The American Fork Twins Overview
The American Fork Twin Peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon are home to some of the steeper more avalanche prone slopes of the Wasatch. This mountain has 5 different sides that to drop into Mary Ellen Gulch, Gad Valley, Silver Creek, Mineral Basin and White Pine Fork, there is always an untracked line somewhere on these peaks. Both Mineral Basin and Gad Valley are technically owned by Snowbird so do not drop into this area when it is closed....they will arrest those who do.
The American Fork Twins from Miller Hill (Mary Ellen Gulch) The American Fork Twins from Mount Superior
Getting Up There
From Gad Valley and White Pine Fork use......
The Temptation Ridge (North Ridge) divides Snowbird's Gad Valley from White Pine Fork. This route is definately one of the harder, more dangerous as well as one of the least practicle ways to gain the summit of the American Fork Twin Peaks/Red Top Mountain. Anyone choosing this route can expect to encounter avalanche exposure! Be aware that Snowbird does do avalanche control on their side of the ridge time to time. Make sure that if the Snowbird's backcountry gates are closed (check their website) that you do not drop into Snowbird Ski Resort. You will be arrested! If you have made this journey on skis the suggested decent line of choice is drop into the Tri Chutes or The Birthday Chutes (on the White Pine Fork side 3/4 of the way up the ridge). Temptation Ridge is not the best of routes up the AF Twins/Red Top, but it definately has some unique views as well as some of the more classic ski runs that the Wasatch has to offer.
The Pfiefferhorn from Temptation Ridge The American Fork Twins from Temptation Ridge Troy hiking up Temptation Ridge
The Bullion Divide-
If you are comming from Snowbird this is the most practicle way to gain the American Fork Twin Peaks summit. Make sure it is open before you start climbing up. Snowbird will arrest those who ignore the closed signs.
The section of the Bullion Divide that leads to the summit The West Twin from the summit of the East Twin The view from the West American Fork Twin
If your comming from Tibble Resivor use.......
Mary Ellen Gulch-
There are two ways to get into Mary Ellen Gulch. The easiest of the 2 would be to start at Snowbird. Ski down Mineral Basin past the lowest chairlift. Go past a small bridge until you hit the boundry rope and start the short but steep uphill skin to the ridge. The second choice is the harder and forever approach is from Tipple Fork Resivor in American Fork Canyon. Take it from me, this route is a better exit rather than entrance, plus a good snow year at the lower elevations is needed.
Way # 1- Troy skinning up to Mary Ellen Gulch from Snowbird Way #2 Troy skinning along the Mary Ellen ridge line
Ski Route Descriptions
There are several ski routes to choose from.............
GAD VALLEY RUNS..........................
1. The Pipeline Couloir- Despite being seen by just about every skier at Snowbird, this Wasatch Gem usually never sees much traffic mid winter. When Snowbird is open this couloir is usually not. Snowbird will arrest those who ignore the closed signs. Every year Snowbird opens up the gates around May so get it while you can if its open. By that time of year the chute is filled in and usually is easier than it looks from a far. Still, falling is highly discouraged at the crux area near the entrance.
The Pipeline Couloir in May Looking down The Pipeline Couloir.
2. Baldy Bowl- A known avalancher, this run is usually closed when the rest of the ridge is open. These series of chutes are shorter than they look so keep that in mind if you are planning on skiing this one. They become longer and more couloir like the higher you climb up Temptation Ridge.
Troy skiing Baldy Bowl Ron charges a chute on Baldy Bowl
3. Temptation Chutes- These chutes are more protected from the sun and take a lot longer to stable out. However these lines are only 500-700 vertical feet so a run down one of these chutes is short lived. Still if you can catch this area perfect powder conditions, it is sure to please any powder lover.
A small avalanche I triggered on the Temptation Chutes The American Fork Twins with some of the Temptation Chutes in view
WHITE PINE FORK RUNS........
1. The Tri Chutes-The Tri-Chutes- Just off the Temptation Ridge there are 3 avalanche gullies that come together and form the Tri-Chutes. The top is not always filled in and the snow amounts here varry from storm to storm. More often than not this run does require a traverse to get into.
The Tri Chutes Troy hiking back for one more on the Tri Chutes
2. Long John Silver- Right off of Red Top is Long John Silver. This run is long, steep and conditions permiting. Be carefull..... A man died here when he lost his footing on an icy day and slid to his death. Enjoy with caution.
Long John Silver from Red Baldy
3. Scotties Bowl- Within sight of the White Pine parking lot lies Scottys Bowl. This bowl (more like a series of rollovers and gullies) usually looks like a resort mid-season but if your lucky enough to get it first it can be worth your while.
MARY ELLEN RUNS...
1. Mary Ellen Bowl- In Mary Ellen Gulch this bowl is definatly conditions permiting. Usually best to takle this one in late spring when the snowpack is deep and stable. Look for the fattest chute and watch out for all the cornices.........This area has tons of them.
The top of what some would call Marry Ellen Bowl Troy skinning along the Mary Ellen ridge line with Marry Ellen Bowl in the background
2. The Double Y Chutes- These chutes are short but very steep. Best time of year for these chutes is in late spring. During the mid winter months snowmobilers can make these chutes resemble that of a ski resort.
The Double Y Chutes The Double Y Chutes
3. The Mary Ellen Super Chute- You will have to do some long ridge skiing to get to this beauty but when you get there you'll see what is so super about this chute.
The Mary Ellen Super Chute
SILVER CREEK RUNS (COMMING SOON)......
Essential GearAvalanche knowlage, beacon, probe, shovel, a partner and common sense. Skis are highly recommended.
A large avalanche in Baldy Bowl A small avalanche I triggered in the Temptation Chutes