Mount Superior Skiing

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.59130°N / 111.6713°W
Additional Information Route Type: Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Sign the Climber's Log

Skiing Mount Superior...A personal favorite (Overview)

Mount Superior has some of the greatest views, climbing and skiing that the Wasatch has to offer. In fact, Mount Superior is one of the most iconic mountains of the Wasatch Range. Because of these reasons you will most likely not the only one on the mountain. On any given day you could run into heli skiers, snowmobiles, guided tours (no need really) and every snow artist there is(skier and splitboarder alike) at play. Despite being popular, the excellent "big mountain feel" type skiing, a relativly short hike and dramatic vistas are sure to make you forget about the crowds. There are too many ski possiblities to count so this page will have some of the more popular lines that this mountain has to offer to the eager big mountain skier.
Mt SuperiorMount Superior's North Face
Mount SuperiorMount Superior's South Face
Mt SuperiorMount Superior's South Face

Heli in CartiffHeli in Cartiff

Getting up to Mount Superior

There are 2 major ways to climb up to Mount Superior. The recommened way to get to this area is by Little Cottonwood Canyon. This trail is shorter and more direct. However if the avalanche danger on the north facing hills is too high, Mill D South in Big Cottonwood is the safer option. Tourer beware......this trail crosses several slide paths.

Big Cottonwood Canyon-The longer and more senic route to Mount Superior is Mill D South. To get here start by driving up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Drive up until you come up on the Reynolds Flat. Park on the left side of the highway and start the long skin up. Keep to the right if and when you come on any cross roads and keep out of the private property and many old abandoned mine structures that line this trail. This is not the usual way up to Mount Superior but it can have its scenic moments.
Troy skinning up Cardiff Fork with Kessler Peak in the backgroundTroy skinning up Mill D South
The Mill D South TrailheadThe Mill D South Trailhead
Mt Superior and Monte Cristo from Reynolds PeakMount Superior from Reynolds Peak.
Cardiac RidgeA scenic moment in Cartiff Fork
Troy skinning up upper Mill D SouthTroy skinning up Upper Mill D South
Troy skinning up Mill D SouthTroy skinning up Mill D South

Little Cottonwood Canyon This is the shorter more practical way to tackle Mount Superior. Start by heading up Little Cottonwood Canyon until you hit the town of Alta. Just after the Collins Parking lot there should be a resturant named "The Shallow Shaft". The trail starts here. Follow the well established skin track along the powerlines all the way up to the pass.
Skinning up to Cardiff PassSkinning up to Cartiff Fork
Skinning up the 3 o clock slide pathTroy and Ron skinning up to Cartiff Pass and beyond.
Mount SuperiorJust above the parking lot for Mount Superior

Ski Route Descriptions (from a personal experience)

DOWN ROUTES Superior has many ski oppertunities to choose from............

1. Mount Superior's South Face- This is the line of choice for anyone choosing to tour this mountain. A decent off of the main summit is nothing but 2,900+ vertical feet of pure bliss till you hit the LCC highway. Best to scout out your line before hand (ya there are some cliffs) and a picture for navigating purposes might just come in handy.
Mt SuperiorRon on the upper South Face
Mt SuperiorMe on the summit shortly before dropping in
Mt SuperiorLooking down the line of choice
Mount SuperiorThe South Face of Mount Superior
Mount SuperiorMount Superior's South Face

Hellgates Backbowl and The Two Trees Slide Path

2. Hellgates Backbowl- Known by UDOT as Hellgates Backbowl and The Two Trees Slide Path, these series of west and south facing slide paths are great for early morning corn runs or, when conditions are absoultly stable, spring powder runs. Each runs starts out on an expansive face, then narrows down into a tight gully complete with rocky walls. As you loose elevation you will find yourself at a choke point...then the run will open up onto the lower apron. Use caution when bulleting down on the last run out apron. The debries from the seasons avalanches are lurking just under the snow and can throw you out of your skis when you last expect it. If going here early season be sure you scout out your line from below before you drop in. Not every chute is skiable early season. Even late season there can be rocks in places that would make most skiers regret dropping in.
Hellgates BackbowlHellgates Backbowl and The Two Trees Slide Path
Skiing Hellgates BackbowlNeils skiing Hellgates Backbowl

The Suicide Couloir

3. The Suicide Chute- Not as scary as the name implies but it should still be respected. If you love couloirs that have a double fall line type feel than this chute is right up your alley. Great in mid-winter but is even better late season when all the other couloirs in the Wasatch are too suncupped/runneld out to ski. From Alta one would wonder just how a skier could decend it...let alone climb straight up it. However this couloir is not nearly as steep as it looks from a distance.
Skiing the Suicide ChuteLooking down into the Suicide Chute
Splitboarding Suicide CouloirLiam splitboarding the Suicide Chute
Climbing the Suicide ChuteTroy bootpacking into the Suicide Chute
Suicide ChuteThe Suicide Chute

Cardiac Bowl

4. Cardiac Bowl- Out of all the runs to choose from on Mount Superior Cardiac Bowl is usually the most popular. Because of its north facing nature this bowl tends to hold the best snow, the most crowds and is often quite skiable through July.
Cardiac BowlCardiac Bowl June 24th 2008
Mt SuperiorMount Superior's North Face (Cardiac Bowl)
Skinning into the sun?Ron skinning up to Cardiac Bowl

The Black Knob

5. Black Knob- Black Knob aka Little Superior is perfect for when your too early for the south facing slopes or when you looking for some prime O powder. First tracks here is well worth your while.
Skinning into the sun?Ron skinning up tward the Black Knob
Black Knob (aka Little Superior) My first and only tracks on the Black Knob

Cardiac Ridge

6. Cardiac Ridge- This steep and obvious east face is located just down ridge of Mount Superior's summit. This line is big but at the same time very popular. To get first tracks here you better be a dawn patroller. Use caution here......several people have be caught, carried and burried in avalanches on this run.
My tracks on Cardiac RidgeMy early season tracks on Cardiac Ridge
Cardiac RidgeCardiac Ridge
Troy skiing Cardiac RidgeTroy skiing Cardiac Ridge
Ron skinning up to Cardiac RidgeRon skinning up to Cardiac Ridge
Ron skinning up Cardiac RidgeRon skinning up Cardiac Ridge

The Lightning Bolt Apron

7. The lightning Bolt Apron- This big east facing apron (located inbetween the summit of Mt Superior and Cardiac Ridge) is one of the more dangerous and least tracked slopes in Mill D South. Containing 2 couloirs (The Lightning Bolt and The Wyatt Couloirs) this place is usually skied by only the pros. Depending on the time of year there can be a nice cliff waiting for you on your decent down the Lightning Bolt Couloir. The cliff is huckable (seen a snowboarder huck it and land with the grace of a big bird) but it is best avoided. The apron its self is usually the decent of choice for your average backcountry skier.
The Lightning Bolt CouloirThe Lightning Bolt Couloir (hence why they call the place The Lightning Bolt Apron
The Lightning Bolt ApronThe Lightning Bolt Apron

Some Other Ski Routes in the Area..........

1. Holy Toledo- This big west face located in upper Mill D South makes a great entrance run into Cartiff Fork. This open face can be heaven on a powder day. The approach is short, the turns are forever and there is usually a line left over after a crowded weekend. A must do if your in the area. It starts somewhat narrow and before you know it, it opens up into a pleasent face for the rest of the run. To get to this one skin up Toledo Bowl insted of following the powerlines up to Cartiff Pass. Enjoy this one......we sure did.
Skinning up the 3 o clock slide pathTroy and Ron skinning up to Toledo Bowl.

Mt BaldyTroy skinning up Toledo Bowl
Skiing Holy ToledoTroy skiing Holy Toledo
Skiing FlagstaffTroy skiing Holy Toledo.

2. High Ivory area- The High Ivory area (Ivory Tower, Ivory Flakes, Tyrons and the High Ivory face) are the last of the more obvious runs that dominate Mill D South. There are as many approaches as decent lines and the skin track up to it varies with every user. My advice, stick to the trees till you hit the ridge and then stick to the ridge.
Skinning up High IvoryRon skinning up High Ivory
High IvoryFrom left to right: Ivory Tower, Ivory Flakes, Tyrons and High Ivory
Ivory Tower, Ivory Flakes, High Ivory.....Ivory Tower, Ivory Flakes, Tyrons, High Ivory

3. The Hallway Couloir- On the eastern side of Mill D South lies a west facing couloir known by most as The Hallway Couloir. Personally I prefer to climb this couloir from the base and the easiest way to find the base is to look for some old left over mining structures. This couloir can sometimes see lots of traffic but if you catch it on a sunny weekday afternoon you can count on being alone.
The Hallway CouloirThe Hallway Couloir
Cartiff Mining StructureThe old mining structure you should be looking for

Essential Gear

Avalanche Skills, Beacon, Probe, Shovel, Partner/s and Common Sense are all a must on this mountian. Skis are highly recommended.
Mount SuperiorA late afternoon view of Mt Superior. May 09
Mount Superior comming out of the..........Mount Superior comming out of the clouds