Pros: 85 runs for all levels of skiers, all inclusive features, excellent quality all around.
Cons: I don't live there, yet.
As a first time adult skier with only a few passes down the bunny hill during a lesson at Snowbird, I decided then and there that I wanted to ski for the US Olympic Team. Dreams of speeding down the giant slalom, scoring the longest ski jump, performing the most wicked of aerials and landing it solid is the stuff that Snowbird is made of with each snowflake that falls. On average, Snowbird gets 500" a year!
[cut to me at the podium with my gold medal]
Notwithstanding the gorgeous vistas, powdery snow, fresh air and majestic beauty of these mountainous trails, Snowbird is truly a most wonderful place to ski.
My boyfriend, an avid skier since childhood, decided to take me skiing as a treat. He wanted to share his longtime passion with me in hopes that I'd enjoy it. He learned on the East Coast and has skied the world. His choice of venue for this ski trip I barely recognized as a destination much less a mecca: Snowbird. I said "What's a snowbird?" He laughed and said "It's the greatest place! You are going to love it!"
The first day we went to a local Salt Lake City ski shop where they fitted us for our rental equipment. The next morning we went out to the slopes. The ski in / ski out was terrific at the Cliff Lodge except my skis and boots felt heavy as I taxied to the middle of the Chickadee hill. My boyfriend asked me for the hundredth time, "You can ski, right?" My reply "Yes, I went one time in high school. I'll be fine." Not to age myself but high school was not, like, yesterday... As I descended slowly I knew I'd spoken too soon. He head nearly exploded as he quickly realized that my memory of my ability to ski was somewhat, say, clouded. I reassured him by telling him that I just need to get my ski legs, after all, I was a gymnast and dancer back in the day. In a stern admission I said "I'm just finding my center." We went down the bunny hill twice. He watched me closely and then maneuvered me toward the Mountainside Ski School office. Fortunately, a private lesson was on offer and he grabbed it. I said "OK! Let's go!" His face became softer and his relief became a smile. I told him to go ahead and ski, go where it makes you happy and I'll meet you later. He kissed me good luck and went off to live his passion.
My first lesson at Snowbird came with two lessons: First, have the right equipment, second, learn to ski properly. My instructor was incredible! As she introduced herself she gave me the once over, sizing me up asking the pertinent question, "Have you skied before?" My answer of course was "One time back in high school we went to Hunter Mountain in New York on a school trip." Considering my lanky 5'10" height and her small but solid 5'4" stature, her strong gaze made me feel like putty in her experienced hands. She knew what she was looking at.
We started our lesson with movement exercises like how to step with the skis, go up and down, turn, circle, sit, fall and get up with the skis and poles. After one run down Chicadee hill, she immediately noticed that my skis and boots did not properly fit. We went directly to Cliff Sports where she had them re-fit me with the correct equipment. What an incredible difference! My whole body felt connected to the skis and my movements told the skis what to do. A Zen-like experience followed. I was now 'one' with the bunny hill and had found my ski legs.
My trainer was absolutely fantastic. She kept me safe, secure and on top of my skis. I couldn't thank her enough
although I think a nice tip helped and was much appreciated.
By the end of our stay I had mastered the Chicadee run and with safety always first, I ventured a tiny jump over small lump of snow near a soft embankment. My training and quest for gold had officially begun in that moment.
My boyfriend's smile became even bigger at my achievement.
While I trained in bunny-land, his adventures brought him far far up the vast mountain. His runs included taking the 6-7 minute Tram ride that takes 125 people up to Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet. From there the first pass was Chip's Run, a warm up to the rest of the day's runs at Mineral Basin. Intermittent rests are necessary because of the altitude, but each stop is a photo op of the immense beauty all around you, along with the Great Salt Lake glimmering in the background. At Mineral Basin he skied several Black Diamond runs, Lone Star, Blue Bayou, then went across Path to Paradise to The Bookends. He came back thrilled everyday and couldn't get enough time out there! Seeing his elation only fueled my own to keep working on that bunny hill.
He says you can spend two weeks at Snowbird and not see everything or do every run on the mountain. There are 2,500 skiable acres and there are moments where you can find a place to be alone with nature and breathe it all in. Every run is pristine and beautiful so his goal is to hit each run and know the terrain like a map in the palm of his hand. I watched the start of his run down Cirque Traverse from the Tram. His smile was whiter than the snow and I felt grateful that his passion could so easily be shared about skiing at Snowbird and was now mine to explore.
The other kind of beauty at Snowbird resides in the fact that everything you need is right there. Great restaurants like The Aerie and The Atrium were delicious. The Birdfeeder at lunch was also a delight. They are also vegan, vegetarian and pescetarian friendly which for me was terrific. He could order steak while I enjoyed trout almondine sans butter. Other refreshments could be found in the many Apres Ski venues as well as the nightlife lounges. The spas and hot tubs also offer a rejuvenating experience after a great day of skiing. It is all very happening on the scene!
At this point I think it would be needless to say that we can't wait to go back. But I'm saying it anyway just to be clear. We can't wait to go back! Snowbird nirvana is only a mere 30 miles from the Salt Lake City airport. A short ride to acclimate with a few songs from your IPhone and you're there. The bunny hill is beckoning me and my passion is aflame. Thank you boyfriend. What time do the aerial classes begin? Oh snap.
One last thing, If I were to write a beginner's handbook on skiing, the title and first paragraph would read:
FROM THE BEGINNING... TO BLACK DIAMOND AND BEYOND
Written by Bunny Hill
Edited by The Boyfriend
To begin to understand what skiing is all about read a manual. To truly begin to understand what skiing is really about GO to Snowbird in Utah. Pack your cool ski outfit, smartwool sox, goggles, shades, neck gaiter, hat, gloves, apres ski boots, bathing suit, sunscreen and chapstick and head to the airport.
Highest elevation: 11,000 feet
Base elevation: 7,760 feet
Vertical Rise Range: 149 - 2,900 feet
Difficulty: Beginner to Double Black Diamond
Lifts: 1 tram, 4 Quads, 6 Doubles
Equipment Rental: $39.00 - $74.00 per day (on average)
Lessons: $375.00 (on average)
Lunch at the Snack Bar: $20.00 (on average)
Lessons Learned: Profound
Experience: Priceless, and worth every cent