How can this be possible: Snowbird unveiling more steeps? The Utah mountain already has renowned double-blacks in The Cirque, Mineral Basin, Wilbere, so where can it find more?

Mountain operators found it on High Baldy Traverse, which shares a boundary with Alta Ski Area and serves Peruvian Gulch. Called Zone 5, the new area has more than 1,000 vertical feet of some of the gnarliest terrain anywhere in the West. Mountain officials say that compaction from skiers and snowboarders has reduced avalanche danger, and advancement in ski technology and overall abilities gave them confidence that expert skiers and ‘boarders could handle this terrain.

Before Snowbird opened in 1971, this area was the exclusive domain of guided tours from Alta. Even after 1971, the U.S. Forest Service didn’t believe it would ever open. Now, any expert can reach it by taking the High Baldy Traverse to the Peruvian Ridge gun tower. Below is Gun Tower Bowl, to skiers’ left are Gun Tower Chutes and to the wright is Lower Comma Chute and Snowfields.

Go farther along the traverse to find Blackjack Bowl that feeds into Blackjack Chute. Both tip to 45 degrees, which is about as steep as anyone would want to ski or ride without a parachute. They feed out onto Blackjack Traverse and Who Dunnit for the trip back to the base.

The new area can be reached from the top of the Wildcat Lift at Alta, but the only way to get back to Alta – that’s without a combination ticket – is to take a shuttle. Otherwise, the Aerial Tram will be the adventurous right back to the High Baldy Traverse.

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