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  • CJ Wolf

Skiing Bonkers & Stairs Gulch

Updated: Mar 29

Fast Facts:

  • Start Elevation: 6,200

  • Finish Elevation: 5,800

  • Peak Elevation: ~10,600

  • Vertical: 5,060 (per strava)

  • Distance: 6.99 miles

  • Elapsed Time: 4:42

  • Date: Mar 8, 2024




I remember being on top of Hobbs Peak last winter and looking at Stairs Gulch and thinking that I would never want to ski Stairs because it is a massive avalanche runoff. But if the conditions are safe, this line is one of the longest, sustained verts in the entire Wasatch with a drop of almost 5,000 feet.


This season has been another good winter with total snow at Alta at 483" as of March 8th and after receiving several inches of snow over the the previous 4 days, the avalanche danger was low to moderate so it was the ideal time to check off some bigger lines.


The start and finish are not the same place. The start commences at the Broad's Fork trailhead at 6,200 and Stairs terminates near the Storm Mountain picnic area about a mile down the road at 5,800. Given the low elevation, the bottom part of Broad's Fork and Stairs is very thin even in a good snow season.



After skinning for about 2 miles and gaining 1,600, you enter into Broad's Fork proper and you are treat to amazing views of Dromedary, Sunset Peak and Twin Peak's.


And as you turn the corner near the meadow, the most beautiful of runs comes into view, BONKERS!. This run looks like a line that you would see in a Canadian helicopter brochure. It is wide open, no trees and the perfect 40 degree pitch that is sustained. Our objective of the day was just to ski Stairs but once we set our eyes on Bonkers, we simply couldn't say no.


Bonkers

We reached the saddle between Bonkers and Stairs in just under 2:30 hours and then we strapped out skis to our packs and booted up another ~400' to the top of Bonkers.





At the top of Bonkers, you got a great shot of the Northwest Couloir which is a gnarly line of Twin Peaks.


Northwest Couloir

We only skied the top section of Bonkers which was about 600' and on the skier's right side was a crevasse which I popped over.



We skinned back up to the saddle but we didn't boot to the top because the entrance from the very top is rocky and didn't look skiable so we entered from the saddle.


The top part of Stairs is a moderate 30-35 degree pitch and wide open.


Upper Stairs

It then starts to funnel down into an hour glass that rolls over a small icefalls. This required a small drop but nothing to be concerned about. After skiing through the icefalls, we did notice some lines to the skier's right of the falls so that is an option.


Icefalls


Once you get through the icefall funnel- it is smooth sailing with a very long, wide, low angle chute.




As we made our way down, the quality of the snow started to diminish below 8,000 due to sun exposure and freeze/thaw cycles.


At about 6,100, you come to creek crossing and after you cross, you hike down about a 1/4 of a mile to the road and hopefully you have your 2nd car parked in the Stairs Gulch parking lot.




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