Lone Peak NE Couloir is an intimidating couloir that's difficult to access. Lone Peak is located at the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley. It stands over the city of Sandy like a sentinel guarding the valley. It's summit looks like a band of granite cliff with no potential ski line. On the other side however, you can see a couple strips of snow that that kinda look skiable. Lone Peak NE Couloir one of the lines listed in the book "the Chuting Gallery" By Andrew McLean. The approach is 7,750 feet of climbing to reach the couloir. It's a long day. However there are great backcountry camping spots that can be used to shorten your ski day. The couloir is wide enough to make turn. It's very steep, exposed, and terminates in a huge cliff band.

Backcountry skiing Lone Peak NE Couloir

Backcountry skiing Lone Peak NE Couloir

Lone Peak

Living in the Salt Lake Valley, especially the southern end, you get a front row view of this behemoth.  The mountain stands so prominently; it is so impressive that it is probably the cause of many gawking skier's traffic accidents.  It's like a bug zapper, you just can't help but look.  I always wanted to ski this peak but its difficulty to access and extremeness of terrain made it hard to find people qualified and willing to go.

Backcountry skiing Lone Peak NE Couloir

Fifteen years of looking up and dreaming. I hear the ding of my phone messenger alert; It's a text from my buddy Michael McKinney.  He wants to know if I'd be interested in skiing Lone Peak NE couloir.  The plan is to split the 7,750ft approach in half by camping half way up the mountain.  I'm so stoked, I can't even believe that it might be happening.

The next day, they picked me up and we're headed from Park City to Lone Peak.  Our intention was to use the Orson Scott Trailhead and camp near the old cabin.  We missed the freeway exit and ended up coming down the backside of the Point of the mountain.  Suddenly the plans changed and we decided to use the Alpine approach that the Chuting Gallery book describes.  To drive to the trail we used the directions Andrew McLean outlines in the book.  After all the development over the years when the book was written, the directions still hold true.

Question Mark Wall

Second Hamongog

On the way up we looked for a suitable camping location, which turned out to be at the Second Hamongog.  There was creek at the second hamongog, so the extra water that I packed was for extra ski conditioning.

We were on the shaded west aspect of the mountain, so the sun didn't warm anything until much later in the morning.  We braved the brisk morning cold and started up toward the Lone Peak NE Couloir.  Not knowing the Lake Hardy Trail was nearby, we bushwhacked up the drainage until we reached the snow.  Once on the snow it was easy skinning all the way to the summit ridge.  Here we were faced with a shark fin ridge, hundred foot drop on either side.  If we didn't cross we could still ski into the couloir but we wouldn't reach the summit.  Somehow we had to figure a way to cross the ridge. Without words or the slightest hesitation, Mike straddled the ridge like he was on the back of a horse and began scoot across it.  I followed him through the fear and to the other side.  I turned around and captured a photo of Filip straddling the Lone Peak ridge as Mike and I had just done.

Standing on the summit of Lone Peak was surreal.  The city of Sandy looked a lot farther away from up here that Lone Peak looks from the valley floor.  Racing the daytime warming of the snowpack we spent only a few minutes on the summit.

Backcountry skiing Lone Peak NE Couloir

It was time to ski the couloir and we looked down with questions in our heads.  Does this thing go?  Are we in the right couloir?  From the top you can't see down the face very far.  "Alright, I'm going to ski cut over to there, then ski across to those rocks," Mike points out.  He leads the whole way down the couloir. At the bottom the couloir we were looking over a giant cliff band. It was certain death if you slipped.  Our guidebook said there is supposed to be a snow traverse that skirts just above the cliffs.  Thank goodness there was a traverse and Mike punched hand and foot holds across it.  After a short down, climb we were back on skis.

The 50 degree pitch of the Lone Peak NE couloir makes it look like your staring down a vertical snowfield dotted with rock diving boards jutting out from it.

Access

Full-Lone-peak-topo-(700-web)

Driving

Go to the town of Alpine. Accurate directions can be found in "the Chuting Gallery".  We used them in 2018 and were accurate.

Approach

Schoolhouse Springs Trailhead.  Start hiking or skinning directly up the dirt road.  Follow the road for quite a ways.  If you aren't sure which way keep heading right.  The dirt road will end at what's called the First Hamongog.  Follow the trail up and left to the "second Hamongog".  This is where we camped.  continue up the same trial that brought you to the second Hamongog.  The trail called, "Lake Hardy Trail" will turn left towards the big peaks.  Follow this trial up the drainage between Bighorn Peak and Lone Peak.  Exit the trail when it begins to turn to the right toward Lake Hardy drainage. Do not follow the trail into the Lake Hardy drainage.

Approach to Lone Peak

Head slightly left and skin directly for the peak.  The skinning will get super exposed on your left with incredible views of climbing zone known as Question Mark Wall.

Final Approach - Boot Pack

The terrain will steepen as you near the summit ridge.  One transition to boot packing is all you need to reach the Couloir.  If you want to reach the summit things get a little more interesting.  Just before the summit, the ridge turns into a shark's fin.  We straddled that ridge between our legs and rode it like a bronco to the other side.  Then it was a short rock climb in ski boots to the summit.

The Sneak Traverse is perfectly situated just above a cliff band.  The cliffs looked to be at least 80-200 feet high. The travers is the only connection to safety for an otherwise unskiable line.

Recommended Safety Equipment If you are skiing the NE couloir it is recommend you have basic backcountry avalanche and safety gear. Due to the risk of falling off a cliff, an ice axe is also recommend to for self arrest if you fall.

3 Lone Peak NE Couloir stats uncovered  

  • 50 degrees    is the sustained pitch of the 1,400 vertical couloir.  
  • 7,750    vertical feet is what you have to climb to access it.
  • Perfect 10.0    The feeling you get after skiing the peak that stood above your suburban home for years.

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About Christopher Comstock

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