One of the beauties of Utah Ski Resorts is the lift-serviced backcountry options. With access gates galore, it’s easy to get into areas that would otherwise take an hour or two of skinning.  In fact, that’s where I cut my teeth in the backcountry–in the sidecountry stashes to the North and South of The Canyons Ski Resort.

Granted, this easy access doesn’t come without its challenges. It seems that too many skiers and boarders slip into the uncontrolled backcountry without a worry in the world. Sadly, many “backcountry” avalanche incidents have in fact been in fact ignorant sidecountry adventures gone awry. So, just because the access comes easy (a $12 single ride ticket for us), it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down or go into those areas uninformed and ill-prepared. Phew… got that out of the way.

Sitting in the parking lot of Brighton, we contemplated our touring options. Converging on the Millicent ticket booth, we had intended to ride up the Millicent Lift and ski in the area near Mt. Wolverine, but we couldn’t get anyone to sell us a lift ticket. Nobody seemed interested in swiping our plastic, so we changed plans and headed towards the main base area where we purchased our tickets and headed for the Great Western Lift.

Backcountry gates from the top of the Great Western Lift accesses the Big Cottonwood/Park City ridgeline with several North and Northeast-facing shots off the backside of Clayton Peak and Peak 10,420 just to the North of Clayton Peak. Slipping out the gate, we traversed to the East, then made our way down the ridgeline and to the saddle between Clayton Peak and Peak 10,420.

Utah Backcountry Skiing - Rich Lambert and Todd Thompson

Backcountry Skiing - Brandon Contemplates

Utah Backcountry Skiing - Todd Thompson's Tele Turns

After a quick skin to the summit of Peak 10,420, we ended up dropping into the North-facing pines down towards the basin just above Bloods Lake. That would serve as our endpoint as we then completed another lap into the sparse pines. Conditions were pretty good with crust layers here and there, but mostly consistent boot-deep and turnable snow on all North and Northeast aspects.

Utah Backcountry Skiing - Rich Lambert tests the Black Diamond Megawatt

Utah Backcountry Skiing - View from the Summit

After summiting for the third time, the sun was getting pretty low and we all needed to get on with the evening, so we dropped back into the West-facing drainage just to the North of Brighton–landing us back at the Great Western Lift after the long, easy traverse. Not too bad for a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Backcountry Ski Tour - Brighton Backcountry - March 7, 2009


About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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