Wasatch Range, UT Report: 3,300-Feet of Almost-Corn Skiing Down One of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s Best Chutes

Martin Kuprianowicz | BackcountryBackcountry

Report from Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Little Pine ain’t little.

The south-facing roadside chute is one of Little Cottonwood’s best, and Andrew McLean, author of The Chuting Gallery, described it as:

“The finest chute proper on the north side of the canyon due to its uninterrupted, perfectly straight fall line.”

Hence why McLean gave the line three stars—the highest ranking available to a Chuting Gallery line.

I showed up at the White Pine trailhead at 8 am sharp and got to work.

Taking my time, it took me approximately three hours to get to the top of the couloir.

Little Pine Chute. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

The Utah Avalanche Center ranked the avalanche danger as ‘moderate’ for today and I was solo—wind drifted snow and wet snow were my main concerns, and I was ready to turn around the moment I started seeing snow pinwheeling down the mountain or a fresh windslab.

Thankfully I saw neither. 

Booting up the chute, the snow was firmer than firm—I was slightly concerned that I would encounter at least a few hard and icy sections when I would be skiing down.

One section about two-thirds the way up had recent wet avalanche debris, likely from this week—the debris wasn’t frozen yet and was fairly soft booting up.

I spotted fresh wet avalanche debris about two-thirds the way up the couloir. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

3,300-feet of stair-stepping savagery and I was on top of the Little Cottonwood/Big Cottonwood Canyon divide surrounded by airy mountain vistas, t-shirt temperatures, and astonishingly blue skies.

It was a beautiful day in every sense of the word.

The view of LCC from the top of Little Pine was lovely. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

When I had ended up dropping at noon sharp, I was pleased to find that all of Little Pine Chute had softened up quite nicely—even the avy debris pile felt soft when skiing through it. 

The top, middle, and bottom sections were all soft, with a few mildly scratchy spots lurking beneath the moistening Spring snow.

It was almost corn; more like mashed potato snow, but with some more melt/freeze cycles, Little Pine—along with all of Little Cottonwood’s other south-facing aspects—will soon be full-on corn skiing.

Set up today: 4FRNT Ravens with Dynafit Blacklight tech bindings. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

I enjoyed my turns in the sunshine, dodging the occasional pointy rock and stopping frequently to hush my screaming legs.

With a sustained slope angle of 38º and excellent fall line skiing, Little Pine is a great workout.

And it’s an even better ski descent.

Avalanche Forecast 

Screenshot courtesy of the Utah Avalanche Center 3/23/22

Weather

Screenshot courtesy of NOAA 3/23/22

Photos 

Going up. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
The snow was not confidence-inspiring on the bootpack up. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
A look into Big Cottonwood Canyon from the top of Little Pine. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

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