At the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon and nestled between Brighton and Alta, Wolverine Cirque offers spectacular views, easy access, and a plethora of steep ski lines. Over 25 chutes ring the cirque, ranging from moderate, open couloirs to tight, rock-strewn chutes over 50 degrees. The northern exposure prolongs good snow conditions but may also preserve weak layers. Wind-loading can also create variable snowpack here, and the exposed rim grows some of the largest cornices in the Wasatch. In short, close attention to conditions is required to ski here safely.
To get to Wolverine Cirque, head up Grizzly Gulch from Alta to Twin Lakes Pass. Alternatively, some of this vertical can be shortcut by traversing in from Brighton’s Millicent Lift. Climb the ridge to Patsy Marley on the right. If you’d like a warm-up before charging steep chutes, head down toward Twin Lakes from the ridge from about the point you reach the treeline. Figure 8 Hill is the prominent knoll in the middle of the drainage just north of Wolverine Cirque with excellent skiing on a north-facing slope. A skin track generally can be found or made on the east side of the hill for another lap.
If you'll be continuing to the cirque, climb the ridge to the summit of Patsy Marley and follow the rim southeast to your line of choice. The low point of this ridgeline, and the easiest entrance, is the Granny Chute, which is fairly broad, carries an angle of about 38 degrees, and ends with a wide apron at the bottom. This chute also provides a reasonable route to bootpack back up for another lap. From the top of Granny Chute, the lines to the east get steeper and tighter until you pass the summit of Mount Wolverine (10,795 feet). The east side of Wolverine Cirque bears some relatively reasonable lines such as Newt Chute and Sushi Chute (only 35 degrees!). When you’ve had enough, return by skinning up to Twin Lakes Pass and exiting via Grizzly Gulch.
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.