Since we live in southern NJ, we faced a real dilemma as this trip approached - should we eat the non-refundable pre-paid condo rental and head for several feet of fresh snow in NE or go ahead with Utah plans and hope the snow conditions weren't as bad as reported? Forecast of extended sub-zero temps throughout VT and the fact that my daughter had never been to UT swayed the two of us to go ahead with trip to UT.
Background: we spend most of our time cruising groomers (blue or black, not afraid of steeps) and will push ourselves beyond that 2-3 times a day. But definitely not mogul mashers or hikers to extreme off-piste, so if you're looking for reports about Baldy chutes or Jupiter bowl you can stop reading without hurting my feelings.
Flew PHL to SLC the evening of 2/11. Shout-out to Southwest Air - besides competitive fares and free bags (note to the other guys, this IS a big deal for most of us), it's really nice to deal with people that are consistently friendly, cheerful, and helpful. Spent the night at Marriott Courtyard by the airport.
2/12 - Alta: very strange to drive all the way up the canyon with no snow on the ground, but coverage at the mountain was better than expected. Not up to Utah standards, but not bad. Basically spring temps and conditions. Can't recall any bald spots. A bit of hard scratchy areas, but certainly nothing an Easterner would call icy. Some corn down low later in the day, but the only slushy area was at the base. Having said all that, we had a great day. Lots of runs that suited our abilities and temperament, no lift lines, and of course the scenery lived up to my memories from 25-30 years ago and wowed my daughter.
2/13 - Park City: Snow coverage not as good as Alta, but still not bad. Another fun day of spring skiing - temps got up around 50F. This is a good place if you want the resort atmosphere. The town's in view from most of the mountain front, can't say I've ever experienced anything like the town lift that starts smack in the center of old town, main base area (Payday lift) has a lot going on - shops, ice skating, booze and food. Almost unfair to compare the ski experience to Alta, though. Must mention that the Park City mountain hosts (or ambassadors or whatever they're called) are a uniformly cheerful and friendly bunch.
2/14 - after 2 days of hard skiing and looking at forecast record high temperatures (and the start of holiday weekend) we decided to take a day off. Boy oh boy has old town Main St changed since I was last there - can you say lah-dee-dah? Nice, but not my cup of tea. In fairness, I have to say that we met and chatted with some down-to-earth friendly shopkeepers, but who really buys $3000 cowboy boots, especially on a ski trip? However, need to mention I had one of the best meals of my life the night before at 350 Main - pricey, but worth it. On the other hand, lunch prices at the pizza and pasta joint were ridiculous for the portion sizes and basically serve yourself atmosphere. Spent the later part of the day downtown SLC, wanted to explore the Mormon story presented at Temple Square. Interesting.
2/15 - in an effort to avoid holiday crowds, decided to head out to Snowbasin: I want to go back here when snow conditions are better. The opulence of the lodges really blew me away (although foodservice needs a little help) and I can't recall being to any other area that's so much in the middle of nowhere. There's no development at the area, no town, there's places on the mountain where you look down and see the access road leading off into nothingness. Pretty cool. Sorry to have to report that they were really hurting for snow. Couple runs on the main part of mountain were fun, but couldn't enjoy the Olympic downhill runs - because I was on new skis I really tensed up when I saw some rocky spots; on the other side of the mountain, there was so much brown snow and slush on Strawberry peak area it was basically un-skiable.
2/16 - back to Alta, holidays crowds be damned, we weren't leaving without skiing here again. Temps finally dropped down to near normal 20s and we had a couple snow showers during the day. Even though it probably "dumped" only an inch or two, it was great to have some fresh snow. Daughter and I decided this is where we fit. Nothing pretentious about the place - "Alta is for skiers". No maze of pricy shops and real estate offices to make your way through - just buckle up, step into your bindings and get on the lift. Lift lines weren't bad, either - never came close to filling the corrals. This was our last day, so needless to say we made the most of it - by the time we packed it in our legs never hurt so good!
Epilogue - on 2/17 we finally saw 6" of fresh snow. Unfortunately it was in our driveway when we got home!
Edited by sr31aj - 2/18/15 at 12:14pm