Wasatch Range, UT, Backcountry Report: Soft, North-Facing Powder with Crazy, Crazy Clouds

Martin Kuprianowicz | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Report from Monday, November 14, 2022

Hissssss…Hissssss…

The snow sounded like a serpent, hissing at me with every turn I made in the soft, recycled powder. 

The avalanche danger was low yesterday, and any solar aspect with an ‘S’ in it was firm and crusted over, so I went searching for some leftover goods on something protected and out of the way of the sun. 

The north-facing line on the backside of Little Superior dropping into Cardiff Fork was perfect for this. 

Sun dog. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

I started from central Alta around 2 pm—the clouds were nuts. 

A sun dog greeted me upon my arrival, and the clouds were low-hanging and ominous. 

It was freezing; I toured in a Mountain Hardware Goretex jacket and two pairs of Mountain Hardware gloves. 

All of upper Little Cottonwood Canyon was covered in clouds and I wasn’t sure how good visibility would be at the top of the ridge. 

Powerful. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

To my amazement, when I got to Cardiff Pass I found that the clouds were only lingering on the Little Cottonwood side of the ridge and Big Cottonwood was completely cloud-free with blue skies above. 

I kept on gaining the ridge towards Superior proper. 

The clouds swirled and danced around me as I climbed up the ridge dividing blue skies from ominous murk. 

There wasn’t a soul in sight—I was completely alone.

The entire afternoon I only saw one other skier ascending a forlorn skin track way across the fork. 

It was just me and the mystic mountains; I was cold but alive. 

Mystical. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

After a solid faceplant on the skin track there, I dropped into the north-facing shot behind Little Superior.

The sparkly, deteriorating snow was starting to facet, making it ski soft and smooth.

The snow was better than I expected here, so I relaxed and made long, surfy turns. 

I then traversed skier’s right back towards Cardiff Pass and dropped another soft powder shot on a northeast aspect. 

Money. 

Line #1. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

As the sun was setting, the clouds incinerated in a pinkish-orange blaze. 

The mountains were putting on a spectacular show.

On the skin track back to Little Cottonwood, I couldn’t resist dropping one more north-facing powder shot off the skin track before taking the return run back to the car. 

It was soft and good—worth the quick detour. 

The mountains were coming alive as the sun was dying. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

By around 5 pm, I made it back to Cardiff Pass, stood and enjoyed the brilliant display of pulsating colors for a moment, and then dropped into the hard, crusty south-facing bowl to get home. 

It was getting dark when I finally got back; the clouds were now harsh and gray. 

I threw my icy gear in the back of my car and sailed the dimming highway home to warm my bones by the fireplace. 

Above the glowing clouds. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

Avalanche Forecast

Avalanche Forecast, courtesy of the Utah Avalanche Center 11/15/22

Weather

Weather forecast courtesy of NOAA 11/15/22

Photos 

Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

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