The Ski Utah Interconnect Tour: Salt of the Earth
Salt Lake's breathtaking landscapes and pristine snowfall have long made it a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. While its world-renowned ski resorts attract skiers and snowboarders from around the globe, there's a hidden gem that offers a unique and unparalleled experience—the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour. This guided backcountry skiing adventure takes participants on an extraordinary journey, connecting some of Utah's most iconic resorts through the untamed wilderness. Led by experienced guides like Luke Ratto, the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour opens up a world of untouched powder, thrilling descents, and unforgettable vistas.
Luke Ratto: A Maestro of the Mountains
At the heart of the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour (and the spokesperson for this Salt of the Earth feature) is Luke Ratto, a seasoned professional who serves a pivotal role in making this backcountry adventure an unparalleled experience. As the Interconnect Program Director for Ski Utah, Luke brings a wealth of expertise and enthusiasm to the table. His passion for these mountains is evident from the moment you meet him. It’s his job to ensure that participants not only navigate the challenging terrain safely but also immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Utah's winter wonderland.
“Most of our guides have been working with us for over 20 years...client safety is our number one priority. We put it before all else,” Ratto notes. Tour prep begins the evening prior, with Ratto and other guides checking forecasts, contacting snow safety teams and doing their best to make sure the tours go off without a hitch.
Embarking on the Interconnect Adventure
The Ski Utah Interconnect Tour provides the opportunity to traverse the pristine backcountry terrain between six of Utah's premier resorts: Solitude Mountain Resort, Brighton Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Park City Mountain, and Deer Valley Resort. The journey covers an expansive and diverse landscape, from wide-open bowls to steep chutes, all beneath the majestic backdrop of the Wasatch Range.
For this feature, we focused on the version of the tour which features the four resorts of the Cottonwood Canyons. Ratto advises that this is the heartier of the two tours when it comes to the amount of backcountry terrain that clients get to experience. This four-resort tour will typically begin at Snowbird Resort, with clients and guides meeting up at the Tram Plaza around 8 am. As the group sets out, the anticipation is palpable—a thrilling adventure awaits beyond the boundaries of the traditional ski resorts.
Navigating a Powder Playground
What sets the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour apart is the opportunity to ski through acres of untouched powder, far away from the groomed trails of the resorts. The journey is a harmonious blend of challenging descents and serene glides through mountain landscapes.
The backcountry terrain offers a sense of solitude and connection with nature that is hard to find within the confines of a resort. The snow-covered meadows, towering peaks, and dense forests become the canvas for a skiing masterpiece, and participants can't help but marvel at the untouched beauty that surrounds them. “It’s beautiful. The views are pretty exceptional,” says Ratto. He says that while powder days are great, he pushes for bluebird departures so clients can enjoy the grandeur of the Wasatch range.
Connecting Utah's Premier Resorts
The Interconnect Tour is not just about the thrill of the descent; —it's also a unique opportunity to link together some of Utah's most celebrated resorts. Each leg of the journey unveils a different facet of the region's diverse topography, showcasing the natural wonders that make Utah a skiing paradise. From the luxury of Snowbird to the challenging terrain of Alta, the tour seamlessly integrates the distinct personalities of each resort into a cohesive and unforgettable experience.
The standard Cottonwood Tour route goes from Snowbird over to Alta, then onward to Brighton and Solitude. After an often much-needed lunch break, it’s back over to Alta and finally Snowbird again to cap off a huge day. As the group moves from one resort to another, participants gain a deeper appreciation for the unique character of each, making the Interconnect Tour a holistic exploration of Utah's skiing culture.
A Culmination of Adventure and Serenity
In the heart of the Wasatch Range, where snow-covered peaks meet endless possibilities, the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour stands as a testament to the spirit of exploration. It invites adventurers to leave their comfort zones and discover the uncharted territories of Utah's backcountry. With Luke Ratto at the helm, this journey becomes more than a skiing excursion; it becomes a transformative odyssey through the soul-stirring landscapes of the Beehive State.
Book a Tour
The Ski Utah Interconnect Tour can be booked on Ski Utah’s website. The offerings include the Open Tour, which can accommodate groups of up to eight in size. Private Tours can be booked for up to 12 skiers. Groups have to decide if they would like to do the more physically demanding (and backcountry-heavy) version described above, or the more approachable version that includes Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. In any case, skiers must be at least 15 years old, and Ski Utah mentions that this tour is not designed for the timid, but if you read this far, we’re guessing that’s not you!
We appreciate Luke Ratto and Ski Utah for their partnership, and for helping make winters in Salt Lake fun and safe. Additionally, we would like to thank Tim Jones and Grit Visual L.L.C. for allowing us to use their video footage of the Interconnect Tour to help bring this story to life.