Friday, December 11, 2015

Brighton’s unique uphill policy

First and foremost a great thank you! to Brighton for it's unique uphill policy.

As far as I know Brighton is the only resort in Utah that has an uphill policy that allows us backcountry skiers to skin up from the resort base during the ski season. This is a fantastic development. We have resorts that will allow access to the BC provided you use their lift, only the ones that are absolutely obligated by virtue of being in the National Forest do it. However Brighton has worked out, in cooperation with the National Forest, an uphill policy that allows (on green days, see more on this below) two access points from the resort base to Twin Lakes Pass and to Catherine’s Pass. They allow us to skin on their terrain until we reach the trail and then we leave the resort to get into the BC. There are green, yellow, and red days. On green days you have access during the season, yellow days are off season and red days are avalanche control days and closes the access. For all the details click the uphill policy.

Yesterday Mike and I went over there to check it out. It was a green day and we opted for the Catherine’s Pass access. To get there you start skinning to the left the Crest Express lift, here is what the policy says on that access:

“Kathryn [sic] Pass Access: Please travel up the far right hand side of the M&M Trail to the Lost Maid Trail, proceeding up the Mary summer hiking trail, leaving the ski area boundary at that access point to Lake Mary and Catherine Pass areas. (marked with Forest Service boundary sign)”

Using these directions I actually missed the exit on the first try. A very friendly ski patrol gave me good directions (once I was pretty close to the top of the Crest Express lift) and I found out that the exit is at the bottom of Wren Hollow beyond Lost Maid, see top arrow on this map (click to enlarge):
Lost Maiden and Wren Hollow

What threw me off is the “marked with Forest Service boundary sign” as I could not see any sign at the exit point. In any case on our second lap we found the spot which is where the summer trail takes off to Lake Mary and then Catherine’s Pass beyond that.

The really neat thing is that they will let you ski down the slopes which in the early season with too thin a cover in the BC allows you to get a good workout in skinning up in the woods and quickly and safely down in resort. This is the track we put in to do laps (about a  1,000' elev.) off of:

Here are more pictures (click to enlarge):

The M&M Trail that will lead to the Lost Maid Trail

View of Mt Tuscarora

Mike approaching Dog lake with the Lake Mary dam in the background

As thin as the snow cover was you still get to break trail.

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