I have one day in early March I can ski in Salt Lake City. I am an averge skier and prefer longer slower cruising runs. I need some help picking where to ski. Help!
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One Day to ski in Salt Lake City [early March, intermediate]
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You'd probably have fun wherever you go, but Brighton's probably the best bet: they have great gentle cruisers, and the high elevation should ensure good conditions (although it's worth looking at the conditions once it gets closer, too). "Long" cruisers is somewhat subjective... most of the runs at Brighton are between 1,000 and 1,200 vertical feet, so you can definitely find longer runs elsewhere, but the lifts are quick and it's very laid back. What are some of your favorite areas you've skied in the past? An "average" skier can mean a lot of different things :)
All the runs out west will feel long to what you've skied in Minnesota.
Brighton is a good choice. Park City, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin also tick the boxes. Snowbasin and Park City will have the longest runs of those mentioned.
The only resort I would steer you away from is Snowbird as it is not the best choice for long, slower cruising runs.
Deer Valley is expensive but it is known for it's long, wide, cruising groomers. I also find it to have very mellow terrain top to bottom and it's easy to navigate with huge maps at the top of each lift. It's in Park City but an easy drive from SLC. Even the bump runs (you can see from the chair) have very mellow pitches and you can choose to ski in and out them in many areas as they are next to groomers. Most of their blues are easy intermediate runs. It also has the advantage of no snowboarders. I have nothing against snowboarders in general, and often ski with a few, but it is a nice change once in awhile.
Welcome to EpicSki! Will the ski day be on a weekend or midweek? Will you have a car? Midweek I would say Alta without question, starting from the Albion base. Although Brighton would be fine, especially if you do the free mountain host tour (green/blue groomers). On a weekend, driving up to Snowbasin might be worth the effort. That's assuming snow conditions and visibility are good at Snowbasin.
Do you ski mostly blues or blacks in the midwest?
In that case, probably makes the most sense to take the public bus to either Brighton or Alta. Look up UTA Ski Bus for the schedule and route maps. Or just call the Sheraton and ask them what's the closest bus stop.
If you went to Brighton, plan on doing the free mountain host tour in the morning. If you go to Alta, consider doing the morning group lesson. Quite a good deal on a weekday, plus you can find out from the instructor which trails make the most sense for you during the afternoon. In both places, warm up on a green trail before moving to blue trails in the same general area. If you go to Alta, consider having lunch at the Rustler or Alta Lodge for a treat that won't be more expensive than eating a hot meal at one of the on mountain places.
If the temps are warm (over 32 at the base) then pick Alta over Brighton.
Alta or Brighton. Both are on the bus route and both have ample fun blue cruisers. Since it's a weekday, crowds shouldn't be too much of a problem (don't go to Brighton on Saturday - it's the only SLC area where kids ski free so it tends to be jammed with families).
Don't be intimidated by Alta's reputation for expert terrain - yeah, it's there in spades, but there's plenty of easy blue cruisers. If it's a powder day you might be better off at Brighton since powder brings out the powder hounds en masse and Alta is their choice over Brighton. Otherwise, every skier should ski Alta at least once, so I'd say go there.
Why? (If you're thinking Alta is higher than Brighton you'd be mistaken. Brighton has the highest base elevation in the Wasatch.)
Has more to do with what terrain is available to an intermediate who is likely to stay mostly on blue groomers given warm weather at the base. At Alta, can have a good time off Supreme or even Collins mid-station if the base is getting slushy or sticky. At Brighton, the runouts to a few of the lifts off the groomers are a real pain in warm weather. Granted, if in the 30's, it's not a big deal. But in the 40's, I'd rather be at Alta.
One April my ski buddy and I spent a day at Brighton when we were staying for a while at Alta Lodge. Temps were in the 50's. We left at 1:30 because there really wasn't much fun to be had skiing slush even in the trees. The runouts felt positively dangerous because the snow was too sticky. Should not be a concern in March though.
The other factor for the OP is that going to Alta is . . . well . . . on many people's bucket lists. Brighton . . . not so much. If he gets tired in the morning and would like a longer lunch break, much better view if have lunch at the Rustler or Alta Lodge or Watson's than the eating options at Brighton.
I haven't skied Alta yet, but it sounds like a great recommendation, particularly if it's a really warm day or it's on your bucket list. One potential drawback, though, about Alta is that the lifts run 9:15-4:30 and then you're finished, ready or not, and you need to make sure to catch a bus back down the hill. Brighton's night skiing is a lot of fun, if you're into it, and the last bus down leaves at 8:35 pm. If you've got the stamina for something approaching an 11-hour ski day, Brighton's the way to go!
Also, so you can plan, the ski bus schedules are available here: http://www.rideuta.com/mc/?page=RidingUTA-SkiService. The lines from the 7200 S Trax station are probably the best bet/give the most flexibility, but compare your hotel location to the map and maybe one of the others is more convenient.
@ sonkist32 I live a couple hours away from you. A couple weeks ago was my first time skiing out west. We flew into SLC on Saturday night and then skied Sunday through Thursday and flew home on Friday morning. Flying in the night before was helpful in order to adjust to the altitude from what we're used to. The friends I went with this year also went there last year but skied the same day they flew in at Solitude. They said altitude was definitely an issue on their first day last year. This year we decided to ski Snowbasin on our first day. We even ran into some of marznc's Bear and Diva friends while there, and had a nice visit riding up the tram. The base elevation is about 6200 feet and the peak is up in the 9000 + foot range. Other ski areas, especially in the Wasatch are perched a little higher. I can't say for sure this would have made any difference on day 1, but it's something to consider. We also skied Deer Valley in Park City, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. There was something I liked about each place we went, so no matter where you choose to go, you will probably have a good time. We bought all of our tickets a day or 2 in advance using Liftopia, with the exception of Deer Valley. For Deer Valley we went to a place called Canyon Sports and bought our lift tickets there for $92 instead of paying the window price of $114.
A couple other things I would suggest, to make your experience more enjoyable, since you still have some time before March rolls around, is start doing some cardio if you don't already work out. You'll be glad you did. Even though you already ski, take another lesson (or more), before you go. For me, my friends ski at much higher speeds than I like to, and are fundamentally and technically sound at those higher speeds. Trying to keep up with them brought out a number of flaws in my own technique, that I wouldn't have known I had, if I just stuck to skiing in Minnesota with shorter runs, and fatigue was the result. I'm not saying you will experience the same problems that I did, but it doesn't hurt to prepare yourself, rather than get out there and go, "HOLY CRAP!!!" Our idea of greens, blues and blacks are completely different than what you will experience out there. The steepness didn't bother me, but the sustained vertical will start to wear on you. Better to find out now where your deficiencies are and get them worked out. Last year Welch Village was offering a clinic specifically geared for people who were venturing out west, but all I saw on their website this year was something called "mountain clinic." Not sure that's the same thing, but a phone call to inquire wouldn't hurt, plus they could probably gear a private lesson for your upcoming trip. I'm sure Afton, Buck Hill or where ever you call home could do the same thing.
My intent is not to discourage you. Quite the contrary. Skiing out there will leave you wanting more. Beautiful scenery, excellent snow conditions when compared to the hard pack we get to ski on all year back here, and you'll meet a lot of nice people. Best of luck to you and a safe and fun filled trip.
- One Day to ski in Salt Lake City [early March, intermediate]
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