Photo courtesy of Ski Utah/Tim Roberts
Ever gazed longingly at the powder on the other side of the ski area boundary? I sure have. Since I moved to Utah more than 15 years ago, I’ve often wondered, even when I’ve made it in line for first chair, how is it that the mountain is already tracked out,again? So, yes, I’ve been tempted to duck that rope—for just a few turns—and then sneak back in. Two very serious consequences have kept me from doing so, however. First, skiing out of a closed ski area boundary onto private property is against the law and punishable by a hefty fine. And, second, I prefer not to know what it’s like to ride down a slope in an avalanche.
One of the safest and easiest ways to experience Utah’s incredible backcountry is Ski Utah’s Interconnect Adventure Tour. The full-day tours leave Park City’s Deer Valley Resort on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. (And from Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.) After a few in-area warm-up runs, professional guides lead the way out of bounds to explore classic Wasatch backcountry routes including Highway to Heaven, Catherine’s Pass and Twin Lakes Pass. Ski area lifts take care of most of the ascent during the tour, but depending on the mood and ability of the group, guides may offer the option to hike, allowing for a bit more vertical. Resorts passed through along the way include Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton and Alta.
I skied the Interconnect several years ago with my husband and in-laws. It was a perfect Utah winter day: bluebird sunny skies and great snow. We didn’t get fresh powder as we hoped, but once we were out there I really didn’t care. I loved that we were able to be in the mountains with 20 other people versus 2,000. I also found it very novel to actually get somewhere on alpine skis versus simply going up and down. The terrain we covered was challenging but by no means “extreme.” If you want to jump off a cornice or rappel a chute, hire a helicopter. Rolling might be a better way to describe Interconnect terrain. Fitness is key, however. Participants should be in good physical condition and be able to ski for a full day. I ski upwards of 30 days per season and was wiped out by the end of the day.
The Ski Utah Interconnect Adventure Tour operates daily from mid-December to mid-April, snow and weather conditions permitting, and is open to advanced or expert skiers only. (Long traverses make the tour miserable for snowboarders.) Cost is $295 per person and includes guide service, lunch, lift access, transportation back to point of origin and a finishers pin.
For details and to make reservations, visit skiutah.com or call 801-534-1907.