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Utah Backcountry Skiing
 

Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding - Utah Mountain Adventures

Private Guiding & Instruction
Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding

Descent from Salt Lake Twin Peaks
Descent from Salt Lake Twin Peaks
Photo by Tyson Bradley

Guides are available daily. Advance notice is appreciated.

UMA guides may be flexible so that your tours occur on the best days during your stay. They will keep you updated on conditions and can offer suggestions of other routes if conditions are not optimal for your desired tours.

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

Regular backcountry days (6-10 hours) are $299 for one person and $125 for each additional person up to six with one guide.

Most groups meet between 6 and 10 am depending on your needs.

We guide tours in the periphery of Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Brighton and the Canyons Resorts. We offer canyon to canyon tours such as Alta to Big Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood to Millcreek Canyons as well as tours in the Lone Peak, Twin Peaks and Mt Olympus Wildernesses.

Half-day backcountry tours (3-5 hours) are $179 for one person and $75 for each additional person up to six with one guide.

Some short approach, one run and corn snow tours are available in a half day.

Most groups meet before 9 am for a morning half day or after 12:30 pm for an afternoon.

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


Ski & Snowboard Mountaineering

Ski Mountaineering
UMA Guide Tyson Bradley climbing Toledo Peak
Photo by Eric Shmookler

Ski and snowboard mountaineering and extreme descents are serious undertakings, but a UMA guide can make them safer and more fun. Many Wasatch summits and classic couloirs become avalanche-stable and provide world-class descents in good seasons.  Descents can be unsafe or impassable if low-snow or high avalanche danger exists.  UMA guides know when the conditions are right, and how to get in and out of serious terrain while minimizing effort and risk. 

Ascents may involve ice axe, crampons and rope, while a few descents include rappelling and belayed skiing.

Guides typically tackle serious and committing mountaineering and/or extreme descents with repeat clients, or do a “check-out” run on the approach.

Long tours such as the “Super Tour” (White Pine Trailhead to Bells Canyon) and other ski Mountaineering tours are $350 for one person and $150 for each additional person plus tax.

Popular ski mountaineering objectives include:

  • Mt. Superior’s Southeast Face
  • The Coalpit Headwall
  • The Y-Couloir

Equipment:

In Addition to the standard touring equipment list, you may need crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet and belay device.


Overnight & Multi-Day Ski Tours

Overnight & Multi-Day Ski Tours
Overnight & Multi-Day Ski Tours
Photo by Tyson Bradley

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.

Private guiding rates apply plus overnight cost:

 

Rates:

          Full Day:
               
$299 for one person plus $125 for each additional person plus tax

          Half Day:
               $179 for one person plus $75 for each additional person plus tax

          Long and more difficult days:
               $350 for one person plus $150 for each additional person plus tax

Rate Chart:

Private Guide
Full Day (6-10 hours)
Number of Clients
Total Amount
Amount per Person
Base Price
Additional Person
1
$299.00
$299.00
$299.00
$125.00
2
$424.00
$212.50
3
$549.00
$183.00
4
$674.00
$165.50
All fees are subject to tax.

Private Guide
Half Day (3-5 hours); 60% of Full Rate
Number of Clients
Total Amount
Amount per Person
Base Price
Additional Person
1
$179.00
$179.40
$179.00
$ 75.00
2
$254.00
$127.20
3
$329.00
$109.80
4
$404.00
$101.10
All fees are subject to tax.

Private Guide
Difficult Climbs or Long Day (10 or more hours)
Number of Clients
Total Amount
Amount per Person
Base Price
Additional Person
1
$350.00
$350.00
$350.00
$150.00
2
$500.00
$250.00
3
$650.00
$216.67
All fees are subject to tax.

Scheduled Courses - Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding - Salt Lake City

Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding Scheduled Courses

Ice Climbing
Backcountry Skiing Scheduled Course
Photo by Lee Cohen

For more info, please select from the following ice climbing classes offered by Utah Mountain Adventures:

Backcountry Touring Clinic:

Instruction in skinning, downhill technique on skis and snowboards and safe route-finding. Designed for participants with little or no experience in the backcountry.

Backcountry Touring; 2-day Seminars:

Learn avalanche awareness, beacon rescue, safe route selection, efficient skinning, downhill technique on skis and snowboard, and enjoy legendary Wasatch touring. Designed for beginner and intermediate backcountry enthusiasts.

Split-Snowboard Clinic:

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.

Introduction to Backcountry Touring & Avalanche Awareness Seminar:

Add a day of backcountry skiing or snowboarding to the standard Avalanche Awareness class.

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.

Alta Lodge Backcountry Clinic:

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.

Equipment Rentals & Gear - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Gear, Equipment Rentals, Books & Maps

Equipment Rentals & Gear - Utah Backcountry Skiing
Boot Packing on the Summit Ridge
Photo by Tyson Bradley

Backcountry Touring Equipment List:

  • Non-cotton top and bottom under layers (capilene or polypro)
  • Fleece or insulated jacket
  • Waterproof /windproof top and bottom outer shell
  • Wool (and liner) socks
  • Waterproof snow gloves or mittens
  • Fleece or liner glove for uphill
  • Warm hat and baseball cap
  • Sunglasses and goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • 1 or 2 liters of water
  • Lunch and snacks

  • Ski or snowboard boots
  • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis, split snowboard or snowboard with snowshoes
  • Heel risers for tele skis
  • Poles
  • Skins
  • Avalanche transceiver *
  • Shovel *
  • Backpack*

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.

Utah Mountain Adventures Rentals:

Alpine touring skis and skins:
Split-snowboard, skins and poles:
Skins only:
Snowshoes and poles:
$40 plus tax
$45 plus tax
$10 plus tax
$15 plus tax


UMA guides can deliver and adjust this gear for you.

Rental Shops:

     Alta Peruvian Lodge Rental Shop
     in Alta
     (801) 742-3333

     Black Diamond Retail
     2070 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City
     (801) 278-0233

     REI
     3285 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City
     (801) 486-2100

     Wasatch Touring
     702 E 100 S, Salt Lake City
     (801) 359-9361

     University of Utah Outdoor Rec Center
     
2140 E. Red Butte Road, Fort Douglas, Building 650
     (801) 581-8516

Guidebooks and Maps:

     Guidebooks:
         Backcountry Skiing Utah. By Tyson Bradley
         The Chuting Gallery. By Andrew McLean

     Maps:
         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

North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn
Backcountry Skiing
Photo by Lee Cohen

Accommodations

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

     Alta Lodge
     (801) 322-4631

     Alta's Rustler Lodge
     (801) 532-2582

     Goldminer’s Daughter
     (801) 742-2300

     Peruvian Lodge
     (801) 742-3333

     Snowbird
     (801) 933-2222

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

     Skyline Inn, Foothill Drive, SLC
     Foothill Drive, SLC: 2475 E. 1700 South
     (801) 582-5350

     La Quinta Inn
     Midvale: 7231 S. Catalpa Rd
     (801) 566-3291

     Residence Inn
     
Cottonwood Heights: 6425 South 3000 E.
     (801) 453-0430

Trailheads & Meeting Points - Driving Directions:


To BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON PARK & RIDE LOT:

  • 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.

To EINSTEIN BAGEL SHOP in Olympus Cove, SLC:

  • 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

Climbers on Wasatch Summit
Utah Backcountry Skiing
Photo by Tyson Bradley

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

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 uma@UtahMountainAdventures.com

 
Testimonials

Thank you. You guys are great. Andy Polloczek is unmatched, a great instructor.

- John Pack


Thanks for a fantastic day. Todd Passey is a world class guide. He found great lines and snow. Most importantly he kept me safe. Todd was so impressive at navigating the elements and knowing all of the variables. Thanks for an experience I will not forget.

- Scott Simon


I wanted to let you know what a fantastic time Janet and I had with Todd Glew. His guiding, route choices and knowledge of the area were excellent and, not least of all, he was great company and we really enjoyed hanging out with him. And as for my last day with Todd skiing the Y Couloir . . . that will forever be one of the most memorable days skiing of my life. Wow!!

- Tim Peckett


Just wanted to say we had a FANTASTIC time today on our first backcountry tour. Eric was a wonderful, knowledgable and high-competent guide who truly made our day the best it could ever be. Thank you!

- Coleen Colahan


Quino is a wonderful guide - did a great job taking us up Cardiff pass, couple runs on the slopes north of the pass, and then back to Alta. Quino was great - easy going, set the right pace so that we could all keep up, picked a good route for us. Just perfect - many thanks for having him guide us.

- Harm Scherpbier


Just wanted to drop a quick note thanking you guys for setting me up with such a great guide yesterday! Colby was great and I had an amazing time in the snow. His expertise, professionalism and knowledge of the area was unprecedented.

- Paul Kronser


You have a great bunch of guys here with these individuals and I am sure the others in your organization are just as pleasant. From the office staff I spoke with to all the guides in the field.

- James Albritton


   
   

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.