Utah’s Wasatch Mountains are a haven for backcountry skiers. Skiers and boarders flock to these mountains from all over the world to get a chance to ski the bone-dry "greatest snow on earth." Catherines Pass is an easily accessed backcountry zone located between Alta Ski Resort and Brighton. This area skis best either in the early or late season, when Alta Ski Resort is closed. The skiing is great during the prime skiing months as well, but skiers from Alta like to make the short hike over from the Supreme chair, which can hinder the wilderness feel and increases competition for untouched lines.
From the Grizzly Gulch parking lot, skin up along the border of Alta Ski Resort. The lower portion of the skin is actually on a snowcat track, so the going is smooth and fast. There are brief stretches that actually go into the resort terrain, but don’t worry, Alta is okay with backcountry riders briefly skinning in-bounds to access the nearby backcountry terrain. After roughly 1.5 to 2 hours you will pop out of the trees to see the beautiful terrain that Catherines Pass has to offer. Once the pass is reached, head on up to your right (south) and follow the ridgeline until you see a chute that is to your liking – there are many. The premier line in the area is off of Sunset Peak, which sits at 10,669 feet, and it offers stunning views of the Central Wasatch. The skin track to the peak is directly along the ridgeline, eventually wrapping around the peak within 100 feet from the top. From the peak, descend 100 feet via the skin track to reconnect with the ridgeline. From the ridgeline, descend down the north aspect of the face, and enjoy! This is truly a great day tour.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.