A few months back, my friend Dan Stucki and I went to go ski Monte Cristo, a classic line in the Wasatch range, just outside of Salt Lake City. I’d never done it before and the conditions were mostly perfect. When we arrived at the parking lot, we realized our wake up time hadn’t been early enough. Both Dan and I silently scolded ourselves as we watched the line of headlamps that stretched to the saddle below Mt. Superior slowly work their way up in the darkness. It was unusually cold outside, which meant for a brisk start to the skin up, but it also meant that the fresh snow would be light.
After a few hours, we arrived on the summit of Mr. Superior. The sun was up and it warmed our faces, however the temperatures were still relatively low. I stayed on the summit of Superior while Dan walked across the saddle over to Monte Cristo, kicking off small cornices along the way. There had been wind that night that continued into the morning, but nothing too strong. Nobody had skied the face yet, and we were looking forward to fresh tracks. While I was waiting, A group of about 5 or 6 came up behind me, eagerly watching Dan work his way over. We chatted for a bit about the weather and the Wasatch, until I noticed Dan was coming back. One of the cornices he kicked off, pulled a slab that continued down toward the rappel. It wasn’t a huge slab, however it was big enough to make both of us slightly uneasy, and decided to just ski the south face of Superior instead. As we made our way down the south ridge toward our drop in point, we noticed the small group that arrived after us were skinning toward the summit of Monte Cristo. I can’t deny that this made both of us question our decision and left us feeling a bit defeated.
The skiing down the south face was just as fun as we had predicted. The snow was deep and the turns were epic. We got to the bottom, hitch hiked back to our car and loaded everything up. On the drive down canyon, despite just having had a really good run, Dan and I both acknowledged that maybe we should have skied Monte Cristo instead. By the time we pulled into the park and ride, both of us grudgingly agreed that it was fine to bail, even though we didn’t want to. I’m not sure either of us really actually felt that way, but we knew that we should have felt that way.
The next day, Dan sent me a link to the avalanche report. Two people were caught in a slide on the face where we would have skied, about the same time we were up there. I don’t recall if anyone was injured. I’m pretty sure they weren’t, however it was enough to validate our decision and left both of us knowing we made the right call. Who knows? Maybe it would have been fine. Maybe we would have had a really fun run? It’s impossible to know for certain what the outcome would have been, but as I get older, I realize that it’s better to just stack the odds in your favor so you can continue to do what you love.