35 degrees, but when the snow is this light, it's all good. Rip around that next fir then follow me down into that glade. I know, it's tight, but I promise fresh stuff on the other side. Mind that bough so it doesn't throw you off into that large aspen. Ah. . . see! You're good for 6 or 7 turns, then drop onto the runout.

Next, it's the other side of Lue's. Moguls on the edge but then we'll make our way into the quakies. Sweet stuff. Get into a rhythm. Slide around that aspen, then wiggle three turns into the next stand. Bank and slide, bank and slide. Your legs move back and forth under your hips, your forearms flick forward to the next turn. You find your own path lined with white velvet.

A couple of more runs there then it's time for Spring Road. This is Beaver's “accessed backside.” You ski down to an old mining road then skate/pole your way back around to the top of the Little Beav lift. Hey, it's Aaron and Estee. Let's join up. He got 4th at Snowbird's Extreme competition last year. 4 years back he was voted King of the Hill. His wife is just as good as he is. But don't worry. They let me tag along without any attitude. Great people.

We drop down to the left of the cliff and it's suddenly trackless. Not quite face shots, but wonderful snow for throwing wide arcs, tight turns, and anything in between. We pull up just before the drop onto the road and watch Aaron pop a perfect 306 off small rock. As Napolean Dynamite would say, “He's got skills.”

In spite of the crowded track back (five others besides us) we got back for more. Same line. Then another. More people. Then we move farther out. More tracks. Now it's really getting crowded. Then the magic words: “We have a car parked at the highway.” The best skiing to the highway requires a 10 minute hike to start and then a thumb to hitch back to Beav with. Usually the wait is 5 minutes or less on busy days. But on a weekday at 11:00 a.m., to have a guaranteed ride is a good thing. Off we go.

10 minutes later, we're ready to push off. This is top-to-bottom skiing on 30 degree slopes. No avalanche danger. Plenty of fresh, trackless snow. Enjoy. Our first turns take us through widely spaced fir. It's ego snow, every turn a euphoric rush as we swerve back and forth through the trees. Then we pop out into an open field and you score first tracks down to the trees. Sunshine and powder! Excellent. Traverse right of the trees, break onto the ridgeline for a few turns, then it's back into an open glade. We stop above what I know is a 15 foot cliff band right above the road. You can skirt it to your right, but I know that Aaron and Estee are going to launch. What the heck. Estee goes first and all we can see from our perspective is her hair flying up behind her as she drops out of sight. Then Aaron heads to our right where he can launch a bit farther. Now it's our turn. OK, here goes. I hit the lip and suddenly remember how far 15 feet can look, especially with some speed. Too late. I'm launched. But I took my jump at a bit of an angle to assure a fresh landing away from Estee's. As a result, when I land a bit forward, my right ski gets unweighted and I catch my tip which throws my right ski uphill and around behind me. I nearly go down, but manage to pull up to a stop. It's only later that I realize I hit my ribs on my knee and tweaked my ACL a bit. Nevertheless, I get my ski righted, drop down to the highway, and then note that Aaron landed a good 10 feet farther down than Estee or I did. He's good. How was your jump?

We hike back to the car, smiling at our good fortune to be skiing in combination with such marvelous conditions. More snow predicted this weekend. I'll be up here with the girls. Maybe we'll see you again?
post #2 of 13
that is one long post; sounds enticing though!
post #3 of 13
I went to school at USU 72-76. The beav sounds like its still a great local's destination with great snow, and more lifts than when I was there. Great low pressure place to be instead of class. Hope they can keep it going. Thanks for the memory trip.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
I went to school at USU 72-76. The beav sounds like its still a great local's destination with great snow, and more lifts than when I was there. Great low pressure place to be instead of class. Hope they can keep it going. Thanks for the memory trip.
Well, we must have crossed tracks on occasion. I was an active Aggie 73-76. As to keeping it low-key, so far, so good.
post #5 of 13
Where is this place again... sounds pretty boring.... Ok, just kidding. While it's not snowbird, I love the beav. Its got an allure that beckons to me like few other places, It rivals anywhere on a mid-week powder day. This was another great story I envisioned every cliff, tree and person right along with you. Thanks!
Duke/ beaver "lifer"

p.s. I just figured out Ive tripped up the canyon somewhere aroud 150times in the last 12 months.... thats scary!
post #6 of 13
Bill, great post. Brings back a lot of memories. I learned to ski at the Beav' starting in '76. I was at USU from '80 to '85 and patrolled at there from '82 to '87. Skied 124 days my senior year at USU. The Beav' is why it took me five years to graduate.

Ted's still grumpy as ever. But he's doing a great job in keeping the hill alive.

Also, during my years down there (and a few after) I backcountry skied all over Logan, Green, Dry, and Providence Canyons, the Wellsvilles, Sardine, Tony Grove, Sawmill, Bunchgrass, Wood Camp, and Franklin Basin with Tom & Thor Dyson, Marty Judd, Bob Van Syke, Scott Datwyller.
post #7 of 13
Harkin, did you ever ski off Logan Peak? I hiked up there in March (1974) and skied the north face down Mill Hollow to the Spring Hollow campground at Dam 3. Worst case of sun poisoning ever: about that color. There was a pretty good cornice drop off the top and the rest was soft spring snow into the canyon. Tough hike starting at 5100 feet out of South Logan, post holing to the peak at 9700+. I don't think too many people do it, but could be wrong.
post #8 of 13
Hmmmm The Beaver is the only place in Utah I have not skied. might have to take a ride up there and check it out.
post #9 of 13
Cirquerider, I never did ski that face, although I did ski Mt. Logan many times. We would drive up to the highest house in River Heights, park there and then skin up Dry Canyon, past Little Big Mountain, then the west face of the end of the canyon, gaining the north-trending ridge of Mt. Logan, and then on to the summit. Usually a 4-5 hour, 4500' vertical skin up. Your shot is to the east of the north-trending ridge. We always looked at it, but the risks (big avalanche paths),the logistics (leaving a car up the canyon), and cliff bands (can I really get through there?) never inspired us to do it. We would usually yo-yo in the north/northwest facing shots off of the westerly ridge off of the summit of Mt. Logan (500' shots) for a couple of hours and then take one big run back to the car. I used to do it in Asolo leather boots (just above my ankles) and waxable Epoke 900 double cambered skis mounted with Rottefella Telemark 3-pin bindings. The Epoke's are incredibly skinny skis (50 mm waist) compared to today's set-ups. No cell phones, radios, etc. back then. We were on our own. Really good times.

Utah49, Beaver should definitely be on your "to do" list.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
My dad tells of an unofficial race to Logan Peak that he participated in during his college years in the 40's. They would ski up Dry Canyon to the top of Logan Peak then ski back down Dry. He tells of cutting a quakie sapling to drag between his legs to help slow him down on the descent through the canyon which was too narrow and filled with scrub maple to make turning viable, especially on 220 hickory skis.

In '97, three men were killed in an avalanche that swept the southwest facing ridgeline that separates Dry from Logan Canyon. Class 4. The men were sleeping in their tent when the avalanche broke.

Harkin, you were hanging with the BIG boys! Scott Datwyler lives out near me now. He still covers the Bear River Range in all kinds of weather. He and I skied together back in 6th grade but then he got "religion" and dropped the Alpine part of his ski experience. Did you ever participate in the cross-country race that Marty Judd and the USU ROTC sponsored? Started up at the Sinks. I slogged through it on 210 Bonna skis with Rottefella bindings and some similar Asolo boots to yours. Great fun. It's amazing what we tried with equipment that by today's standards would be considered suicidal by most, and yet I took those same waxable skis with wood bases, threw on a pack, and skied up to a yurt at the top of Bunchgrass for the night with nary a thought.

Cirque, I admire your descent into Spring Hollow! That is one steep mother up there. I've hiked up the dang thing in summer but never felt the desire nor energy for an assault in winter.
post #11 of 13
Young and foolish. Most of the decents were off the summit going to the NorthWest hitting the dry canyon tree line. That shot was in the clear for a short distance then fairly thick aspens and firs traversing back to the car. When I skied the north face, the snow had melted at the lower elevations. So I hiked, rock climbed the bottom to the campgrounds. It was scary steep, and I may have looked less heroic in doing it than your mind's eye would suggest. There are at least 3 big avalanche paths in there, and I stayed in the trees until cliff bands forced me into the draw.

Now the big question. How far back in Logan Cave did you go? Ever reach the crystal room? Lots of belly crawls in streams and drop offs in there too.

BTW Forestry College of Natural Resources 1976.
post #12 of 13
Bill, I did used to race in the Temple Peak Ski Race. The best I did was 12th place. That race I remember the most becasue I could not drop Tom Dyson on the uphill part of the race. At the time, I was 21 and he was 53. He was behind me the entire way up the hill breathing down my neck, V-1 skating and classic skiing right on my tails, yelling "Hup, hup, hup!". I finally dropped him on the downhill - I took a couple of corners very fast where he slowed down. Again, I ended up taking 12th in that race and he took 15th (out of 100 or so).

I recognize the "quakie" technique. We used to used drag our ski poles between our legs to slow us down once we got down into the Dry Canyon gully and on the snowmobile tracks. The same with Providence Canyon.

I also remember the Jan. 97 avalanche that caught the 3 guys sleeping in their tent. I had skied the slope that ran many times and considered their camp site to be in a safe zone from everything in the canyon. As I recall, I was down at Beaver that weekend or the one after and I think I remember seeing the fracture line from Logan/Providence.

Did you even go up and see the debris pile from the Wood Camp avalanche in Feb. '86? That was simply amazing. I remember walking up on the debris pile, climbing over chunks the size of cars and small houses, seeing 200 year old trees snapped like toothpicks, hoping I don't fall in a cravass, just in awe of the devestation. It didn't melt out for 2 summers.

Cirquerider - yes I slogged through the mud, water, and slime to the crystal room. 2 out of 3 flashlights ran out on the way back. Made for interesting times on the way out.

College of Foresty & NR - Do you know Mike Jenkins? He was on the CBS National News last night being interviewed about a Herb that got caught in an avalanche outside of Snowbasin. The Herb had no beacon, shovel, or probe. Darwin missed.

You guys ever do the Giardia Run? It was a "race" from the HPER building to the White Owl sponsored by the College of Engineering. Most dressed up for the race with clothing they got from the DI. Paid your $10, got a t-shirt, a burger, and a beer. When the starting gun went off, some actually raced, but most got in their car and drove straight to the White Owl. The race was measured in parsecs, microns, light years, etc. All moneys went to local charities, so the Logan Founding Fathers let the race go on. Mostly, it was a reason to drink 3.2 beer.


College of Civil Engineering 1985
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Harkin, I'm impressed with your finish at Temple Peak. Anyone who can hang with Tom Dyson is to be honored. I was WAY back in the pack. I do remember that Wood Camp slide. HUGE. And alas Cirque, I never made it to the Crystal Room. Too much water and too little prep at the time. The cave is now closed off to protect the bats. As to the Giardia Run (love the name), it was always a bit too "event" for me, even with the charity and White Owl burgers (I may not imbibe, but a burger on the deck of the White Owl is one of life's simple pleasures. They have good lemonade).
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