Temptation Ridge is a long, traversing shoulder of rock that slouches off the side of American Fork Twin Peaks above Snowbird’s Gad Valley, which, it turns out, is an excellent place for a Summit Brew with a can of Avery IPA. The name Temptation Ridge, I assume, comes from the fact that incredible-looking ski lines spill down from this ridge, but none of them are ever open, yet they tempt skiers every time they ride up the Little Cloud and Gad 2 lifts. In fact, any backcountry skiers who get there from the other side of the ridge would be in big trouble if caught by ski patrol (who calls this ridge White Pine Ridge.) But on a sunny June day, I set out with buddies Justin, Sean-Zilla and Ben to ski Baldy Bowl below the ridge, as well as to enjoy a can of Avery IPA.
Our mission objective was not just for hiking and drinking fine hand-crafted ale, but also so Justin could notch his 30-somethingish consecutive ski month before heading to Argentina where he spends his summers ski-guiding in Patagonia. With his flight leaving in two days, this ski trip had to be now or never. To keep the streak alive, we all agreed to join him, not only for the chance ski long after the lifts stopped running, but also to say goodbye.
We began at Snowbird’s 2nd Entry parking lot, where we crossed the bridge over Little Cottonwood Creek. The early morning was warmer than expected, considering that a cold front had moved in the day before. This bit of chilly air was welcome, however, as it froze what snow was left, perfect for the makings of sweet corn skiing. On the other side of the bridge, we hiked up the Dick Bass Highway with hiking shoes on our feet and our skis strapped to our packs.
Ski lifts hung silent above us as we ascended up the Gad Valley to the base of the old Little Cloud ski lift. From there, our objective came into view: a series of couloirs that spill down from White Pine Ridge, just to looker’s right of Baldy Bowl. We scoped out some lines from below, and chose a wide chute with a choke in the middle that gave us some concern. But the potential for rockfall seemed less likely there, so we strapped on our helmets, put our ski boots on, and started bootpacking up the line.
The snow had already softened up by mid-morning, making toe-pointing and side stepping easy enough to make good time to the main headwall. Then things got steep and a bit sketchy. Sean, who was in the lead, chose to traverse to a band of rocks where we could find better traction. But the stone was loose, and whatever was held into place required 5.4 climbing moves – not easy with skis strapped to your back and plastic ski boots on your feet.
As soon as the rocky bit was behind us, a short bootpack up the remaining headwall put us atop the ridge where an expansive view of the Salt Lake Valley lay below, framed by the sawtooth peaks of the Wasatch. White Pine Lake hunched frozen below, and the Pfeifferhorn called to us in the clear distance. After picture taking, we began the ritual sharing of hand-crafted IPA, in this case the excellent IPA from Avery Brewing Company, which was safely carried in my pack.
Avery Brewing Company, based in Boulder, Colorado, has the honorable distinction of brewing the state’s first packaged IPA. So how does Avery IPA stack up considering it’s Colorado’s original? Damn hoppy, that’s how!
At the top of Temptation Ridge, I passed the can around, and Ben, upon taking his first sip, exclaimed at the hoppiness of it, even taking a second look at the can to make sure he wasn’t drinking an Imperial IPA. Nope, just a typical, run-of-the-mill IPA that’s anything but pedestrian.
This IPA, as you can imagine, is all about the hops, so much so that there isn’t much malt profile to balance things out. Fine by me. I’m a serious hop-head by trade, and appreciate that smack-you-in-the-tastebuds flavor of citrusy, piney and dank hop aromas. But to say it’s a bit unbalanced is not a knock on the beer at all, as this can of sweetness is very drinkable – dangerously so.
In the glass, the beer pours a very light color, almost as light as a pilsner or lager. Do not be deceived! This beer packs a punch. A nice, foamy head that literally breathes hop smells disappears quickly, and leaves minimal lacing on the glass, perhaps due to how fast one can drink this brew.
The taste is all hops, featuring the aforementioned grapefruit-style citrus, pine and dank flavors that come from liberal use of Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops. For a beer that is so light yet delicious, and comes in a can, this is about the best beer to bring along on outdoor adventure that I’ve found so far. That being said, I think this is one of those rare IPAs that actually taste better out of the can than in the glass, but maybe that’s just the mountain air talking.
Avery IPA has an ABV of 6.5% and features 69 IBUs. It comes in six-pack cans and bottles. For more information, visit www.averybrewing.com
After making good on our Summit Brew promise, it was time to ski. Surprisingly, June snow was quite good, and we could make easy turns on soft corn that gave in underneath our edges. We all leapfrogged down to the apron below West Twin Peak to Baldy Bowl where we could open up and make turns at speed. Justin whooped and hollered, his cries echoing off the cliffs of Baldy Bowl as we all skied into a tunnel of rock that ended back where we began at the dismantled chairs of Little Cloud, which was being taken apart to make way for a new high-speed quad. From there, it was just a matter of hiking back down across springs swollen with snowmelt and mud-covered jeep roads to our waiting cars in the lot far below. Once back on asphalt, we tossed our gear down and cracked open more beers where we toasted our adventure.