Skiing Reids Peak in the Uintas
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Who says the ski “season” ends when the lifts stop spinning? 2019 was an epic snow year with Snowbird receiving 690 inches so spring skiing could be had into June if you were willing to work for it.
I have had this burning desire to ski from one of the peaks in the Unitas before the ski season came to an end so on June 7th, Sean and I fired up our snowmobiles one last time and headed towards Reids Peak. Reids and Bald Mountain are essentially the same mountain with only a saddle separating the two peaks. I was in this zone a few weeks ago and I circumnavigated both of these peaks looking for a safe and fun line to ski. At the southwest corner of Reids I found the spot that still had a healthy snowpack and a steep pitch.
We drove up Mirror Lake Highway (MLH) until we reached the snow line which was just based Murdock Basin Rd. The snow pack was very spotty at the beginning with long patches of pavement in between the snow and it was very rutty & bumpy.
However, after about a mile it smoothed out and we took MLH up to the top of the pass and then exited towards Reids Peak. We traversed a few miles on our sleds and we had to be attentive as the frozen lakes were starting thaw so we hugged the shoreline. We pulled the sleds to the bottom of our ski line and began our ~500 vertical feet climb to the top of the southern shoulder of Reids. We elected not to ski from the summit as it was late in the season and therefore the thinning snow pack exposed a great deal of obstacles plus skiing from the summit required skiing above a 100+ foot cliff and then traversing to the west to ski around it. As such, we decided to error on the side of caution and hike/ski the shoulder. It was about 11 AM and the nightly freeze was just starting to loosen up but you still had to kick your boot into the snow to grab a toe hold.
The slope got progressively steeper as we ascended and as we approached the top it was quite nerve-racking because if you fell on this 40-45 degree pitch- you would be going for a rough tumble down a pinball alley. At this moment I made a mental note to myself to buy a pair of crampons and ice axe for the next season as I don’t want to be boot packing up a slippery slope again without proper traction.
When we reached the top, our vantage point was to the west thus providing great views of the Notch Mountain and Mt. Watson.
The snow was still “firmish” and given the steep angle of the slope, we had to hold each other’s skis in order for our partner to be able to step down on the skis without sending it down the steep chute. Our strategy was to have one skier go halfway down the run and pull off to the side so he could keep eyes on the other skier for the entire run. Sean drew the short straw and went first making silky smooth turns before stepping aside. Since I provided the sleds, I got to take the run top to bottom! The sun had softened up the snow on this south facing slope to perfection which provided smooth, buttery turns. Even though the run was short, the steepness of the line made it extremely exhilarating. There is something very rewarding about skiing a line that you reckoned, conducted online research about, then snowmobiled to, then hiked it and then nailed the run. It is the culmination of a lot of preparation which makes it so very gratifying.