Up to this point I never ski around Xmas time. I hate crowds, hassles, low tide conditions, and overpriced holiday rates. But, being a non-local, that means not really skiing until mid Jan or later. With my older daughter in school now its tough to find time for extended ski trips so I figured this would be the year I ski during the Xmas holiday.
This trip, for me, was to get warmed up for the season, get my kids more enthusiastic about skiing, and have some good quality family time. I did a ton of research in the summer and decided Solitude was the choice for me. Low crowds, easy to get to, good ski school, slopeside lodging reasonably priced... and a chance for POW!!! Wait, that's not what this trip was about. As much as I told myself to expect poor conditions with not much terrain open, I could not escape the thoughts of getting lucky with the conditions. As the trip approached and my weather watching intensified I began to realize this would probably be a mostly groomer skiing type trip. A few inches were falling here and there and the base was about 30". The extended forecast 2 days before my trip was not favorable so I packed up my carvers and was content to work on my carving technique and really focus on getting the kids better.
Then, a day before I was leaving, the forecast changed to "copious snow fall in the Wasatch for 3 days". I unpacked my carvers and replaced them with my brand new Vagabonds. My excitement grew as powder skiing was pretty much guaranteed. Wait, this trip was about family, I cant think about myself. Guilt started to build as I had thoughts of leaving early for first chair while my wife and kids were still fumbling around looking for mittens. Compromise was needed.
OK, sorry for rambling, on to the trip. Easy trip out there and uneventful. Stopped at Temple Square in SLC to check out castles and Xmas lights. Kids loved it. 30 minutes later we arrived at our condo at Eagle Springs east. I chose this condo particularly because of the on-site heated swimming pool and game room for the kids. It was a little longer of a walk to the slopes but there was a shuttle option right out the door to Moonbeam lodge and main parking lot area. In hind site I would have gotten a big locker at Moonbeam lodge to store skis and boots. Schlepping all the kids gear was a little rough. The kids had lessons the first day and they took us over in a cool snowmobile sleigh ride. Kids loved it. The ski school and daycare are really great and the rates were very fair. First day was sunny and warm with 3 " of new. Got the kids settled in their lessons and my wife slept in while nursing a typical elevation related migraine. I didn't ski that morning and instead took video of the little ones on the bunny slope. I finally got to ski around noon. Nice soft packed powder conditions with little bumps. Chalky goodness for the most part. I was a bit tentative as these were the first runs since a pretty severe injury I sustained on my last day of last season and was skiing alone. Confidence returned quickly.
2nd day snow began to fall light and steady throughout the day. Little one spent time in daycare and the wife and older child (7 yrs) skied. The 7 yr old quickly surpasses my wifes ability and speed levels and asks to go down ungroomed blue runs. Dad becomes ecstatic. They tire out early afternoon and I keep going with snow continuing to fall. Conditions were getting better and better.
3rd day I went out by myself as the winds were picking up and another 6" or so fell overnight. The morning was real nice but then the temps warmed up and the snow turned to mank. It began raining all the way until 6 pm and then turned to sleet.
4th day I was meeting @NeedToSki and his daughter. Snow was coming down hard and wind gusts were 80mph. 30 downed trees forced the mountain to shut down completely. Spent the day with the kids in the game room and lots of movies. As the day progressed the excitement of tomorrow grew. You see, the 3rd day much of the top of the mountain was closed due to low viz, and the 4th day the entire mountain was closed, and snow was continuing to fall and was getting less and less dense as temps were falling.
5th day will always be memorable for me. The sky was blue, not a cloud, not a breath of wind, 11 degrees, and a good foot of light fluffy pow on top of the heavy stuff. Ski Patrol was working real hard with dangerous conditions to get much of the mountain open but could not get Honeycomb canyon ready for safe skiing. @NeedToSki and his daughter made the trip again and we proceeded to ski a whole lot of powder. We followed lift openings around the mountain and good times were had. Now to some pics:
Lift line up at 9am at the main lift (Moonbeam) on the magical day. Keep in mind this is during Xmas break and its a powder day:
Looking up from the base:
Didn't take any pics at the beginning because I didn't want to stop. Here is what it looked like mid morning after a few runs. Notice the side of the run by the trees with intact powder:
And even later in the day up top:
Too bad we couldn't have this but sure was nice to look at:
Edited by agreen - 12/28/14 at 3:15pm