By Tom Wharton
The Salt Lake Tribune
Rocky Mountain High
Steve Swanson of Salt Lake City knows this trip well. He has made it with the Wasatch Mountain Club 32 times since 1971. He and brother Larry have been the prime organizers of these expeditions, doing everything from going up the week before to break and set a trail, to putting toilet paper in the Henry's Fork campground outhouse.
Larry Coulton, a veteran of the trip with his brother Bruce, said the Swanson brothers are the heart of the trip.
Many times, he's gone up alone.
Steve Swanson picked the last Saturday of March for the annual trip because it provides a good compromise between more daylight and decent snow. The group always starts at 5 a.m. sharp and has a 3 p.m. turnaround time.
Faster skiers get out by 6 p.m.
The slowest skier on record returned at midnight.
The Swansons usually serve as trail leader and sweeper, coming out last.
Two years ago, the ski-tour group enjoyed a brilliant display of the Northern Lights as they camped in the frigid darkness. This year, when they reached Gunsight pass near the base of Kings Peak, Berry heard coyotes howling and found a dead mallard right off the trail. That led him to speculate about how a duck could end up in the High Uintas that time of year.
Kings Peak Summit Panorama