Peak(s):  North Timpanogos - 11,441 feet
Date Posted:  01/22/2009
Date Climbed:   01/21/2009
Author:  Gahugafuga

 Utah Ski Mountaineering, Vol I - Cold Fusion Couloir   

The first time I ever skied Utah, my friend pointed out a chute on the northern subpeak of Mt Timpanogos called the Cold Fusion Couloir. It towered above the suburbs of Provo and Salt Lake City for all to see. It had everything a skier could want: steeps, views, a hellish approach to keep out the riff-raff. When I came home from that trip, it was the only line that I really wanted to ski should I ever return to Utah. It took me 11 months and 13 days to make it a reality.

North Timp from afar w/ Cold Fusion the prominent slide path on the left (photo from Summitposter Marauders)

Having since moved to Utah in search of a deeper and more stable backcountry snowpack than Colorado was providing me, I suffered through an early season characterized by a nightmarishly unstable snowpack. An extended high pressure system helped to heal the early instabilities by mid-month, so the backcountry again became an option. After studying the snowpack over a number of tours, we began to feel confident enough to go for a big line – the kind of terrain you naturally shy away from with a Colorado snowpack. After debating a number of options, each spectacular in their own way, we decided to go for the Cold Fusion.

T&A joined up with me on a rather warm morning for this expedition. Getting to the base of the couloir was a decent amount of work, totaling about 4.5 miles and 2000' of elevation gain, including a deceptively rolling skate along the Timpooneke jeep road. Along the way, we crossed beneath the impressive cliffs of the north face of North Timpanogos. We were thankful for the low avalanche hazard; the area showed the carnage of recent slides. Once we arrived at the based, we received our first view of the work ahead, 3000' of couloir, including a snaking gully, a large cliff band and a massive hanging snowfield.

Looking up the Cold Fusion Couloir in the early morning

We skinned the entire apron and gully and found a way around the cliff bands by climbing through the trees to the looker's right. Breaking out into the large hanging snowfield, we stopped briefly to dig a pit and assess the stability. Aside from one minor failure in the upper few inches of the snowpack, the rest of the column seemed reluctant to fail. From that point, we bootpacked the rest of the line, choosing to forego the summit of North Timpanogos for a more interesting entrance off of the shoulder.

I won't lie. Snow conditions were pretty crummy with a random mixture of crusts and powder. But, it was a big, challenging line in the middle of winter and I was overjoyed to be doing it. With a strengthening snowpack and more snow on the way, the lines and the conditions will only get better. In conclusion, Utah is better than Colorado and the issue is not up for debate. On to the pictures!

Skinning along the Timpooneke jeep road

Views to reward our suffering

The 500' cliffs of N Timpanogos' North Face (note the avy-wrecked tree in the lower right corner)
Multi-tasking: T checks the cell reception while digging a snowpit

Peering down the NW face into the Forked Tongue Couloir

Salt Lake blanketed in smog, Lone Peak to the far right

A drops into the upper couloir

T, ready to make Cold Fusion a reality (a physics joke! )

A enjoying the lower gully
A final look back at the Cold Fusion

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Well done!
01/23/2009 07:02
Great line. Way to get after it.


01/24/2009 01:46
is an impressive mountain. Good stuff.


01/25/2009 05:22
I have always looked up there and wondered. Now I will have to find the right time to hit it. Great TR and effort.

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