This post takes a bit of a different form than my typical trip but I wanted to document my trip to the Wasatch this year.

The last 3 years (2022, 2023, and now 2024) I’ve tried to make a yearly trip out to the Wasatch to experience dry snow, visit friends, and create a ‘mental map’ of a different mountain range. 2022 and 2023 were quick, less than 1 week trips. This year I was fortunate enough to make a 2 week trip happen.

My friends Danny, Matt, and Nick in Utah this year gave me a heads-up that the PWL problem in Dec/Jan was a real issue and that I should wait until the first weeks of Feb to come out. I’m very grateful to have local knowledge guiding my travels!

Initially I was only planning to come out for 5 days but this winter in the Cascades has been very sad, to put it lightly. My ski stoke was overflowing and I was itching to get out to the Wasatch earlier than planned. I moved my flight up to Feb 02 and was gonna ski a few days early with Nick P. I somehow managed to convince my main ski partner, Nick M from WA, to come out for Feb 04-09 so I’d have a regular partner throughout the week.

I’ll keep the itinerary recap brief and to a bulleted list, just to cover what overall I did. Then I’ll summarize some highlights and takeaways.

Itinerary:

Feb 02, 2024: Fly into SLC in the evening

Feb 03, 2024: West Porter laps, exit via Gary’s Gully

Feb 04, 2024: Neffs Canyon (Whipple 3 + miscellaneous lines)

Feb 05, 2024: Days Fork (Draw, Crystal Palace, Benson + Hedges)

Feb 06, 2024: Whipple Couloir

Feb 07, 2024: Emmas

Feb 08, 2024: George’s Bowl

Feb 09, 2024: West Porter + Gary’s Gully

Feb 10, 2024: Bighorn S Face + Heaven’s Halfpipe + S Face Lone Peak*

Feb 11, 2024: E Couloir, Kessler Peak + Little Giant Couloir + NE lines in Mineral Fork

Feb 12, 2024: Rest Day

Feb 13, 2024: Memorial 2, 4 Couloirs

Feb 14, 2024: Coalpit #2

Feb 15, 2024: Argenta

Feb 16, 2024: Tolcats Couloir + Mt Olympus Couloir

Overall, the trip definitely fell into the category of ‘ski bender’, with many back-to-back days and lots of ups-and-downs. Great snow, great times, and great people. Here’s a few random thoughts that have stuck with me:

  1. Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons aren’t the only great skiing out there. Use your map reading skills…there’s lots to find.
  2. Southerly flow storms are dense and often more convective, resulting in much more graupel and inconsistent snow.
  3. Microclimates exist in the canyons and wind patterns and temperatures can be WILDLY different even just 1 square mile apart.
  4. Telemetry and weather is available through UAC. Use it!
  5. UAC’s forecasting at 7AM doesn’t really help for planning trips the night before. Make your plan based on your knowledge of the area and then confirm it with the forecast on your drive up.
  6. Alta Parking kinda sucks. Even if the website says they are sold out, apparently you can get reservations in person. Locals-only beta I guess.
  7. Just because a slide ran on the PWL does NOT mean that slope is safe to ski. This is something I didn’t understand from the Utah peeps…everyone talks about ‘oh that slid so now it’s good.’ Uh…that weak layer is still there, it’s only been re-loaded.
  8. You can’t buy liquor in Utah on Sundays or after hours or at the grocery store. Thanks Mormons.
  9. When NW flow does deliver, Utah powder is ridiculously blower. The hype is real.
  10. I chose to respect the ‘map hiding culture’ of the Wasatch since I’m not local. But the lack of sharing of information is real. It’s tough to make decisions with little info. There aren’t even that many obs submitted daily.

Here’s some of the highlights/memories from the trip:

  • Absolutely failing to keep up with Nick P and Bart G on the day in Neffs. They half lapped me while I cruised up to the Whipple. I didn’t mind but it was kinda hilarious.
  • Smoking a rock in the Emmas right after Danny hit the EXACT same rock.
  • Getting yelled at by the cat driver at Alta as we went up for another Emmas lap. I honestly thought Danny might fight the driver as the driver yelled ‘it’s not a trailhead!’. I chose to just start breaking trail around the douchebag.
  • The silly, stupid deep day in West Porter with Danny, Nick, and Lane. It was silly deep. Straightlining Gary’s and pushing out Main Porter Fork was comical.
  • Lane and Nick both getting poked by a tree on the exit from Main Porter. Lane’s jacket ripped.
  • The goofy AirBnB that Lane rented with the weird loft that you hit your head on and the toilet in the shower.
  • The AirBnB Nick and I rented which didn’t have proper airflow/ventilation so we had to take the fire alarm out everytime.
  • That somehow I convinced BOTH Nick and Lane to fly out to Utah. #fomogenerator
  • How shit the snow in Whipple was but Nick and I still went down and skied it.
  • Listening to Life of Pablo on the last lap of every day in the week straight bender.
  • The absolute white out skiing down S Face of Lone after bluebird pow on Heaven’s Halfpipe and S Face of Bighorn.
  • Matt forgetting his ski poles on the day in Days Fork and using a barricade instead.
  • Swapping out the Nissan Altima I rented to a Jeep Renegade because we would have been totally fucked if we didn’t have 4WD.
  • The fuckery of Coalpit #2, with lots of shwack, ice, rock, and shenanigans. Lane lost his ski after double ejecting on a slab of rock. I cheese grated on a slab of rock and scraped the shit out of the edge of my ski.
  • Wallowing up the Memorials with Lane on a morning dawn patrol, cutting it a bit close to getting home.
  • Working from the AirBnB with a baby high chair as my desk.

Lots of good memories. Utah is a super fun place to visit yearly and I’ll continue to go back.