Ruby Mountains: Terminal Cancer Couloir
If you drive West on I-80 from Salt Lake City for about 3.5 hours you'll find yourself somewhere near Elko, NV and at the base of the Ruby Mountains. The Rubies are the gem of the Northern basin and range roughness of Nevada. Normally faulted Granite ascends straight from the desert floor into the sky. They are striking.
I'd called Mike Royer at Ruby Mountain Heli a few days prior and he told us that the road into Lamoille Canyon had been plowed and opened basically up until the base of Terminal Cancer. Damn, yes.
The crux of the approach was crossing the river that separated the road from the base of the line. Evan and I nailed the crossing. Liza fell in. It was all good. We put skins on and crashed through some immature aspen grove brambles until we'd made it to the apron of the still-hidden cancer.
We skinned for a bit, still relatively blind to the line and then pow, it appeared. It looks like a hallway. A hallway of a ski line. I was reminded of some kitschy John Mayer lyrics. I wanna run through the halls of my high-school, I wanna scream at the top of my lungs! It was beautiful.
We hiked for a while and for the first time on our trip talked about more substantial things. I asked Liza how our friends in Jackson talk about my relationship with Hannah—whether they hate on it and gossip as much as they like to. She said no and asked some relatively benign questions about our relationship. Liza and I had had a bit of a tumultuous run in with romance in the past and I still wasn't sure if she was over it. She always got very unplayful and tense when we talked about anything like that these days.
I asked her about her evolving relationship with Charlie and she seemed a bit sad about it. Unbalance, undefined expectations, feelings in flux, etc. Charlie and I lived together and he is the shit, but is easy to commit to half-baked romance and it seemed like Liza was the most recent doughy cookie.
Evan told us the story of his recently ended long-distance relationship, which I didn't really know about. It seemed like they had a great time together and then just kind of stopped. He'd lived in Cape Cod with her for a bit and spent time in NYC with her and met her family and then it just, dissolved. That is certainly an over-simplification, but we kept telling good stories to one another and verbally processing things and generally avoiding talking about the small wind-slabs that were growing more consistent as we moved up the steeper part of the couloir. It was all nice and then we were at the top. At the top of one of the most aesthetic ski lines in the world.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention because I generally forgot to notice during the ascent, but there was about 10" of fresh snow and we were the first in there. Fresh tracks in Terminal Cancer. A bit punchy, but beautiful.
I'd only brought thin wool gloves and my hands were getting severely cold in the late-day North facing aspect. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we dropped in at 6:45pm. Spring skiing is timeless.
I posted the above picture to www.reddit.com/r/skiing and someone asked, "is it worth the drive?" I didn't quite know how to answer, so I thought I'd clear that up now. Yes, and (classic improv line) there are seemingly infinite other lines to ski in the Rubies. Mike Royer at Ruby Mountain Heli is an incredibly nice and helpful guy. Call him before you come to get updates on the road and snow.
The Rubies are the hidden gem of the West.