Wasatch Mountains, UT, Report: Steep, Soft, and Spicy

Martin Kuprianowicz | BackcountryBackcountry

Report from Friday, February 24, 2023

On a scale from ketchup to ghost pepper, the Generator Couloir was about a Serrano.

It was a spicy one.

I linked up with the Wasatch Wolf at about 10 am and we started weighing out options.

Maybe this, maybe that—the strong winds from the night before on top of the four feet of snow the Wasatch had received this week were limiting our terrain choices.

We wanted to ski something out of the wind and out of the way, protected from the dreaded wind slab.

It wasn’t before long that we found ourselves booting up the Powerhouse Couloir: a classic 2,500-foot, low-elevation chute on the ridge just west of Storm Mountain near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Into the belly of the beast. | Photo: SnowBrains

We started in a thick shwack through heinous scrub oak before entering the creek leading up to the couloir.

We skinned up to the first curve of the chute and then started booting.

A group of ladies skiing down Powerhouse gave us a status report and let us know that the snow was good and not too badly affected by the wind.

Seeing their tracks in Powerhouse, we opted for the Generator Couloir right next door—Powerhouse’s ugly sister.

The Generator is a Chuting Gallery Line that is thin, grossly tight, and viciously steep.

It’s gnarly and fun. 

After a long slog in Verts to the top of Powerhouse we took a short stroll north to Generator, admiring views of the Salt Lake Metropolis below.

When going for the Generator, it’s advised to bring Verts, ice ax, crampons, a rope and harness, and a large set of cohones.

On big years like this one you don’t need a rope but it’s still good to have for the ultra-tight choke halfway down the ominous chute.

Wolf booting up Powerhouse. | Photo: SnowBrains

At the top we noticed apparent wind loading in the small bowl opening up the couloir.

Two golden eagles soared right over our heads. 

Perched. | Photo: SnowBrains

Wolf and I started with zig-zagging ski cuts, stopping at islands of safety to assess the snow’s stability.

Our ski cuts produced no results and we determined that it was safe to ski.

Wolf went first on his splitboard, flowing the chute with grace and excellence.

He made it look too easy.

The line was a bit rocky and tight so I skied the 40-45º slope conservatively to the choke.

At the choke my palms started sweating.

Entrance to the Generator. | Photo: SnowBrains

Just above there was a bulge in the middle of the chute dividing it into two separate paths leading to the choke, neither of which were confidence-inspiring.

Wolf went left, dropping a small ice waterfall into the choke which was way too hardcore for me, so I went right.

I went a little too far right and it became extremely tight; about 180cm across, or slightly less than the length of my skis.

Here I was sliding on my ass for about 50 feet, my skis aggressively bent up against rocks on either side of the sliver of snow I was on.

On one section, my skis slipped off the rock and I slid about 10 feet over rocks, adrenaline fully flooding my system.

From there I slid, side-slipped, jumped turned, and bargained my way to the last section of the choke where I was able to just point it and straight-line out to the much wider, friendlier portion of the chute.

I came out hot, falling to my side out of fear once on the outside of the choke before standing right back up and skiing the soft powder snow on the outside in stride.

I felt alive.

The choke. | Photo: SnowBrains

From there we skied down the rest of the chute which felt mellow in comparison to the crux, making smooth turns down a playful, curvy line.

The snow was soft and we skied down in the shade of a towering, snow-splattered rock wall.

I felt small.

From there we had to battle our way out of a janky, pillowy creek bed that led to more shwacking back to the car.

At this point it felt like we were being berated with crux after crux, but by the time we had taken off our skis and walked back across the bridge to the highway we had felt invincible.

We took a long look back across the creek at Storm Mountain and reveled in the moment as the golden, oblique rays of the setting sun engulfed Generator in its fierce, fiery glow.

The spice we had just endured made us sweat. 

But we left craving for more. 

Avalanche Forecast 

Credit: UAC 2/24/23


Credit: NOAA 2/24/23


Arriba. | Photo: SnowBrains
Schwackiness. | Photo: SnowBrains
Powerhouse ascent. | Photo: SnowBrains
UP. | Photo: SnowBrains
Aesthetic. | Photo: SnowBrains
Booting up. | Photo: SnowBrains
Almost to the top. | Photo: SnowBrains
Life and death. | Photo: SnowBrains

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3 thoughts on “Wasatch Mountains, UT, Report: Steep, Soft, and Spicy

  1. Trying to drum up some fresh deathbrains content? Learn any lessons from the Y couloir incident a few weeks ago? Get it together, sketchy, sketchy!

  2. WHOA Martin I hope those were your rock skis! So enjoyed meeting you and Brie on the Hidden Lake lift at POW MOW today. Enjoy! And Check out Pine Creek Resort in Cokeville, WY. If you are ever East Check our area out Holiday Valley in Ellicottville NY – #liveyourbestlife

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