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The Wasatch Backcountry Skiing maps were developed to improve communication between backcountry skiers, the Utah Avalanche Center, and public safety agencies by publishing commonly used names of backcountry skiing locations. (Watch a three-minute video about the online and paper maps.)

Names

The names on the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing map are based on the earliest records available. That includes USGS maps, a map made by the Wasatch Powderbird Guides in the 1980s, Wasatch Tours, Backcountry Skiing Utah, Chuting Gallery, Hiking the Wasatch, the UDOT Snow Avalanche Atlas, and the Wasatch Ski Atlas. Additional location names were based on Utah Avalanche Center's accident reports and snow observations, on web articles about backcountry skiing in Utah, and through dozens of personal interviews (see Credits).

My goal was not to create names for backcountry locations, but rather to document and clarify existing names. When ambiguities were found, which was common due to the informal way that names are created, I sought consensus from multiple sources. Whenever practical, I've used the original names—just because someone doesn't know the original name of a run doesn't mean the name should be changed. If more than one name is in widespread use, both names are displayed in the index and the most popular name is displayed on the map.

If you have suggestions or comments about the names, you can provide input to help improve the map.

Credits

The Wasatch Backcountry Skiing Maps would not be possible without the help of numerous people. Special thanks goes to the Wasatch Powderbird Guides , Mark White (UAC Observer), Jimmy Collinson (backcountry explorer and life-long patroller), Drew Hardesty, Craig Gordon, Brett Kobernick, Evelyn Lees, and Bruce Tremper ( UAC Forecasters ), Jake Hutchinson (Canyons Ski Patrol and avalanche educator), Brandon Dodge (Brighton Ski Patrol), Peter Schory and Randy Trover (Snowbird Ski Patrol), Ian Reddell and Caleb Merrill (Solitude Ski Patrol), Paul Diegel ( Utah Avalanche Center Director), Liam Fitzgerald (Snowbird Snow Safety Director for 27 years, UDOT Director of Avalanche Safety), Greg Dolhausen and Chris Covington ( UDOT), Bruce Engelhard (guide and avalanche educator), Howie Garber ( Wasatch photographer ), backcountry skiers Adam O'Keefe, Andy Rosenberg, Bill Hunt, Brad Barlage, Fred Staff, Marc Barlage, Rip Griffith, Rob Stutchbury, Tom Moyer, and many others. If you are well versed in backcountry names and would like to help improve the map, please contact me.

Creating Links

You can create links to share an online location with other people. For example, " I'll be skiing Short Swing ( https://WBSkiing.com/2124 ) and be home by noon. " To create a link:
 

  1. Select the location's name in the list on the right side of the desktop version of WasatchBackcountrySkiing.com.
  2. On Windows, press Ctrl+Alt+C. On a Mac, press Control+Option+C.
  3. A window will appear with a shortcut to that location.
  4. On Windows, press Ctrl+C to copy the shortcut. On a Mac, press Command+C.
  5. Click Cancel to remove the shortcut window.
  6. Paste the link wherever you'd like.

Slope Shading

The paper map and map apps display reddish shading on slopes that are approximately 30° or steeper.

The shading was calculated based on 10-meter by 10-meter squares as recommended by Bruce Tremper in Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. The edges of the shading were then softened. This approach prevents the appearance of smaller splotches of shading on the map and in doing so, it understates some terrain that is steeper than 30°.

Keep in mind that snow is a dynamic substance that piles up, melts, creeps and is transported by the wind. The purpose of the slope shading on these maps is to give you a general sense of steeper terrain. Look at the terrain around you throughout your tour and avoid getting laser-focused on the shading. Pay attention not only to the terrain you are on, but also the terrain that is above you and on connected slopes. And when you do look at maps, pay attention to the contour lines which are helpful to anticipate changes in slope angles.

Note that you can measure slope angles yourself on paper maps using the Avalanche Slope Ruler and while in the field using the Avalanche Inclinometer.

The Wasatch Backcountry Guide provides information hundreds of backcountry locations. Learn how the slope angles for those locations were determined.

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