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Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Drainage Snake Creek
Terrain Open Bowl
Skiing Vertical 700'
Location 40.5824° / -111.5778°
Online Map View on

Marco Polo is a southeast-facing bowl that is just behind the top of Brighton's Crest chairlift. Although tempting due to its proximity to Brighton, it is steep, frequently wind-loaded, and prone to avalanches. It can be fun skiing in the Spring when the snow is stable, but at that time of year it is usually tracked-out by snowmobiles.

The top is steeper than it appears (nearing 45°). The lower half is a consistent 37°.

Marco Polo viewed from Crest Top
Marco Polo viewed from Below

Getting to Marco Polo

Exit through the Crest backcountry gate at the top of Brighton's Crest chairlift (the gate closes at 3 pm) and boot (or skin) up Pioneer Ridge to the first peak (10321). This ascent is approximately 300 feet. After skiing the south/east facing Marco Polo, you'll need to boot (or skin) up another 300 feet to return to the top of Crest.

About the Name

Descriptively called the 10321 Bowl or the 10321 Back Bowl, this run quickly earned the moniker Marco Polo when two young men (at least one of whom was a parking lot attendant at Brighton) were involved in a avalanche accident in 2015. Lacking avalanche transceivers and unable to locate each other, the partially buried man yelled, "Marco" to which his friend replied, "Polo." They repeated this a few times until they were reunited. Yes, it does sound too weird to be true, but I picked up "Polo" hitchhiking a few weeks after the mishap and he told me the story, adding, "I'm never going backcountry again." I didn't think much about it until a year later when I heard a ski patroller and an avalanche professional refer to the area as Marco Polo. Although not the original name, it seems to have taken root. Powderbirds calls this run Rattlesnake in the genre of Snake Creek.