Alta’s Main Baldy Chute is one of my favorite little couloirs – little as in about 750 vertical feet and fairly easy to get to. When I first moved back to Utah long ago, it was at the top of my wishlist as far as lines I was dying to ski and I thought that I’d have to wait around and ski it when the resort opened it. I made the mistake of telling Alex Lowe about this desire and in typical Alex fashion, we ended up skiing it the next morning right at first light in about 3′ of fresh October powder. I think that was also my first, uhmmm, chance encounter with the Alta Ski Patrol, and although the area wasn’t open yet, unbeknownst to us, they were sighting in the avalanche guns and were watching our every move. Since then, I think I’ve skied Main Baldy about 25 times, although I have yet to do it officially during Alta operating hours when they are open for the season.
Main Baldy is a natural snow trap and is one of the first places to get snow, as well as one of the last to lose it. It is high, north facing and gets lots of up-canyon windloading, and the deep sidewalls help hold and protect the snow. Plus, it has a very skiable angle to it and is wide enough to hold lots of tracks. The adjoining Little Chute and Dogleg Chute are technically harder, but not quite as classic as Main.
Main Baldy has a ton of history to it, including some gruesome rumor about a skier who supposedly fell down it and beheaded herself, which may be urban legend. But, I do know for sure about a group of friends who were skiing it in the summer and had a horrific accident. From what I remember, one skier was stopped, when another skied down on top of him, blew his last turn and took both of them out. Seeing this from the top, a third skier went to help them, blew a turn and ended up going down as well. The chute itself is plenty steep, but to make matters worse, all three of them tracked down and ended up getting pinballed in the moat/gully where the snow had pulled away from the side of the chute. I think there were punctured lungs, maybe some broken bones and lots and lots of stitches.
This year Main Baldy is amazingly full and still has about 6-8′ of snow in it! I skied it today on a gear testing mission and it is still in excellent shape with very few rocks. Not only that, but it has been skied enough that is is kind of pre-groomed.
I’m guessing there is enough snow that it is easily going to make it all the way through the summer.
Help support StraightChuter.com and lay into Main Baldy with a pair of K2 Wayback Skis from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…
Category: Trip Reports