Sunrise Summit

Learn How a 5:30 am Backcountry Ski Summit Can Bring Energy to Your Day

On Tuesday, December 27, 2016, me and a group of friends met at 5:30 am to summit the Flagstaff mountain on skis. The Flagstaff mountain is right across the street from Alta. Alta and the Flagstaff mountain are located up Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. This area is popular backcountry ski destination in Utah because of its quick access to some of the most spectacular mountains views and snow. 

The Christmas Tree

Our summit was two days after Christmas and the conditions were perfect. The skies were clear and the temps were cold. We pulled into the parking lot when it was still pitch black. I stepped out of the car and looked to the top of the mountain. From a distance I could see a bright Christmas tree on the top of Cardiff Peak. I could also see a hand full of lights of skiers who had already begun their ski tour ascent up the mountain. Both of these sights were inspiring and added to the awesome atmosphere as we got ready to summit.

The Dawn Patrol

In backcountry skiing there is a concept called the dawn patrol. It is really pretty simple. You wake up early, meet friends at the parking lot, drive up the canyon, skin up by headlamp, ski down at first light, and then make it back to work. This day was a dawn patrol for most of our group. 

Under Headlamp

We started up the mountain to the summit with our headlamps on. I love this part of the early dawn patrol. Since it's pitch back, you experience the mountains in a whole new way. You pay attention to the sounds under your feet and all around you.

First Light

We approached the summit just to the left of the Flagstaff shoulder and headed up a skin track that took us to up the Toledo Bowl. Our skin track was about 7 inches deep and the snow was light. As we approached the Toledo Bowl the sun made its appearance. We all stopped and watched as the sun passed over the crest of the horizon.


It's rays hit our faces and warmed our souls. After almost an hour and half of climbing in the dark, the sunrise brought inspiration to our climb. There's power in a sunrise. It's rays lighten the characteristics of the mountain and give you confidence in the pursuit to the summit. 


The Summit

After we watched the sunrise, we made it to the top of the summit. The summit has it rewards. The views from the top are amazing. Famous Mount Superior at 11,132 feet was in the distance. We moved up the ridge just right of the Toledo Chute. The Toledo Chute had slid so it was not an option to ski that day.


From the ridge we all enjoyed the 360 degree view of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. With blue skies, golden hour sun, and soft snow, we all got ready to ski the untouched Toledo Bowl. There is nothing like that moment, everyone anxiously removed their skins and got ready to ski the golden powder.


The down on the skis was good. The snow was soft. It was so good that we took a 2nd lap on the Toledo Bowl. This meant that we got to enjoy the summit twice. By this time the sun was on the entire mountain. Nothing like a ski tour with a sunrise and blue skies to help you start your day. It gives you an energy that is contagious. You bring that same great feeling to work with you. The ideas after a dawn patrol seem to flow more freely. The mountains are a strong creative zone for me. Some of my greatest creatives ideas and solutions to problems come to me when I'm climbing mountains. 

Get out and experience a sunrise ski summit. It will inspire your day and give you new energy!

The iPhone 7 Plus Pictures

There have been a lot of great advances with mobile phone pictures and one of the latest has been the new Portrait Mode with the new iPhone 7 plus. Instead of carrying a DSLR camera on this ski tour, I just had the iPhone 7 Plus in my pocket.

All of these photos on this blog post where taken with the iPhone 7 Plus in Portrait Mode. This is a serious game changer. The iPhone 7 Plus comes with two cameras and the Apple software engineers used this hardware combined with a software effect called Depth Effect to create photo magic. This advancement is still in beta, but imagine the future as this gets better and better. Thanks Apple!