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  • CJ Wolf

Skiing God's Lawnmower in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Fast Facts:

  • Start Elevation: 7,280

  • Peak Elevation: 9,863

  • Vertical: 3,093 (see Strava)

  • Distance: 5.56 miles

  • Elapsed Time: 2:59

  • Date: Mar 29, 2024

Whoever named this run God's Lawnmower - accurately described this line because it is a massive slide path that looked like the big guy himself cleared it out for skiers. As you drive up Big Cottonwood, this huge powder field makes any skier drool with anticipation.

But this line is steep and is very consequential when the avy danger is high. There are chutes and cliffs so if the top part slides, a avy could take out the entire width of the north face with no where to hide.

We were in the middle of an active snow cycle and the day we skied it, Solitude reported 13" of new snow. The avalanche danger on the day we skied it was Moderate above 9,500 and Considerable below that but the avy danger was new snow only.

We started at the Cardiff Fork /Mill D parking lot and at this time of year the gate is closed so you commences skinning along the road.

Skinning from the parking lot
Skinning along the road

Continue along the road until you reach the outhouse. If you go left, it will take you to Donut Falls but you want to go right towards Kessler Peak.

Outhouse near Donut Falls
Go right at the outhouse

At about 1.1 miles, you will turn right to start the steep ascent.

Steep ascent
Turn right off the road

The skinner up Kessler starts steep, remains steep and then gets really steep at the top so prepare yourself for a long 1.8 mile slog gaining 2,200 of vert from the turnoff at the summer road. The skinner faces east at the beginning giving access to great views of lines off the west side of Cardiff Fork along the Reed and Benson Ridge. At about the 2 mile point and 8,500 you hit the Patterson's Ridge of Kessler Peak and the switchbacks become shorter and steeper. The good news is that the ascent is in the trees so it is well protected and with the God's Lawnmower line off to your right and Kessler Slabs off to your left, there should be anyone skiing on top of you.

As you approach the top, it becomes too steep to skin so you can elect to ski from here as we did or you could boot to the top but from what I have read, the top is very rocky, steep and probably not worth it. When we got to our transition spot, another party of two was transitioning and lucky for us- they dropped into Kessler Slabs so we would be the first skiers into God's on this day. There are a couple of chutes to choose from but the one further out seemed to have some sluff build up in it so we choose the first chute on the skier's right of God's.

top of run
Top of run looking down

The first few turns are steep (40+ degrees) and I experienced some light sluffing but nothing concerning.

Looking up the ski run
Top of run looking up.

At about 400 vertical feet below the start is a cliff area and a choke but since 2024 was a good snow year- it was filled in and it skied great.

cliff bans
Choke area

Once you get through this section, the slope angle mellows out and it opens up allowing for some wide open, gentle powder turns.

Wide open field powder skiing
Open field section

Once you get below this open area at around 8,600, you will want to ski right (east) and cross back over your skin track along Patterson's Ridge and ski below Kessler Slabs which will take you back to the summer road that leads up Cardiff Fork.

Here is a visual of our line in red. The descent is about 1,300 ft from the start to where we cut east.

ski line
Our line in red

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