Beyond The Bird
Author: Jenny Wilden
Published Date: 12/24/2019
Read Time: 3 Minutes
Venture into Snowbird’s untouched backcountry terrain with Snowbird Mountain Guides.
You’ve skied the bowls of Mineral Basin, taken face shots in Gad Valley and raced from the top of the Tram, but have you ever ventured into Snowbird’s untouched backcountry terrain? Up the ante on your skication with a backcountry tour, snowcat or heli-ski experience—all beginning at the base of The Bird.
Unparalleled access is the hallmark of Snowbird’s backcountry offerings.
“I can’t think of any other Utah resort offering all these experiences with this type of access,” says Spencer Storm, Director of Operations for Powderbird.
And you don’t need to be a pro to go. “Advanced skiers who love the powder will enjoy one or all of these experiences,” says Storm. “If you’re comfortable skiing at Snowbird, you’d be comfortable on these tours.”
So whether it’s your first or 50th time skiing The Bird, stretch your ski boundaries this season with a trio of guided backcountry adventures.
Guided Backcountry Skiing
Earn your turns while safely navigating avalanche terrain during a full-day tour into the forest lands of American Fork Canyon. Work for every run, hiking in touring gear to advanced slopes and virgin powder on this exhilarating, educational adventure.
Longing to ski the backcountry, but don’t want to hike? Snowbird Snowcat Skiing is the perfect intro. “No backcountry experience is required,” says Storm. “Clients have a first experience with us and really progress.”
Now in its sixth season, expert guides know where safe stashes are hiding, helping to maximize your powder play by carting you up the slopes fast—no touring skis required.
But set your alarm early: snowcat days kick off at 7:30 am with a hearty breakfast at The Forklift. Next, skip the line and catch a pre-public Tram, whizzing to the 11,000-foot summit of Hidden Peak in under 10 minutes.
At the top, watch ski patrollers ready the mountain for opening. Then stretch your ski legs with private powder runs or corduroy groomers in Mineral Basin before loading into a snowcat. Destination: thousands of acres of private property in upper American Fork Canyon. Ski or ride the wonders of Mary Ellen Gulch, the aspens of Miller Hill and north-facing Pagan Basin while warming up in the cat between runs.
Backcountry safety training and gear is included. Once the snowcat tour wraps at 1 pm, use the included Snowbird lift ticket to keep skiing until the lifts stop spinning—if your legs can handle it.
Powderbird Helicopter Skiing
Flying daily from the base of Snowbird, Powderbird is the only heli-skiing operation on the planet within 45 minutes of an international airport. Arguably offering the world’s most accessible heli-skiing, Powderbird has made the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest its domain for over 40 years and are masters at finding powder and spectacular alpine views.
For skiers and snowboarders, a 7 am phone call means suit up; it’s time to fly. Enjoy breakfast at the heliport, and once outfitted with airbag packs, beacons, shovels and probes, you’ll fly up to untouched trees and steeps.
While you don’t have to be an expert skier or snowboarder, advanced skills allow you to make the most of the heli-ski experience. Once back at the heliport, relive the day’s best turns at an après party with lunch, beers and cheers with guests and guides.
About the Author
Jenny Willden is a Salt Lake City native, the editor of Utah's Outdoor Sports Guide magazine, and a freelance writer. She fell in love with Snowbird as a tiny tyke skiing through Miner’s Camp, and still thinks there’s no better place on a powder day than riding through Gad Valley’s trees.