Backcountry skiing Uintas Castle Peak Area theoretically would be awesome. I have however yet to "PROPERLY" ski it. In the late year of 2017 we aimlessly skied the area. We found some snow and came back with some photos. I felt like the area wasn't skied to it's potential. Hopefully anyone who goes backcountry skiing in the Uintas Castle Peak Area will be able to ski this place the way that I wished I did.
Backcountry skiing Uintas Castle Peak Area
I have only previously skied 1 of the proposed ski descents (Big Elk green). The other ski descents listed are either described in guide books or simply scouted from photos I took. I found what looked to be skiable lines and tried to map them out on a topographical map.
Routes outlined on the TOPO maps are still a working hypothesis waiting for someone to get out in the field and test it. If you have been to this area please submit your photos for use in this post to help finish the backcountry skiing castle peak area story. (Photos summited will be happily credited back to the creator)
Stop (1) Castle Peak
For the most guaranteed good skiing go to Castle Peak. This is the location of an easy to use Uinta backcountry ski hut operated by Inspired Summit Adventures. To reach the summit of castle peak go to castle lake 1st to avoid the cliff bands. The east aspect offers short but good skiing. To access the DUKE ski the Northwest aspect of Castle Peak down to the head of Yellow Pine Creek. From the creek skin north directly toward the DUKE. Track east right of the peak to avoid the cliffs that protect the summit.
Stop (2) Yellow Pine Creek
Ski the Northwest aspect of Castle Peak down to the head of Yellow Pine Creek. From the creek skin north directly toward the DUKE. Track east right of the peak to avoid the cliffs that protect the summit.To access the DUKE skin east up to the the summit ridge
Stop (3) ski DUKE'S DROP
After 1.5 mile skin you reach a ski zone known as DUKE'S DROP. An avalanche path off the NW side of the Duke. I've heard that this is a good place to do some laps.
(3a) East Knoll Chute If you scout this line on the way to the DUKE and it looks skiable, hit it on the way back from the other side after skiing Duke's Drop.
(3b) Pointer ski the pointy peak East of the Duke enroute to West Shingle Chute/Erickson Basin.
Stop (4) West Shingle Chute
Photos from previous trip capture this line that looks skiable (West Shingle Chute). The peak is just southwest of West Shingle Creek Lake so I'm calling it West Shingle. The summit looks accessible from the west Castle Peak area. Skiing on the West Shingle seems limited. Besides the chute, the east face of the peak looks almost completely cliffed out. If you get up there and the chute looks sketchy there is one skiable exit on the furthest skiers right (SE) of the chute. (lookers left in the photo)
Stop (5) Erickson pass
Just North of the west Shingle Creek peak is a skiable pass which drops you into Erickson Basin. This pass looks like it might be the only skiable way through the sheer wall of cliffs. In the photo there look to be 2 potential chutes just north of the pass from the peaks summit. It would be good to ski over and take a look at them. The photos used were taken from a distance and it was a very low snow year. (I took liberty to label it Erickson Pass)
Stop (6) Head Home
After taking a look around Erickson Basin and the potential chutes, looker right, the shortest way back would be to skin back up the pass. Back at the top of the pass head South (left) keeping most of your elevation if possible. Find your way down the drainage and back to car on Upper setting road.
Big Elk Tour
If there is still enough daylight and you're feeling up to the challenge, skin across Erickson Basin to the East side.
Stop (7) View Point
From Erickson Pass head east, hand railing the ridge to the right, across Erickson Basin. Keeping your elevation go toward the Erickson Lakes. From here head north "in the name of science" to scout over the ridge and take photographs to scout for possible ski lines at the head of Smith & Moorehouse canyon.
Stop (8) Big Elk Green
Just on west shore of Big Elk Lake is this peak. I'll call it Big Elk Lake Peak. This ski descent is super mellow but it holds snow well. This is the only line that I have skied in the area. One day I hope to return and stay at the yurt. If I can't, I hope that some skier can help serve this backcountry ski zone, some ski justice. Shred it up!
Stop (7) Upper setting trail
This is decision point. Here you can take the trail south back to the car to call it a day.
Stop (4 & 8) West Shingle Chute
Does the West Shingle Creek chute look skiable? If it looks skiable and your legs are still good you can ski it. Head towards West Shingle Creek Lake and find a way to either take the ridge or boot directly up the West Shingle Creek peak chute.
Castle Peak is one of the closest Uinta mountain locations to Salt Lake City. Only 51 miles from the city it's a quick 1.5hr drive.
Setting Road Is a 7 mile forest dirt road. It is not plowed in the winter and likely not drivable if the snow is more than a few inches.
Parking From the Scenic HWY toll both drive another 2 miles and park at the setting roads winter closure gate. Skin directly up setting road.
In a low snow season you might be able to drive the 7 miles up setting road like we did. On the map I marked the approximate place that were able to park December 2017.
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