Depart from Park City and head down Parley’s to the valley so that we can pick up Kyle. We loaded up the truck and passed by BCC and pointed south towards Little Cottonwood Canyon.
We reach the top of LCC, hop out the truck and start planning our tour. Not much snow to be found overall. All south faces are dry to the bone. North facing slopes in shaded spots have retained some snow. Our eyes set up the basin to the top of Devil’s Castle. A big snow field still exist underneath the rock. That’s our goal.
We click our boots into our skis and throw everything onto our packs to prepare for the hike up Albion Basin Road. It’s a casual hike, but a slog nonetheless with all the weight of an airbag and gear on my back.
Snow! The three of us finally reach enough snow to start our tour. Packs all drop to the grass, boots get clicked in, and skins get thrown on. With how hot it was, we decided to throw a fresh layer of wax on our skins to counter the wetness of snow ahead of us.
The snow is interesting, and we picked a steep line. So steep, we decided to start bootpacking. Mike found out quickly that the snow was not consistent, nor hard packed. He fell through down to his waist, smacking a rock as he crushed through the snowpack.
Snow has gotten worse! We finally reached the large snowfield below the base of Devil’s Castle and the snow can barely hold a ski’s edge. Two confident steps forward get you thinking the snow is better, then the third step would have you sliding 10 feet downhill. It was a defeating march uphill.
We head for drier ground. The touring just wasn’t worth the last 300 vert. We got to the exposed ridge, threw our skis onto our packs, and decided to ascend the last bit by climbing. The rock was unstable, but much more stable than the snow below. We cleaned a few sections, feeling like true mountaineers before reaching the top of the ridge.
The chute has been reached at a peak elevation on our tour of 10,816ft. Is it an official chute? Doubtful. But due to the snow melt, it’s a deep patch of snow between two rock outcroppings. So it’s a chute. It looked sketchy, about a ski’s width wide, covered in mank snow, pitched at a modest 30degrees with another 20deg off axis too.
After inspecting the chute’s exit, and not confident in my July ski legs, or lack there of, we let Mike get first dibs on it. Thankfully we did, since he just scraped off all the surface crud for Kyle and I.
The three of us make it through the chute, even if we all didn’t make a single turn down it and side-slipped the whole thing. It was still epic! Now it’s time to head down the slope. The snow is sun-cupped to hell, with moon-like craters all over the place. Edges still hold well, and turns were fun, with spring, corn snow spraying everywhere.
We finally reach the drainage and start our snow/route finding adventure. Every time we think we reached the end of the snow, we side step our way up a hill and find some more snow to slide on. Surprisingly enough, we almost made it back to the hiking trail on skis!
Packs back on the ground and loaded up with our skis and boots. The ski tour was over and we couldn’t have been more stoked.
After trudging down the 4×4 roads, and loosing the trail a few times due to snow, we reached the truck. Stoked that we just earned some turns on a hot day in July. No matter how poor the snow conditions were, it’s hard to complain about skiing on feet of snow in July. The whole thing took us 4 hours and 21 minutes to go 7.1 miles and 2,000 feet of vertical gain. Epic day was had!
To see the full photo album, click the link below:
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.