We were limited in our time to ski today, and so we decided to go and hit some slopes that we’ve been looking at for a few years, and never been able to find anything good on.
The reason we chose to go today when we had limited time is because the trailhead that we started at is only 15 minutes from Highland–where I grew up–and where my ski buddy John lives. We left at around 2:30 and started skinning a little before 3, starting at the upper Sensei trailhead. Well at least I did. John forgot his skins and so he went back to get them while I started to explore! It was surprisingly easy to gain elevation using dirt roads on the shoulders of the mountains. There had been some pretty intense wind and so on the East side of the shoulder it was bare, with full rocks exposing, while further West it was a couple of feet deep. The name of the game in the low elevation was finding the wind loaded snow.
I went to the top of the first mountain where you could then see Alien tower, and overlook Salt Lake Valley. It was 1000 ft up from the parking lot. I then skied down around 850 feet before seeing John and getting to where the skiing wasn’t as good.
The skiing was more fun than it should have been. It was fast, soft, and I only hit a couple of rocks at the bottom! We were expecting 2/10 conditions and got more like 9/10!
When I met up with John we went back to the top of the slope I had skied and then skied down the East face down to a road. We were skiing over bushes that were almost completely filled in, and it was again surprisingly fun! At the bottom there was around 20 feet of bushwhack to the road that we started to skin up. It took us into Draper and near Alien Tower. We called it the Alien Tower Couloir because from the top of the first mountain we were on, it looked like a couloir! It was soft and fast and was probably my favorite run of the day.
After making some good powder 8’s for around 700 vertical descent, we transitioned to go back up and over and down to the car, but this time we wanted to ski an East facing slope that we were looking at on the way up at the beginning of the tour. We made it there without too much difficulty. Breaking trail was easy and fast, and it didn’t require much route finding. Once we were onto the correct shoulder it was pretty straightforward.
The upper descent from the East face was really fun, and then we started hitting some rocks and the trees thickened. From here it was a long and unexciting traverse around to the starting point. At one point it got super shallow and so we skied down a filled in gully and then transitioned and went back up and over to the car.
I was expecting a quick exploration tour and to only get 500-1000 feet and likely not get any good skiing. Instead I ended up with just under 3k and almost 6 miles, with a lot of really good turns!
I suppose it’s not a bad idea to to have low expectations because then you’ll easily be satisfied or it’ll be better than expected!
I’d definitely go back and do more skiing in this area. After storms, or if you only have a couple of hours it’s an acceptable place to ski, with some fun lines that are different than what is typical.