Twin Lake Pass and Grizzly Gulch have just about everthing a gulch could offer. Because it has everything, it also (on weekends) has everyone. You can expect to see other ski tourers, heli skiers and even the one and only Cat Skiing operation left in the Wasatch. Do not let this discourage you, the skiing still tends to be worth while. Twin Lakes is also home to a series of steep chutes with huge cornices known as Wolverine Cirque. The best time of year to tour this area is in late April - May. This is when the resorts are closed and less people frequent the area. Even so it is not uncommon (espcially on powder days) to see dozens of other tourers on the trail.
Wolverine Cirque from Twin Lakes Twin Lakes Pass from the Brighton Side. May 2010 Skiing Twin Lakes Pass
There are 2 main routes to Twin Lakes Pass
1. Go up Little Cottonwood Canyon and park in the Grizzly Gulch parking lot. From here you can follow the cat road or the gully, your choice. Either way head up the gulch till you hit the pass.
Troy skinning up to the top of Grizzly Gulch. May 2010 Grizzly Gulch Troy skinning up Grizzly Gulch
2. Go up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton Ski Resort. From Brighton you should skin up to right of Mount Millicent to the lake known as Twin Lakes. Follow the powerlines from the lake till you hit the pass. Be sure to keep a close eye to the slide path on the right. Wet avalanches frequently come barreling down off of the steep slope here.
Twin Lakes Pass from the Brighton Side. May 2010 Troy skinning up from the base of Brighton
Decent Route Descriptions
There are many runs to choose from.........
Very steep but very short is Wolverine Cirque. The Granny Coulior is the popular run here (pictured center) and it usually has a poorly placed skin/boot track in it. The other popular couloirs here are The Huge Chute and The Bronco Couloir. Both are considered steep and avalanche prone but they are still very wide for their couloir nature and are both skiable almost year round.
Wolverine Cirque from Twin Lakes Wolverine Cirque
West Patsy Marley-
Longer and better than it looks, West Patsy Marley is good on powder days and even better in corn cycles. Some areas do have cliffs but they are easily avoidible. Just keep in mind that if you can not see over it.....it most likely is a cliff.
West Patsy Marley
Usually used as a skin route to Silver Fork, Matilda Bowl is perfect when the southerly faces are still holding their powder in mid winter. If you do catch this place in powder be wary of impending Alta Cat Skiers......they love this run and they do not mind dropping right on top of you.
Troy skinning up Matilda Bowl in Grizzly Gulch Troy skiing Matilda Bowl in Grizzly Gulch in January Matilda Bowl
Known by the Alta Cat Skiers as the "Freeland Area", it may not be as "free" of tracks as the name implies. The Cat skiing drop off point is located right at the top so usually it gets skied 1st and skied out quickly. Advice......get up super early for 1st tracks here.
Freeland area. Nov 7th, 2008
Twin Lakes Pass-
Looks can be deciving. This area may not be as steep as its neibors but does slide time to time. The best time of year to ski this pass is mid winter. Early season has tons of rocks and in the late season the snow warms up quickly.
Troy skiing Twin Lakes Pass in a thanksgiving day fog fest.
Avalanche skills, beacon, probe, partner and common sense. Skis are highly recommended.