I’ll never forget my first time on Jupiter Peak. You could have hidden a Volkswagen in some of the moguls on the trail I chose that day. Everything started out fine, but when I slid off the side of one and tumbled, I did a complete somersault before stopping—the terrain was that steep. Since then, I’ve explored more of the landscape off the top of the Jupiter lift and it’s arguably some of the most interesting, ungroomed “backcountry lite,” terrain in the Rockies.
Backcountry lite is an informal name some ski resorts give to extreme inbounds terrain that is steep and never groomed, but is avalanche-controlled. You can get similar thrills to skiing or snowboarding backcountry terrain, where snow sliders should only go if they have the proper equipment and knowledge about weather and snow conditions. If everything falls in line, a backcountry ski experience can be one of the most fun, adrenaline-inducing times of your life.
If you have the skills and technique to handle the steep slopes, glades, and chutes on Jupiter Peak, it’s a wonderful playground. (If you don’t, many resorts offer clinics to teach adventurous skiers and snowboarders ways to handle ungroomed terrain.) Resort ski patrollers warn: “There’s no easy way down” the runs on this double-black-rated terrain.
Take your pick from the slopes atop the Jupiter lift: the open slopes on Main Bowl right under the chair, traversing over to the wide-open West Face, or entering Silver Cliffs, Six Bells, or one of the other super-steep tree chutes. Ready for a short hike to even steeper terrain on the “Peak,” as ski patrollers call the East Face of Jupiter Peak? Here, you may see local expert skiers in some of the resort’s narrowest and steepest chutes, with names such as 50-51 (the degree of the slopes), or raising rooster tails at they slide through the deep powder in Puma Bowl.
If challenging inbounds backcountry-style extreme terrain doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other runs at Park City Mountain Resort, which has 3,300 acres (1,335 hectares) of terrain spread over seven peaks and nine bowls. Intermediates and novices will find more terrain than they can explore in a week.
The resort rises above Park City, Utah, where the storefronts on Main Street retain a Wild West look, but are filled with trendy boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Many of the skiing and snowboarding events during the 2002 Winter Olympics were held here. You can take a bobsled ride or try a ski jump at Utah Olympic Park (see ). —LF
When to Go: Winter.
Salt Lake City.