Top 10 in 10 – Argenta

| January 15, 2009 | 16 Comments

#2 – Argenta 

The Chute du Jour this morning for the Top 10 in 10 quest was Argenta in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  This is a perennial Dawn Patrol favorite as it is so close to the road that the asphalt often gets covered, or at least dusted when Argenta avalanches, plus it has a huge variety of skiing in it.  The moderate lower aprons are fun when the headwall might be avalanche prone, then if not (as today), the upper headwall has some excellent steep tree skiing, as well as a few gullies/chutes.  Not only that, but UDOT plows a parking area right at the base of it, which means the approach is literally a matter of seconds – down a slope, cross the river on a snowbridge and start up.

Something silvery and white, alright.

The word argenta means “something silvery or white” which is fitting for this monster north-facing slide path, as there is always plenty of white snow on it.  The name may also refer to some mining that was done around the area (Argenta Mine?) and a few of the old structures can still be seen.

What is left of some bad-ass miners cabin that was built 3,000' up the chute, right near the top of the headwall.

What is left of some bad-ass miners cabin that was built 3,000' up the chute, right near the top of the headwall. Cold, dark and avalanche prone - nice place for a shack. :)

One of the big incentives for continuing up all 3,250′ to the top of the run is that you go from a dark forest to instant sweeping views of the central Wasatch in just a few steps.  On Dawn Patrols, this is especially dramatic as you are stepping from darkness to brilliant morning alpenglow.

The Argenta summit ridgeline - dark on the right, light on the left.

The Argenta summit ridgeline - dark on the right, light on the left.

Right near the summit, you pass by the entrance to the yummy looking East Couloir of Kessler Peak.

The East Couloir of Kessler Peak - filled to the gills and untracked! (shudder...)

The summit of Kessler Peak is a good place to pick up the litter the Wasatch PowderBird Guides often leave, then step into your bindings and start the long journey down.

B-Rad Barlage skiing along the upper Argenta ridgeline.  The headwall is the forested cleft in the background.

B-Rad Barlage skiing along the upper Argenta ridgeline. The headwall is the forested cleft in the background.

Courtney Phillips skiing the main chute on the Argenta Headwall.  I don't know if nobody had skied it, or if it had just filled back in, but it was untracked this morning!

Courtney Phillips skiing the main chute on the Argenta Headwall.

There was a massive skin track on the lower aprons this morning and probably 20-30 sets of tracks on it, but Argenta is big enough that we were still able to easily find plenty of untracked.

Notes on the Top 10 in 10 project:
– The lines are being skied in order of relative safety, with the north facers being the toughest to get, so they get done first.
– “Top 10” is admittedly a very subjective idea and my top 10 will probably be much different than other skiers.

Tomorrow: The Stair Master

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Help support StraightChuter.com and ski something silvery in a spankin’ new Mountain Hardwear Vertical Jacket on sale now at Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…

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Category: current conditions

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (16)

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  1. Chuteski says:

    Did you poach the East Couloir? Looked sweet and ready to slide. It sure is fun coach skiing the lines.

  2. DVT says:

    This top 10 in 10 thing is cool…

  3. DVT says:

    …but we really need instructions on how to play boot liner roulette.

  4. Mike says:

    The snow looks pretty good. Did you run into any windblown, crappy stuff? Would like to get up high this weekend but not sure if it will be a windblown, windslab fest????

    Thanks,
    Mike
    Summit Park

  5. Andrew says:

    Hehee, well, boot liner roulette came about because my wife, Polly, offered me her liner one evening and said “Does my liner smell like cat piss?” I told her that I’d smell her liner if she smelled mine, which lead to a “blind smell test” to see if we could tell whose liner was whose based on smell alone. (hers reeked, mine were like rose petals dipped in perfume). The hard part about the game is that you don’t know where the liner is, so you don’t want to inhale too much, least you O.D. on it. Highly recommend for huts.

  6. Andrew says:

    Hi Mike – there are pockets of crappy snow here and there, but for the most part, the north facing lines are in solid “A” conditions – stable, old powder.

  7. Mike says:

    What God’s Lawnmower pretty tracked out?

    Saw your pictures and comments on tetonat about the crazy line on the grand. Will be up there in Februrary but I don’t think I will be attempting that line:) Awesome effort though! You came back later and did it with Rob, right?

  8. Andrew says:

    Hmmm, we couldn’t see GLM, so I don’t know. The standard Argenta to GLM skin track wasn’t in, so perhaps it is still untracked..?

    Hans and I eventually went back and skied the H/M route that Steve had photos of. Super-dog sketch-fest!

  9. dug says:

    do you think the big south and west facing lines off stuff like lone peak and timp will be corning up with this mini-spring cycle we’re in?

    and is cold fusion on your list? i look at that thing from my house every day, and i’m wondering if the time has come.

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi Dug – I’m hoping they’ll be coming in… otherwise there’s going to be some really crappy skiing coming up soon!

    Cold Fusion wasn’t on the list, but now that you mention it, it might be as it is definitely a classic and I’m looking for one last line to round out the list (nine confirmed, one up for grabs).

  11. Chuteski says:

    Please remind my “I’ve been gone from Utah to Long” mind where Cold Fusion is? If you are looking for a 10th, may I offer up the seldom skied Great White Icicle. So much fun climbing with skis on the pack and worth it just to hear the edges scrape on the ice.

  12. evans says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I never met you, but I would be highly interest in skiing one of the Couloirs you have planned next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

    I asked Dylan Freed to give you references…

    If you ever need a partner, just let me know!

    Cheers,

    evans
    wwww.snowchasers.blogspot.com

  13. Bob says:

    My gawd, that East Couloir of Kessler Peak looks so good! Must have been hard to pass that by.

  14. Jeremy says:

    Wow… I love reading about these runs… great stuff!

  15. dug says:

    chuteski, cold fusion is the huge northwest chute on the north peak of timpanogos. it’s visible from some parts of slc, and all of northern utah county. there are two smaller, shorter chutes to lookers right on that face.

  16. Derek says:

    10 for 10 must include the 6,000ft continuous descent of the East Ridge of Timp. If it’s not, then the 10 for 10 will have to be invalidated.

    http://fritzrips.com/Gallery1/albums/0708skiseason/t22.jpg

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