Words: Griffin Siebert
Photos: Bob Plumb
The endless stream of snowstorm after snowstorm in the Wasatch Mountains finally ceased, and uncomfortably warm, spring like temperatures engulfed the western US. I was about to be granted with a week off school due to spring break, and was hoping to snowboard my brains out. March in Utah is usually the best time of the year for riding big lines and slashing powder under bluebird skies. This year, March seemed to have a different plan, and next thing I knew we were dusting off the skateboards and the climbing gear. With the next few weeks of weather looking like nothing but sunshine, I thought what a great time to head down south.
I have a lifelong love affair with the desert of southern Utah, from the beautiful rock formations to the quiet tranquility one can’t find in many other places these days. Every time I head down towards southern Utah, the La Sal Mountains located just southeast of Moab, stare you down from a distance. The La Sal range is the second highest mountain range in elevation in Utah, just behind the Uintas. Most of its peaks sit around 12,000 ft. I have seen pictures of high alpine peaks surrounded by a surreal red rock landscape, and knew one day I had to make a pilgrimage southwards to experience them for myself.
Already knowing that the snow was going to be terrible and the hike going to be long, I hit up some of my favorite snowboard buddies stupid enough to join me on this quest. Joining me on this desert adventure was Jeff Richards, Jeremy Thornburg, and Bob “the Possum” Plumb. Next thing I knew we were loading up Jeff’s skamper, into the back of his pick up truck. Which didn’t fit and we had it tied down, sitting on top of 4 x 4’s in the bed of his truck. Kids, I wouldn’t recommend this technique, but it got the job done.
With the skamper loaded up with splitboard, climbing, and skateboard gear, we headed south to test our luck on Mount Tukuhnikivatz. With only a few hiccups on the way down, such as detached tie downs, run-ins with a highway patrol man, and a car battery on the fritz, we pulled into the trailhead parking lot by sundown. We set our alarms to 4:20 am and began the trek up the desert monolith. The ascent was pretty firm to say the least, and the borrowed ice axes and crampons we necessary. We summited Little Tuk and ridge walked over to bag the illusive Mount Tuk. The views on top of those peaks are going to be permanently ingrained into my memories forever, the best vantage point of southern Utah that one can find. We ripped the icy, wind buffed, and “edge-able” steeps of Tuk back to the skamper, sunburnt, exhausted, and starving. Luckily for us, our battery that was on the fritz happened to stay on the fritz and after a 9-hour mission the truck would not start. With cravings of burgers and fries from Milts on our mind, we jimmy rigged the skamper “rv” battery into Jeff’s pick up and hightailed it back to Moab.
With our bellies full and a newly purchased car battery, we continued our adventure back into the desert. For the rest of the trip we packed the splitboards up and began to enjoy the desert for all her worth. From endless hikes into bewildered looking red rock canyons, to bouldering at big bend, endless supplies of laughter, and finally skateboarding the infamous slick rock, we squeezed as much fun out of Moab as humanely possible.
So, if you are looking for an exotic snowboard adventure out of the norm that gets your boots a bit dirty, head down to the desert and go bag some peaks. I had more fun on this snowboard adventure than I have had in a long while. The beauty of it all is that you don’t always have to travel too far from home to go get lost, and experience new and incredible places. The La Sals have some serious potential, and I saw a few lines that will definitely have me coming back for more. Snowboarding in Moab?! C’mon sounds crazy right?!