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Finding a new home mountain near Salt Lake (intermediate trip reports) - Page 5

post #121 of 144
Thread Starter 

I've been having a blast this season at Snowbasin--conditions are worlds better than last year (or April 2014, for that matter), and having the time to really get to know the mountain helps a lot too.

 

Snowbasin has been pretty busy this season, with the parking lots filling up fast and lots of people on the hill. But, as noted in the Utah thread, lines really haven't been too bad--usually less than 10 minutes for Needles or the tram, and between ski-on and a few minutes for Strawberry, Becker, Middle Bowl, and John Paul. Porcupine's generally ski-on, and a very charismatic porcupine has been hanging out in a tree just to the right of the chair as you head uphill--lots of people taking pictures. Wildcat is really a treasure, and I'm thrilled that they've been running it and grooming it this season--and for whatever reason, it seems to stay pretty empty.

 

I'm still a little frustrated with the bottlenecks on the mountain, especially on days when City Hill and Women's Finish are closed off for racing. Grooming under Wildcat helps tremendously--there's a bottleneck on Bear Hollow, but instead of everyone staying compressed there, they disperse again on Wildcat Traverse, Stewart's, Stein's, Becker Face, Harold, and School Hill. The top of both gondolas are also problem spots... Sweet Revenge, in particular, seems like it could benefit from some sort of more aggressive surface management to keep it in good shape all the way to 4:00. But overall the grooming has been phenomenal.

 

Overall, I'd say the blue runs at Snowbasin tend to be on the challenging side. I've noticed big crowds of people on the easy roads down from the top of Needles (switchbacks to Porcupine Traverse to Middle Bowl Traverse to Boardwalk to either Herberts or Blue Grouse). I think the popularity of this path, despite its overcrowding, is a good indicator that less confident intermediates are being scared away from many of Snowbasin's blue runs. Personally I really like a lot of the steeper runs, but I'm a bit cautious to recommend Snowbasin for timid intermediates. And for that matter, I occasionally really enjoy big, long, wide, gently rolling cruisers... the kind you find at Powder Mountain or Lift 10 at Telluride or the frontside of Keystone. And my only real complaint with the Snowbasin terrain is that they don't offer such a thing.

 

Thanks, everyone, for your comments, suggestions, and feedback!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

And really, how can you go to Deer Valley and not have lunch there?  Prices are pretty fair for the high quality IMHO. 

 

I think that depends largely on how far you go. My boyfriend and I had dinner at Mariposa in the Silver Lake Lodge tonight, and it was superb--easily one of the top restaurants I've ever experienced anywhere. It was expensive to be sure, but I agree that the prices were fair... what I'd expect from any restaurant of that caliber. And we'll definitely be back to try some of the other restaurants. But they're pretty much all less than an hour drive from home for me and accessible without paying for a lift ticket. Given the decent possibility that my ski day at Deer Valley last month might end up being my only day ever skiing there, I think I made the right choice to get all the skiing in that I could. However, for tourists visiting Utah, I agree that they really should enjoy lunch at DV.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobbly View Post
 

I've always felt that Snowbird had an excellent lift layout.  It's fairly easy to jump from area to area if you know your way around.

 

mostly agree. But it's frustrating to be at the top of Little Cloud wanting to head to Peruvian. And the soupy/choppy crud that forms around the base of the Baldy Lift is very offputting to lower-skill skiers... I wish the bottom of Baldy was another 150 feet or so higher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kbat11700 View Post

Snowbasin is my favorite mountain ever. It's just good. Even on a busy snowbasin day, its not very busy. Plenty of terrain for all preferences and skill levels whether you like the tree skiing on JP, the open bowls in strawberry, park laps on needles, or super fast groomers on strawberry, snowbasin had it. I'm a pass holder. Shoot me a PM if you want to know some of the hot spots for powder have been. Only downside is the visibility at the top during storms but thats what you get for higher elevation amazing view skiing.

Note: last year was a terrible year for everyone so conditions were not up to Utah par. This year is much better
Great tips about changing opinions. Snowbasincan grow with you.

Good points--I really am enjoying Snowbasin at my current ability level, and there is no shortage of areas on the mountain that I look at and think "one of these days I'm going to be able to ski that!" It really is a phenomenal mountain, and it certainly has grown on my this year! 

post #122 of 144

@New2Utah, I 100% agree with everything you said about Snowbasin, particularly that top part of Sweet Revenge which is just a cut up mess of piles and scraped off and humanity, so much so that I often seek out the off-piste on the sides to avoid it, but only if conditions are just right. And yes, I have always said it's really lacking in the wide open EASY blue cruisers that are some of my favorites to ski at other mountains. It's truly not an easy mountain for a timid intermediate to ski. That being said, it has made me step up to the plate this season for sure! And yes, conditions have just been fantastic.

post #123 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Utah View Post
 

I've been having a blast this season at Snowbasin--conditions are worlds better than last year (or April 2014, for that matter), and having the time to really get to know the mountain helps a lot too.

 

 

Great repors.

 

N2U,

 

Could you comment on the general condition of the road up to the resort? Last year when I visited Snowbasin I was able to drive my FWD rental up without issue, but it was a low snow year. I will be visiting in again in mid March and was wondering if I may need to plan on using the Ski Bus if it snows. I don't think the road up is a steep and the Cottonwoods, but wondered how well it gets plowed and if they put 4X4 or chain restrictions up?

post #124 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post

Great repors.

N2U,

Could you comment on the general condition of the road up to the resort? Last year when I visited Snowbasin I was able to drive my FWD rental up without issue, but it was a low snow year. I will be visiting in again in mid March and was wondering if I may need to plan on using the Ski Bus if it snows. I don't think the road up is a steep and the Cottonwoods, but wondered how well it gets plowed and if they put 4X4 or chain restrictions up?
[morons

They have required 4wheel or chains before. Only on the snowiest mornings when they can't keep the road clear though. Most days you will be able to drive but on a snowy morning, better be safe than sorry and take the bus. Coming home on one such evening, a friends mini van got stuck. They had me come pick them up and they got their car the next day.
post #125 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post
 

 

Great repors.

 

N2U,

 

Could you comment on the general condition of the road up to the resort? Last year when I visited Snowbasin I was able to drive my FWD rental up without issue, but it was a low snow year. I will be visiting in again in mid March and was wondering if I may need to plan on using the Ski Bus if it snows. I don't think the road up is a steep and the Cottonwoods, but wondered how well it gets plowed and if they put 4X4 or chain restrictions up?

The road up is definitely well-plowed (and also well-traveled, which helps). So far this year, my aging sedan without frills has handled it just fine. The parking lots can be a bit slick--I lost traction briefly a few weeks back, and I've seen several other cars sliding around in the lot. Just go slow and you will almost certainly be fine. But, as KBatt mentions, they can occasionally implement chain requirements, and if you're here for a huge storm it might make sense to take the bus.

post #126 of 144

I've seen way too many vehicles skidding around on that road, and particularly the actual access road once you turn off of Trapper's Loop, to recommend someone NOT having AWD/4WD with good tires on it if it snows. I'm up there an average of 4 days per week. You might "make it" but as a fellow driver, I'd prefer everyone have a safe ride up there because you aren't the only car on the road. Our neighbor got stuck up there in their 2WD minivan and had to leave it behind. We sold our 2WD sedan and bought an AWD SUV for just this reason. Will get snows on it next year, as the tread is new enough on the tires this season to feel it's doing fine. We had one day I wished for snows, but the rest of the time, it's been fine. And we live in Mountain Green, in a neighborhood that doesn't always get plowed right away, so, we get quite a bit more snow than the Ogden area.

 

My opinion is if you are coming to ski in Utah, get a proper ski vehicle, and make sure it has good tires on it. You can rent at off-airport locations for much cheaper and most of the car companies have shuttles that will take you from the airport to those locations for free. Of all the things to cheap out on for a ski trip, the vehicle makes the least sense. It's arguably the most important part of safety for your trip.

post #127 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by contesstant View Post

 

 

My opinion is if you are coming to ski in Utah, get a proper ski vehicle, and make sure it has good tires on it. You can rent at off-airport locations for much cheaper and most of the car companies have shuttles that will take you from the airport to those locations for free. Of all the things to cheap out on for a ski trip, the vehicle makes the least sense. It's arguably the most important part of safety for your trip.

 

One of the big allures for ski tourists coming to Utah is the ability to avoid costly 4X4 rentals by using the Ski Bus. I just got back from a four day Cottonwoods trip and was able to rent a midsize 4dr for a total of $93 for the whole trip. We did drive up to Alta in it one day when the roads were clear and the restrictions were lifted. The other three days it snowed, so we Parked and Rode the Ski Bus up. It costs over $100 per day to get a 4X4 rental through a company like Rugged in Salt lake. That's a 400% increase in rental costs, plus the inconvenience of being off site. 

 

I don't think it's "cheaping out" to plan a trip this way. If you are travelling on a budget, saving on costly car rentals can make a huge difference. If convenience rules over cost, then obviously a 4X4 rental would be the way to go.

post #128 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy View Post
 

 

One of the big allures for ski tourists coming to Utah is the ability to avoid costly 4X4 rentals by using the Ski Bus. I just got back from a four day Cottonwoods trip and was able to rent a midsize 4dr for a total of $93 for the whole trip. We did drive up to Alta in it one day when the roads were clear and the restrictions were lifted. The other three days it snowed, so we Parked and Rode the Ski Bus up. It costs over $100 per day to get a 4X4 rental through a company like Rugged in Salt lake. That's a 400% increase in rental costs, plus the inconvenience of being off site. 

 

I don't think it's "cheaping out" to plan a trip this way. If you are travelling on a budget, saving on costly car rentals can make a huge difference. If convenience rules over cost, then obviously a 4X4 rental would be the way to go.


I was referring to folks who want to drive up to Snowbasin per the previous posts. I'm all for those who take the buses--that's the way to do it especially for our air quality issues! If someone is dead set on driving up to each resort, then they really should rent a 4WD.

post #129 of 144

UTA also has buses that leave from Ogden for both Snowbasin and PowMow.  So no need to drive all the way when the roads are snowy in the mountains.

 

https://www.snowbasin.com/resort-services/bus-service/

 

http://www.powdermountain.com/en/getting-here/shuttle-service/

post #130 of 144

Even though I read your thread in its entirety last year I can't remember whether you visited Beaver.  We went there yesterday and had a blast.  We have friends in North Logan and that's their mountain so we had Chris be our Beav host.  For $48 we surely got our money's worth.  Oh there wasn't much that was untouched but lots of tree skiing and groomed runs in lovely condition as they don't get a ton of people. We also hiked up and got some very stellar views and a little untouched that was soft from the sun (in the shade a bit of crust) Very laidback vibe and small-townish which is what was fun.  Kind of reminded me of Mission Ridge in Wenatchee. And we could ski to our car for a tailgating lunch!  Loved how accessible the car is to the slopes.  Lots of folks out there grilling up hamburgers and had their dogs running around.  So we could have beer and sandwiches then quickly be back on the slopes again.

post #131 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequim View Post
 

Even though I read your thread in its entirety last year I can't remember whether you visited Beaver.

Nope, I haven't been to Beaver Mountain in the winter (it's a pretty area though, drove through last May). I'm curious about Cherry Peak, up that way, too... sooner or later someone on EpicSki needs to report on it!

post #132 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Utah View Post

Nope, I haven't been to Beaver Mountain in the winter (it's a pretty area though, drove through last May). I'm curious about Cherry Peak, up that way, too... sooner or later someone on EpicSki needs to report on it!

Nordic Valley has a wonderful vibe as well. Great for a pow day when you just want to lap the same straight fall line run over and over again... And have fresh stuff all day. I learned to snowboard there.
post #133 of 144
Thread Starter 

2015-2016 definitely felt like a better year for snow than the abysmal 2014-15 season I primarily wrote up in this thread. I'll post a recap and some thoughts.

 

This season I skied 31 days and just shy of 500,000 vertical. I spent $885 for my pass/lift tickets. Thanks to a combination of prior engagements, illness, and a minor midseason injury, I didn't experience any days with more than 3 inches of powder. Which means I still haven't learned how to ski powder, but I had fun with what I had.

 

My home mountain (the title of this thread, after all), was Snowbasin, and I feel like I got to know the mountain much better than last year. I'd say the season had three pretty distinctive parts to it:

 

1) early season (opening - Christmastime): Snowbasin was a pretty good early season resort, I thought. The combination of snowmaking and natural snowfall meant they were opening runs pretty steadily; groomer conditions were good; and it wasn't too crowded. It was nice enough as a season passholder, but I wouldn't pay to travel for it or pay the high day ticket prices for it.

 

2) midwinter (Christmastime - February 14): This is when Snowbasin really shines. With adequate snowfall and cold weather, I think it's one of America's great resorts, with fast lifts, varied terrain, phenomenal food, and fun runs that seem to go forever. By late January/early February I was getting my ski legs back and really having a blast. Snowbasin has a couple runs that somehow were never fun (Wolverine and City Hill), but by and large it was a phenomenal experience.

 

3) the long Spring (February 15 - closing day). And then it rained on Presidents Day. Which was very crowded even with the awful snow conditions and low visibility. And the warm dry weather that followed kept conditions springlike. There were some very fun days in there, but for most of this time the fun was limited to a few hours at the right time or in the right area. Snowbasin's rare north-facing runs were generally still amazing (some better than others on different days, but after mid-February, my favorites were always north-facing). But they all offer a flawed experience:

Rocky J--a pair of fantastic, steep little hills that sprout corn like nobodies business. But lapping it means dealing with the crowded and quickly-torn-up Sweet Revenge, or else venturing into the side country (which, in spring conditions, was often unpleasant).

Beck's--the most sustained vertical, an awesome drop right onto the Porcupine loading zone. But lapping it meant either riding the long slow Porcupine chair, traversing, and then climbing the last bit of Wildcat hill; or else waiting in line for the Gondola, traversing, climbing, then dealing with sloppy conditions at the bottom.

25th Street and School Hill--often the best choice, with a short straight fall-line drop, and then later a big wide slab of snow that stayed in remarkably good shape even with traffic. But the problems here were the slow Becker lift and the congested, ripped-up, often slushy sometimes gummy Bear Hollow run in the middle.

 

When others pointed out to me last year that spring was better in the Cottonwoods, I shrugged it off... I like Spring skiing after all. But I definitely learned that there's something to this... I like good spring skiing (or what I think of as good, anyway), and while it was usually available at Snowbasin, enjoying it meant suffering through more sub-par skiing than I would have liked. Given how the few north-facing runs really stood out, I suspect that the more north-facing resorts (Deer Valley, PowMow, and the Cottonwood Canyons) would have been more enjoyable during this long spring, and the extra elevation at the Cottonwood Canyons would've helped a lot, too.

 

Beyond Snowbasin, I had fantastic experiences at Sun Valley, Deer Valley, Powder Mountain, Telluride, Solitude, Brighton, and Snowbird. It's worth noting that my days at Sun Valley and Telluride were free with my Snowbasin pass (although it sounds like the T-Ride partnership was cancelled after this year). I never once got stuck in traffic heading to-from skiing. I'd estimate that I spent about an hour and twenty minutes total waiting in lift lines, and a half hour of that was closing day at Brighton when everyone wanted to ride & party on Crest Express. So it was a good year.

 

I really enjoyed getting to know Snowbasin better, and there's a lot there to try to know! Some level of second-guessing is natural, I suspect, but overall I think I made a good decision going with the Snowbasin pass... if anything, I wish I'd splurged once or twice more during the long spring for day tickets in the Cottonwoods. If I were staying another winter in Utah, though, I'd go for something different to have a different experience. Probably Brighton: I worry somewhat that I'd eventually get bored there, but each visit has blown me away. And I'd definitely make use of their free days at Solitude and Deer Valley. But I'm moving later this year, so soon I'll need to pick another new home mountain.

post #134 of 144
Ironic that your time is at an end and you call yourself "new" to Utah. Glad you had a good season though. It's a shame you never got to ski some of the good powder we got at SB this year. Get yourself a sticker and call it a wrap!
post #135 of 144
Quote = New2Utah:
3) the long Spring (February 15 - closing day).

That's a normal spring for Snowbasin's altitude/exposure.  February was the lean month in Utah (and everywhere in the western US) in 2015-16 so probably the spring conditions arrived earlier and more consistently at Snowbasin than usual.  On the other hand Snowbasin had 48 inches in March but since you missed most of the new snow perhaps you had the impression spring was more continuous.  Alta had 80 inches in March, and with the superior altitude/exposure the Cottonwood Canyons surely had packed powder surfaces more often than not in March.  I was there the last week of March with 2 storms and usually ~75% winter conditions when there was no new snow.

 

Powder Mt. and Deer Valley are not much better for snow preservation than Snowbasin.  There's a big gap between the 4 Cottonwood resorts and everyone else in Utah.

 

I don't get the comments about "timid intermediates" at Snowbasin.  I think the long and wide open groomers on Strawberry are about as good as it gets for that ability range with far less congestion than at most resorts.

 

No mention of correcting the issues from 2014-15:

1) Did you get a decent pair of boots?

2) Did you get the right mix of clothing/accessories not to be cold?

post #136 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Utah View Post
 

2015-2016 definitely felt like a better year for snow than the abysmal 2014-15 season I primarily wrote up in this thread. I'll post a recap and some thoughts.

 

This season I skied 31 days and just shy of 500,000 vertical. I spent $885 for my pass/lift tickets. Thanks to a combination of prior engagements, illness, and a minor midseason injury, I didn't experience any days with more than 3 inches of powder. Which means I still haven't learned how to ski powder, but I had fun with what I had.

 

My home mountain (the title of this thread, after all), was Snowbasin, and I feel like I got to know the mountain much better than last year. I'd say the season had three pretty distinctive parts to it:

 

1) early season (opening - Christmastime): Snowbasin was a pretty good early season resort, I thought. The combination of snowmaking and natural snowfall meant they were opening runs pretty steadily; groomer conditions were good; and it wasn't too crowded. It was nice enough as a season passholder, but I wouldn't pay to travel for it or pay the high day ticket prices for it.

 

2) midwinter (Christmastime - February 14): This is when Snowbasin really shines. With adequate snowfall and cold weather, I think it's one of America's great resorts, with fast lifts, varied terrain, phenomenal food, and fun runs that seem to go forever. By late January/early February I was getting my ski legs back and really having a blast. Snowbasin has a couple runs that somehow were never fun (Wolverine and City Hill), but by and large it was a phenomenal experience.

 

3) the long Spring (February 15 - closing day). And then it rained on Presidents Day. Which was very crowded even with the awful snow conditions and low visibility. And the warm dry weather that followed kept conditions springlike. There were some very fun days in there, but for most of this time the fun was limited to a few hours at the right time or in the right area. Snowbasin's rare north-facing runs were generally still amazing (some better than others on different days, but after mid-February, my favorites were always north-facing). But they all offer a flawed experience:

Rocky J--a pair of fantastic, steep little hills that sprout corn like nobodies business. But lapping it means dealing with the crowded and quickly-torn-up Sweet Revenge, or else venturing into the side country (which, in spring conditions, was often unpleasant).

Beck's--the most sustained vertical, an awesome drop right onto the Porcupine loading zone. But lapping it meant either riding the long slow Porcupine chair, traversing, and then climbing the last bit of Wildcat hill; or else waiting in line for the Gondola, traversing, climbing, then dealing with sloppy conditions at the bottom.

25th Street and School Hill--often the best choice, with a short straight fall-line drop, and then later a big wide slab of snow that stayed in remarkably good shape even with traffic. But the problems here were the slow Becker lift and the congested, ripped-up, often slushy sometimes gummy Bear Hollow run in the middle.

 

When others pointed out to me last year that spring was better in the Cottonwoods, I shrugged it off... I like Spring skiing after all. But I definitely learned that there's something to this... I like good spring skiing (or what I think of as good, anyway), and while it was usually available at Snowbasin, enjoying it meant suffering through more sub-par skiing than I would have liked. Given how the few north-facing runs really stood out, I suspect that the more north-facing resorts (Deer Valley, PowMow, and the Cottonwood Canyons) would have been more enjoyable during this long spring, and the extra elevation at the Cottonwood Canyons would've helped a lot, too.

 

Beyond Snowbasin, I had fantastic experiences at Sun Valley, Deer Valley, Powder Mountain, Telluride, Solitude, Brighton, and Snowbird. It's worth noting that my days at Sun Valley and Telluride were free with my Snowbasin pass (although it sounds like the T-Ride partnership was cancelled after this year). I never once got stuck in traffic heading to-from skiing. I'd estimate that I spent about an hour and twenty minutes total waiting in lift lines, and a half hour of that was closing day at Brighton when everyone wanted to ride & party on Crest Express. So it was a good year.

 

I really enjoyed getting to know Snowbasin better, and there's a lot there to try to know! Some level of second-guessing is natural, I suspect, but overall I think I made a good decision going with the Snowbasin pass... if anything, I wish I'd splurged once or twice more during the long spring for day tickets in the Cottonwoods. If I were staying another winter in Utah, though, I'd go for something different to have a different experience. Probably Brighton: I worry somewhat that I'd eventually get bored there, but each visit has blown me away. And I'd definitely make use of their free days at Solitude and Deer Valley. But I'm moving later this year, so soon I'll need to pick another new home mountain.

 

It was fun reading through your experiences all season long, and doubly fun for me since I've had the same home mountain and have a similar skillset.

 

I suffered the same issues with powder as you this year.  This was the year that I was really hoping to really get into it and figure it out.  My first powder day was early January and I managed to promptly sprain my MCL on my 3rd run down.  It got healed up just in time for that mid-February spring you described.  Doh!

 

I agree with most everything you've said about Snowbasin.  It has a great reputation amongst real skiers and I think a big part of that is the skier's right side of Stawberry and, even moreso, the entire John Paul area.  Unfortunately both of those areas are pretty much all expert terrain so intermediates can't get much out of it.

 

Lapping Strawberry's blues is fun but that comes with its own set of problems, namely that it's often closed or at least miserable on the ridgeline.  On a nice sunny day with good snow conditions though, it's tough to beat those long cruisers, a stop for some giant and delicious $3 tacos (the best bang for the buck lunch I've ever had skiing) at the bottom, and then a line-less and fast comfy Gondola ride back to the top with an incredible view to do it again and again and again.

 

The middle 3rd of the mountain has some great intermediate runs, but like you said they all pretty much involve either being annoying to get to or annoying to get out of.  The bottom half of that area of the mountain is just crowded and generally a bore unless the conditions are great.  I often find myself doing laps on the cold, slow Middle Bowl lift just to stay on the upper half of the mountain.  I think the lift actually takes longer than a gondola ride despite covering less than half the vertical and of course is much more exposed and cold, but that's how badly I want to avoid the bottom half of the middle 3rd of the mountain.  I guess the dream would be if they put a high speed quad in for Middle Bowl lift and you could lap it with 5-6 minute lift rides like you can in so many areas of Telluride or Deer Valley, but I doubt that's in the cards.

 

I also have found it to be a poor mountain for beginners.  My brother and sister and law come out every winter having only skied as never-evers over a short weekend a few years ago prior to me moving out here three years ago.  The place really lacks an area for advancing beginner's.  IE people that have a couple of days under their belt and can at least stand up on skis now.  Little cat is nice for first timers but it's way too flat to really make any progress on beyond that.  So that leaves you with Bear Hollow as the only other green which, as you mentioned, is generally a crowded, chopped up bumpy mess, especially during the times of year where people are traveling (holidays).  This year I took them to Brighton instead of Snowbasin and they made much better progress.  Bumps and compact crowds just freak beginner's out and really stunt them from progressing at all.

 

All that said, I can of course see the appeal of the mountain.  Lots of fast vert, great expert terrain, huge acreage to explore, incredible food, almost unbelievably short lift lines, etc.  The perks are great too as they've had some really good partner resorts (I have to thank you again for your tips on Telluride, we had an amazing time there and really lucked out with weather and snow conditions).

 

However, I think next year in my quest to learn to ski powder I'm going to get my pass at PowMow instead.  Snowbasin is known as a good place for powder but due to my schedule I can only ski certain days and can't get out there early.  That means even in the rare case that I'm able to ski a powder day, unless it's actively storming all of the good learning terrain is totally skied out by the time I get there.  I realize that compared to Snowbird and the like Snowbasin keeps its untouched powder stashes well, but again that gets back to the intermediate issue as most of those are in expert areas that intermediates have neither the knowledge nor the skills to get to.  Any time I find powder at Snowbasin it's either really steep and or in areas with obstacles.  And of course for a powder newbie just trying to get used to the feel of powder, turning in it is a real challenge.  That's actually how I sprained my MCL, getting in over my head because the only powder I could find was in a steep area with a lot of obstacles and I had a hard time controlling my speed and avoiding them.

 

The cancellation of the Telluride partnership is probably the clincher, as we really enjoyed it there and that might have enticed us to stick with Snowbasin.  Hopefully I will make some major progress this next season at PowMow and be able to give Snowbasin a fairer shot with some more ability under my belt in the 2017-18 season.  I think I will enjoy it much more when I get to the point where I'm comfortable enough in powder that I actually WANT it to be steep and full of obstacles.

post #137 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

I don't get the comments about "timid intermediates" at Snowbasin.  I think the long and wide open groomers on Strawberry are about as good as it gets for that ability range with far less congestion than at most resorts.

 

I would consider my wife a "timid intermediate" (though maybe more of a timid beginner-intermediate).  For her the biggest challenge of Strawberry is the top.  Even on a nice day (forget it for a timid intermediate in any kind of weather or wind) it's extremely intimidating up there on the ridgeline.  Then it has an immediate decent sized hill to get off of it.  On its own the hill would probably be no problem but when your knees are already shaky and your body stiff from navigating the ridgeline it can really mess you up.  It is by far the place my wife most often falls and I'm sure it's because she's so tense when she starts down it.

 

Her other problems are finding her way around with it being so wide open (was never a problem for me, but I'm usually the navigator when we're skiing) and that the easiest of the trails to get to (main street) has a double fall-line or bowl shape that gives her problems controlling her speed.

 

We take one ski trip somewhere else every year and the last two years have been Sun Valley and Telluride (again, great perk to the Snowbasin pass) and she probably found 10 groomers at each of them that she preferred to any of the runs at Snowbasin.

 

Once you get to the point of strong intermediate though, those Strawberry blues are a blast.  It would really be helpful if they built another lift that went about 3/4's of the way up (right around where you can split off back to the mid mountain at Dan's Run) for bad weather days up on the ridgeline.

post #138 of 144
Quote = Vcize:
 It would really be helpful if they built another lift that went about 3/4's of the way up (right around where you can split off back to the mid mountain at Dan's Run) for bad weather days up on the ridgeline.

I think such a lift is on the drawing board.  I've never thought all that much about the top pitch following the groomed entry skier's right being that difficult, but the weather can definitely be an intimidating factor on some days at the top of Strawberry.

post #139 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

I think such a lift is on the drawing board.  I've never thought all that much about the top pitch following the groomed entry skier's right being that difficult, but the weather can definitely be an intimidating factor on some days at the top of Strawberry.

Friends of mine that are not the best alerts find that section eater difficult. It is pretty steep, often crowded, and torn apart by 12 some days. They often take the cat track instead.
post #140 of 144
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbat11700 View Post

Ironic that your time is at an end and you call yourself "new" to Utah. Glad you had a good season though. It's a shame you never got to ski some of the good powder we got at SB this year. Get yourself a sticker and call it a wrap!

 

Good point--I'll have to look into how to change screen names on here :) Things aren't completely settled yet, but it's looking like next year I'll be new to Portland, Oregon.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

That's a normal spring for Snowbasin's altitude/exposure.  February was the lean month in Utah (and everywhere in the western US) in 2015-16 so probably the spring conditions arrived earlier and more consistently at Snowbasin than usual.  On the other hand Snowbasin had 48 inches in March but since you missed most of the new snow perhaps you had the impression spring was more continuous.  Alta had 80 inches in March, and with the superior altitude/exposure the Cottonwood Canyons surely had packed powder surfaces more often than not in March.  I was there the last week of March with 2 storms and usually ~75% winter conditions when there was no new snow.

 

Powder Mt. and Deer Valley are not much better for snow preservation than Snowbasin.  There's a big gap between the 4 Cottonwood resorts and everyone else in Utah.

 

I don't get the comments about "timid intermediates" at Snowbasin.  I think the long and wide open groomers on Strawberry are about as good as it gets for that ability range with far less congestion than at most resorts.

 

No mention of correcting the issues from 2014-15:

1) Did you get a decent pair of boots?

2) Did you get the right mix of clothing/accessories not to be cold?

 

March was better than the second half of February, but still included some very warm stretches and I believe two rain events at the bottom. That, and I missed one weekend sick and another weekend for the Telluride trip.

 

I agree with others that the top of Strawberry seems to be daunting to lower-skill skiers. I love the drop-in, but a lot of people seem to choose that narrow catwalk to avoid it. Lower down, conditions are more of a challenge. Even in perfect conditions, Wolverine was icy, and most of the season there were problems with some of the other runs, too.

 

I also see many people taking Porcupine Traverse/Middle Bowl Traverse each lap on the gondola. These narrow catwalks don't strike me as fun or as a good reason to travel to ski. I think most of the Colorado resorts, as well as PowMow, Solitude, Brighton, Park City, and Deer Valley just offer a lot more to the advancing beginners or those returning to the sport who don't have much confidence for the steeps.

 

Because cash was somewhat short, I did another season rental this year, but I tried on more boots before committing and got a "non-rear-entry" boot (there's got to be a better word for that). These were definitely better than last year's boot, but I still suspect that splurging on a great boot would make a real difference for me.

 

I got a better mix of clothing/accessories, at least--and thanks, everyone, for the tips! And the cold never drove me off the mountain this season :) I prefer warm to chilly, and so the gondolas were nice when I used them, but better clothes definitely made them feel less necessary.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vcize View Post
 

 

It was fun reading through your experiences all season long, and doubly fun for me since I've had the same home mountain and have a similar skillset.

 

I suffered the same issues with powder as you this year.  This was the year that I was really hoping to really get into it and figure it out.  My first powder day was early January and I managed to promptly sprain my MCL on my 3rd run down.  It got healed up just in time for that mid-February spring you described.  Doh!

 

I agree with most everything you've said about Snowbasin.  It has a great reputation amongst real skiers and I think a big part of that is the skier's right side of Stawberry and, even moreso, the entire John Paul area.  Unfortunately both of those areas are pretty much all expert terrain so intermediates can't get much out of it.

 

Lapping Strawberry's blues is fun but that comes with its own set of problems, namely that it's often closed or at least miserable on the ridgeline.  On a nice sunny day with good snow conditions though, it's tough to beat those long cruisers, a stop for some giant and delicious $3 tacos (the best bang for the buck lunch I've ever had skiing) at the bottom, and then a line-less and fast comfy Gondola ride back to the top with an incredible view to do it again and again and again.

 

The middle 3rd of the mountain has some great intermediate runs, but like you said they all pretty much involve either being annoying to get to or annoying to get out of.  The bottom half of that area of the mountain is just crowded and generally a bore unless the conditions are great.  I often find myself doing laps on the cold, slow Middle Bowl lift just to stay on the upper half of the mountain.  I think the lift actually takes longer than a gondola ride despite covering less than half the vertical and of course is much more exposed and cold, but that's how badly I want to avoid the bottom half of the middle 3rd of the mountain.  I guess the dream would be if they put a high speed quad in for Middle Bowl lift and you could lap it with 5-6 minute lift rides like you can in so many areas of Telluride or Deer Valley, but I doubt that's in the cards.

 

I also have found it to be a poor mountain for beginners.  My brother and sister and law come out every winter having only skied as never-evers over a short weekend a few years ago prior to me moving out here three years ago.  The place really lacks an area for advancing beginner's.  IE people that have a couple of days under their belt and can at least stand up on skis now.  Little cat is nice for first timers but it's way too flat to really make any progress on beyond that.  So that leaves you with Bear Hollow as the only other green which, as you mentioned, is generally a crowded, chopped up bumpy mess, especially during the times of year where people are traveling (holidays).  This year I took them to Brighton instead of Snowbasin and they made much better progress.  Bumps and compact crowds just freak beginner's out and really stunt them from progressing at all.

 

All that said, I can of course see the appeal of the mountain.  Lots of fast vert, great expert terrain, huge acreage to explore, incredible food, almost unbelievably short lift lines, etc.  The perks are great too as they've had some really good partner resorts (I have to thank you again for your tips on Telluride, we had an amazing time there and really lucked out with weather and snow conditions).

 

However, I think next year in my quest to learn to ski powder I'm going to get my pass at PowMow instead.  Snowbasin is known as a good place for powder but due to my schedule I can only ski certain days and can't get out there early.  That means even in the rare case that I'm able to ski a powder day, unless it's actively storming all of the good learning terrain is totally skied out by the time I get there.  I realize that compared to Snowbird and the like Snowbasin keeps its untouched powder stashes well, but again that gets back to the intermediate issue as most of those are in expert areas that intermediates have neither the knowledge nor the skills to get to.  Any time I find powder at Snowbasin it's either really steep and or in areas with obstacles.  And of course for a powder newbie just trying to get used to the feel of powder, turning in it is a real challenge.  That's actually how I sprained my MCL, getting in over my head because the only powder I could find was in a steep area with a lot of obstacles and I had a hard time controlling my speed and avoiding them.

 

The cancellation of the Telluride partnership is probably the clincher, as we really enjoyed it there and that might have enticed us to stick with Snowbasin.  Hopefully I will make some major progress this next season at PowMow and be able to give Snowbasin a fairer shot with some more ability under my belt in the 2017-18 season.  I think I will enjoy it much more when I get to the point where I'm comfortable enough in powder that I actually WANT it to be steep and full of obstacles.

Cool--I agree with pretty much all you say, and I think you should have fun if you end up at PowMow next season. And it sounds like a better fit for your wife, for sure. 

 

I think you're selling the bottom part of the mountain a little short... I've had amazingly fun runs off Becker and Wildcat, and based purely on terrain I'd say these are the best spots on the mountain for intermediates. The problems are the variable conditions (snowmaking is going to help, once it's in), bottlenecks (improving Penny Lane will take care of one, at least), and slow lifts (a high-speed quad on Wildcat will be a game-changer). So in another couple years, Snowbasin might be an ideal choice.

post #141 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Utah View Post

 

Good point--I'll have to look into how to change screen names on here :) 

 

Unfortunately, you can't. Or rather, some mods could do it, but it would break things on the site (@ calls, threads you started, searches, etc.), so it's not typically allowed. 

post #142 of 144
Seems like it's missing functionality. Other places you can get a new screen name without creating an entirely new account.
post #143 of 144

BUMP for intermediates who are curious about Utah skiing.  Start at Post #1.

 

Good reading from 2014-15 and 2015-16 while we wait for ski areas to open for the 2016-17 season.  Remember that things are always changing.  For instance, there will be two new lifts at Powder Mountain soon and the process to make changes at Alta and Snowbasin on U.S. Forest Service land began in early 2016.

 

Note that New2Utah has moved.  Now exploring PNW and posting as @New2PDX .

post #144 of 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

BUMP for intermediates who are curious about Utah skiing.  Start at Post #1.

 

Good reading from 2014-15 and 2015-16 while we wait for ski areas to open for the 2016-17 season.  Remember that things are always changing.  For instance, there will be two new lifts at Powder Mountain soon and the process to make changes at Alta and Snowbasin on U.S. Forest Service land began in early 2016.

 

Note that New2Utah has moved.  Now exploring PNW and posting as @New2PDX .

Thanks, @marznc ! And I'm still getting notifications for the New2Utah account, so if someone pops up with questions, I'll see them.

 

In addition to the new lifts at PowMow, Sundance is replacing the Arrowhead triple with a new quad for this season. Should eliminate lift lines up there on all but the most crowded days, I'd think. And there's fun skiing and phenomenal views available from the summit of Arrowhead--I'm kind of bummed I won't be in town to give the new lift a try.

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