Wasatch Mountains, Utah
Less than 30 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons serve up world-class backcountry skiing. There is literally no approach to most of our skiing, once we clip into our bindings we skin uphill. Every foot of elevation we gain climbing up is enjoyed with great turns on the way back down.
Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are both major roads that run parallel to one another in an east west direction, split by a prominent ridgeline. This geography makes it possible to use public transportation to do bi-canyon tours. These bi-canyon tours let us see lot’s of terrain, ski more down hill than we climb up, and ski all slopes with northern aspects. These are fun diverse ski tours with vast options for all types of skiers.
We also have the option of using lifts to access the backcountry. Snowbird and Alta sit at the top of Little Cottonwood canyon and Brighton and Solitude at the top of Big Cottonwood canyon. Having these major ski areas adjacent to great backcountry skiing terrain can open up some interesting options for those with lift passes.
Many trail heads in both canyons provide unbeatable access to just about anything a backcountry skier could want or need… More than most could ski in a lifetime!
The Wasatch mountains are a compact mountain range, but they offer up a huge variety of ski terrain for backcountry skiers. Big Cottonwood canyon to the Park City ridge line is full of mellow glades suitable for newer and intermediate backcountry skiers as well as providing safe terrain on high avi days. “Big” as it’s often referred to, is not all mellow Glades though, it also offers big objectives like Mount Raymond and technical descents like the Whipple couloir and more.
Little Cottonwood, in general is bigger, steeper more rugged terrain. “Little” is where we find lots of our ski mountaineering terrain. Peaks like the Pfeifferhorn and Mount Superior, as well as big lines like the Hypodermic Needle and the Coal Pit head wall.
We could go on and on, but the point is, there is something for everyone. The Wasatch is truly a Backcountry skiing mecca.
Skis With Alpine Touring bindings
Skins need to be in good condition and cut to fit your ski.
Ski Touring Boot
Boots need to be compatible with your bindings. Boots must have a walk mode.
Ski Crampons must be compatible with you bindings and ski waist width.
We highly recommend aluminum crampons. Make sure they work with your ski boots.
Harness must fit over ski clothing, be light weight and in good condition. You should also have 2 locking carabiners and a belay device.
Ice Axe needs to be light weight and short (Less than 55cm).
A good ski pack should be light weight and have a dedicated pocket for your avalanche rescue gear and be between 35-50 liters.
Avalanche Rescue Gear
Your beacon should be a modern digital beacon. Come with new batteries in your beacon.
While we don’t require you to ski with a helmet we do highly recommend it.
Light or medium weight beanie.
We recommend a lightweight buff as it has many uses.
We really like goggles with changeable lenses for use in bright and low light. They should also be compatible with your helmet.
Even if you always prefer to ski in goggles, sun glasses are needed for the up. Goggles will get fogged with sweat.
How warm depends on you. We recommend a durable well fitting ski glove.
Lighter weight gloves are recommended for hiking up to reduce sweating.
Hard Shell Jacket
Waterproof/breathable jacket with ventilation.
Light Insulating Jacket
Breathable light insulating jacket.
Mid to Heavy Insulating Jacket
When temps are cold, you will be happy for a nice warm jacket.
Top Base Layer
We really like sun hoodies.
Bottom Base Layer
We prefer light weight socks.
50 SPF or greater. Make sure your tube is not old as sunscreen can lose it’s effectiveness over time.
Make sure it has SPF.
Small First Aid Kit
This should contain blister repair material, over the counter pain killers and a few bandaids. We will have a full sized med kit on the boat as well as field kits with the guides.
- Your guide will contact you no later than the evening before your trip to discuss the days plans.
- For a full day of skiing, plan on 8+ hours out. Bigger objectives can take between 10 and 12 hours.
- A typical day: Guides will meet clients in one of the Park and Ride parking lots. From the meeting area (guides will tell you where) you will go up one of the canyons together in the client vehicle or public transportation.
*Please note, because of insurance reasons we are not able to transport clients in guide vehicles.
Before You Head Out
- The guide will do a verbal gear check and confirm that waivers have been signed.
- The guide will inform you what to do incase of emergency.
- The guide will give you an overview of the day with estimated completion time.
Your day will usually end where your day began (at one of the parking lots or at your lodge). Directions to parking areas where we often meet. Alway confirm meeting place with your guide.
Wasatch Backcountry Skiing 2019 price: $400 per person $100 per person for each additional person up to 4. We maintain a ratio no greater than 4 clients to 1 guide. Contact us for courses and group pricing.
Included in Price:
- IFMGA/AMGA certified guide
- Liability Insurance
- Upon request we will provide a Back Pack with Beacon, Shovel and Prob.
- Unforgettable day in the Wasatch Backcountry
Not Included in Price:
- Transportation or cost of public transport
- Lift ticket is needed
- Tips for the Guide
In the Wasatch we operate under the permit of our partners at Wasatch Mountain Guides LLC. Todd Passey is a Co-Owner of Wasatch Mountain guides