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Alta, Park City, Snowbasin 2/12-2/16

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

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
post #2 of 7

Great report and had to laugh at the Epilogue.  I sure had a nice time at Snowbasin last month and am also sad to hear that it's not faring well with these temps and no snow.

post #3 of 7

Great attitude!!! Sounds like you made the most of it. There IS no place quite like Alta.

post #4 of 7

Nice trip report!


I've been to places that are in the "middle of nowhere" than Snowbasin, but they certainly don't usually have such nice lodges.  That's the legacy of the Olympics.


Agree that flying Southwest is about as good as it gets these days.  Especially when checking ski gear.


Alta is . . . well . . . a special place.  If you ever want to take a spring break trip, check out the specials that the lodges at Alta run in April.  Can easily end up catching a late season snowstorm.

post #5 of 7

My wife Michel & I along with Epic member Lott42 were at Alta on 2/16 as well and agreed that other than Sugarloaf the lifts were mostly ski on.


We had a good time and glad you enjoyed yourself:cool 

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Lofcaudio, agreen, marznc - thanks for the compliments. I've gotten so much from this site over the years, mainly while "lurking", and decided I was long past due to give back and share my trip experience.


jgiddyup - saw your trip report this morning, you put my effort on the b-list, particularly since you included some great pics! If I had checked in while in UT we might have been able to get together. but I usually avoid logging on while on vacation because it reminds me too much of work. Sooner or later I'll learn..... 

post #7 of 7

  We were in the area the same dates.  Flew in from Chicago on 12/11.  This was my first trip to Utah since I was about 10 years old.  We watched the weather and snow reports for the month leading up to the trip and were not sure how much snow would be left.


Day 1:  Deer Valley.  My wife is a beginner and I am advanced, although I have done very little skiing in the past 20 years.  New, shorter, skis took a little getting used to but everything came back to me fairly easily (I have skied in Wisconsin 4-5 days in the past 3 years).  I though Deer Valley was like skiiing on a golf course with all of the houses and condos next to the slopes.  Not really my idea of how skiing should be.  I grew up skiing Summit County Colorado in the 80's.  We did find a couple of green runs that my wife enjoyed and I went off by myself and did blues and blacks for a coupe of hours.  Overall, a great first day with outstanding weather on very poor snow.  Her favorite green was Homeward Bound.  I enjoyed the bumps and groomers under Sultan Express.


Day 2:  Park City.  I can't believe they had enough snow on the mountain to keep it open.  Homerun got very crowded but was an OK run.  Claimjumper was nice but also over-crowded.  It seemed like everyone on the mountain was skiing greens.  When I went off by myself, I made a few runs in the back off McConkey's but was not impressed.  The afternoon was good, stayed in the King Con area.  Green to the far right for her and bumps and fast blues for me.  I could make two runs to her one (within a minute or two) and we would ride the lift together.  At the end of the day, Homerun back to the base was a mess.  Crowded and piles of slush to ski through.  I must say that parking at either resort was not nearly as bad as I expected.  We arrived at 8:55 both days and got great spots.  At park City, we were 20 yards from the First Time lift.  Short ride up that and get on Crescent!  The only lift line we encountered was at Silverlode, maybe 5-10 minutes.


Day 3:  Brighton.  We were flying out that evening and had to check out anyway, so we made the 1 hour drive in the morning. Arrived at 9:00 and had great parking, especially for a "holiday" Saturday.  This is what I remember from a kid.  Old school ski area with no BS.  My wife took a half day lesson in the morning (prices at DV and PCMR are outrageous) and I skied the left side of the mountain.  Snow was not the best but much better than days 1 & 2.  After lunch I spend a couple of hours under Millie and had a great time.  Favorite runs were Wren Hollow, Chute2 and whatever else I was on under Milly.  I was by myself so I just went where my skis took me!  She stayed on Snake Creek Express on Sunshine for most of the afternoon.  Not as much variety for her and shorter runs but in my mind, Brighton blew away the other two resorts from a skier's standpoint.  I am glad I was on rentals because snow cover was thin under Milly.

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