Have you ever wondered where Oingo Boingo, Hoop’s Crotch, Room of Doom or Toot to Boot is? Wonder no more, as Steve Achelis has put together the be all, end all of Wasatch backcountry skiing maps, appropriately titled “Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Map.” The map, and it’s even more powerful accompanying website, document over 1,000 named backcountry runs in the Central Wasatch Mountains. When combined with the 728 named runs in the ski resorts, you can see why pretty much every little nook & cranny here has at least one name to it.
Steve has been working on this project for years and gathered run names from a variety of sources, including multiple guidebooks and a Powderbirds map. Of course there is no rule saying you have to use any of these names, and as Charlie Fowler once said about route names in one of his ice climbing guidebooks, “If you don’t like the names, write your own guidebook.” Personally, I think I’ll stick with “Argenta Couloir” instead of “Grease Balls,” but it’s good to know they are one in the same.
I like Steve’s map as it has plenty of essential topographical info on it (40′ contours), and highlights popular skiing drainages, like West Butler Fork, whose names seldom show up on regular topo maps. I also like that he has just shown trailheads, but not the actual approaches. It’s one thing to know where “The Crow’s Feet” are, it’s another to know the best way, and best time, to get there.
As good as the map is, the website, www.wasatchbackcountryskiing.com, almost puts it to shame and is completely free. Combining Google Earth and a database, you can search by specific name, zone or even a reference number. It also has known fatalities marked as well as chairlifts and backcountry access gates.
I was psyched to see that many of my most coveted lines had escaped naming, although it is probably just a matter of time. In the meantime, I now know exactly where “Athey’s Line” is. ;)