When one travels to Moab, especially if that someone is a skier, the La Sal Mountains dominate as they float above the red rock desert. Among those lofty peaks, Mount Tukuhnikivatz (or Mount Tuk for short) is the most visible – she’s a triangular mountain on the south side of the range, with a vertical relief that will make any skier salivate. I’ve been eyeing Mount Tuk for years, and finally reached the summit and skied down on spring corn snow. Of course at the top, I had a beer in hand for a Summit Brew with Ghost Rider White IPA from the Wasatch Brewery.
According to Summitpost.com, the word “Tukuhnikivatz” is a combination of Native American words meaning “where the sun sets last.” A co-worker says Tukuhnikivatz is a Dine’ word, the ancient language spoken by the Navajo. Along with the mysterious name, “Tuk” is a worthy objective in either winter and summer because it’s a 12,482-foot mountain (the 3rd highest in the range.) No mountain in the Wasatch comes close to that height, so for Utah summits, she’s a must climb.
On our successful summit bid, Adam, Justin and I drove overnight in the Yurt-on-Wheels to Moab, then up the Geyser Pass road to a parking lot where the plowing ends. We rolled in at 5:30 in pitch darkness – a shame since we couldn’t see Mount Tukuhnikivatz as we drove ever higher into the alpine. Exhausted from the drive and lack of sleep, we got into our sleeping bags and caught a few hours of sleep before the rising sun and the sound of skiers gearing up outside woke us.
We were not alone. Upon looking out the windows of the camper, we could see several cars had pulled in and backcountry skiers spilled out like a clown car. It seemed we weren’t the only ones with the idea to ski Tuk this day, as everyone else we spoke to had the same destination in mind. So we too put skins on skis and buckled our boots for the long ascent.
The weather was perfect for a spring climb, and the skin into Gold Basin was fast. Before we knew it, we soon began skinning up Mount Tuk’s main face. There was some debate about using the north ridge as an ascent route, but previous parties already put in a nice track and boot pack up the face to the summit ridge, so we figured it would be a shame to put it to waste. As we climbed, the views of Tuk, Tuk No, and the Talking Mountain Cirque enveloped us. One by one, skiers that summited before us skied down, whooping in delight on creamy corn snow. A couple from Montana made a second lap from the ridge, showing us our future selves as they flowed down the mountainside.
With renewed motivation, we quickly booted to the ridge then up to the peaked summit. Adam donned his coon hat as an homage to our great western adventure. At the summit of Mount Tukuhnikivatz, we whooped in joy and high-fived each other and we claimed our reward of a spinning view of Utah’s red rock desert, Colorado’s mountains to the east, and nothing but deep schmoo below our skis. Despite the warming temperatures and snow that was getting wetter by the minute, we soaked in the fantastic view, and then I pulled out a bottle of Wasatch Ghost Rider White IPA.
Wasatch Ghost Rider White IPA
Ghost Rider is a new release from the Wasatch Brewery. The label depicts a mysterious cowboy riding a pale horse. His rifle is drawn, his face is obscured, and a desolate desert surrounds him. The label evokes the old west and desert shootouts, so it was the perfect beer to pair with a desert peak high above the red rock spires around Moab.
The style is a White IPA, a type of beer that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately, and it’s one my wife has been enjoying quite a bit. It pairs the fruity flavor of Belgian yeast with the citrus tang of a hopped-up beer for a combination of flavors that is refreshing, light and oh-so-citrusy.
Ghost Rider is no different. The flavor is just such – citrus and fruity tastes from the hops and yeast, with a spicy element that I think might be coriander. But although the label says IPA, the taste is much more like a hoppy Belgian Wit.
In the glass, the beer pours a crisp, clean color that is only slightly cloudy, with a good head that is full of bubbles and leaves a fair amount of sticky lacing. The aroma is all hops baby, and the mouthfeel is excellent, even fun. The carbonation is light and bubbly with only a slight heaviness.
Overall, Ghost Rider White IPA is a a very tasty, highly drinkable beer that will be perfect for the warmer months. The taste is refreshing and hoppy, though not so hopped up that I would call it an “IPA.” But if you’re a fan of Belgian beers with a kick, you’ll want to saddle up with this Ghost Rider.
As for the ski down post-brew, well, let’s just say skiing Tukuhnikivatz was the most fun I’d ever had in Moab. That says a lot considering I’ve climbed Castleton Tower, mountain biked the Whole Enchilada and the White Rim Trail. But something about the timing, the bluebird skies, the aerobic hike up, the vibe from fellow skiers, the tasty Ghost Rider, and the incomparable views followed by a sweet ski descent of a long sought-after peak made this single adventure percolate to the top of my bro brain as the highlight of my Moab adventure life.
For more information about Ghost Rider and other Wasatch beers, visit them at www.utahbeers.com
For full reports of this and other outdoor adventures in Utah, visit our sister site at www.utahoutside.com