The Summit: Scott Hill – Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Scott Hill. It may sound like a puny mountain compared to other Wasatch Mountain peaks like Mt. Superior or The Pfeifferhorn, but at 10,116 feet, this “hill” is actually an impressive summit. In fact, Scott Hill is the 30th highest peak in Utah, totally worthy of an ascent followed by a tasty brew at the top.
“Puke Hill” is the popular term for this mountain in the summer, as it’s where the Wasatch Crest Trail mountain bike ride begins in earnest with a massively torturous climb. But in the winter, the hill is tamed by snow, and backcountry skiers flock to it on powder days for access to USA Bowl and the Monitors above the Park City canyons.
It was an unusually snowy May when we climbed Scott Hill, and we actually began the day with a plan to bag the summit of Mount Superior with a ski down the famous south face. But avalanche danger caused a road closure by UDOT in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which forced us to instead drive up Big Cottonwood in search of a peak to climb. Seeing as it was late spring and there was still a ton of snow in the mountains, we chose to drive high – all the way to Solitude Mountain Resort across from Scott Hill.
In Solitude’s upper lot, we slapped skins to skis and walked across the highway to a road that winds through a neighborhood of snow-covered cabins. Enough snow had melted on the road to require us walking in our ski boots (despite a constant, glassy sheen of ice) all the way to a skin track that begins below aspen groves at the base of USA Bowl.
It was a relief to leave the pavement and skin on actual snow that was still frozen solid from a lack of spring sunlight. We figured a south-facing slope would have already gotten a lot of sun in the morning, but either the Earth tilted on its axis while we slept, or our internal seasonal sun-clock was off kilter thanks to the warming season. Either way, we were greeted by ice and crust, while sun-filled north slopes taunted us across the canyon.
For over an hour, we skinned through the aspens to the top of the Park City ridgeline above USA Bowl. Scott Hill loomed to the east, still cold in the shadowed morning. Seeking soft snow to ski on, we followed the ridge to No Name Bowl above The Canyons ski resort. After a quick de-skinning, we made easy, fast turns down the steep slope on surprisingly excellent corn snow. Spring skiing at it’s finest! But our intended summit still waited.
We converted our skis back to uphill mode and made way for our goal by following a ridge south to Radar Love, a collection of cell phone, radio and television towers above USA Bowl. It was here that we ran into a snowmobiler (sans snowmobile) post-holing the ridge to fix a transmitter for a friend. He instilled a sense of foreboding in us with a tale of slide-for-lifes and the loss of his GPS that careened down the rock-hard face of Scott Hill earlier that morning. Undaunted, we bade him farewell and continued to the rocky summit.
Short work was made of the ridge that leads to the top of Scott Hill, although we took great care to avoid a gigantic cornice that formed with recent new snow and wind loading. Once at the top, we were treated to a 360-degree view of the Wasatch Range. We could see Mount Timpanogos to the south and miles of white peaks stretching all the way to Wyoming to the north. With our real-life 3D television surrounding us complete with a brisk wind and silent air, it was time to crack open our reward.
The Brew: Bohemian Brewery Cherny Bock
The Bohemian Brewery in Midvale recently released yet another of their old-world style lager beers in a can. The Cherny Bock Schwarzbier is the third offering from the magic makers at Bohemian to come in a can, and it’s perfect for stocking coolers, or for packing on summit brew trips.
That last point speaks volumes to outdoor lovers, as cans don’t break, they can be crushed when empty (easier to pack out,) and for some unknowable reason (maybe because of ’70s-era Coors commercials,) beer tastes better in a can when you’re lounging by a river, sitting on a mountain top, or hanging out in the parking lot after a satisfying day on the slopes.
It’s notable that Bohemian Brewery’s Cherny Bock is in a can because it’s a dark beer. In fact, Cherny means “black” in Czech. But when you think of canned beer, thin yellow beer comes to mind. Even though Cherny Bock is dark in color, it’s lager properties still make it a very drinkable, refreshing beer. And as a dark beer, the Cherny Bock retains it’s darker flavors which are always welcome in colder climates. I felt it paired very well with the chilly, windy summit on Scott Hill.
Surprisingly, Cherny Bock even tastes great straight from the can, especially when enjoyed outdoors. But like all fine microbrews, the best way to enhance all of the complex flavors is to pour it into a glass. If you do, you’ll notice that it pours very dark, almost black. A nice, thick head holds notes of roasted malt with just a touch of hoppiness. The Cherny Bock is a well-balanced beer that is easy to drink and left us wanting more. And with an ABV of 4.0%, you felt we could have a few without losing any memory of the outdoor adventure we just enjoyed. But we still had to descend on skis over a supportable ice crust, so one beer was enough.
Bohemian Brewery Cherny Bock is available in grocery and convenience stores, but if you can’t find it, you can always buy flats of it at the brewery, located at 94 East 7200 South in Midvale, Utah.
For more information and a list of locations where Bohemian is sold, visit the Bohemian Brewery online.