Photo essay: backcountry skiing White Pine

White Pine, located in Little Cottonwood Canyon just down the highway from Snowbird, is a massive valley surrounded by huge bowls, dramatic cliff-covered peaks, and lower elevation slopes filled with pine and aspen trees.

Breaking trail near the top of White Pine

Judging by these tracks, there be skinnards in these woods. Photos: Jared Hargrave

There are several options when skiing White Pine. You can skin all the way to the top where couloirs await on peaks such as Red Top Mountain and White Baldy. There are also massive slide paths on the west facing slopes that are epic runs when avalanche conditions are stable.

Adam Symonds on a ridge in White Pine during a morning tour.

Adam Symonds on a ridge in White Pine during a morning tour.

Another good tour is to ski the trees on Pink Pine. This is the ridge that separates White and Red Pine… hence the name Pink Pine. This ridge is a fun tour because the approach is short, the trees help anchor the snowpack, and the slopes are low angle unless you continue high up the ridge where small cliff bands begin to form.

Adam skis a fresh line in White Pine.

Adam skis a fresh line in White Pine.

Overall, the ski runs in White Pine can be pretty short for such a long approach, but it’s a classic tour nonetheless. Awesome views of Little Cottonwood Canyon below, coupled with snow-swept peaks crashing into the sky above, make skinning for a few turns totally worth it.

Heading into the morning sun for another lap.

Heading into the morning sun for another lap.

Adam gets a face full of fluff long after the last storm.

Adam gets a face full of fluff long after the last storm.

Of course the powder skiing in White Pine can be pretty good too. The pictures speak for themselves.

Mason Diedrich and Adam Symonds skin up the "Pink Pine" ridge.

Mason Diedrich and Adam Symonds skin up the "Pink Pine" ridge.

Overall, I’d say Pink Pine is the best bet if you’re short on time and looking for a yo-yo tour with quality skiing.

Mason gets lost in the blower on the east aspect of "Pink Pine."

Mason gets lost in the blower on the east aspect of "Pink Pine."

As you can see, Mason was able to find the goods on Pink Pine before work.

The drainage at the bottom can be a tricky exit with a lot of stream crossings.

The drainage at the bottom can be a tricky exit with a lot of stream crossings.

The exit in White Pine can be a bit tricky, especially if you end up in the drainage bottom in the spring. The trail crosses a creek several times which soon becomes a waterfall that is best avoided.

To get to White Pine, drive up Highway 201 in Little Cottonwood Canyon and park at the White Pine Trailhead.  Skin up a jeep road into White Pine Gulch Where you will soon reach a fork in the trail. A right turn takes you into Red Pine and the skin track at the toe of Pink Pine Ridge. Stay left to get to White Pine on the main trail.

Quick access, a relatively flat ascent, good tree skiing on Pink Pine, and nice bowls and chutes spilling down three different peaks confirm why White Pine is a sweet destination for both backcountry and sidecountry skiers alike.

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