Wasatch Line: Skiing Monte Cristo Directissimo
The plan was simple. Start from the Alta Police Station, skin up to Pole Line Pass, take the ridge over to Superior, follow the ridge a little more to the summit of Monte Cristo, and then ski down to the road. We had to get off of it sooner rather than later due to the fact that it is a south-facing line and the day was going to get warm.
The ascent was about as straightforward as it gets. The Mt. Superior Highway was nicely packed for us and we had no trouble getting up there. The ridge from Superior to Monte Cristo had not been traveled since the last snow event, but still went smoothly. At the summit, we pulled our harnesses out of our packs and went over the plan once again. Out of the three of us, only Greg had skied Monte Cristo. Brett and I rock-paper-scissored over who would get to be the star of the show, and he won. I skied first and out of the way so that he could be in the classic End of The World shot. The face looks very steep from the summit of Mt. Superior, but is much less steep in reality. We didn’t measure the exact slope angle, but it is known to be about 40º.
The face bottoms out into a couloir, and we moved through this efficiently. Greg took the lead into the rappel station, as he had done it before. Luckily, there wasn’t any water ice leading into the rap station and we could ski right up to it. As far as rap stations go on a ski line, this one is far more civil than the Pfeifferhorn. Although it isn’t bolted, there is a much better stance. We rapped the first pitch, followed by the second pitch, and were on our way.
Despite moving quickly and efficiently, things took slightly longer than we had anticipated and the daytime heating made us get out of the rest of the gully as quickly as possible. Roller balls were forming and we high-tailed it out of there.
Four and a half casual hours after we started, we were on the road with smiles and high fives. My first Wasatch 11,000 footer of the season on January 6th, 2015.
For those of you looking to do it
-Approach via Mt. Superior, then follow the ridge to the west.
-Bring a 60m rope, harnesses to rap with, and your choice of gear to build an anchor with if necessary.
-Plan on 3,000 feet of elevation gain with some booting, conditions dependent. Plan around your party’s pace
-Bring a smile or two
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