How to Ski Utah’s Wasatch Range Euro-Style

Bring the European experience home by touring three ski areas in the Cottonwood Canyons.

Backcountry skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon
Backcountry turns that end at a familiar spot.Photo Credit: Lee Cohen

Connecting multiple ski areas in a single day is one of the best ways to experience the densely grouped towns and resorts in the Alps and the Dolomites. For skiers with backcountry experience stuck Stateside this season, however, connecting the unique ski areas that are a mere stone’s throw from Salt Lake City is a perfect substitute. 

Besides a guide, the key to making this connection happen without buying three separate day tickets is an Ikon Pass or a Ski City Super Pass, the latter being arguably one of the best deals for Utah visitors.

Sitting in the backcountry of Little Cottonwood Canyon
The views are always a little sweeter when you’ve worked hard for them.Photo credit: Lee Cohen

Starting at Solitude—with an avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, backcountry touring equipment, a partner, and a plan—find your way to the top of the Summit Chair. Leave the ski area boundary through one of the ski area’s backcountry gates and make your way to the top of Twin Lakes Pass. 

From there, pick out a line in the north-facing
Patsey Trees or westerly shots of Black Bess before finding the groomed Grizzly Gulch Road, which pops skiers out at the base of Alta Ski Area. Swing by Alta Java for a Suzie’s Special before riding chairlifts to the summit of Supreme. After a beacon re-check, quick bootpack, and slippery traverse to Catherine Pass, connect descents to Lake Mary and continue to the bottom of Brighton Ski Area. Make it to the Milly Express before last chair to find the Sol Bright access gate to return to Solitude. 

Après at the Thirsty Squirrel, anyone?

Know Before You Go

Explore the backcountry safely and learn essential new skills in the process by hiring a guide this winter.Courtesy of Lee Cohen

Backcountry skiing is significantly more dangerous than resort skiing. Make sure you have a partner, plan, avalanche emergency equipment, and knowledge before venturing beyond the ropes. 

This article was originally featured in the December 2020 issue of SKI Magazine.

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