Backcountry log : Solitude 2024

Gilad LewandovskiFeatured, Snow

The forecast hinted at a rainy week in LA, but Utah promised cold weather with just enough snow for a safe backcountry adventure. A quick message to mentors Brian & Suzy at Brighton, and I’m on a plane to Salt Lake City, followed by a VIP pickup to their cozy shack.

Suzy ensures I have all safety gear for tomorrow: shovel, poles, transceiver, and a new addition – an Avalanche AirBag. Suzy explains its seriousness, emphasizing the importance in case of unexpected avalanches during our journey into the backcountry of Solitude.

Feeling reassured, I learn to operate the airbag and secure it to my body. Checking my split board, clips, screws, and binding ratchets becomes crucial in the remote backcountry where surprises are magnified.

Dinner, a quick shower, and off to bed – tomorrow promises untracked powder.

Early morning, Suzy prepares smoothies and pancakes, while Brian assesses the forecast. With friend Anna joining, we head to the Backcountry gate as resort skiers stick to the regular downhill terrain.

Preparing for the traverse and uphill climb, I split my board into skis, attach skins, and gear up. Understanding body temperature during mountain hikes is vital; the uphill trek generates sweat, so breathable layers are a must.

After 45 minutes, we reach the summit of Solitude peak, exhausted but elated. A quick snack, hydration, and preparation for the downhill. Brian and Suzy discuss, and Anna and I commit to following their lead for a safe descent.

Assembling the spit boards into one, bindings and we are ready to shred!

Now is the tricky part … finding the safest decent spot.

Brian and Suzy are talking while me and Anna saying to each other – whatever they say … we are going to follow the orders.

Brian is leading us to the spot while Suzy is in the back making sure we are all good and calm.

Brian is explaining the rout he is going to take few pointers on safety and a plan B if something happens while we we are riding. Suzy is right there for us letting us know when to be ready and when to go. 

And OFF I go, following the instruction of Suzy and trying to follow Brain tracks – the snow is unbelievable soft and fluffy, no other tracks than Brian’s.

Into few turns between the trees then a small clean ridge and open face of untracked snow.

It’s a real dream!

Reaching Anna with the biggest smile on both our faces while seeing Brian and Suzy riding with grace & style towards us.

We are in the middle of Cottonwood Valley right between Solitude and Snowbird.

I asked – “ what next?” Suzy is pointing at under peak … and say “lets get ready – split your board and put your skins again we are going UP!