I have to thank Forrest Shearer, Ryland Bell, Kip Garre, and Jessie from Mountain Hardware. Now I know why this peak was recently name one of the 50 Classic Ski descents in North America, and why the South Face of Mount Superior in simply known as “the face” of the Wasatch to locals. If you’ve ever made turns at Alta or Snowbird you also know why. From certain perspectives it looks dead vertical. Rising over 3k vertical feet from Little Cottonwood Canyon’s access road Superior speaks to anyone who loves to slide down mountains. Some will never give it a second thought as far as a ski descent goes, some may think it’s too avalanche prone and rowdy to be safely skied, and then there’s others who routinely ride it simply because it is about as fine of a ski descent as you can find in the lower 48.
Last weekend I ventured from my happy home in Tahoe to Salt Lake City to work the scenes at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. But in all honesty, I was just as happy to have an excuse to ski something rad in the Wasatch as I was to network, talk the talk, and write about the many happenings centered on one of the largest annual gear gatherings in the world.
At first it seemed like I missed the boat. Initial reports were rain to the tops of most all the peaks in the greater Wasatch. “What the…HUH?” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t think that happened here. Kip just laughed and mused, “greatest snow in the world”, which was funny at the time, but also somewhat depressing because I thought that meant I was sandbagged from shredding anything fun on my visit. Thankfully I was mostly wrong, as all it took was the right combination of a few fresh inches and some wind to be back in business.
After a nice but not so pleasant ski tour out in Big Cottonwood Canyon, I was able to link up with Kip and Jessie to dawn patrol Superior before Jessie had to fly back to California.
Not expecting much, we were treated to glorious powder on Mount Superior’s shoulder. Unfortunately we were unable to get to the summit due to the time constraints of having to make Jessie’s flight, but the three of us were totally taken back at how good the skiing was. Smooth creamy powder, and beautiful sheltered snow that exploded in our faces as we rounded a turn near some pretty rock walls. The three of us were beyond stoked with the first real powder turns any of us had made in the last few weeks.
Jessie made his flight on time, and Kip had to bail back to Tahoe, so I headed off to the last day of the Trade Show not sure of what the next day would bring. I was hoping to go big, but had a tough time locking down a solid partner. I knew the snow was epic on Superior, so I figured why not just head out for the top and hopefully find a solid crew on the way. That’s when I clicked in to start skinning and casually started rapping with a guy whose stickers told me he had some connection with Jones snowboards.
Forrest asked me if I knew Ryland who just then appeared at the skin track as the three of us headed up. Although the snow didn’t look quite as good as what Kip, Jessie and I had skied the morning before, a single descender off the summit showed us the quality was still there.
Casually we walked and talked. For a solid backcountry peak the skin goes pretty fast before a bootpack takes its place just below the top of what’s known as Little Superior. The view from the ridge is ridiculous with lines we all wish we were on top of right now.
From the summit it was game on as Forrest laid out what he wanted to do. We pushed off down the ridge and headed for another quick boot up this nipple feature that held a few steep fingery spines that could only be best described as a little taste of AK. Ryland hit it fast and smooth and cruised over to a feature he and Forrest had set to meet back up. Then Forrest dropped in and instead of draining it under the cliff band like Ryland he pulled up and cut across the exposure to gain the top of what’s known as Pinball Alley. This might be one of the more fun short lines I’ve ever skied. It’s super tight, tight enough to make something like Terminal Cancer seem like a freeway, and steep enough to keep you on your toes. If you like to get walled in couloirs and chutes then this one is a must for anyone venturing out to Mt. Superior.
After I pointed it through the last section of Pinball Alley I cut over to the boys who were getting ready to do a short boot up to what’s known as the Suicide Chute. The name struck me as funny since Pinball Alley was way tighter and way steeper, but the Suicide Chute was about as fun as it gets. Forest just killed it. He surfed the walls like a perfect point break wave that’s lined up for days, while Ryland kicked up ridiculous clouds of pow on every turn he made. They actually both disappeared in the chute for multiple seconds because the clouds they were kicking up were at least double-overhead and stayed suspended in the chute while they kept riding. It was an amazing thing to watch these two shredders float their way down this powder drenched chute, and I had just as much fun when it was my turn.
Already blown away with the quality of the snow, terrain selection, and overall fun we were having on our run I couldn’t believe how good the last pitch to the road was. Forrest and Ryland peeled off to a little cliff zone shot while I just kept going and drained it to the road. It was the best turns and run I’ve had since our last storm in Tahoe. I’m still totally blown away by how good it was. I can’t wait to get back to Utah and Mt. Superior, and I trust any of you out there looking for something fun will be just as stoked if you can catch this major classic in good snow with stability in the future. Mother Superior is certainly no joke and should be on the hit list for anyone looking to get after it in the Wasatch, depending on conditions, and will be the first thing I go back to hit again given the opportunity. I just hope I don’t have to wait till the next year’s trade show. Actually, anyone feel like heading to Utah this weekend?