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First Utah Trip - A Sampling of 7 Different Ski Areas! (January 5 - 13)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm excited to write up my first trip report ever.  I hope this will be a great way for me to reminisce on my great trip and let others enjoy it as well (sorry for the length!).  I may edit this as I remember other parts I forgot.

 

First, thanks to all who weighed in on my trip planning threads (http://www.epicski.com/t/115379/which-resorts-to-ski-in-park-city-1-8-1-13, http://www.epicski.com/t/116505/where-to-go-in-utah-this-weekend).  You helped make this trip great!

 

So, I originally planned a ski trip for Jan 8 - 13 with my mom and wife.  I unexpectedly found myself working in Arizona the week before this trip, so I convinced my company to just fly my straight to Utah on the 4th rather than send me back home to NC.  So, I skied Jan 5-7 on my own (with flights/lodging all on my company's dime!!) and then 8 - 13 with my mom and wife.  I am thankful for my 20-something legs...I successfully skiied 9 consecutive days...to start the season!  Most importantly, my wife (with only half a day of skiing at Sugar Mountain under her belt) is now hooked on the sport!  She already sent me a list of resorts that she wants to try out next year!

 

Day 1: Snowbasin (Jan 5)

 

I stayed in downtown SLC with a compact rental car over the weekend and decided to start off at Snowbasin.  The groomers were a ton of fun, and the bluebird skies were great to enjoy the view.  I ventured off-piste a few times (Sister's Bowl off Strawberry), and found very crusty deep powder.  I then tried out the trees off John Paul Express and was fairly disappointed.  Maybe I missed the good tree skiing, but I found myself several times in thick woods/brush that were not very easy to ski.  So, I enjoyed the LONG blue groomers and getting my legs back in shape.  All in all, a great start to my trip and season.  Oh, did I mention the lodges?!?

 

 

*

 

Day 2: Solitude (Jan 6)

 

Wow, what a great day of skiing!  I showed up to Solitude 15 minutes before the lifts opened and literally had the first parking spot.  I was on the first chair and enjoyed the untracked groomers for the first bit of the morning.  I was amazed at how empty Solitude was on a perfect bluebird Sunday.  After a few laps on Eagle Express I ventured into Honeycomb Canyon via the Powederhorn lift.  After a short hike to avoid a rocky section and traversing out to skiers left, I was shocked to drop in and find some relatively untracked deep powder.  I had a blast alternating between Honeycomb Canyon and Headwall Forest for the rest of the day.  Some people complain about how long it takes to repeat Honeycomb Canyon, but I found that I enjoyed alternating back and forth.

 

*

 

Day 3: Snowbird (Jan 7)

 

My legs were fairly sore by day 3, so I spent 95% of the day in Mineral Basin lapping the blue groomers.  The views were absolutely incredible...by far the best of the whole trip.  I enjoyed hitting up the bumps in the bowls underneath the traverse on skiiers right off of Mineral Basin, especially ending at the small chute underneath the Mineral Express lift (High Stakes?).  I tried out the front side of Snowbird and found the snow was a little more hard pack/icy than Mineral Basin.

 

*

 

Day 4: Canyons (Jan 8)

 

My mom and wife flew out late on the 7th, so we spent that night in SLC.  Then, we drove out to Park City first thing in the morning.  My wife took a "first timer" lesson at the Canyons.  The lesson was all-day with an hour lunch break.  At her lunch break, she was almost in tears because she did not like her instructor at all.  Fortunately, she was able to swap instructors at break and had a great rest of the day.  I skied with my mom throughout the day and spent most of the time on the blues/greens that allowed us to lap the Orange Bubble Express.  It was great to be able to sit on a heated seat getting back to the top!  The Canyons is so huge that I feel like I only skied a tenth of the mountain.

 

 

Day 5: Park City Mountain Resort (Jan 9)

 

Our lodging in Park City was about 100 yards from the PayDay lift, so we slept in a little bit and spent the day at PCMR.  I enjoyed Park City, but it felt like the most crowded resort we went to (all the runs seemed to funnel back together).  I spent most of the day on Homerun, a 3.5 mile green that my wife really enjoyed.  I ventured off for a bit around lunch and enjoyed McConkey's Bowl and Motherlode Meadows for some more technical terrain.

 

In the town of Park City, we tried to eat at fairly budget friendly places. I really enjoyed No Name Saloon!  Their bison burgers were great after a long day on the slopes.

 

 

Day 6: Deer Valley (Jan 10)

 

This was one of my favorite skiing days of my life.  My wife tried out her first blue and did great.  She quickly realized that she could apply parallel turning to almost any slope and do fine.  Fairly heavy snow moved in around lunchtime, making the afternoon absolutely amazing.  It probably snowed around 6" on top of perfect groomers, and I had an absolute blast.  All of the DV yuppies stayed inside once the snow started, so we had the resort to ourselves.

 

 

Day 7: Alta (Jan 11)

 

Given the forecast for around 16" in LCC, we decided to get up really early and try to beat the 6 am scheduled LCC road closure.  Unfortunately, this storm was somewhat of a dud in in the upper elevations and we only got about 6-8" and they didn't have to close the road.  Still, the snow was great.  I can certainly understand why Alta is so famous...the high traverse gives you limitless lines.  By the end of the day, Catherine's area opened and I had an amazing run through untracked powder.  There was WAY more than 8" out here...probably closer to the original 16".  It was extremely cold (top of collins = -5, wind chill = -21).  My wife was feeling very sore this day and decided to just hang out in the lodge.  This was probably for the best given the temp, wind, and limited visibility.  Still, I had an absolute blast...I can't wait to try Alta on a bluebird day so I can enjoy the view!

 

 

Day 8: Snowbasin (Jan 12)

 

I woke up and checked all the snow reports and was shocked that Snowbasin got 20" overnight, with the next highest being 3" at BCC.  So, we made the trek up and I had an absolutely amazing day.  The 30 seconds that I floated through a black diamond making first tracks were definitely the best 30 seconds of my skiing life!  I expected we would be sacrificing for great snow with limited visibility.  Fortunately, the sun came out and visibility was perfect.  What a day!  My mom and wife really enjoyed the gondolas to warm up and the amazing lodges.  My mom is a big fan of long blue groomers, so you can imagine how much of a blast she had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Deer Valley (Jan 13)

 

My mom had such a blast skiing Snowbasin that she decided to call it a trip and skip the last day.  So, I got to ski the whole day with my wife.  It was incredible the progress she made.  We skiied blues all morning, and then I convinced her to try a double blue just after lunch.  By mid-afternoon, I knew she was ready to try a black diamond.  So, we ventured over to Stein's Way (a groomed black).  She made it all the way down without stopping or falling!  I was almost giddy following her from behind.  

 

 

It was tough heading back to work (Arizona) when my mom and wife flew back to NC.  But, I knew these memories would last forever.  What a great trip!  

post #2 of 22

Wow, nice trip! But I'm afraid your wife is now spoiled for life...  LOL

post #3 of 22

Great TR!  Happy for you that your wife is hooked.  Obviously the planning paid off!

post #4 of 22

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post #5 of 22

What a great trip!  Thanks for sharing it with us.

 

The best part of your trip may be the acquisition of a ski partner ... I think it's the best piece of gear you can have.

post #6 of 22
Thanks for sharing this. I have other plans for this year but I'm gonna try that next year. I'm in NC myself, glad y'all had fun.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubysdad View Post

Thanks for sharing this. I have other plans for this year but I'm gonna try that next year. I'm in NC myself, glad y'all had fun.

Hello!  Where in NC?  I'm in Raleigh.  Alta is my favorite in Utah.

post #8 of 22
I will keep that in mind. We are in Greensboro, we're going to Moonlight Basin/Big Sky next month. We went last year and it was great, no crowds. I looked hard at Utah this year but got outvoted by the rest of the family. Ive never been there.Moonlight is awesome though, I said several times on the trip that I was never going back to Colorado. There were no lift lines at Moonlight at all and the longest I saw at Big Sky was maybe a dozen folks waiting. Some of the runs were so desolate that I actually thought I was out of bounds. The lodging is awesome, you can get ski in ski out cabins or condos with a private hot tub overlooking the mountain at a comparable rate to most standard lodging. Don't spread the word though, I don't want it to change.
Thanks for sharing your trip details, Theres nothing better than a trip like that.I'm glad you had fresh snow.
I will let you know how our trip goes
David
post #9 of 22

Hah!  I went to Big Sky for the first time last Feb.  Had such a good time I'm going back during the EpicSki Gathering there in late March.  Didn't take much to convince one of the ski buddies who joined me last year to go again.  We're going to drive up from SLC, then stay at Alta Lodge for the next week.  That's my daughter's spring break so she'll meet me there.  We've been meeting up with friends for a late season week for a few years.

 

You should give Bridger a try too.  Did you do the free mountain tour at Big Sky?

 

Not much risk that Big Sky will get crowded any time soon.  Airfares to Bozeman discourage most people.

 

Do you ski in the southeast too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rubysdad View Post

I will keep that in mind. We are in Greensboro, we're going to Moonlight Basin/Big Sky next month. We went last year and it was great, no crowds. I looked hard at Utah this year but got outvoted by the rest of the family. Ive never been there.Moonlight is awesome though, I said several times on the trip that I was never going back to Colorado. There were no lift lines at Moonlight at all and the longest I saw at Big Sky was maybe a dozen folks waiting. Some of the runs were so desolate that I actually thought I was out of bounds. The lodging is awesome, you can get ski in ski out cabins or condos with a private hot tub overlooking the mountain at a comparable rate to most standard lodging. Don't spread the word though, I don't want it to change.
Thanks for sharing your trip details, Theres nothing better than a trip like that.I'm glad you had fresh snow.
I will let you know how our trip goes
David
post #10 of 22

"Deer Valley (Jan 10) This was one of my favorite skiing days of my life."

 

Had to laugh.  Usual response.  Dream version of lux skiing.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagles Pdx View Post

"Deer Valley (Jan 10) This was one of my favorite skiing days of my life."

Had to laugh.  Usual response.  Dream version of lux skiing.

Yeah, the resort facilities are nice at DV. But, this day was good because it snowed 6" between 11 am and closing bell. I was actually a little disappointed by the DV groomers before the new snow. With the snow, it felt like every single run was first tracks.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dshack89 View Post

Yeah, the resort facilities are nice at DV. But, this day was good because it snowed 6" between 11 am and closing bell. I was actually a little disappointed by the DV groomers before the new snow. With the snow, it felt like every single run was first tracks.

 Yeah, I went to DV last year when I was in Park City visiting my daughter (free tix).  I decided that so much emphasis on grooming meant that the snow on every run was over-processed, hard-packed, unpleasant.  The overall effect was worse than the East (maybe due to extreme dryness of snow out west?)

post #13 of 22
Quote:
  • 50x50px-LS-avatar-50-2.jpg

dshack89

I was actually a little disappointed by the DV groomers before the new snow. With the snow, it felt like every single run was first tracks.

 

Groomed vs. new snow is always like that.  If it's long period with no snow, every where gets scratchy.  Signature groomers at PC or the long, wonderful boulevards at DV will be as good as it gets.  Both offer a LOT of off piste skiing and as long as it's stayed cold, even tracked out the off piste will be nicer than groomed.

 

Not surprising that the place that got the return trip was Deer Valley.

post #14 of 22

Great first trip report!

 

You need to go back to Canyons and ski some of the harder terrain.  The stuff off of 9990 is great!

 

Mike

post #15 of 22

Utah skiing is overrated.  Don't believe the hype.  Go elsewhere.

 

(Utah resident here.)

 

wink.gif

 

Kidding, of course.  Glad you enjoyed your trip.  Snowbasin is in my backyard.  Come back soon!
 

post #16 of 22

Great report.

 

My carving skis get a lot of use in Utah, there is more hard snow & ice than people think.  Grooming + man-made snow + sunshine + lots of people skidding around and polishing the runs makes for hard, shinny slopes in the afternoons.

 

Not too many of us wish for the blue-bird days around here.  Bluebird days must not be common where you are from.  It seems like it is sunny in Utah almost everyday.  Even storm days are pretty bright. 

 

If you are a groomed run skier, Canyons isn't the best bet.  The runs are pretty narrow and coverage is often hit and miss.  PCMR or DV are better bets.  If there is enough snow, it has snowed lately, and you like off-piste skiing it is a fun resort.

post #17 of 22

Thats awesome man.  A few weeks ago, we did a 5 day trip of Sundance, Solitude, Canyons, Solitude again, and Alta.  It was amazing even without fresh snow.

 

You said you alternated between honeycomb canyon and the headwall forest in solitude...  I enjoyed honeycomb, but unfortunately, headwall forest was a bit over my limits.  I was horrible on that and legitimately scared for the first time ever on a run.  I think that was the hardest run I have ever been on and actually thought what I did in honeycomb was easier than that.  What are your thoughts? 

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ucunc156 View Post

Thats awesome man.  A few weeks ago, we did a 5 day trip of Sundance, Solitude, Canyons, Solitude again, and Alta.  It was amazing even without fresh snow.

 

You said you alternated between honeycomb canyon and the headwall forest in solitude...  I enjoyed honeycomb, but unfortunately, headwall forest was a bit over my limits.  I was horrible on that and legitimately scared for the first time ever on a run.  I think that was the hardest run I have ever been on and actually thought what I did in honeycomb was easier than that.  What are your thoughts? 

Thanks for reading!  Yeah, there were some tough stretches in Headwall Forest.  I found better snow conditions and better spaced trees when I traversed far to skiers right and dropped in as late as possible.  That said, I did manage to make my first (tiny) tear in my new ski jacket when I tried to duck under a branch that was a lot stiffer than I expected.

post #19 of 22

I did Headwall Forrrest with my friend.  I told him it looks better if we keep going to the right, but he said no, it all looks about the same.  Glad to know I was correct at least.  I wish we would have gone more to the right, then maybe I would have actually been able to do some of it.  The trees were wayyyyyyy too close on skiers left. 

post #20 of 22

I thought the Headwall Forrest was OK, but my son and I skied some lines in the trees b/w Challenger and Honeycomb return (drop over the ridge) where the trees seemed just spaced enough for a body to pass.  Once or twice and I was done!

post #21 of 22

Awsome !!

cant wait to do the same,

Me and my girl are in indy and have plans to head out in feb for 8 days to shred the gnar and party our butts off ,

beercheer.gif

post #22 of 22
We were out over Xmas week and did the Canyons, Solitude, Sundance, and Alta twice. You really can't beat Utah, we waited in only one lift line all week, and that was for the Gondi at the Canyons first thing in the morning. I wouldn't even consider doing a week long trip here in the East over Xmas week. I'm glad you had a good trip!
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