PERUVIAN GULCH, AERIAL TRAM, LITTLE CLOUD BOWL, MINERAL BASIN, HIDDEN PEAK, THE CIRQUE
Trails: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert
Overview – Peruvian Gulch – Mineral Basin Powder Watch – Little Cloud Bowl – Road to Provo – Mineral Basin – Lunch @ The Summit – The Cirque – Gad Chutes – Return to Base
1. 9:15 AM – Warming up in Peruvian Gulch
Silver Fox & The Peruvian Lift
The tram line can be long, especially in powdery conditions, so it’s wise to consider beginning your day on the Peruvian Express Quad. If it is, indeed a powder day, this is a great vantage point to keep an eye on the progress of avalanche control in Mineral Basin so you can use the Tunnel (an underground conveyor belt) to quickly dip back for first tracks. While you wait for Mineral to open, take Chip’s Run as a warm-up lap. Once you hit the flats you can catch Lower Silver Fox. There can be bumps here if fresh snow hasn’t been in the forecast. Chip’s Face is a fun, but steep double-fall line slope, with epic cross-canyon views that will return you to either Peruvian or the Aerial Tram. While lapping Peruvian, be sure to knock out the natural half-pipe of Hot Lips Gully, Think Young (aka Anderson’s,) and the very steep Middle Men’s Downhill.
**A word of warning here, beware entering any red gates with black diamond signs, Snowbird is notoriously stuffed full of cliff bands and rocky chutes; you can quickly find yourself in a real predicament, especially in early season conditions.
2. 10:45AM – Little Cloud Bowl & Road to Provo
The biggest challenge in creating memories of a lifetime at Snowbird lies in your sense of timing. Time your vacation and rope drops perfectly and you’ll literally have the best day of your life. Miss the rope drops, and well…it will still be amazing, but approaching the mountain with a sense of flexibility is key. A keen ear can listen and interpret the progress of ski patrol running routes across the various sections of the mountain. Keeping tabs on their progress can increase your tally of rope drops and face shots. Be willing to instantly change plans if you witness a patroller dropping a rope or hear a tip from a local. You should never duck ropes at Snowbird (P.S. you should never duck ropes anywhere) but especially not at Snowbird because the steep terrain is highly prone to avalanching. The roped off, untracked powder can appear SO tempting, but it is imperative to respect ski patrol and allow them to complete avalanche mitigation first, making the terrain safe for you to ski or shred. If Mineral is a go—skip to Step 3.
If Ski Patrol is still bombing Mineral Basin, pop in line for the tram to spend some time in Little Cloud Bowl. Disembark atop Hidden Peak and take the cat track adjacent to the tram cables to bag Regulator Johnson. This steep, double-fall line pitch is a classic Snowbird descent with moguls to either side; see if you can ski to the base of the Little Cloud Lift without stopping. Ride Little Cloud back to the top and if Mineral is still closed make moves down Road to Provo. This cat track accesses numerous runs in Little Cloud Bowl. Any of these shots are steep, deep, and long. On fine days, Mark Malu Fork may be groomed, but don’t count on it in tempestuous weather. Rasta Chutes is excellent if the access gate into the neighboring bowl is open. Lap Little Cloud until it’s proper time to strike gold in Mineral Basin.
3. 11:30 AM – Mineral Basin & Powder Paradise
If storms have rolled through and powder is ready for the plundering, see if you have the strength and speed to conquer the epic Bookends Traverse to Powder Paradise in Mineral Basin. This crown jewel of Snowbird’s powdery terrain shouldn’t be missed. Mineral Basin is great because it’s fairly wide open and easy to navigate in clear conditions. Orient yourself and pick lines as you ride up on Mineral Basin Express. Directly across from the top of the Little Cloud Lift (on the Mineral Basin Side) is Lone Star, bear right if you can to avoid the High Stakes run beneath the lift line; it’s steep, narrow, and known as a tourist trapper. There are a few short and fun pitches off Baldy Express, but most guests only use this lift to access Alta. For this reason, there may be powder stashes lurking but the pitches are shorter and less steep then elsewhere at Snowbird. A word of wisdom: avoid Mineral entirely if it is foggy as the light can get very flat.
4. 12:45 PM – Lunch at The Summit Restaurant @ Hidden Peak (see more on lunch options here)
When you have had your full of powder, the Mineral Basin Express. will deposit you at Hidden Peak, the doorstep of Utah’s highest restaurant: The Summit. There’s not a bad seat here, but head upstairs for stunning views and quieter tables, Expect to nosh on fresh, mountain-inspired cuisine and delicious paninis. Definitely use this time to rehydrate and push fluids, the 11,000 feet of elevation can take a big toll on energy levels when compounded with dehydration.
5. 1:30 PM – The Iconic Steeps of The Cirque
Scoping an untouched Mineral Basin
No trip to Snowbird is complete without a visit to the imposing and iconic steeps of The Cirque. From Hidden Peak, head down the top third of Regulator Johnson, bearing to the right. Hug the rope line if you can and locate the big black trail marker for The Cirque Traverse—keep light on your toes and watch for rocks on the traverse. As you draw near the ridgeline, there are good sight lines to identify the line of your choice. The Middle Cirque and Lower Cirque have slightly less pitch as you descend the ridgeline. Groomed runs will greet you at the bottom of the Cirque and Lower Primrose Path or Lower Silver Fox will offer an off-piste route back to the Snowbird Center and Tram Line.
6. 2 PM – Final Adventure on Gad Chutes
The next adventure has you exploring the opposite side of the ridgeline that composes The Cirque. From Hidden Peak return to Regulator Johnson and again bear right. Locate the Cirque Traverse sign and from here determine if you’d like to drop back down toward the Little Cloud Lift into Pucker Bush or continue on. To locate Gad Chutes, use the first red gate on your left after The Cirque trail marker. Keep an eye out for rope lines marked with yellow ‘Cliff’ signs, you’ll want to avoid those.
Midway down the slope, the Chutes open up and provide huge, steep aprons for big arcing turns. The Chutes terminate near the top of the Gadzoom Quad. Take Rogers Run to Upper Big Emma and don’t miss the sneaky Bass Highway cutoff to return to the Snowbird Center and a well-deserved adult beverage.
How do your legs feel? If you need a little liquid rejuvenation, head to the brand new SeventyOne restaurant and lounge. This is the swankiest (and newest) watering hole in Little Cottonwood. Inspired by a sexy, retro ski theme, SeventyOne harkens back to the golden era of skiing and glorifies the era of Snowbird’s first season. For more après options see here.