It’s never been much of a secret that Utah has the “Greatest Snow on Earth”. In fact, if you’ve seen one of our license plates, you know we’re eager to boast about it. The state’s Wasatch Mountains, a sprawling, jagged front covering 160 miles, have a peculiar climate that produces some of the fluffiest snow on the planet. Add that to a smorgasbord of terrain varying from gentle, open slopes forested with sparse trees to perilously steep couloirs and heady cliffs and you start to get an idea how Utah has become a destination for skiers across the globe. And with nine (yes, nine) resorts within an hour drive of Salt Lake City, what more could you really ask for? A lot, actually.
As both tourist and local traffic to Utah ski areas grows, skiers of all ability levels are turning more and more to the backcountry to escape crowds, exorbitant pass fees, and tracked-out terrain. Because what good is waiting for two hours bumper-to-bumper in the canyon just to pay a premium for second tracks? The Wasatch Mountains hold a bounty of possibilities for those willing to go the extra mile, and sometimes it isn’t even a mile. If the thought of swimming through perfect, untracked, chest-deep Utah powder tickles your fancy, consider taking a guided trip into the heart of the Wasatch. And where better to find one than 57hours.com?
57hours is a service that connects weekend warriors with guiding companies to help you make the most out of the hours between Friday and Monday. If you aren’t familiar, they offer options for outings around the US and Canada, including some great trips shredding the gnar in the Wasatch. Here are some of our top picks.
This trip services the entire Wasatch and has options for skiers of all ability levels. From $205 to $340 per day, itineraries include:
A private introduction to backcountry skiing, including basics of alpine travel, touring equipment, avalanche safety, and route planning. An excellent option for those wanting to break into backcountry skiing safely and confidently.
A customized day of private guided backcountry skiing. Go where you want, try what you want. Tailored to your ability level, you’ll grow more as a skier than you thought possible in a day.
Advanced tours and ski mountaineering. The experts-only option. If you’re wanting to tackle big terrain with the added security of having a certified guide to help traverse the danger of the alpine, this is the option for you.
Point and click. Touring opens the door to terrain you would never have even dreamed of while waiting at the ticketing window of your local resort. Having a guide along is an added safety net, allowing you to learn more quickly and with less room for error than you’d have on your own. Especially if you don’t know the area incredibly well, having someone who is well-versed to show you where the goods are is an indispensable help.
Park City holds some of the most sought-after conditions after big storms. Located on the back side of the Wasatch Mountains, storms often drop the lightest and fluffiest snow on the Park City ridge as they move west over the range. Covering over 12,000 acres, you’ll have all day long to soak up the best conditions the Wasatch has to offer.
This trip offers similar options to the first: a private introduction to backcountry skiing, a customized day of private backcountry skiing for more advanced skiers, and advanced tours and ski mountaineering for experts. Prices range from $205 to $340 per day per person.
Little Cottonwood Canyon is home to some of the best big mountain terrain in Utah. Massive chutes, cliffs, and steeps are the daily fare here. Due to its specific microclimate, Little Cottonwood also pulls in the highest snow totals during storms. If you want to get waist-deep in powder, this is the place for you. The two resorts at the top of Little Cottonwood, Snowbird and Alta, are world famous for their terrain and conditions.
This trip allows you to experience some of the treasure troves in Little Cottonwood outside the resort boundaries, with the added benefit of lift access. Trips range from $205 to $340 per day per person, with options for beginners, customized backcountry days, advanced tours and ski mountaineering, as well as lift accessed backcountry skiing for even more bang for you buck.
Located on the far side of Little Cottonwood Canyon from the resorts, Mount Superior holds a wealth of backcountry terrain that’s easily accessible from the highway. Coming off the summit onto the back side are the Cardiac Chutes, broad open lines emptying into a large bowl. Working down Cardiac Ridge to the north is the Room of Doom, a massive open bowl with room for endless turns. The south face of the peak also has some incredible features, including Suicide Chute, a much narrower and more technical hallway of rock that can be accessed by boot pack or by climbing the prominent knife ridge of Superior. One thing that unites most of the terrain around Superior is steepness. There are some truly breathtaking open steeps to bask in here, a huge plus for more experienced skiers. The peak rises 3,000 feet above the canyon floor, providing massive potential for long high-intensity runs.
From January to mid-March, this trip puts you front and center for some of the grandest views and runs in the Wasatch range. Prices range from $200 to $340 per day per person with similar options – a private intro to backcountry skiing, a customized day at the destinations around Superior, and advanced tours and ski mountaineering. Regardless of your ability level, you won’t be disappointed with what Superior has to offer.
Last but never least is what we’ve all dreamed of: heli-assisted skiing in the Utah backcountry. Infinite possibilities, no boot pack necessary. It’s an all killer, no filler approach to maximizing your enjoyment and accessing spots that would take all day or more to get to on foot. If you want to get further out than you thought was possible, there isn’t a method more effective than a helicopter to get you there. This trip services the entire Wasatch Range, opening up options you never would have considered until now.
This guide requires that participants be at least intermediate in their skill level. Groups of up to 8 can share a helicopter, which will drop you at your starting location. The rest of the day entails skiing out on your own power. Send an inquiry to get estimates for pricing, dates, and other details.
You’ll never want to go back.
Trust us. Once you get a taste of how much better it gets outside the resorts, you won’t miss the traffic. Taking the power into your own hands, assessing risks, and achieving your own goals won’t just make for great skiing. It will change how you think when you look at snow-capped peaks, forever.