Heart of Darkness

Salt Lake City

Wasatch Backcountry

The Heart of Darkness is a fun short ski mountaineering objective that lies in the heart of the Wasatch.

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
243 m
Ascent
0 m
Descent
160 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
3.1 km
High Point
3.3 km
Gradient
54˚
VIEW ON MAP
Heart of Darkness Map

Description

This is a long way to go for a short line that is much more about the ambiance than the skiing. There are a few ways to get here, either from Big Cottonwood Canyon, or Little Cottonwood Canyon, but it's most often best to go from the latter and drop in from the top, since the upper section can be rocky and difficult to climb.

Park at Our Lady of the Snow church 7.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. From here hike under the power lines to Cardiff Pass. Stay along the ridge that undulates up and down along Black Knob, Little Superior and Mount Superior. Continue on the ridge to the W and before you reach Monte Cristo, and head N along the ridge until you come to the deep cleft in the rock that delineates the entrance.

Alternatively, from Big Cottonwood Canyon follow the Heart of Darkness Approach route.

There are some fixed anchors and often fixed lines that can be used to rappel, or hand line into the chute. The line is so narrow that you have to descend quite a bit before it widens enough to put your skis on and start the descent. The walls are tall and the chute is narrow, which makes for fun focused turns. As it widens the pitch lessens and the apron is a nice finish to this mini classic.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

Low Exposure (E1)

1 out of 4

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.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area