Wasatch Mountains, UT, Report: Deep and Disorienting 

Martin Kuprianowicz | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report

It was snowing hard today.

Highway 210 closed today with a 2 pm opening time according to the UDOT website, but when I drove past the mouth of the canyon at 2:30 it was still closed.

Rather than wait in line on the road with everyone else I decided to take Highway 190 up Big Cottonwood Canyon and try my luck there.

I set my sights on USA Bowl and started touring from Solitude at 3:11 pm.

The snow was still coming down. It was cloudy and quiet.

The skin track was desolate and devoid of souls.

Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

I walked up among deep snow banks on the side of the forest road and snowy ghosts; tall evergreen trees draped in pillows of fresh pow.

Something like 2 feet of new snow was on the ground from the current storm.

I poked and slashed at it with my pole as I toured up and found light, low-density snow that was slightly wind affected, especially near ridge lines.

On the top of the ridge that divided the Park City region from Big Cottonwood, a thick fog with a sharp wind descended upon me, drastically worsening the visibility.

I could hardly see anything and for a moment it became difficult to distinguish up from down, left from right.

I consulted my GPS to double-check check I was in the right spot, transitioned, and dropped in.

The young aspen trees on the skier’s right of the line were my friends and served as markers to keep me from completely sinking into a vertigo-induced craze.

Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

But for what little I could see it was made up by excellent, blower powder that was shin-deep.

I skied it slow and smooth. The low-density snow jumped up and slapped me in the face every few turns.

Good snow.

Near the bottom of the bowl, the visibility improved and I could see again.

I made easy, lazy turns through the aspen forest back down to the forest road.

USA Bowl in the twilight. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

The skies were turning gray as I meandered back to the highway where I parked.

Car to car I traveled 3.78 miles with 1,745′ of elevation gain in 1 hour and 52 minutes.

I was back home in time for dinner.

Avalanche forecast

Screenshot courtesy of UAC 1/6/23


Screenshot courtesy of NOAA 1/6/23

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