Category: Salt Lake City

January 7, 2021 Martha’s Bowl Avalanche

Today, we had a close call with an avalanche. No one was caught, buried or injured, but it gave us a good scare. We unintentionally remotely triggered a D2 avalanche in Martha’s Bowl in Big Cottonwood Canyon as we were skinning across the flats below.

As we were heading to our objective, we approached a zone where the skintrack went underneath a steep , northwest facing slope. Naturally, our group of three spread out with Rob in the lead. At the end of the traverse underneath the rocky cliffs, Rob skied down a small slope on the previously set skin track. None of us heard or felt a collapse or whoomp or any noise at all, but we looked up at the steep face and saw it break into pieces above us. Adam yelled “avalanche” and we all shuffled to get into a safer place.

Seeing the avalanche start, I quickly realized the crack in the crown was spreading hundreds of feet across the slope. Not knowing how far it would go (and knowing from experience that avalanches have a nasty habit of running farther than you think they will), I started to run in my skis with skins on down and away from the slide to get to a safer spot out of the way. As I ran, I fell into a flat depression. I was certain I was going to get buried. I prepared to pull my airbag. Luckily, the slide stopped above us, and no one in our party was caught or buried. If there had been a little more snow or energy behind the slide, we would’ve all been buried.

After we determined we were safe and unscathed, we saw that part of our skintrack was buried 5’ deep. Pine trees were snapped with fresh branches around. As we composed ourselves, we talked about the mistakes we made that led to our error. We determined we had oversights in route planning and communication.

When we share our close calls, we can help make the backcountry safer for everyone. Our team was on the right side of luck today. But today’s forecast read, “I suspect our luck will run out soon.” In Utah’s Wasatch mountains, we have a dangerous snowpack. Prior tracks do not indicate that a slope is stable. As much as we want to rip steep lines in blower powder, it’s going to take some time for the snowpack to heal. I don’t want someone to die when it snows again. We’re in a tricky situation because yesterday’s sun left on a crust on our South facing aspects, so we are pushed to the north facing to find soft snow which harbors the dangerous avalanche layer.

I also want to ask for compassion, kindness and a lack of judgement when you read this report and others so we can help create an inclusive backcountry community where people can share their close calls and accidents with honesty, transparency and free of fear.

For more info about snowpack and conditions, check out:

and read our full observation online:

Wasatch Strong Woman Challenge – West Slabs of Olympus and South Ridge of Superior

Ski mountaineering brings together so many disciplines of mountain sports. You have to have the endurance of an ultra-runner, the mountain sense of a seasoned mountaineer, the technical skills of an ice and rock climber, and the power and precision of a ski racer. Last summer, I worked hard on my fitness and endurance. This summer, my goal is to become a competent rock climber. I’ve been a climber for most of my life, but this summer, I’m working hard to become confident on the sharp end on all types of rock, but especially leading trad. I spent much of May climbing sandstone desert towers around Moab. Lately, I’ve been climbing quartzite in Big Cottonwood, granite in Little Cottonwood and limestone at Hellgate.

Overall, I love climbing! And I love the challenge of placing gear and leading. But sometimes, it can feel so tedious. I love the feeling of moving fast in the mountains. So this past Saturday, I decided to take a break from ropes and do two of the longer alpine climbs in the Wasatch, back to back. All told, it’s over 6,000′ of elevation gain, and around 2,000′ of fifth class terrain. It was a great physical and mental challenge, and I enjoyed doing both these classic routes in one day.

Approaching the West Slabs of Mt. Olympus with Alex Taran. She is a fellow pro skier here in the Wasatch and also the founder of the South American Beacon Project, whose goal is to bring free avalanche education to South American communities. I’ve always been inspired by her projects, and it was great to climb the West Slabs with her.



Continuing up the trail.



I decided to bring a 30 m section of rope just in case we wanted to use it. Better to have it and not need it, than vice versa.



Beginning the scramble up the gully to the base of the West Slabs.



The beginning of the route.



The rock quality is really superb!



Every since I first moved to Salt Lake, I wanted to climb the West Slabs. It was my second time on the route and it’s even more awesome than I remember.



Taking a little break to check out the views.





Continuing the scramble. There are so many different ways you can climb the West Slabs – it’s fun to pick your own adventure.




The views of the city are spectacular.



And then downclimbing… I downclimbed the ridge next to the gully West of the Slabs. I chose to stay on the rock ridge instead of the gully because the gully is full of loose choss, there were other parties rappeling on it, and it’s a pretty moderate downclimb. After the West Slabs, I went and grabbed some lunch, had a drink of water and went right up to the South Ridge of Superior.



Walking by the Gas-X on the approach to the South Ridge of Superior. According to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)’s website, “UDOT is making efforts to move away from the use of military artillery for avalanche control. New Gas-X exploder systems have been installed at known avalanche sites.”



Enjoying the cold front.



Beginning the spicy ridge climbing.




Such an awesome time of year in Little Cottonwood, with snow up high and green down low.



Feeling strong on my strong woman challenge!



The last bit of rock to the summit of Superior.



And the walk-off down the ridge, past Little Superior to Cardiff pass and down the trail.

Overall, a fun day climbing in the mountains!

Gear, West Slabs:

Patagonia Evermore Shoes 

Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Graphic Crew

Elemental Herbs All Good Sport Sunscreen SPF 33

Elemental Herbs All Good Lips SPF 20 Ultra Zinc Protection

Gregory Pace 8 backpack

Zeal Optics Memphis Sunglasses

Clif Shot Energy Gel

Coal Headwear Richmond Cap

Gear, South Ridge:

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Patagonia Tsali 3.0 Shoes


In The Woods

I recently did a photo shoot with photographer Alexa Miller near Alta, UT. I love how the shots turn out – here are a few of them:












Usually, when I shoot with Alexa, we focus on more of a fun, vibrant vibe but this time we went for something with a moody, darker feel. It was out of my norm, but it’s nice to have some diversity in my portfolio. Overall, a fun, productive shoot!

First Snow of the Season

One of the things I love most about living in Utah is the change of seasons- having four distinct seasons and the transitions between them. Sometimes the weather is schizophrenic, going from summer to winter in a day and then back to fall and back to summer. But it keeps you on your toes, and it forces you to create some interesting layering solutions.


Getting High in the Wasatch: Summer Project to Summit the 20 Highest Peaks

After completing my Chuting Gallery project last spring, I decided to set a summer goal: to summit the 20 highest peaks in the Wasatch. I began my mission around Memorial Day weekend with Mt. Nebo and North Peak and then worked through the rest of the list. (more…)