Analysing terrain data
The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs…) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
To access the Major Tom couloir, park at the Neff's Canyon trailhead in Olympus Cove.
Follow the old road grade up into the canyon and take the left branch to head up into the main drainage of Neff's.
The trail is narrow with overhanging trees and then opens up and there is a junction.
Take the path to the right into the woods and into Thomas Fork.
There is an old summer trail you can follow that gains a sub ridge and follows it into the upper reaches of the canyon.
Once you enter the upper bowl of Thomas Fork, continue to the south, winding up through the pine forest cutting switchbacks until you gain the ridge.
From here head to the east along the ridge keeping an eye on the south slopes, until you come to what is clearly the start to the chute.
Major Tom starts up high on the Big Cottonwood Canyon ridgeline at about 9,500 feet, and runs down to the Big Cottonwood Canyon road.
The upper part of the line is wide open with some trees, but quickly funnels into a nice rock-lined chute.
Depending on the amount of snowfall there may be the need to rappel here to get over some ice bulges, or use crampons and ice tools to climb down the ice.
There are plenty of good trees to sling for this rappel, and a single 60m rope should do the trick.
The rappel puts you in the gut of a great chute that continues down the fall line.
The pitch is in the upper thirties, or low forty degree range.
After several hundred feet of skiing there may be another ice bulge that's only 6 or 8 feet, and can be jumped, or rappelled.
A deadman anchor is recommended here.
After this short rappel the chute opens up.
Ski to the left and look for some large trees to rappel over a very large cliff.
A single 60m rope will just barely get you onto the next patch of snow.
From here ski another short section then cut far right traversing through some brush and trees.
You can also rappel this section if conditions are too thin.
From here there are no more rappels.
The slope mellows out, and then becomes brushy as you get low down in the canyon.
Follow the gully into the backyard of the private home.
Jump over the gate and you'll be at the Big Cottonwood Road.