SALT LAKE CITY — Resort skiing and backcountry skiing are an exciting outdoor winter activity and new snow makes it hard to resist calling in sick. Gobblers Knob in Big Cottonwood Canyon is one particular backcountry tour worth trying. Backcountry skiing is a great way to get outside, avoid crowds and soak in amazing views, and Gobblers Knob in Big Cottonwood Canyon offers all of those things.
Although beautiful and worth the trip, Gobblers Knob can be a tough area to reach during the winter. I took a trip last year and after a quick but steep 3.5-mile approach and about a 2,500 foot elevation gain, I was unfortunately unable to summit. Gobblers Knob is a 10,246-foot summit with an extremely steep and rocky peak. After touring within 500 feet of the summit we decided not to continue. Avalanche danger was high and the risk of summiting was just not worth it.
Presumably the best way to access Gobblers Knob is from Butler Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Drive eight miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon and park at the mouth of Butler Fork on the north side of the road. The start at the bottom of Butler Fork is fairly narrow and enters into a steep sided canyon. You’ll gain elevation quickly as you skin up the canyon and then the canyon opens up to beautiful views and groves of aspens.
After continuing on for about a mile up the canyon, it breaks off to the west (turn left). Follow the basin going west until turning south and climbing to the top of the ridgeline. From there you can follow the ridgeline all the way to the summit, if the conditions are safe.
Always be sure to check the weather and avalanche conditions before going. The Utah Avalanche Center is a great resource for snow conditions, projected avalanche danger, maps and touring routes. Also, never plan on skiing in the backcountry without the appropriate backcountry gear and an experienced partner. Be sure to take a beacon that you know how to operate, as well as a shovel and probe. Do your research and be prepared before entering the backcountry.
Even though my husband and I were unable to summit Gobblers Knob last year, I am excited to attempt success under the right conditions as well to get out and enjoy numerous other touring options.
One of the great things about Salt Lake City is the amazing access to huge amounts of backcountry terrain all within an hours drive. Gobblers Knob is just one of the great routes and adventures to try while backcountry skiing in the Wasatch Mountains. Check out www.globecandy.com to read more about other backcountry skiing ideas and locations.
Bryn Bingham is co-founder of Globecandy, a travel blog that celebrates the sweet spots around the globe. To learn more visit her at www.globecandy.com