Main Chute Shredding on the Summer Solstice

By Powderhound Matt Jun 23, 2016
It was June 20th, 2016: The summer solstice, the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere... So naturally, we went skiing!
Main Chute Shredding on the Summer Solstice

Hey this is Adam Fehr aka Apres Adam aka Bagel Boy aka Powderhound Matt's partner in crime for the upcoming ski season. With Matt in full work and wedding planning mode for the time being, I'm here to help him out with some stories from time to time. Cheers!

One of my favorite off-season activities is hiking around the mountains of the Wasatch. Whether you’re pushing to summit peaks, exploring alpine lakes and waterfalls, or just looking to looking to take a rad selfie to perfectly complete your Tinder profile, hiking in the mountains is quick escape from the day-to-day grind and the oppressive summer heat. It’s also one of the best ways to stay/get in shape during the off-season.

Personally, I enjoy hiking around the mountains to see the Wasatch from a different perspective than I'm used to in the winter. While taking in the endless views, I always find myself scouting new lines and daydreaming of the same mountains blanketed in snow. My season was cut "short" (barely less than 100 days) by an ankle injury that kept me off skis since the last pow day at Snowbird in late May. I've been rehabbing by hiking around the mountains for the past couple of weeks, assuming my ski season was over. Yet, I hadn't committed to putting my ski gear away for the summer...

So while up at Snowbird's Brewfest for Father's Day this weekend. I took a couple of extra minutes to drive up to Alta Ski Area and take a look at the possibility of skiing Main Chute into Alta. I took some recon photos and later that night serendipitously came across a video from the guys at The Daily Pow skiing Main Chute on Saturday the 18th of June.

I went to bed Sunday night, the night before the summer solstice, the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, with plans to do more activities the next day than is possible on any of the other 364 days: boating, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, cliff jumping, trail running, ... skiing?

At work early Monday, I got a text from a friend looking to escape the 100+ degree temps in the Salt Lake Valley. I got another text from a friend looking to do something epic on the longest day of the year. And after watching an inspiring short film from The North Face and Sherpas Cinema, I knew what had to be done...

We were going to hike and ski Main Chute into Alta on the first day of summer. Obviously.

It took some convincing and scrambling to track down rock skis and boards, but I managed to get two main chute virgins to join me on the Solstice Main Chute shred session. I met Jaeden and Kimmy at the Little Cottonwood Park and Ride, where we debated our two options for getting to the top of the 11,086 foot Mount Baldy:

1. Pay $20 each, sign a waiver, and take the scenic tram ride from Snowbird that would put us on top of the 11,000 foot Hidden Peak in 10 minutes and then hike a mile across the ridge to Baldy.


2. Hike 2500 vertical feet with 30+ pound packs for the next 2 1/2 hours, with one 12-oz bottle of water, 3 coors lights, and a bag of dill pickle sunflower seeds to split between the three of us.

We chose the latter option.

The hike was longer, hotter, and more strenuous than I originally anticipated. We almost ran out of food and water. I would be lying if I said we didn't consider bailing early more than once. Two and a half hours after we left the wildcat parking lot, we reached the top of Mount Baldy. Thirty minutes of recovery, photoshoots, and few celebratory warm beers later, we took turns dropping into Main Chute.

The turns were much better than I had expected in the chute. We skied over a little gravel, some loose rocks on top of the snow, but other than weary legs from the hike and little bit of rustiness, we kind of made it look like we knew what we were doing. 

After skiing Main Chute, we traversed across Ballroom to the longest continuous ribbon of snow in sight and skied down until the snow turned to mud and rocks. Then we hiked down to the car and celebrated our (most likely) last day of the season with a Shotzski! Check out the short edit from the day. We may not have skied it as well as the Daily Pow guys, but we definitely showed more skin:

It sounds crazy with July rapidly approaching, but if you're willing to get creative, there is still some skiing to be done in Utah.  If you're looking for a great hike with the reward of sliding down snow, try earning your turns on some of the areas that should still be skiable: Main Chute, Hayden Peak and Bald Mountain in the Uintas, Suicide Chute in Little Cottonwood (holding snow, but no longer skiable top to bottom), Mount Timpanogos, the Hypodermic Needle, and a handful of other chutes and couloirs in the Wasatch.

After hiking and skiing Main Chute from Alta, I highly recommend starting at Snowbird, paying $20 ($15 if purchased online in advance), signing a waiver at the ticket office, and taking the 10-minute scenic Aerial Tram ride to the top of the 11,000 foot Hidden Peak. Grab some lunch or dinner (or water if you didn't bring enough) at The Summit. Throw your boots and skis/boards on a pack and hike a mile or so to the top of Mount Baldy.

Before you drop into Main Chute, take some time to scope some lines for next season, do some yoga, take a selfie, post a banger-sunset-Gram, or just hang out with your friends on top of a mountain.

But don't stick around too long, the snow is melting, the days are starting to get shorter. Winter is coming... eventually.