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.
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:
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.
UMA Guide Tyson Bradley climbing Toledo Peak
Photo by Eric Shmookler
Wasatch Ski Mountaineering Objectives (subject to current conditions):
Equipment: In Addition to the standard touring equipment list, your route may require crampons, ice axe, helmet, harness and belay device.
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.
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.
For more info, please select from the following backcountry skiing / snowboarding classes offered by Utah Mountain Adventures:
Instruction in skinning, downhill technique on skis and snowboards and safe route-finding. Designed for participants with little or no experience in the backcountry.
Join other proficient backcountry skiers and split-boarders for weekly group tours led by UMA guides. Intended for participants with b-c touring experience seeking partners for the backcountry and looking to learn new terrain and avoid avalanches.
Learn skills for safe and efficient backcountry travel on a split snowboard. For intermediate and advanced snowboarders looking to get into the backcountry, and for those seeking a more efficient alternative to boot-packing and snowshoeing.
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!
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.
Join Alta Lodge in Alta, Utah and Utah Mountain Adventures guides for a 4-day/5-night Backcountry Clinic Package. Safe travel while skiing in the backcountry is a must and this three-day course teaches skiers the fundamentals during three full days of backcountry skiing. Participants have a day to ski at Alta to acclimate included with the three-day seminar.
Download Gear List ( PDF)
* UMA will provide you with an avalanche transceiver, a shovel and/or a backpack if you need them. UMA rents alpine touring skis, skins and split snowboards. Other equipment is available for rent at local ski shops.
|Alpine touring skis and skins:||$40 plus tax|
|Split-snowboard, skins and poles:||$45 plus tax|
|Skins only:||$10 plus tax|
|Snowshoes and poles:||$15 plus tax|
UMA guides can deliver and adjust this gear for you.
Alta Peruvian Lodge Rental Shop
Black Diamond Retail
2070 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City
3285 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City
702 E 100 S, Salt Lake City
White Pine Touring
1790 Bonanza Drive, Park City
University of Utah Outdoor Rec Center
2140 E. Red Butte Road, Fort Douglas, Building 650
Backcountry Skiing Utah By Tyson Bradley
The Chuting Gallery. By Andrew McLean
Wasatch Touring Map 1 by Alpentech
Wasatch Touring Map 2 by Alpentech
These lodges in the town of Alta are very convenient for the Saturday and Sunday venues:
(801) 322-4631Alta's Rustler Lodge
(801) 532-2582Goldminer’s Daughter
(801) 742-2300Peruvian Lodge
These accommodations in Salt Lake City area are also close to the Cottonwood Canyons:
Foothill Drive, SLC: 2475 E. 1700 South
(801) 582-5350La Quinta Inn
Midvale: 7231 S. Catalpa Rd
(801) 566-3291Residence Inn
Cottonwood Heights: 6425 South 3000 E.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only if they have a touring binding that allows the heel to be released for climbing uphill with skins.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Call (801) 550-3986 or email us at uma@UtahMountainAdventures.com