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- November 19, 2014 at 5:13 am #580345Powder_RiderParticipant
Utah: “The Greatest Snow On Earth”. Really never been there, but really consider a move to SLC, next spring.
A lot attention is given to the Wasatch, in particular Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) and Big Cottonwood Canyon (BCC). Like the Alta-Snowboarder Feud and the Interconnect Drama. Why all the fuss over such a small region? Please don’t get me wrong I would oppose both. What I trying understand is:
[*]What makes the Wasatch backcountry experience so much better than other nearby regions?
[*]Are there other Utah backcountry areas, close to Salt Lake, with light powder snow equal to Wasatch (LLC and BCC) and without the people?November 19, 2014 at 9:22 pm #678448wasatch surfParticipant
the greatest snow on earth is a marketing line. Don’t believe it. although it is good.
there are other spots around Utah with good terrain and snow, but usually not as much snow. and much more restricted access.
the benefit of SLC is you can work a pretty well paying 9-5 and still ski 4-5 days a week as a 15-30minute drive puts you at a skin track, and 30-45minutes of skinning can get you a run ranging from 700-2000vertical making before/after work turns a really easy thing to do. and when we do get a good classic wasatch powder cycle it’s pretty fucking incredible.
The wasatch experience isn’t really any better and actually kind of worse than other locations. It’s crowded and you gotta get up early and skin fast to get first tracks down anything. There isn’t the option of going further/deeper as that will just put you in another resort or town.
the utah avalance center is amazing and a model for almost every other avalanche forecast center in the US. plus there is a never ending roster of partners. so there are benefits.
you answered your own question. It’s a small region thus the fuss. with no low elevation snow to speak of the past few years and doubtful that it will return. the amount of skiable terrain above 8000ft is largely controlled by the 4 major resorts so if they take over all of that terrain which is what interconnect would do, there would be essential no place for other backcountry users to recreate. sure there is great terrain closer(and some of my favorite) to the city but even famous lines such as the Y couloir failed to fill in last season due to warm temps and low snow.
If you have a good job opportunity here I would move here, it’s a fun city that is cheap. But I wouldn’t move here for the skiing. Plus the air quality sucks.November 20, 2014 at 12:02 am #678449SnurferParticipant
WS sums up the recent/present situation pretty well. However, the phrase predates resort and backcountry overcrowding and climate change by many decades and describes, what is mostly nostalgia at this point. But yeah, the phrase (as catch phrases go) was fitting in another time, even if it was never 100% technically accurate.
As far as the Wasatch backcountry experience? The central Wasatch is far from qualifying as backcountry. It’s more of a nearcountry social experience. Equal fun unless solitude your thing (the state of being, not the resort).
Are there other areas? yes, depending on the snowfall, creativity, self sufficiency and an affinity for long approaches.
Shark Snowsurf Chuna
Voile V-Tail 170 BC
Voile One Ninety Five
Spark R&D ArcNovember 20, 2014 at 11:52 pm #678450mejParticipant
The Greatest Snow on Earth moniker applies to about 50 of Utah’s 85,000 square miles. And 20 of those 50 square miles are in or adjacent to resorts. 20 of the remaining 30 square miles is either heli-accessed, overcrowded with tourers, or both. The remaining 10 square miles are awesome!
Nowhere in Utah has the snow quality, snow quantity and terrain of the Cottonwoods. You will always be missing one of them. But neither do those areas have people.November 21, 2014 at 4:03 am #678451WhitePineParticipant
Let me put it this way. I’m originally from Colorado and I can’t tell a difference in the snow consistency or lightness or whatever. However, it is an area in between a maritime and continental snowpack so in certain areas there is more accumulation than most areas in Colorado. Wolf Creek Pass might be an exception.
But it is a small little region adjacent to a metropolitan area (If you can call SLC that). Therefore, I can almost always guarantee that wherever I choose to go, I don’t have to break my own trail. Unless I’m touring in the middle of a storm. I’m almost ashamed to admit this but I can probably count one hand how many times I’ve been in a group that had to break trail. Granted most of my outings are typically short and early morning so I tend to go where most of the other dawn patrollers go.
That gives you an idea of how busy the area is.November 23, 2014 at 5:40 am #678452Powder_RiderParticipant
Thank you for your replies.
Being from Colorado, I have had the misfortune to live on the front range and have to drive several hours to gain backcountry access. Later lived in Aspen. So it sounds nice to live and work in SLC.
I came across the PBS podcast “Secrets Of The Greatest Snow On Earth” Author Jim SteenBurgh On Access Utah; Wednesday”. See: http://upr.org/post/secrets-greatest-snow-earth-author-jim-steenburgh-access-utah-wednesdayNovember 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm #678453SnurferParticipant
I came across the PBS podcast “Secrets Of The Greatest Snow On Earth” Author Jim SteenBurgh On Access Utah; Wednesday”.
Thanks for the info PowRider, Jim’s weather blog is on my daily read list and is often informative beyond Utah http://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.com/
And despite myself and others focusing on the crowded BC here, it really is a nice (albeit quirky) place to live if you like easy access to year round mountain stoke.
Shark Snowsurf Chuna
Voile V-Tail 170 BC
Voile One Ninety Five
Spark R&D ArcNovember 30, 2014 at 4:40 am #678454Scooby2Participant
So far, this is looking like the third season where the greatest snow is not working. Some years the storms are consistent enough that we only have instabilities in the new layers. We usually have warm temps before each storm that glue up the old snow and make a strong interface with the new pow. It’s usually lighter snow on top of heavier which makes for great fast, stable bottomless riding.
I feel like a historian talking about it. I feel even older when I think about killing time up at Alta waiting for another party to break the trail up to the lcc/bcc divide. 🙄
It seems like a rare treat now when the terrain outside of the central Wasatch is deep and stable and covering up the brush, but the pendulum must swing back eventually. Wasatch surfs breakdown was spot on, not the best locale just for riding, but can be the best option given all life factors. I imagine that if I went from here to Denver, I’d probably buy a carving board and plan annual trips to where the snow was that year.
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