Wasatch Top 10 in 10 – The Y Couloir

| January 14, 2009

As a compulsive list keeper, I’ve had a Post-It note stuck to my monitor for a few years that said “Wasatch Top 10 in 10.”  The idea is/was to rack up a bunch of Wasatch classic ski descents back-to-back in ten days in a chute skiing feeding frenzy.  The problem has always been that I have put it off until too late, or there was too little snow or too much avalanche danger so I’ve never gotten around to it.  But, this morning’s UAC Avalanche Report specifically stated that we were in for ten days of high pressure, which I took as a sign from the ski gods to give it a try.  If anyone is interested in coming along for some of these, send me a note.

#1 The Y-Couloir

The Y-Couloir is one of the most classic chutes in the Wasatch.  Part of its charm is that it is huge (3,400′), north facing (which means fluffy powder), right by the road so it has almost no approach, steep, straight, easy to see and find, often has a booter in it, is semi-sheltered and when it does avalanche, it tends to fully flush itself out.  All in all, a tasty treat.

Through some karmic coincidence, Kip Garre, Ingrid Backstrom, Derek Taylor, Rick Angell, Brad Barlage, Tommy Chandler and Courtney Phillips were all in town and available.  As the old saying goes, “Eight pairs of boots makes quick work of the couloir” so we were able to start at 6:30am and punch out the hike without too much pain, suffering or tears.

The Y-Couloir from across the Little Cottonwood Valley.

The Y-Couloir from across the Little Cottonwood Valley.

The final 150' vertical feet to the true summit ridgeline can often (like this day) take an hour of trenching through sugar snow.

The final headwall to the summit ridge is often (like today...) a pile of loose, unconsolidated sugar, and can take almost as much time to climb as the rest of the route.

3,400' to the Little Cottonwood valley floor!  Keep those tips up.

3,400 feet to the Little Cottonwood Canyon floor! Keep those tips up.

The skiing today was ideal as the booting wasn’t too bad, the snow was soft and the avalanche danger low.

Derek Taylor, Kip Garre, Courtney Phillips, Tommy Chandler, A Mclean, Brad Barlage and Ingrid Backstrom.  Rick Angell had to take off early to keep the US economy moving (someone has to do it).  photo: tommy chandler

Derek Taylor, Kip Garre, Courtney Phillips, Tommy Chandler, A Mclean, Brad Barlage and Ingrid Backstrom. Rick Angell had to take off early to keep the US economy moving (someone has to do it). photo: tommy chandler

Ingrid Backstrom doing a photo reenactment of her least favorite film segment ever, the dreaded "Chapstick" clip.
Ingrid Backstrom doing a photo reenactment of her most infamous film segment ever, the dreaded “Chapstick” clip.

Tomorrow: Something Silvery

Help support StraightChuter.com and wiggle the Y-Couloir with a pair of K2 Mt. Baker Superlight Skis from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…



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. Fred M says:

    Right on. Lemme know what’s on tap for the weekend.

  2. Chuteski says:

    I sure wish I was down in SLC this week for the Chuting Feast. I hope you top it all off with something like Lisa Falls or Triangle wall!

  3. Andrew says:

    Hi Chuteski! We’ll chute one in your honor and toast it with orange juice. :)

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi Fred – I’ll probably save the longer outings for the weekend, code name Culprit and Blowyerhorn.

  5. jared says:

    Is that silvery or slivery?

  6. Andrew says:

    Silvery pow pow…

  7. mark says:

    Would have loved to follow your boot track up the Y. Can’t wait to see what else is in store.

  8. Shawn Carter says:

    Culprit and Blowyerhorn????? Nice……

    Fun factoid….did you know the the nw col on the aforementioned ah……well that would be giving it away now wouldn’t it. Lets just say…… so that the hoards don’t follow……. that the run in question was skied without a rope in 1983. There was enough snow that year making the air a manageable 40-45 feet. Hopefully there will be another “big” year in my lifetime so I can watch the young super sic hucksters (thats you jamie parks and co) get that one and the many others that have never been repeated.


    ps there are some super sic ones behind the grand.

    oh and

    pss another quicky….. one of my bestest bros with some local legends (now super fat canadian helibellies) in tow did the east face of the lonely one, then hiked up to culprit and center punched it on a full moon in leather boots 30 years ago……..ahhhhh….. sickest of the sick. I am not sure if that one counts though, as they had vitamin assist.

  9. Andrew says:

    Hi Shawn – thanks for the excellent historical info! Very cool to hear. Do you have any idea who skied the NW Col without a rap? I’ve heard of it being done once since then by Dylan Freed, who made it through the gap, then ate shit on the apron. Still, he made it through without a rope, which is pretty cool.

  10. Mark H says:

    I would like to come with the group tomorrow. Where are you going?

  11. Did Kip find any tasty treats up there?

  12. Andrew says:

    Hi Gregor! No, Kip was holding out on the tinned fish product, so we gave him a shovel and made him trench trail up the final headwall while we cruised in the back and made mean comments.

  13. Shawn Carter says:


    This site is cool. Great work. That fritzrips site is shhaaawweeeeet as well. Don’t know the chaps name as we were not part of their party. We were just skiing pow in Maybird and happened to see the whole schmear. It seemed kind of stupid at the time as this guy just blew up a huge crater. Two of them rapped and this guy just hucked. It was probably ten years later when it dawned in the dim dome that maybe this guy had done something worthy. Well he did.

  14. Hi Andrew.

    We’ve met several times. Twice or three times with Wasatch Powder Keg on top of Davenport Peak, and also several years ago when my good friends lived across the street from you and otto2 ‘on a big hill’ Anyway, I would love to join you and your group of roadies, just kidding, on a pleasant day of ass-puckering steep skiing because we have yet to ski together and i would be psyched if we could.

    PS Cool site.

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