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Anatomy: Snowbird Zone Five

When the good people at Snowbird make a “resort improvement,” they don’t just glade an intermediate run or groom a black-diamond pitch. They open 500-acre Mineral Basin. They blast a ski tunnel through 600 feet of rock. And now they’ve opened up Zone 5, a new hairball section of 40-degree terrain off Mount Baldy.
posted: 09/15/2011
Zone 5 Snowbird Anatomy

When the good people at Snowbird make a “resort improvement,” they don’t just glade an intermediate run or groom a black-diamond pitch. They open 500-acre Mineral Basin. They blast a ski tunnel through 600 feet of rock. And now they’ve opened up Zone 5, a new hairball section of 40-degree terrain off Mount Baldy.

1.Gun Tower Bowl: Take High Baldy Traverse to the resort boundary. Follow the ridge until you hit the top of Alta’s Wildcat chair. Pass the lift and hike to the Peruvian Ridge gun tower and the Zone 5 gate. Gun Tower Bowl is directly under the tower. Hard skier’s left are cliffs, so bear a soft left for the 40-degree Gun Tower Chutes or right to access Lower Comma Chute Snowfield.

2.Comma Chute Snowfields: At the Zone 5 gate, hop on the highest traverse and follow it north about 100 yards into a clearing with a prominent rock spine. Stay right of the spine for two 40-degree but relatively harmless snowfields. Ski the fall line for a couple turns and hang a right to Blackjack Bowl, or continue until you hit a rope line that forces you skier’s left and toward Comma Chute.

3.Comma Chute Proper: You can’t miss it. Ropes in the Snowfields lead directly to the entrance of Comma Chute. The initial drop-in can be a little spicy, but it quickly opens up into a nice, powder-choked alley. Comma Chute is a new must-hit line at Snowbird if you’re into the steep-and-deep thing.

4.Blackjack Bowl (4A), Blackjack Chute (4b): Access Blackjack Bowl from the Comma Snowfields for some 45-degree glade skiing that filters into the bottom of Blackjack Chute. Or ride the high traverse north to the boundary and ski the chute in its 1,400-vertical-foot entirety. Be aware: It can be peppery halfway down.  —Jill Adler

 

Baldy Openings at a Glance

Zone 1: 1971

Keyhole, Westward Ho, and the Amphitheater Apron

Zone 2: 1985

West and Northwest Baldy

Zone 3: 1990

Blond Cliffs

Zone 4: 1998

Gun Tower Chutes

Zone 5: 2011

Comma and Blackjack Chutes

 

Into the Zone

Forty years ago, as Ted Johnson and Dick Bass began plotting Snowbird, the Forest Service didn’t think it was possible to ski Baldy or its Zones.

Pro hucker Jamie Pierre was the first to launch the 70-foot Fat Tuesday cliff, on Fat Tuesday, 2011—hence the name.

Once cars start running on the Alta Bypass Road, patrollers can’t blast for avalanches, so they rely on skier compaction to keep the area safe.

Because Alta skiers can access Zone 5 from the Wildcat lift, Snowbird patrollers joke that it’s the best skiing at Alta.

Zone 5 will kick your ass. Stay classy and treat sore muscles and a battered ego with a “Zone 5 Massage” from the remodeled Cliff Spa.

 

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Great info about Snowbird. That place is huge. It's odd riding the conveyor belt 600 feet through the mountain from the top of the Peruvian chair to Mineral Basin. I'm looking forward to trying the runs you wrote about. I can't wait to get there again!
Thanks for the update. Gives me one more reason ( or 5 ) to get back to the Bird in '12. Ya ready Vin : )
I headed out west a few weeks ago to represent our Milwaukee SEO firm at a conference in Salt Lake. We had some free time to make it up to Snowbird, and we spent a whole day in Gun Tower Bowl...absoloutely epic. We are planning for the same time next year! Thanks for the tips!
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