Slader Ridge - Hells Kitchen Ridge 2/17/08

Slader Ridge - Hells Kitchen Ridge 2/17/08

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 40.73217°N / 111.045°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Feb 17, 2008
Activities Activities: Skiing
Seasons Season: Winter


Hells KitchenElusive Hells Kitchen Ridge. View from Duke Mtn. March 2007

Whenever we'd ski by Smith and Morehouse Lake, I couldn't help looking across the frozen lake to the East and wondering what it looks like two or three thousand feet up there, beyond the overgrown steep sides of the canyon of SM Creek. The only officially described trail that way is going into Hells Kitchen, a couple miles upstream from the lake, and then it is not much of a trail to say the truth. It almost looks like one can't possibly get from here to there!
Desolate backcountry of Upper Mid Fork WeberElusive Hells Kitchen Ridge. View from East Long Mtn. February 2007

The better-used trails to Slader Ridge and Gardners Basin all fan out of Holiday Park, which is a long, long way past the end of plowed road in winter. So to ski to the ridges towering right above Smith and Morehouse Lake on summer trails, one would need to log as much as 15 miles one-way, first East to Holiday Park and then back West. Clearly, one needs better options!

A few years back I went for my first recon trip up there, skiing from Ledgefork up Broad Canyon, briefly traversing the headwall of South Fork Slader Creek, and gliding South into Gardners Fork, all the way to Rhoades Lake. Then a year and half back, we made a Slader - Gardners loop out of Holiday Park after the first snowfalls, and before the road closed for the winter.

With the visual impressions of these trips, and a careful study of topo maps, aerials, an satellite images. I was ready to try a set of new routes East of S&M. This winter's abundant snowcover should make it a lot more fun!

Slader Ridge

View of Slader Ridge from SM turnoffSlader Ridge - view from the road gate
Weber River ValleyWeber River Valley - looking back

From Thousand Peaks Gate, one can see what looks like an alluvial fan spreading out of Slader Ridge a couple miles to the East. There, some 3 or 4 hundred ft above the valley bottom, a large glade holds keys for ascending to Slader Ridge from the North.

We ski across the flats for about a mile and enter the open aspens on a slowly ascending former logging route. The road continues into spruce forests and into a large open area at 8,000 ft elevation. A large barren hill stands in the middle. The road skirts it on the left and forks, with the right fork switching back to the South-West and climbing several hundred ft to the vicinity of Slader's West Ridge.
Hill 10,195Hill 10,195
Steep section of ascent to Slader RidgeSteep woods

But today is an exploratory trip and we are free to try whatever route we like more. So we just head straight up the major drainage behind the barren hill. Soon the West side of the drainage rises in steep boulderfields and cliffbands, and the first summit of Slader Ridge, Hill 10,195, looms ahead. We stay East of the possible avalanche runouts, and, as the forest thins at higher elevation, we enjoy the views at the headwall of "our" creek ahead of us, and at Windy Ridge behind.
Looking back on the way up SladerWindy Ridge behind us
North Bowl of Hill 10,242North slope of Hill 10,242

A sunny breakfast stop at the base of a glade at 10,000 ft elevation, and then our track zigzags right to the high point of the ridge.
Hill 10,242Final section of ascent to Hill 10,242

At the base pf Hill 10,242Sunny spot for breakfast
Breaking trail near the top of 10,242Breaking trail near the ridgeline

What a view from up here! 360 degrees and all the way to the Wasatch in the West and Hayden Peak in the East!
View ESE from Hill 10,242Hayden Peak on the horizon
Descent East from Hill 10,242Descent from Hill 10,242

Sharon on Slader RidgeDescent along the ridgeline

Windy RidgeView to Windy Ridge
Map session at a slope overlooking N Fk Slader CreekCharting our course around Slader Canyon

Very steep slope to our South drops 2,000 ft into the gorge of Slader Creek. We need to bypass this deep chasm, and also the valley of its right-hand tributary, on the East.
Duke and Hoyt on the skylineDuke and Hoyt on the skyline
Circling around N Fk Slader CanyonAround the head of North Fork Slader Creek

A gently descending glide through open forest and meadows brings us to the base of the rounded ridge separating the forks of Slader Creek. Just a bit of altitude to gain, and a fun glide continues SSE into main Slader Basin. South of the creek, we ski along an old logging road. Not a single snowmachine track today in this famed and motor-legal but quite remote corner of Uintas!
Crossing N Fk Slader CkCrossing North Fork Slader Creek

Old logging road on the South side of Slader BasinOld road in Slader Basin

Finally, at the edge of the glades footing the rocky escarpment of lower Hells Kitchen Ridge, it's time to skin up again - and to have lunch. The day have been shaping up perfectly, but now we barely got two hours left to recon the route to Hells Kitchen if we want to be on the road before darkness.

Hells Kitchen Ridge

Hill 10,586 of Hells Kitchen RidgeHill 10,586 ahead
Hells Kitchen RidgeHells Kitchen Ridge

We gain the ridge at about 9,700 ft altitude and quickly ascend beyond the 10,000 mark. Here our route briefly intersects my old track to Rhoades Lake. The ridge drops steeply into South Fk Slader Creek on the left. Then the trees part and on the top of a bouldery Hill 10,586, Gardner Basin opens to the East.
Sharon and Judy on Hill 10,586Sharon and Judy on Hill 10,586

Looking back NW from Hill 10,586Looking back from Hill 10,586
Slader Ridge, and Windy Ridge beyondDark Slader Ridge, white Windy Ridge

"Our" ridge curves around Gardner Basin, with the 11,000er high points still over a mile ahead, as the crow flies.
On the ridge above Gardner BasinOverlooking Gardner Basin
View North from Hill 10,586Hill 10,770, and its taller mates to the left

Now we have to loose altitude before we switchback again to Hill 10,770, where we can finally see the chasm of Hells Kitchen ahead of us, and Cone and Wall Peaks beyond. The time is almost 4 pm though, and we gotta turn back.
Rob at the high point of the tourRob on Hill 10,770

Hells Kitchen RidgeHells Kitchen Ridge
Skins off time at 10,770Skins off!

Instead of regaining altitude back to Hill 10,586, we chart a different, no-ascents-needed route towards Smith and Morehouse Lake. The barren white Westerly spine of Hill 10,586 drops into a wide timbered saddle before rising again to Hill 10,348. We are going to cross over there, and to ski into Broad Canyon on the other side.
Cone and Wall PeaksView towards Cone Peak

Hill 10,348 (lower center)Hill 10,348
Alpenglow on Windy RidgeOn the lake at last!

A fantastic power glide into the wide bowl, and we contour just below 10,400 level, until the tree-less ridge ahead beacons us to the pass. Then the fun continues. Open trees, soft powder, rock outcroppings lit by low afternoon Sun. We approach 9,600 contour with some trepidation, since the horizontals thicken there, but it turns out to be yet another nice glide.

Finally, we are on familiar ground, at the bottom of Broad Canyon. Back when I was here before, it was a complicated affair of downed trees, brush, and crusted spots, but today the snow is a lot thicker and softer, and we are making good progress.

Just as the setting Sun lits the slopes of Windy Ridge, we exit the narrows and head across the lake. Once the alpenglow fades, the ridges are lit again with the soft reflected light of the glowing clouds - and then the Moon casts warm-hued shadows across the last two-miler section of the road. The snowmachines are gone for the day, and the glide towards our carpark is nice and easy.
Windy Ridge glowing with the reflected light of sunset cloudsReflected glow on Windy Ridge

The secrets of the high country up above Smith-Morehouse Reservoir are finally unlocked!

Route track

Route mapMap by ZeeJay


Approximately 15 miles, almost all of it previously unexplored terrain.

4500 ft total elevation gain.

No named peaks, but a whole slew of unnamed 10,000ers: 10,242 (the highest point on the ridgeline of Slader's), 10,210, 10,006, 10,586, and finally 10,770, our highest ski-on, ski-off summit for the season.

10 and half hours trip time.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-3 of 3

tanya - Feb 21, 2008 4:38 pm - Voted 10/10

Very Nice!

Excellent job as always :)

Dmitry Pruss

Dmitry Pruss - Feb 25, 2008 6:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Very Nice!

Thanks Tanya, it remained an unfinished business and it kind of weighed on me - but we've just completed the remainder of the ridge and it sure feels nice :)


tanya - Feb 25, 2008 11:35 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Very Nice!

You are like me... you MUST finish what you begin! :)

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



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