First Snows Bring Early Skiers As UDOT Watches Roads

Oct 9, 2018, 4:04 PM | Updated: Oct 10, 2018, 1:30 am

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah – With the first snowfall decorating the mountain peaks of the Wasatch Front this past weekend, and more snow on the way, some die-hard Utahns started on the earliest possible snow riding season Tuesday, while UDOT road crews prepared for plowing.

Depending on where you measure, there’s anywhere from a half-foot to a foot of settled snow near the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, with flurries in the wind Tuesday afternoon. UDOT is keeping Guardsman Pass closed for now, which is just fine for early season skiers.

“As soon as we see it coming down.” That’s how avidly Adam Smith and his friends pursue the autumn snow. We caught up with them on a secluded slope in the backcountry.

“We just like to chase it around as early as we can,” said Smith.

He and his friend, Ryan Stonecipher, carried their own rail into the snowy backcountry slope. Both of them are midwestern transplants in the last few years, eager to get the skiing season started with the first few inches of snow of the season.

“We’re getting some early-season turns in,” said Smith. “Starting to practice before the resorts open.” And, looking forward to the promise of more snow.

UDOT is already in winter mode.  They’ve been plowing up in the canyons since the weekend.

“Heavy snow on the roads. One to two inches an hour,” said Jake Brown, UDOT road operations manager, who supervises the plow crews in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

“It’s been difficult to keep the road open,” he said, referring to Guardsman Pass, which they’ll keep closed for several more days.

“It’s become a safety issue” he said.  “That’s why we closed it.”

The high-elevation, seasonal road is too exposed and too narrow for road crews to plow when it is slick with ice and snow.  He said, a growing number of people use Guardsman Pass to commute back-and-forth from Salt Lake County to Wasatch and Summit Counties.  Others simply enjoy the road for a drive through the mountains, or to reach hiking trails.

“A scenic shortcut,” said Brown.

So, UDOT tries to keep it open until it is unsafe.

“Safety is our number one priority at UDOT, and we don’t want to see anybody go off the road,” said Brown.

UDOT does anticipate re-opening the pass again, weather depending, before closing the seasonal road for winter Nov. 1.  As for Wednesday, plow crews plan to be pushing snow in the canyons about 4 a.m.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Search crews in Florida....
Mike Anderson

Rescue teams continue to find residents affected by Hurricane Ian

Search teams are helping oversee FEMA's efforts to search for those survivors, which is no easy task.
4 days ago
The hail in Grand County compared to a silver dollar. (Courtesy: Seth Ohms)...
Michael Houck

Weather officials warn of hazardous storm with hail, lighting, and 60mph winds in southern and eastern Utah

Utah weather officials are warning southern and eastern Utah residents of half-dollar size hail and gusty winds Sunday afternoon. 
5 days ago
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteers help clean up and repair the aftermath of Hurricane Ia...
Mike Anderson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

"As horrible as natural disasters are, you see the best of humanity," Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members gather in Florida to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ian left behind.
6 days ago
Pictured here is Gulfshore Boulevard. (City of Naples via CNN)...
Caroll Alvarado and Christina Maxouris, CNN

Floating cars, submerged buildings, no power: Floridians describe Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm a little after 3 p.m. Wednesday along Florida's southwestern coast, has been battering coastal communities for hours.
9 days ago
Post-tropical storm Fiona in Irish Cova, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island in Canada Sept. 24, 2022...
ROB GILLIES Associated Press

Fiona washes houses away, knocks out power in Canada

Strong rain and winds are lashing the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona hits as a powerful post-tropical cyclone. Canadian forecasters are warning it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history. Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn Saturday after transforming from a hurricane into a post-tropical cyclone. Forecasters caution that despite the change, Fiona still has hurricane-strength winds and will bring drenching rains and huge waves. More than 500,000 customers in Atlantic Canada are affected by outages. Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea.
13 days ago
A downed electricity pole on September 20, 2022 in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Although little damage t...
DÁNICA COTO, Associated Press

Puerto Rico struggles to reach areas cut off by Fiona

Hurricane Fiona was on a track Thursday to menace Bermuda and far-eastern Canada after leaving hundreds of people stranded across Puerto Rico, where it smashed roads and bridges and caused historic flooding.
15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
First Snows Bring Early Skiers As UDOT Watches Roads