Backcountry Skiing Broads Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah.
Backcountry Skiing Broads Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah is absolutely "Bonkers"! People come here for some of the longest vertical feet of uninterrupted powder skiing in Utah. The approach is BIG, the skiing is BIG, and getting out of Broads fork is a BIG pain. I have never skied anywhere, quite like it.
It was another BIG day Sunday and the plans were to meet at the base of the little Cottonwood Canyon. We were going to plan our day from there. Big day Sunday was a commitment ski BIG mountain terrain on the one day everybody had off together. This Sunday, It would seem as if everybody in Salt Lake valley had Big Day Sunday off from work and they were planning on going skiing too. The line of cars entering the Big Cottonwood Canyon was overflowing for miles down foothill drive. We weren't concerned as we were going to the Little Cottonwood canyon. That was until the traffic stopped. The traffic line for the Little Cottonwood was double of the Big Cottonwood canyon. This was Bonkers! So we decided to ski Broads Fork in The Big Cottonwood instead.
The approach is BIG. Skinning up the trail was long, which I expected. At about 8,300ft we entered an opening that unveiled the massive peaks that cap the Broads Fork drainage. I was slightly winded breathing heavily from the steady pace the group moved at. The approach was over 2 miles and we now looked up some of the biggest uninterrupted powder fields I’d ever seen. From here we broke trail, near the run named Blue Ice, to the top of the Diving Board. Breaking trail on the steep slope in the deep snow was work. But I knew that once we had the trail broke this group was strong enough to lap it.
The skiing is BONKERS!
We skied uninterrupted powder for several thousand vertical feet. Broads fork is home to two classic backcountry ski descents in Utah. BONKERS and Stairs Gulch. I wanted to ski one of the classics, but after evaluating the avalanche hazards we decided to ski a line known as Diving Board. The diving board is located right next to Bonkers. Bonkers climbs higher up on the ridge making it a little more wind affected for our comfort on this day. Backcountry skiing expert Brian House decided to go first to test the powder to make sure it would be good enough for the group. I watched him ski off and make powder turns down the mountain, and more turns down the mountain, and holy cow he's still making powder turns. My turn came and it was dry Utah powder dream that kept on going. Erik Dyer bounced down the mountain like he was jumping into pillows. The best skier of all of us, Harrison Holley, re-confirmed the name of The Diving Board by launching a big air off the Diving board rock.
The ski out was BIG Pain! Erik told the group that this was going to be one of the most hideous exits we’d ever experienced in the Wasatch. And he was right. The trail is narrow with hazards lining the sides the whole way down. The steep pitch of the trail means disaster waiting to strike at any moment. Wedging in a “pizza” is one of the 1st skills you learn in skiing. Welcome to extreme, double-black diamond wedging. Push those edges in and hold on tight. The wedge kept me mostly in control except for the times that the tails of my skis bashed off rocks and trees. At one point I felt so unnecessarily in danger that I took off my skis, hoisted them over my shoulder, and started hiking down the mountain. My friends passed me skiing in pizza, so I put my skis back on and finished off one of the most hideous exits in the Wasatch.
In summary, I am so glad we skied Broad's Fork. The powder goes on forever. The less-committed are weeded out by the approach so you might get Broads Fork all to yourself like we did. The scenery here is awesome. Twin Peaks (east), Sunrise Peak, and Dromedary Peak
Backcountry Skiing Broads Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon Utah
How to access Broads Fork
It's a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll. It's fairly straight forward, but you're going to have to earn it. Park at the S curve in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Broads Fork trail is located on the south side of the highway. You'll enter at Mill-B south Picnic area and the trail is right next to the highway.
The approach is long and climbs 2,200 before you get to the bottom of your objective. The approach follows the Broads Fork summer trail to the upper basin. Then skin directly up whichever line you choose to ski. We chose Dividing Board this day, as we felt that it was going to be the least wind effected. While skinning up we found no obvious signs of instability like collapsing, cracking, or sluffing.