Gearing up for skiing by hiking to Catherines Pass

By Mountain Mama Oct 19, 2011
Everyone comes to Utah to ski in the winter, but the summers and fall are amazing!! Especially late summer when the snow has finally melted and you can get up to the ridgetops and see the wonderful scenery. Catherines Pass lies between Alta and Brighton and I've done it for years. Now, my daughter Emily joins the tradition...her first pass to 10,500'
Gearing up for skiing by hiking to Catherines Pass

With the ski season nearly here, I've been trying to race to the mountains for that last late season hike.  I love the winters in Utah, but there is something about the summers and the serenity that comes along.

I've been hiking the peaks and passes along the Wasatch for years.  This year, it was time to see if Emily could do it.  Catherines Pass can be reached from Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta or from Big Cottonwood Canyon at Brighton.  The trail is a little longer from Brighton, but you pass several lakes.  From Alta, it is 1 1/2 miles up to 10,500'!  We decide on the Alta route.

Since my kids have been hiking since pretty much 2 years old, this is a good test of elevation.  After all, we can all hike a mile or 2 along a flat trail.  Add in the elevation and it leaves you gasping for air.  What better way to get in shape for skiing and the elevation than going up.  We load up our camelbacks with snacks and water and away we go.

The key to hiking with kids is good boots , plenty of snacks and water and positive encouragement along the way.  Emily is quite happy anyway, so no big challenge here. 

What I never tire of is hiking through the resorts and thinking "I can't believe there was 100" of snow here just a short time ago"!  Since one of our last ski days was at Alta, fun to see the changed landscape!

As the trail starts at mid can drive the summer road up 3 miles to the end and find a campground-Albion Basin- and great trails. To access our trail, we stop about 1/2 mile before you get to the end and park.  As you get up about 15 minutes or so, you'll arrive at the Sunnyside lift!  So fun to see it in winter and try to explain to Emily "remember in the winter.....?"  She says "no".  OK, moving on.  The trail winds up with great views of Devils Castle and Mt Superior until you reach a meadow.  Oftentimes, there are moose milling about.  We made it this far last year.  Nope, heading up, we've got about 20 minutes with some switchbacks to go and we hit the pass!  Once at the top, there are unbelievable views looking toward Lake Catherine on the Brighton side and up to Sunset Peak if you want to keep going.  I'm so happy we made it.

Emily has brought her toy horses up (new from her birthday in which she has just turned 6) and she is doing great.  In fact, we took few breaks which indicates to me she is definitely in shape as we head into ski season! 

I love hiking and exploring and am looking forward to another season of skiing.  My challenge this year...Brennan has told me "I'm not skiing you know, I'm only boarding".  Those adventures will be interesting.  We will kick off our ski season at Snowbird this year.  Will be a challenge to the kids and me since I'm not a great skier and Snowbird will challenge me as well.

Also, as a Meteorologist for the local NBC affiliate, KSL,  I will be doing family stories and posting them here and of course keeping an eye on yet another La Niná. Let me know what you'd like to learn about his year.  What challenges do you have with your kids?  What is your favorite place to ski with kids?