Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Link Up on Skis!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup on Skis!

By Jared Inouye

(NOTE:  This trip report is from April 2010)

Well, Bart, Andy, and I more or less completed the Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup On Skis (the "WURLOS"). For many reasons, the WURLOS didn't follow the path of the WURL as established by Jared Campbell, but there was a ridge linkup, it was in the Wasatch, in my mind it was "Ultimate," and I'm not aware of anyone who has completed a similar project, so, in keeping with and in honor of Jared C's label, I'm going to continue to call our path the "WURLOS." I'll dedicate this post to the mountains of the WURLOS, since it is the beauty and spirit of these mountains that fueled this project, and in the event others might want some beta about our path. Perhaps, in the future, I'll make some other WURLOS-related posts, like, what you think about during 21.5 hour tour, or why I dry heave when I see GU, or essential WURLOS equipment (or lack thereof), or how to cure to being afraid of vertical exposure, or how about, Making Sense of the Senseless? For now, the mountains . . . . Here is the route.

The primary objective of the WURLOS was to climb and ski many of the 11k+ peaks on the ridge splitting Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and on the ridge splitting Little Cottonwood Canyon and American Fork Canyon. The WURLOS route began at the "S Curves" in Big Cottonwood Canyon at about 6500 feet and climbed up Broads Fork. The Salt Lake Twin Peaks sit at the head of Broads Fork, and from there it was game on. Here are the peaks the

 WURLOS tags and skis:

1. SL Twin Peaks

2. Jepsen's Folly

3. O'Sullivan (Sunrise)

4. Dromedary

5. Monte Cristo

6. Superior

7. Baldy

8. Hidden Peak

9. AF Twin Peaks

10. Red Stack

11. Red Baldy

12. White Baldy

13. Pfeifferhorn

14. Chipman

** 15. Bighorn

** 16. Lone Peak

** We didn't tag or ski Bighorn or Lone Peak, but it can be done.

From Twin to Superior is about 5 miles, but it is over some pretty rugged terrain. Here is a shot of the peaks that comprise what some call the "Triple Traverse" -- Twin, O'Sullivan, and Drom. 

To ascend Monte Cristo, we traversed into this cirque. I'm not sure if it has a name. Anyone?

And then ascended the Heart of Darkness. The Heart was filled with nice bootable snow. And at the top was a small little scramble to the top. No rope was needed to ascend.

And then to Superior. It's hard to pass up the south face of Superior if you have skis, and it is a fast and direct way off the Cottonwood Ridge. Here is a shot of Superior's south face and an approximation of the line of our descent. We descended at about 1 pm in the afternoon. The conditions weren't ideal, but they were acceptable so long as we skied fast.

Superior's south facing apron practically dumps you into Snowbird. Having had issues with Alta, i.e., its intolerance for uphill traffic, we did not incorporate Devil's Castle or Sugarloaf. Instead, we began our ascent from Snowbird's tram dock, ascending up Chips Run to Baldy.

The Pfeif was in our sights before it got dark. By the time we got there, however, it was dark. We ascended by the light of the moon and LED.

Getting out of Hogum Fork is always tricky. I like going up the north facing snow field, but it is also possible to go up the ridge (recommended if the snow isn't stable).

And from there, Big Horn and Lone Peak are within reach. Unfortunately, as we reached the "X" depicted below, we were exhausted, we lost all visibility, we were sketched out about ascending and descending Big Horn, and it was past midnight. So, we skied out Bells Canyon to our waiting car. 

We didn't get this far on the WURLOS, but here's a shot of where wanted to be, looking down on Big Horn from Lone Peak.

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