Sunday, July 15, 2018

Even Meteorologists Get Burned by the Weather

After an aborted attempt to ski Kings Peak in May (see Uinta Misadventures), my son and I decided we needed to go back this summer and make the summit.  I have lived in Utah for 23 years and incredibly haven't done Kings Peak, so we left Friday afternoon to try and bag it Saturday (yesterday). 

The hike in on Friday evening was as enjoyable as a long slog can be.  The meadows were pretty and the trail dry and fast.  We realized quickly what a folly it had been to try and ski Kings in May with patchy, unsupportable snow on AT gear.  Good golly, what a long approach for what would have been a minimal amount of turns!

Friday night I awoke at 2 AM or so and peered out at wonderfully clear skies.  Sunrise Saturday morning was beautiful. 

However, just visible in the pond reflection are some clouds that were floating about and gave me a little heartburn.  I was mainly concerned about afternoon thunderstorms.  I had anticipated a slight threat of those happening as often occurs in the Uintas, and this was also reflected in the National Weather Service Forecast for the western Uintas issued Friday afternoon. 

We left our campsite around 7:30 am, and already the partly cloud skies were starting to fill. 

Nearing the summit at 9:30 am, it was clear things were going south with showers in many areas, including looking west. 

A bit later, at the summit, it was clear that the 30% chance would "verify" and that things were falling apart sooner than anticipated, although thankfully we hadn't heard thunder or seen lightning.

As we took a summit photo, it was just starting to sprinkle. 

And, looking west, it was clear that things were going to change.

We began our descent.  When we reached the summit, we were the only ones on top and we hadn't passed anyone descending.  On the descent, the line of climbers was long.  We had fortunately brought some layers and rain gear, but others were in true Alpine style with shorts, thin T-shirts, and minimal gear if any.  A few were in sandals.  Kings Peak is a long ways from home when the weather goes south.  We were glad to have brought up some warmer clothes.

Indeed, the rain came in on the descent, and we had steady develop as we descended below Gunsight Pass. 

Fortunately, we got a break before reaching camp.  My son wanted to head all the way out so he could watch the World Cup Final this morning, so we spread stuff out to dry and I caught I quick nap.  We broke camp and began the long slog out, with rain starting again shortly thereafter. 

Really, it didn't rain all that much, but it was enough that portions of the trail turned into a quagmire.  At this point, we kept our heads down and the legs churning. 

All of this is a reminder that Meteorologists get burned by the weather too and that a 30% chance of showers doesn't mean a 0% chance of showers.  On the other hand, I the early development of showers that morning was a surprise.  I consider this a penalty for not paying proper sacrifice to the Gods of Kings Peak.   Clearly that area is cursed for me.  At least we summited and enjoyed a decent view. 

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