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Backcountry Skiing Benson & Hedges Couloir is a joy if you can find it.  Finding this gem isn't easy but if you follow the tips in this post you'll be at the base of this beauty looking up into one of the coolest ski descents in the Wasatch.  

Backcountry skiing Benson & Hedges Couloir

Backcountry Skiing Benson & Hedges Couloir

Finding Benson & Hedges

Benson and Hedges couloir was one of the more difficult ones to find.  It is located on a west facing aspect of Reed & Benson Ridge, in Cardiff Fork of the Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It is hidden by trees and easily confused with the other look alike chutes next to it.

Backcountry Skiing Benson & Hedges Couloir

Hidden behind trees and sandwiched between other look alike chutes, you could pass it easily and not even know.  The trick to finding it is, to use a stream crossing as your reference point.  The stream crossing is OBVIOUS and the couloir can be spotted from there.  After stepping across the stream, look up at the Reed & Benson ridge, and you'll see it.  This Creek Crossing is your reference point whether approaching it from the Little or Big Cottonwood side.

 

 

The Old Growth Chute

The ambiance of skiing this thing is off the charts!  The walls aren't the biggest but they're super impressive nonetheless.  It's the pine trees that give this couloir that extra brilliance. Most couloirs are in inhospitable terrain for trees to grow in.  Due to the trees in and around Benson & Hedges, it's also called "The Old Growth Chute" .

Backcountry Skiing Benson & Hedges Couloir

It's simply a joy to ski.  The huge rock walls and the trees protect the snow for sun and wind, keeping it nice long after a storm.  The couloir is also wide enough to make comfortable turns.  The pitch is only 4o degrees at it's steepest, so It's not too steep.  All these reasons make It an esthetic line that's not too extreme, and a joy to ski.

Christopher Comstock skiing below the Benson & Hedges Couloir

Try Linking The Hallway Couloir

 

If you're trying to ski the couloirs listed in the book "the Chuting Gallery" it's possible to link Benson & Hedges with

The Hallway Couloir Wasatch Backcountry

Linking the two couloirs would be LONG, but doable.  If you've got the legs, I say go for it!

 

Access

Topographic map for the hallway and Benson Hedges couloirs
These are estimated locations of The Hallway and Benson & Hedges couloirs

 

From Big Cottonwood Canyon Park at the Snowplay lot 9 miles up the canyon. Skin up the Cardiff Fork Trail.  After about 2.5 miles you reach and OBVIOUS stream crossing.  Don't worry the stream is easy to step across.  From here you can see the Couloir off the the east (lookers left).  Continue up the snowmobile track for a short distance. Now leave the snowmobile track using visual orientation to guide you the rest of the way to the mouth of Benson & Hedges couloir.  Reach the couloir and then bootpack straight up it.

 

From Little Cottonwood Canyon

Little Cottonwood Canyon  Skin up and over Cardiff Pass.  Once down in Cardiff Fork ski for a couple miles down the canyon following the snowmobile trails.  STAY ON THE SNOWMOBILE TRAILS as this area funnels down into wicked steep stream gullies.  Skiing down a snowmobile track sucks but getting stuck cliffed out in the gnarl of trees, or down in a steep stream gully sucks way worse.    Ski  on the snowmobile track down canyon until you reach and OBVIOUS stream crossing and STOP.

Turn around, from here you can see the Couloir off the the east (lookers left).  Transition back to skinning and head back up the snowmobile track for a short distance. Use visual orientation to guide you the rest of the way to the mouth of couloir.  Reach the couloir and then bootpack straight up it.

3 Benson & Hedges Couloir stats uncovered  

  •  1,300 vertical.  
  • 40 degress Steepness of the pitch.
  • 10,000 ft summit elevation

Related Articles and links:

Hallway Couloir Wasatch Backcountry

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About Christopher Comstock

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

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