Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir

Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir is big time skiing!   The terrain here is expert level and unavoidable for those attempting to ski all the chutes of the central Wasatch. For most people it would be best to just stay away.  If you have the skill to get up here you will be rewarded with some Big Mountain technical skiing. 

Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir

Mt. Superior Cardiac Ridge

Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir

Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir

Skiing

What’s so awesome about Backcountry Skiing Cardiac Ridge Thunderstruck, Lightning Bolt & Wyatt couloir? Well, they are listed  in the Wasatch ski book called the Chuting Gallery by Andrew McLean.  This book list 90 of the most radical chutes and couloirs in the Wasatch.  After skiing big lines like Mount Superior south face, Cardiac bowl, Cardiff fork, I guess it's a natural progression to look across to the ridge and wonder if these  lines are skiable.  

Mike Mckinney drops in to backcountry ski Thunderstruck Couloir

Skiing Thunderstruck Couloir (48 degree pitch)

At the top the skiing is fairly casual.  The couloir is wide enough for comfortable turns yet it's still pretty darn steep.  Further you ski down the couloir gradually tightens until it is not even on turn length wide.  This is also exactly where the pitch is at it's steepest.  Point em, let em run, and hold on for the ride.  Fortunately after you make through at near the speed of sound the runout opens up where you can make some wide turns and check all that speed you just built up.  Super fun and highly recommended for the badasses!

Skiing The Lightning Bolt

This is one the the most pucker worthy lines in the Wasatch.  I can't wait to ski this one, as there wasn't enough coverage when we were there.  

Skiing The Wyatt Couloir

 This line is another steep one @ 55-degrees, hold on to your overalls, because if you don't they might beat you down it.  It's also narrow the whole way so no casual turns will be had in this one.

The Scenery is awesome!  Mount Superior dominates everything.  On top of Cardiac ridge you get views of Upper Mineral fork basin.  There are 3 huge snow ramps that drop off the Big & Little Cottonwood Canyon ridge protecting the entrance, to the infamous ski descent, know as the Heart of Darkness.

Backcountry skiing Cardiac ridge is scary!  I was looking at these lines for years before I able to find partners who were qualified to go with me (Blake Summers, Mike Mckinney, Brian House).  Finally I was able to ski them and I'll certainly be back, if for no other reason than to ski The Lightning Bolt when it has enough coverage.  I do not recommend this area for most.  It is only fun after you get down un-mangled.  If you want to have fun you'd be better off skiing off Superior down Cardiac bowl or sticking to the many lines in Cardiff fork.

Access

Driving Highway 210 Little Cottonwood road. Go past the main parking area for Alta Ski Resort (Goldminers daughter) and park on the side of Highway closest to the Shallow Shaft restaurant (8,600ft). Approach Located on the back side (north) of Mount Superior, the approach is moderate. From the Little Cottonwood Canyon road, skin up pole line pass.  When you reach the pass head left (west) along the ridge, past Cardiff Peak.  Keep going past Cardiff peak along the ridge. The fastest way to access Cardiac Ridge is to follow the ridge past Cardiff peak and  Just before the next climb up a short knoll on the ridge, you want to stop and remove your skins and transition to ski mode.  The ridge past here gets a technical and there will be no easy way off once you pass it. Now ski down slightly into Cardiff basin and in the same direction you were skinning (west) around this shoulder.  Ski down into Mill-D drainage.  You'll be able to see Cardiac Ridge and head directly for it. When you get to the base of The Thunderstruck couloir transitions from skinning to boot packing and make your way directly up it. The Lightning Bolt approach Is the same as Thunderstruck.  Only when you reach the base of the chute you have a choice of booting directly up it, or boot packing up Thunderstruck couloir and skiing down from the top.  The Wyatt Couloir approach - Boot Pack straight up it.

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About Christopher Comstock

Park City photographer. See more about Christopher at his website https://theoutdoorclick.com