According to KSL, John MIetschnig, a local ski guide from Salt Lake City, hiked and skied the entire 210-mile Wasatch Mountain Range. John has worked as a ski guide in Utah for the past 11 years and he wanted to put his skills to the test, so he decided to make it a personal goal to traverse the entire Wasatch Mountain Range. He then spent the next five years planning and preparing for this strenuous endeavor.
“It was mostly just because I thought, ‘Why not? It’s something that I didn’t really know if it had been done or not before, and I wanted to see the whole mountain range. So it just seemed like the right thing to do at some point,” MIetschnig said when KSL asked him about why he decided to take on this journey.
John embarked on this endeavor on March 17 and started from Salt Creek Road on the southeast side of Mount Nebo. He spent the next 23 days skiing and hiking in the backcountry along the mountain range and ended his trip on April 8 near the Dock Flat Road area of Mantua. He was alone for most of this trip, except for when he had to resupply every few days, when his friend joined him for one day, and when his girlfriend joined him for an afternoon. MIetschnig reported snow conditions and avalanche dangers to the Utah Avalanche Center throughout his trip.
“Particularly, doing something by yourself in avalanche terrain, you’ve got to be pretty on point, for sure. Being by yourself, you definitely change your decisions a little bit. You select a little more conservative terrain, at times, because you can’t afford to make a mistake when you are by yourself,” John said.
To ensure his safety along the way, John took precautions to avoid avalanche conditions, lightning, and bears. He had bear spray in his 50-pound backpack, he hung his food at night while camping, and monitored snow conditions along the way. MIetschnig stayed in a house in Albion Basin two nights, slept at a bed and breakfast one night near Snowbasin, and camped the other nights at 18 different sites. John checked the weather before he left and continued to monitor it throughout the trip, but he got caught in a storm when he was in American Fork Canyon trying to reach the summit and make it to his friend’s cabin near Alta Ski Area.
“I was trying really hard to push and get over the ridge to Alta and the storm really hit earlier than was forecast. As it turned out, I was right in the middle of it. It was snowing heavily and blowing strong, up to 50 miles per hour. It was around 8 o’clock at night and there was a foot and a half of new snow breaking trail,” stated John.
Embarking on and completing this 210-mile journey is quite an accomplishment. Tyson Bradley, a fellow guide and direct of guiding at Utah Mountain Adventures, has worked as a backcountry ski guide since 1994 and said he only knows of one other group who has ever completed a traverse of the entire Wasatch Mountain Range. According to Bradley, Lorne Glick and two other men did the trek together on skis in the late 1990s. After five years of intense planning and preparation, John’s goal was finally accomplished!
“I just think it’s a great accomplishment and took a lot of stamina and fortitude, and some mental toughness … especially on a solo traverse. You think about explorers that solo across Antarctica or down to the South Pole or something — it’s almost along those lines. … Basically, he was on his own for three weeks of traveling,” Bradley said.