A Canadian perspective on Utah skiing
Utah skiers all know that we have the best snow on the planet, as Ski Utah always reminds us with their “Greatest Snow on Earth” slogan. But what do powderhounds from other countries – other skiing countries, think about Utah? Well, our friends at BackcountrySkiingCanada.com took a trip to the Wasatch Mountains last winter, and just posted an article about their adventure.
Unfortunately, they chose to visit our fine state during the second-worst snow year ever, and during a time when avalanche danger was very high. Although their search for Utah pow in the backcountry was denied thanks to that unstable snowpack, they did hit five resorts including Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton, and Powder Mountain. So what do Canadians think about Utah skiing? It’s an interesting read to get a perspective from our neighbors up north, especially when it concerns backcountry access from resorts. They were dismayed at the amount of closed gates at the Cottonwood Canyons resorts, despite the fact that avalanche danger was high. Apparently in Canada, you can come and go between resorts and off-piste terrain at will, thanks to the fact that their country is far less litigious than ours.
So despite the fact that these backcountry skiers didn’t get to sample much of our backcountry, what did they think of our resorts? Well, it sounds like Powder Mountain was the winner. Here’s an excerpt:
“After hitting five areas in as many days, I think each of us agreed that Powder Mountain was our favourite. This was partly condition-dependant, but it was also because of the awesome slackcountry terrain powmow offered up. At the trip’s outset, we had hoped to ski a little inbounds and a lot of lift-accessed backcountry. We wound up doing just the opposite. Because Powder Mountain had more open lift-accessed backcountry terrain than anything we saw in Big or Little Cottonwood, it wasn’t clear to us whether the backcountry access was universally and evenly “enforced” or whether some areas are just more lenient than others. Whatever the case, conditions out of bounds were clearly dangerous. We’ll take our 115cm week and return another time for a fuller backcountry experience.”
To read the rest of the article, “Utah Backcountry Skiing”, check out BackcountrySkiingCanada.com. It’s an informative site with gear reviews, trip reports, and a good forum about backcountry news and issues.
As for their quest to find quality backcountry skiing in the Wasatch? I say their mistake was going to resorts in the first place, when there are so many places to get into the backcountry without relying on lifts and gates. So to the Backcountry Skiing Canada guys, next time you’re out this way, let us know, we’ll show you the goods in a true backcountry fashion.