Skimo Co

Mt Superior - South Face

Elevation gain

3000 ft

Highest point

11000 ft

Lowest point

8000 ft










The imposing south face of Mount Superior beckons many resort skiers across the street at Snowbird. It lures many such skiers into the backcountry as it's very accessible right off the road, yet holds powder much longer than the resort as there is no tram carrying 120 people to the top every 10 minutes. There are several routes down from the peak that can count as skiing the south face. For your first go, just point 'em right off the top! Further down the south ridge you can enter the "W" which ends up in the same place about half way down. There are a couple bands of rock to get through on the descent, with multiple routes through each (assuming enough snow). You can think of it as three different sections, the upper face, the middle portion, and the lower apron. All routes are super fun with incredible views of the resort crowd fighting over scraps of snow. The south face of Mt Superior is often one of the first runs Utahns will ski in the backcountry, yet it never gets old. Fit skiers with a light and fast mentality can round-trip this classic run in two hours or less. Plan on up to four hours if you're just getting out of the resort for the first time and/or have some heavy equipment to lug.


Head up Little Cottonwood Canyon (Hwy 210) almost all the way to the top. Most folks access Superior via Pole Line pass, which heads up from the parking spots near Alta Lodge and follows a line of telephone poles. Once you get to the pass into Big Cottonwood, head up to your left and skirt Cardiff peak on the north side. From there, hug the ridge with a mix of skinning and booting until you get to the peak. The most common route skirts Little Superior peak on either the south or north side. Note there are a few short sections where the ridge narrows to a knife-edge, though the overall exposure is never too high. When there is low avalanche danger, you can also scale Superior right from the base. There is a pull off on the north side of the road with ample room to park for a direct approach. You can skin right up the apron and you may need to boot through a pinch or two where it steepens.


A pinch in the lower cliff band can get quite tight in low snow.

Free Beta

What's called the south face actually faces slightly southeast. Sun hits the face early in the morning it's a favorite target of sunrise-seeking photographers on stable powder days. Get up early if you want fresh tracks, and even then you might be competing with drone crews. In the spring the face can heat up quickly so you may not want to descend past 10 or 11am if there is danger of wet slides.


Comments & Ski Reports

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Claude Suhl

01/07/2022 10:04am

Yo with Gordon West , then from Oregon I did the 2nd descent back in April 1960. Jim Shane, Gold Miner's Daughter Lodge owner, had done the First descent a few years earlier. I'm from NYC - still skiing. I was a Peruvian Lodge Ski Bum as was Gordy West then. Jim McConkey was our hero and equipment supplier out of his ski shop.

01/07/2022 11:14am
Reply from jbo

Wow, that is an awesome bit of history, thanks for sharing Claude! Also glad to hear you are still skiing...give us a visit if you're back in the area!

01/27/2022 9:11pm
Reply from Josh W

Hi Claude, My grandpa is Gordon West, just showed him this post and he lit up when talking about your guys skiing this line. Just wanted to reach out to see if I could get your number or email to give to my Grandpa! Thanks, Josh

01/28/2022 7:36am
Reply from Claude S

Yo Josh - thanks Fantastic I would love to babble about those days and today too. My e-mail is I seem to recall that "Gordo" went on to be ski school director or at least a ski instructor at Whistler where I believe McConkey also spent some years. That picture is Gordy doing a jump turn in the middle of the steepest part - a 15' wide chute bordered by rocks on both sides. Great adventure !!!! Gordy always maintained that the best fall leaves are in Oregon - unfortunately I have never been to Oregon in the fall so can not validate that by my own observations.

05/26/2022 9:37pm
Reply from Eric W

Claude, my dad is Gordon West, he started the ski school in Park City in about 1964 and then moved to Wenatchee, Washington and started the ski school at Mission Ridge when it opened in 1966. He is still skiing today. Sounds like you guys had a quite a time there in Alta in the old days. Must have been awfully fun!! Cheers, Eric

Reply to this comment:

10/22/2021 10:25pm
(Skied 3/27/2021)

We headed up to ski the south face on what we thought might be one of the last great powder days of the season. The uptrack is a ton of fun - a good skin and then a very fun bootpack on the ridge. The first sight of Superior as you crest Cardiff Pk is absolutely breathtaking, and the sun rises over your shoulder as you ascend. The summit is the worst part. To be fair, we could have gotten up earlier, and it was a weekend. We summited with probably 20 other people, and the environment on the summit was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Super angsty, super frenetic, with people rushing to transition, skinning downhill to try to reserve some fresh snow. If you go, go early. It's a good line, but I don't think it's my favorite. There are other beautiful 2000 ft descents in the Wasatch that are a joy in powder. Just too crowded and panicked to be fully enjoyable.

Gear I used

Atomic precut (Contour)

ATK Trofeo

Dynafit TLT 6 Mountain

Atomic Backland 78 (non-UL)

Comment on this report:

10/05/2021 1:30pm
(Skied 2/28/2021)

Myself and a few of the other Skimo Co employees admittedly woke up on the wrong side of 6am after a dump of around 20". We parked up at Alta and began the journey on the ridge. In front of us wasn't a confidence-inspiring sight. By my best guess, I'd bet roughly twenty-five people were in front of us, gunning for first tracks from the summit. But luckily, when you practice what you preach (light is usually right), you end up passing all of those people and skiing one of the fifty classic ski descents right as the clouds break. In perfectly deep powder. So it was pretty good.

Gear I used

Comment on this report:

10/05/2021 12:00am

Got this many times. Always a spectacular run. Depending on snow, can be a little type II on the way down. The east ridge ascent (the normal way) can be a little sketch in places depending on conditions.

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08/01/2020 5:22pm
(Skied 2/11/2020)

I typically ski the south face a handful of times per season. This photo is from the 2019/20 season, just after an epic avalanche cycle. In fact, the road below superior was closed on this day and we skinned up the middle of the road back to the car. There was a backcountry closure in the morning so we had first tracks on a sunny day at 9am, quite unusual.

Gear I used

08/02/2020 8:25am
Comment from thomc

Hey Jason, I thought the Trab binders were limited to LaSportiva compatibility.

08/17/2020 11:55am
Comment from jbo

Hi thomc, the Titan bindings work with any boot with tech fittings! The TR-2 binding is limited to mostly Sportiva (plus one discontinued SCARPA model).

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