Mt. Aire Ski Attempt
As you drive over Parley’s Summit on Highway 80 heading east to SLC, you are treated to a beautiful vista of Mt. Aire. Every time I drive to SLC in the winter, I fantasize about skiing this mountain. The east facing lines draw you in and are beckoning you to ski them. It is not the tallest peak in the area at only 8,621 but after seeing these gorgeous lines so many times as you drive by- one becomes mesmerized by them. And after a nice dump of fresh snow you occasionally see some marvelous ski tracks right in the heart of the mountain which only further compels you to be the next one to make your mark on this peak.
We received about 6” of new snow on March 14, 2019 so I rallied two buddies, Jeff & Jim,
to ski this peak with me. Jeff and I had toured off the backside of the Canyons together before and Jim and I had skied a few times at Snowbird. Both of these guys are very strong skiers with solid backcountry acumen but none of us had skied Mt. Aire. I have summited this peak before but I did it in the fall and I ascended it from the Mill Creek side so my limited knowledge of this peak was worthless since we would be skinning up from the Lambs Canyon trailhead.
We meet at the Lambs Canyon exit at day break as we knew it was going to be a warm, sunny spring day so we wanted to get the pow before the sun baked it. Some of the online reports about this peak said to head west from the parking lot and skin along the fence line but we misinterpreted those directions and we headed south along the closed Lambs Canyon road. After skinning for about 30 minutes, we debated if we were going the right way to get to the top of Mt. Aire but we continued along the road nonetheless. After about 1.5 miles of skinning along the road, we came to a trailhead that had a skin track so we elected to take it. This ascent was rather steep and shaded by the tight trees. After about another mile of skinning, we reached the ridge and we now knew that we had taken the wrong route to ski Mt. Aire but we were still determined to make the most of our tour.
We started heading west and came upon a short drop that required us to pull the skins off and make a few turns. I always hate de-skinning to only have to put your skins back on to continue up. Once on the other side of this dip, we continued west until we finally got to the northern side of the mountain. We probably still could have reached the summit of Mt. Aire but it would have been challenging and would have taken at least another hour. Plus the ridge we were on offered some nice lines so we decided to make some fresh tracks down a welcoming spine.
The top part of the run offered several nice turns and then the run had a small rollover which continued to provide solid skiing. After the rollover, the run headed down towards a ravine and that is where the fun stopped and the bushwhacking began. We were now below 8,000 feet and the spring sun had been cooking the snow for a few hours so the snow became very heavy and it actually started to stick to my skis which made for slow going. My buddies offered some good advice to use a credit card and remove the snow from the bottom of my skis which worked wonders. We continued to make slow progress through the tight trees which only seemed to get worse as we made our way towards the road. After some sidestepping and cutting down branches, we finally emerged onto the groomed road.
We didn’t achieve our goal of skiing from the summit of Mt. Aire but we still found a nice stash and any day in the mountains with buddies is a good one. Moreover, we know now the correct way to get to Mt. Aire for the upcoming season which will be mandatory.