Little Cottonwood Secrets

Jbo is a reliable ski partner, provided that you can get your ski mission done before 11 am on any given day, when he needs to get back to running america’s best backcountry ski store, Skimo.co. It’s been a quiet time for snow around here, which also means low avalanche danger and the potential for good steep skiing if you’ve got a good powder sniffer. I hit up JBo to ski on Tuesday morning and he had a great, and clandestine, idea.

A nice brushy skin to hide the goods.

JBo wrangling up the streambed at the base.

There are a number of North-facing couloirs in lower Little Cottonwood Canyon. Some are named and recorded on the encyclopedic Wasatch Backcountry Ski Map.┬áThe White and Black Pearl are the lowest named lines on the map, but to a careful eye, there are 5-6 more lines below the Black Pearl of widely varying appeal. Sworn to secrecy, no further details about this line will be disclosed. You’ll have to go have a look for yourself.

Setting the track up the lower couloir.
JBo up through the choke.

Usually I have very mixed feelings about Verts. An overpriced and underdesigned piece of plastic, they are far from the “ultimate snow climbing tool”. Still, under certain circumstances, they really beat wallowing up soft snow.

Upper couloir, almost to the ridge.

The view off the back of the ridge into Bell’s canyon was a fine new perspective that reminded me of the pending need to ski the NE face of Lone Peak. Another day, maybe another season, depending on our so-so March snow.

JBo embarks.
Good snow in the upper trees, with a fine view of the city.
Not bad for 50-degree temps in the valley.
Some room to open it up a bit.
JBo with a very brown low-elevation canyon below.

It is worrisome to think that some of this couloirs may soon fail to ever become skiable during our warmer winters. Even now, 4 days later, I suspect that this couloir has melted out enough so as to be more akin to an ice climb. The season for low-elevation couloirs is waning.

Out through the choke and just a biiit of brushwhacking left to the car.

 


Category: Skiing

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