Backcountry Ski Mt. Watson in the Uinta Mountains

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Added by Cal Perfall

Mt. Watson is one of the biggest Uinta Peaks not located in the High Uintas Wilderness, meaning you can drive a snowmobile to the base of the mountain. Skiing this peak is an incredibly hard and unique wilderness skiing experience.

Mt. Watson is a beauty. It is one of the tallest peaks directly outside of the High Uintas Wilderness area and has a stunning East face that is very steep and littered with cliff bands. Many people hike around Mt. Watson in the summer, when the Mirror Lake Highway is open and the trailhead is easily accessed. In the winter, however, Mt. Watson is deep in the wilderness. The Mirror Lake Highway is not plowed, meaning that during winter, Mt. Watson is 15 miles from the nearest road. Practically speaking, the only way to ski Mt. Watson is with a snowmobile. The Mirror Lake Highway gets packed down and is an excellent road to sled on. 

Getting There 

Drive the Mirror Lake Highway until the plowing ends at the Soapstone exit. From here, a snowmobile must take you up about 12 miles of road until you see the summer turnoff for Trial Lake. Make this left turn and snowmobile cross country through the woods to Wall Lake. Wall Lake is a large lake and will be frozen, providing excellent snowmobiling terrain. From Wall Lake, snowmobile up towards the base of Mt. Watson, and begin skinning. 

The Route  

From the base of Mt. Watson, the route up to the summit of obvious. Skin to the right (north) to access the North ridge of Mt. Watson. Once on the ridge, you can skin all the way to the summit. 

Mt. Watson is steep. This peak should only be skied during safe avalanche conditions. There are several lines to be had here, with the standard line being just below the summit on the northern side. Ski down back to the sled, and snowmobile back to the car. 

This is a long day. Skinning up a peak and snowmobiling a combined 30 miles is exhausting. There is no cell phone service near Watson, and you are skiing deep in the wilderness. Wilderness skiing should only be considered by expert skiers who are aware of the consequences should something go wrong.  

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