Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding - Utah Mountain Adventures

Private Guiding & Instruction

Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding

Quick access to spectacular terrain from beginner to expert level make the Wasatch Mountains ideal for learning and practicing the art of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Alpine Touring or Telemark Skis, or Split-Snowboard, with skins facilitate efficient uphill travel off-piste. Friendly, professional UMA guides lead you to peaks, bowls, glades and chutes covered in Utah's famous soft snow.

Human-powered backcountry tours start between 6-10 am near the base areas of Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude, where lifts can also be used to get a "leg up" into the higher country, and end by 3-6 pm. More remote touring routes begin from various trailheads in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons and Mill Creek. Guests typically meet their guide at the base of one of these 3 powdery canyons around 8 am.

Canyon to Canyon tours from Alta to Big Cottonwood or from Big to Mill Creek are a popular way to maximize the downhill riding on north-facing (cold snow) terrain. Fit and experienced ski and snowboard tourers enjoy adventurous, aerobic days in the rugged Wilderness areas of Lone and Twin Peaks and Mt. Olympus.

Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry Skiing

Photo by Lee Cohen

Guides are available daily, but advance notice is appreciated. Guides will advise guests -about conditions and offer suggestions of alternative routes if conditions are not conducive for the desired tour.

Curricula offered in scheduled courses can be taught any time on a private basis to fit your schedule.

Cost: Regular backcountry days are $349 for one person and $133 for each additional person up to four with one guide.

For photos and descriptions of some of our most popular backcountry tours, please visit the following posts on the UMA blog:

Ski & Snowboard Mountaineering

Many Wasatch summits and couloirs provide world-class ski and snowboard mountaineering and exciting descents. UMA guides know when the conditions are right, and how to get in and out of steep and technical terrain while minimizing effort and risk.

Ascents may require ice axe, crampons and rope, while a few descents include rappels or belayed skiing. Advanced objectives are only recommended for experienced ski mountaineers. Generally a skills class and / or UMA tour is a prerequisite before attempting a major objective.

Ski Mountaineering Training
Learn new techniques or advance your skills to the next level, including the use of ice axe and crampons, steep snow and mixed climbing, belaying, rappelling, the use of protection and anchor building. Then hone downhill steep skiing skills in variable snow in preparation for peak or couloir skiing in the Wasatch and beyond.

Cost: $349 + 133 for each additional person up to 4.

Ski Mountaineering

UMA Guide Tyson Bradley climbing Toledo Peak

Photo by Eric Shmookler

Wasatch Ski Mountaineering Objectives (subject to current conditions):

  • Wolverine Cirque Couloirs, $349
  • Mt. Superior's Southeast Face, $399
  • Y-Couloir, $399
  • Coalpit Headwall, $449

Equipment: In Addition to the standard touring equipment list, your route may require crampons, ice axe, helmet, harness and belay device.

Overnight & Multi-Day Ski Tours

Camp in the Wasatch backcountry and enjoy the serenity at night and first tracks in the morning. Guides will show you how to stay warm and comfortable while winter camping in a spectacular wilderness setting. We can also offer any of our programs on yurt-based trips at the Millcreek Yurt, providing you procure the permit.

Overnight winter camping:

Most Wasatch Range tours are accessible in a day, however, UMA guides are happy to teach and guide overnight trips for those wanting to learn winter camping skills and experience the solitude of spending nights in the mountains.

A UMA guide will accompany you into the wilderness and teach you winter camping skills. An early morning start will allow you to set up camp in the mountains and make some runs above camp in the afternoon. Spend the night and get up ready for some more runs or the descent of a nearby summit. Mountaineering skills can be added to the trip as well.

Please Call UMA to discuss your interests and dates.

Overnight & Multi-Day Ski Tours

Multi-Day Ski Tour Camping Below Pfeifferhorn

Photo by Tyson Bradley

Ski Mountaineering Race Training

Instruction and strategy to improve participants' performance in "Ski-Mo" competitions. Oriented toward backcountry skiers new to racing or seeking to enhance existing skills.


Ski-Mo competition is growing in popularity, and involves racing uphill on skis or split-boards with skins, then downhill. Fast, efficient climbing on skins; low-energy, high-speed downhill skiing; booting up steep terrain; use of fixed lines; and quick transitions from ascent to descent modes are keys to success. Spend a day honing these skills and related endurance techniques with a UMA guide / instructor in order to improve your racing and / or to maximize your ski mountaineering efficiency.

Cost: $349 + 133 for each additional person up to 4.

Wasatch Powderkeg

Wasatch Powderkeg

Photo by Chad Brackelsberg

Scheduled Courses - Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding - Salt Lake City

Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding Scheduled Courses

Weekend Touring and Avalanche Skills Course:

During two days of touring, learn avalanche skills, beacon rescue, safe route selection, efficient skinning, downhill technique on skis and split-snowboard, and enjoy legendary Wasatch terrain. Designed for those who'd like to learn it all in a weekend!

Ski Mountaineering Camp:

This is an intensive, 3-day, field-based seminar designed to take your backcountry ski / snowboard mountaineering to the next level. A precursor for ski objectives in the Tetons, Rainier, Denali or the Alps, the course also enables participants to ski incredible peaks and couloirs in the Wasatch Mountains. We will teach and practice skills for safe climbing and skiing on big and steep terrain.

Three-day Wasatch Sampler:

This 3-day, field-based seminar will bring participants to a variety of classic Wasatch backcountry ski terrain. Participants should be experienced backcountry skiers or split-boarders, comfortable skiing advanced terrain in un-groomed snow and willing to skin 3,000 feet + per day.

Equipment Rentals & Gear - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Gear, Equipment Rentals, Books & Mapss

Backcountry Touring Equipment List:

  • Non-cotton top and bottom base layer
  • Puffy overcoat, and/or other insulation layer (fleece, synthetic or down)
  • Waterproof/windproof outer shell jacket and pants (or bibs)
  • Wool (and liner) socks
  • Waterproof snow gloves and/or mittens
  • Lightweight gloves for uphill travel
  • Warm hat and baseball cap
  • Helmet (recommended)*
  • Sunglasses and goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • 1 or 2 liters of water (water bladders not recommended for cold days)
  • Sack lunch and quick energy snacks
  • Thermos of hot drink +/or soup for cold day (optional)
  • Ski or snowboard boots**
  • Alpine touring or telemark skis or split-snowboard with skins**
  • Ski Poles with powder baskets**
  • Beacon *
  • Shovel *
  • Probe *
  • Backpack (20-45 liters)*
Equipment Rentals & Gear - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Boot Packing on the Summit Ridge

Photo by Tyson Bradley

*   UMA will provide you these items at no cost if you need them.
** These items are available for rent at local shops.

Utah Mountain Adventures Rentals:

Alpine touring skis and skins:
Split-snowboard, skins and poles:
Skins only:
Snowshoes and poles:

UMA guides can deliver and adjust this gear for you.

Rental Shops:

Alta Peruvian Lodge Rental Shop

in Alta

(801) 742-3333

Alta Sports

in Alta

(801) 742-3110

Black Diamond Retail

2070 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City

(801) 278-0233


3285 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City

(801) 486-2100

Wasatch Touring

702 E 100 S, Salt Lake City

(801) 359-9361

White Pine Touring

1790 Bonanza Drive, Park City

(435) 649-8710

Outdoor Adventures at George S. Eccles Student Life Center

1836 Student Life Way

(801) 581-8516

Guidebooks and Maps:


Backcountry Skiing Utah By Tyson Bradley

The Chuting Gallery. By Andrew McLean


Wasatch Touring Map 1 by Alpentech

Wasatch Touring Map 2 by Alpentech

How to Register:

Register Online

Lodging Options & Meeting Points - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Lodging, Trailheads, Lecture Venues & Directions


These lodges and home rentals in the town of Alta and the surrounding areas are very convenient for the Saturday and Sunday venues:

Alta Lodge

(801) 322-4631

Alta's Rustler Lodge

(801) 532-2582

Alta Chalets

(801) 424-2426

Goldminer’s Daughter

(801) 742-2300

Peruvian Lodge

(801) 742-3333


(801) 933-2222

These accommodations in Salt Lake City area are also close to the Cottonwood Canyons:

Hyatt Place Salt Lake City / Cottonwood

3090 6200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84121

(801) 890-1280

Residence Inn

6425 3000 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84121

(801) 453-0430

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham

6990 Park Centre Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84121

(801) 567-0111

Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites Midvalley

818 E Winchester St, Murray, UT 84107

(801) 685-9300

North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn

Backcountry Skiing

Photo by Lee Cohen

Trailheads & Meeting Points - Driving Directions:


  • From Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front:

    Follow Interstate 215 (Belt Route) either south from I-80 or east from I-15 to the 6200 South Exit. Drive southeast, uphill, toward Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird ski resorts. Continue through a traffic light at the intersection with Wasatch Boulevard. Turn left (east) at the next light onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR 190, also called 7200 South.) Take another left after 200 yards into the UTA Park & Ride lot.

  • From Park City and other points east:

    Go west over Parley's summit and down Parley's Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley. Go south on I-215, and exit at the 6200 South. Drive southeast, uphill, toward Brighton, Solitude, Alta,and Snowbird ski resorts. Continue through a traffic light at the intersection with Wasatch Boulevard. Turn left (east) at the next light onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR 190, also called 7200 South). Take another left after 200 yards into the UTA Park & Ride lot.

To Knudsen Corner PARK & RIDE LOT, 6450 South Wasatch Blvd:

  • Follow directions for Big Cottonwood Park & Ride Lot (above), until you reach the junction of 6200 South and Wasatch Blvd. Turn left here and make another immediate left into the large Park & Ride Lot.


  • From Park City and other points east:

    Drive west on I-80 over Parley's summit and down Parley's Canyon into the Salt Lake Valley. Go south on I-215, and exit at 3900 South. Turn left (east) under the freeway and make a right on Wasatch Blvd then an immediate left into the Bagel Shop, which is next to a mall and Dan's Grocery Store.

  • From Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front:

    Follow Interstate 215 (Belt Route) south or north to the 3900 South Exit. Get on Wasatch Blvd, which parallels the freeway on the east, and locate the Bagel Shop, just south of the intersection of 3900 South and Wasatch Blvd. It is at the north end of a mall and Dan's Grocery Store.

How to Register:

Register Online

Frequently Asked Questions - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Frequently Asked Questions - Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding

Can I get to the “goods” without climbing uphill?

Basically, no. All the slopes available from the top of chairlifts get tracked out quickly. UMA groups either climb uphill on skins to begin a tour, or after exiting from a ski resort boundary, skins are used to get to subsequent runs.

Are my own skis ok?

Only if they have a touring binding that allows the heel to be released for climbing uphill with skins.

I’m a snowboarder. Can I use my own board?

Yes, but you will have to climb uphill on snowshoes and carry the board on your backpack. We recommend split-snowboards because they are much more efficient. These are available to rent from UMA with custom fitted skins and telescoping poles with powder baskets. These are also compatible with regular snowboard boots

Climbers on Wasatch Summit

Utah Backcountry Skiing

Photo by Tyson Bradley

Does the split-board perform well?

Yes, in powder most riders do not notice a performance drop compared to a solid board. In hard, icy snow, however, there is definitely a difference.

Video: How a Splitboard Works


Do I have to telemark?

No. Most newcomers to the backcountry go on Alpine Touring (AT) skis. The heel is free in the uphill climb, but fixed down like normal alpine skis for the descent. You can use regular alpine boots or specialized AT boots, which are available for rent at local shops.

Do I need climbing skins?

Yes, 95% of UMA ski and snowboard tours require uphill travel, and skins are by far the most efficient way. Skins attach to the base of skis or split-snowboards, peel off at the top of the run and get stowed in a pocket for the downhill fun.

Can I tour into White Pine Gulch from Snowbird without skins?

Yes, this is the 5% exception, but this access point is only open about 10% of the time. Even then, if skins are not used, it’s only possible to make one run.

Can I rent an AT setup from UMA?

Yes, UMA has a fleet of early rise tip, wide powder skis with Fritschi AT bindings, custom fit skins, and telescoping poles with powder baskets available to rent to our guests. The guide will bring these to you on the day of the outing. Our bindings are compatible with any alpine or AT ski boot, but boots are not included in the rental.

Where do I meet my guide?

The guide will arrange a specific meeting location and time with you specifically. Most commonly, this location is the Big Cottonwood Canyon Park & Ride lot.

Contact UMA if you have any questions:

Call (801) 550-3986 or email us at

Utah Mountain Adventures

P.O. Box 521809

Salt Lake City, Utah 84152-1809

Phone: (801) 550 3986

Fax: (801) 486 8505


Utah Mountain Adventures | Patagonia Utah Mountain Adventures | Forest Service Backcountry Skiing Utah, by Tyson Bradley
Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding - Utah Mountain Adventures

Leave the crowds behind, and expand your skiing and snowboarding horizons! Traveling out-ofbounds, using climbing skins and alpine touring (AT) or telemark binding, or a split-board is becoming tremendously popular.

AT skis and splitboards are available for rent from UMA and local shops.

Touring is the perfect sport for those who hike or climb in summer and love to ski or snowboard in winter. Skinning facilitates approach and egress from peaks in winter and spring that would take far longer without. Solitude, cardio-vascular exercise, and adventurous runs are all part of the “off-piste” experience.

The Wasatch Range offers easy lift and trailhead access to deep, light snow in wide-open bowls, protected glades, and steep chutes.

Lift access is available from Alta, Brighton, The Canyons and Snowbird.

Trailhead access is available in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons and Millcreek, etc.

A knowledgeable UMA guide will lead you into the finest snow and terrain. Our guides keep abreast of the avalanche, snow and weather conditions to choose the best tours. They take into consideration both your fitness level and downhill ability to select the appropriate routes for you.

UMA guides pace you and teach you how to travel uphill efficiently, working on rest-step and kick-turning techniques and progress only as fast as you feel comfortable. They give you plenty of time to rest, enjoy the view and take photos. UMA guides demonstrate how to transition between the uphill and downhill modes and teach as much about avalanche hazard evaluation, route finding and other skills as you want to learn.

Skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels improve techniques, discover new terrain, and build leadership skills.

For more information on backcountry skiing & snowboarding classes in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, please view our Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding Courses.

We also offer private Guided Backcountry Touring & Instruction in the Wasatch Range in and around the Salt Lake area.