Skiing and riding in Utah provides not only The Greatest Snow on Earth but also some of the best terrain in the world. During a good snow year there are opportunities to get on some of the most unique lines in the country. From steep chutes to sprawling fields of powder and perfectly molded natural halfpipes, these Utah lines often take patience and cooperation from Mother Nature. When granted access on the right day, they can provide the best turns of your season. We often see GoPro video of these epic lines littered all over social media, but unless you're a local, you probably won't find, let alone hear, about these spots. That’s why I have made a guide of the top 10 trophy lines in Utah.
These 10 runs are the areas you should put on your list and make sure that, when patrol drops the gate, you are the first in line to reap the rewards. Not all these lines are the steepest or most difficult to get to but they are still for the expert skier/rider. I always suggest working your way up, making sure you understand the hazards associated with skiing steep backcountry lines and how to safely navigate avalanche terrain before taking on this list. So get out there this season, find a partner, keep an eye on the weather and plan some trips to step out of your day to day skiing/riding the same lines to tackle all ten on this epic list!
The prime line off Baldy is Main Chute; an epic 750 vertical foot couloir nestled on top of Mount Baldy splitting Snowbird and Alta. It is accessible from both resorts via a 500-foot bootpack. Snowboarders will have a tough time getting out as you need to cut high across Blackjack Traverse to get back into Snowbird. Once atop Baldy you will see this line on the skiers left side of the summit. Its starts steep (40+ degrees) but mellows out quickly holding some of the best high elevation snow you will find in the Cottonwoods. If you are feeling adventurous, test out the line to the skiers right dubbed Little Chute which holds a more consistent steep pitch and is much narrower.
The hike up Fantasy Ridge is nearly as much fun as going down with an almost vertical boot pack and three fixed lines; never mind skiing down the epic north facing lines. To get there take Summit Lift, bootpack up the knife-edged Fantasy Ridge (I would recommend chutes 5 or 6 for the easiest descent) or hike up again Off-Broadway to Chutes 22-24 which require much more skill and don't often ski clean (mandatory airs). For this you’ll want to bring a pack to carry skis/boards so both hands are free to grab onto the fixed cables while scrambling through rocky sections.
This area contains many short exposed lines that can test the nerves and skills of the best skiers all with a crowd usually cheering you on from the top while heading to some of the easier shots down Cirque. When you're on the Tram, you’ll notice this is one of the most prominent lines. You want to take the upper Cirque gate off the top of Hidden Peak and traverse until finding this line. Its narrow entrance (easily identifiable) forces a mandatory straight line through the 5-foot wide, 40 degree+ start for about 20ft before a hard skiers right turn spits you out into the apron. Once inside, you can scrub speed, count your lucky stars and head to the Tram Club for a beer/shot combo to calm your nerves. There are many lines to choose from that vary in difficulty having the most difficult starting at Great Scott and getting more manageable once you pass Elevator Chute.
One of Brighton's crowned jewels; the elevator shaft starts by taking the Milicent lift to the top. From there it's a steep 20-minute boot pack up to the top of Mt. Millicent. Once at the summit, look for the main rock-lined chute known as Elevator Shaft. This line starts wide and gets steep towards the middle where it narrows. Pro tip: make sure its a big snow year before you head out to ski this line as the middle section is often choked off forcing folks to use ropes to navigate. This line often receives excellent snow and is one to wait on for the perfect day.
Snowbird Ski Patrol controls access up Twin Peaks and makes sure anyone attempting this line has avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel). When this rarely opened line gets the green light (usually spring with a cold morning) take the tram to the lodge on top of Hidden Peak in the patrol room, sign a waiver and then ski part way down the Road to Provo where you will see the gate. I like to use crampons with my snowboard boots when hiking this ridge but it is not required. When you reach the top you will have to navigate around a small cliff band before peering into down this line back into Snowbird. It is a consistently steep line pitching over 45 degrees for moments but its wide width makes this very manageable for the 700+ vertical feet before you reach the apron. A true classic!
These classic lines located off of Empire Express lift are reserved for skiers only during the season but offer some of Deer Valley’s steepest turns. Usually, this north facing line gets wind loaded with great snow and is protected by a huge cornice you have to navigate to gain access to these chutes. The choice lines here are off Challenger which are the steepest, most exposed lines while Daly Bowl is the easiest way down.
When the storms are favoring the southern side of the Wasatch range, take a trip over to Park City. The best area to exploit is located off Jupiter Peak. You can take the classic Jupiter Lift which is an old slow double that takes you back in time. From the top, you take the long traverse on the ridge where you begin the bootpack to the top. Once you’re at the top, there are many lines but the prime line down is Machete, the most prominent line on the face.
Skiers/riders can get to James Peak via Lightning Ridge. They offer $25 snowcat rides up Lightning Ridge and from there it's a 15-minute hike to the top of James Peak. They also allow people to skin up the cat track as well. Once at the top you get a steep, consistent pow field for 1500 vertical feet heading back into the resort. I put this run on the list because of the infrequency it gets ridden and quality of the turns. Be wary not to go too far off the resort as you could be walking back up!
One of Park City Mountain’s crown jewels is the natural halfpipe they call Canis Lupis. This trail slithers through the woods containing banked walls, whoops and natural airs. On a powder day (or even a warm spring day) you’ll want to take the Super Condor Express and look for the start at Upper Boa. Make sure to take it mellow the first lap through as there are a lot of surprises and weird turns that catch you off guard. Once you get the hang of this lap it's always fun to race your buddies for a beer down at the newly renovated Umbrella Bar!
No Name is known for 1,500 foot vertical powder descents that make for a perfect trophy line run after run. This area has steep north facing pitches with plenty of terrain variety to keep any skier/rider interested all day long. To get there, take the Allen Peak Tram and traverse the ridgeline to the No Name signline where it’s a short five-minute booter to the top. Pay attention at the bottom and traverse to the right to get back to John Paul chairlift so you can do it all again.
Now that you have the list it is time to get out there and tackle it! If you have any questions or think I missed some lines please reach out to me @jmosends on Instagram.
We would love to see you getting after these lines so make sure to tag #utahtrophylines for a chance to get featured on Ski Utah's Instagram.
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