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Utah questions

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've only skied "mountains" in N.Y. and Massachusetts and am dreaming about Western skiing. Don't have opportunity for any extended Western trip this winter BUT I could squeeze in a one-day Saturday stopover in Salt Lake City on a return from a trip to California in February. I could bring my boots and rent skis out there, and it seems like a lot of Utah ski locations are very accessible to SLC airport.

So the questions are --

1- any recommendations on a ski area? I'm a 41-y/o relatively new to the sport (2 yrs) but comfortable on all black diamond/double black diamonds (except bumps) in Catskills and Berkshires.

2 - any recommendations on logistics to/from SLC airport?

3 - is this a stupid idea (no response from my wife please ...), given (a) logistics, and (b) potential problems adjusting to the altitude?

Thanks for any thoughts on this.
post #2 of 21
No it's not a stupid idea even if it's your only opportunity to ski out West this season. You can be at Snowbird in less than 45 minutes from the airport. Buy an Alta/Bird pass and you can say you skied two of the greatest mountains in the world in one day. Want steep? You'll find as much black terrain as you can handle. Most will be bumped up but lot's of good steep stuff like Regulator Johnson will be groomed. I've brought my boots for weekend trips and demoed before as well. You'll find plenty of shops around, and at the resorts, that demo. Rent a car for the day and if it's snowing in Little Cottonwood Canyon, you can ride the bus to the Bird and Alta. I would not worry too much about the altitude. Get in shape before you go, stay hydrated while there, and take it easy. You'll only have time to get a good feel for both places in a day any way. They are BIG!!!

Do it! And have fun!
post #3 of 21
Alta and Snowbird have some of the best skiing there is, but it sounds like that may be overkill for you. Solitude would be much less crowded on a Saturday and would probably have plenty of skiing to match your ability. You can demo skis right in the Airport and catch either a UTA bus, a canyon shuttle or rent a car.
post #4 of 21
Hi Tso1

I am so jealous!! I have been skiing the same amount of time and I am only making my way onto the easy blues also in New England (Vermont& New Hampshire),so they are probably bunny slopes out west. I am a year older than you though, I am also female so I don't boast as much. ...Just kidding. Would like to know how you moved up to the blacks so quickly. I am dying at my current skill level would like to ski with the grown. Still taking side to side turns down the steeper trails.

I am also looking for a package out to Salt Lake area. It does not have to include airfare. Anyone have ideas? Would just like to know where to look online [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] . Sorry to side track your thread Ts01.

BY THE BY SLC is the easiest jump to the west from NYC area and a lot of people do the long weekends out there. Just try getting an air ticket out there near a long weekend and you will see what I mean. Probably the same crowd that flys to Europe for a long weekend in a capital city. I use to be one of them!! Not so difficult. Have fun!!
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all this input. I'm inclined towards Solitude, given crowd factor and time constraints, probably could not begin to cover the turf at Snowbird / Alta.

Shredhead -- is there an advantage to demo-ing at the airport instead of the hill? What's the name of the shop at the airport?

Rebecca -- the sidetrack is welcome. Just wanted to get some advice re appropriate terrain, I know that an eastern black is not the same as out west. Boasting? No way. I'm the MOST MODEST MAN ON EARTH...

What I really mean by "comfortable" on blacks is "I haven't been to the emergency room - yet." I've been out about 10-12 times since starting and have taken lessons 3-4 times -- but I'm definitely moving up, and I think a lot of it is physical and mental prep.

Physical -- really cut back on running (and my knees thanked me). Instead I skate (rollerblades and ice as available)and go to spin class (cycling). And when I run now I include intervals (sprints) and hills, not just slogging over distance. Result is more power and stability in legs, and better balance, than when I started out.

Mental -- a lot of ski mags and web sites, and once, a "semi private" lesson (i.e., two of us) instead of a group. But the best thing by far was this book: The All-Mountain Skier: The Way to Expert Skiing, by R. Mark Elling. Clearly written, perfect mix of theory and practice. Whatever my problem or challenge, the Elling book addresses it -- and helps in visualizing a solution. It's on Amazon.

But the main thing is good for you for getting into it now. How fast or how far you progress is not the thing. A lot of folks our age seem uninterested or think it's going to be too hard or embarassing. I'm past the point of any dignity, and -- maybe this is boasting too --it's easier to focus and filter out the noise now than when I was young.

Again, thanks all.
post #6 of 21
ts01 -

I wouldn't hesitate based on my own, similar experience.

You may find it EASIER to ski than out east. I learned to ski at 34 years of age during the 2000-2001 season at Butternut in the Berkshires. At the end of that 1st season, after skiing about 50 times at Butternut and taking a weekend camp at Gore Mtn and skiing advanced terrain at a few other large VT and NY resorts, I took off on a road trip and skied a week in Jackson Hole, one day at Alta and another day at Squaw Valley.

I highly recommend that you do it. I didn't find blacks out west any more difficult than the REAL blacks out east. Just scale everything up by a magnitude of order and the challenge becomes physical more than technique, and it sounds like you have a good fitness level. In fact, I had pretty good snow conditions and actually found it easier to ski out west than on the icy, narrow, bumpy tree-lined trails of the NE.

I'm in my 3rd season and back in Seattle where I'm from. I ski everything in WA state with reasonable confidence except for big icy bump runs, and attribute my progression to the same things you do. I also found the Mark Elling book by far the most useful - in fact, I've learned far more from that book than from all the lessons I've taken (though camps seem to work for me - I learned more from that one 2-day camp than from a dozen private/group lessons over the last 2 seasons).

Go for it and let us know how your experience goes.

I'd demo at the resort so you are assured of having the right skis for you and the conditions. Easy to switch on-hill.
post #7 of 21
I guess the only advantage to demoing at the airport is that the shop is right at the baggage claim. I suppose if it all worked out right you could pick up your gear while waiting for your bags and it's possible that you could save some time. All the resorts have demo shops on the mountain though and that is probably better for having the chance to change to a different ski if you find something isn't working well for you. Have fun!
post #8 of 21
Solitude is a real nice hill. They have some bodacious terrain especially for intermediates, low level black types as well. Plenty of opportunity for hair ball there as well, but it isn't 'in your face' the way Alta and Snowbird are. I've had some great days there and for a weekend day a better choice than the other areas.

Rent at the hill! If you don't like them, you can swap them out usually. The term most often used is 'high performance demo' as opposed to rental. Rental gear is usually not up to snuff.

Many of the mountain shops will let you reserve a high performance demo a few days in advance, so ask around and decide what kind of ski you want to try. That might save you some time in the am. Rent something user friendly! Western conditions (most years) are a lot softer than Eastern. You don't need as much edge, you might want more float (hopefully!).

If you able to get in the evening before there are myriad opportunities to stay inexpensively in the valley. The south-westen portion of SLC has Hampton Inns and Marriot Courtyards. Takes maybe 45 minutes to be at the hill. Go early for the rental and for the parking convenience if your're going to be blowing out of there at the end of dhay headed for the airport.

I would do the rental car as SLC ie easy to navigate and if airport timing is an issue the flexibility wil be a help. Rental cars, at least from the majors are in the Parking Garage across from the terminal. Maybe 2 to 3 minute walk from baggage claim.

If you can pull this off, you'll have a great time. Solitude is a great place to ski and if the conditions are half as good as normal, it will be better than most of what you have seen before. Of course this year you guys are getting hammered and the west is pretty dry.

post #9 of 21
The shop in the terminal is Utah ski & golf I believe. I called ahead and reserved a pair of Crossrangers. This was a couple years ago and I was going to Snowbasin before they had any services at the base area. Renting at the area would probably be your best bet, but may be a little more crowed.
My flight arrived at 8:15am. I rented the skis and a car and was at Snowbasin by 9:15.
Snowbasin might also be a good choice for you, really nice mountain, but the snows usually not quite as nice as LCC or BCC.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for this good advice. On balance and given my flight times, etc., it looks like Solitude/rent at the hill is the best option for me. Unfortunately I just learned this trip is up in the air ... but if I can't put this to use in two weeks, I'll get to it sooner or later. How long is ski season in Utah?

darrellcraig -- interesting to read your experience at Butternut -- that's where I got off the ground too, though I wish I could get that many days on the hill. The Gore weekend camp sounds great, it's on the wishlist now.
post #11 of 21
I make a point of going to Solitude the day of my arrival in SLC: depart on the 7 am flight from JFK, get into Salt Lake at 9:45, and I'm usually on the snow by 11:15. It's incredibly easy to access from the airport, a fun mountain, decently priced, and puzzingly empty.

As has been documented elsewhere on this site, the only problem is that this has been a really sub-par snow year for them. Hopefully, this situation will change very soon (I'm flying out there Thursday night for the Gathering), but don't hold your breath waiting for this high-pressure system to move on. According to reports, there is decent on-piste coverage in the LCC/BCC areas, but it's not the stuff of song and story.

You want soft, abundant snow? Stay in the northeast.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

The trip is on, I land in SLC airport Friday night @ 8:44 pm, fly out of SLC Saturday night @11:59 pm. So, my tentative plan is:

1 - rent skis at airport (decided to rent at airport so I can hit two hills)(FYI, the shop is online at -- it looks like they have discounted lift tix and a coupon on the web for 15% off rentals too);

2 - rent car at airport and stay at airport hotel or somewhere on way to Solitude;

3 - Saturday a.m. -- ski Solitude thru closing (4 pm?);

4 - Saturday p.m. -- head up to Brighton for a little night skiing -- until I collapse or have to leave for airport);

5 - return skis at airport - shop closes at 10 p.m.;

6 - find someplace to clean myself up at the airport (apologies in advance to my seatmates on the redeye home); and

7 - 11:30 p.m. -- board plane and collapse.

Is this feasible? Looks like Brighton is it for nightskiing, which I'd like as an option since I'll have a few hours into the evening. And Solitude and Brighton are real close, correct?

Also, what kind of temps are normal / best-case / worst-case for mid-Feb at these areas?

Thanks for the input everyone.
post #13 of 21
Ha! You're gonna love me: Why not Park City? Canyons is great, and Park City has some night skiing. Shortest drive from SLC. Was there last week, and took us just over 30 min to go up (less coming back--it's downhill!!) Too bad I didn't see your post earlier - I still have a lift ticket left! Whatever, sounds like a great plan. Have fun!!
post #14 of 21
Your plan sounds pretty good. Stop in Molly Green's for dinner - it's upstairs in the lodge next to the main lift they use for nightskiing.
post #15 of 21
Forget about the Park City resorts......snow quality much better in Big (solitude/brighton) or Little (Alta/Snowbird) Cottonwood Canyon.
post #16 of 21
Not only are they close, but they were talking about having a joint ticket this season, not sure if they do, but you used to be able to buy a pass for both areas. You can ski easily to Brighton from Solitude. The return to Solitude is flat and requires some work.
post #17 of 21
Originally posted by ts01:

1- any recommendations on a ski area? I'm a 41-y/o relatively new to the sport (2 yrs) but comfortable on all black diamond/double black diamonds (except bumps) in Catskills and Berkshires.

are there really double-black diamonds in the berkshires..?
post #18 of 21
Great attitude & great plan.

Some tips from a traveler & Utard.

Mid feb temps are 20s-40s in the valley, teens-30s on the hill.

That is with out wind. But this has been a MILD year.
to see where to stay.

West Coast Hotel 800-325-4000 is right off the freeway in & out.
Airport Hilton 800-999-3736 is near the airport.
Both are affordable & have fitness centers you could use to clean up.

If not, all of downtown is on your way to the hill. When you make your res, tell them what you are intending. Make sure they have a fitness center you can :clean up" in on your way out. Many will, but ask.

Have fun & be safe [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by megadeth:

are there really double-black diamonds in the berkshires..?[/QB][/quote]

megadeth: I doubt it - but when you see one marked double-black, the crowds go everywhere else, so the "double-black" is going to be less icy, less crowded, etc. Which makes it (a) easier to ski, while (b) even more of an ego boost, since few will call me on the idle boasting.

All others -- thanks again. Trip plan is set now -- found an airport hotel with fitness center -- and will demo skis at Brighton, their rental shop is open 'til 9 pm, so I don't have to haul skis to/from airport (and can go way cheap on rental car). No "Solbright" pass being sold as of yesterday -- and it would not allow night skiing at Brighton anyway. So I'll do a day ticket at Solitude, night ticket at Brighton.

Will post a followup report after returning.

[ January 30, 2003, 07:13 AM: Message edited by: ts01 ]
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
An overdue trip report follows -- but first, a huge THANKS to everyone who helped with ideas and planning on this. This was the most, and best, skiing I've ever had, relative to travel, expense, and hassle. I definitely could not have made it up as I went along.

Even one day in Utah stands out as a real high point. Here's how it worked -- skiing, logistics, and equipment:

Skiing -- WOW! Skied Solitude from 9 am 'til closing; then Brighton from 5:30 - 8 pm. Bright sunny day, but cold. Never saw such wide open spaces -- especially Solitude -- tried to get a feel for it all but not enough time to really explore. I They closed the Summit lift early so I did not get as much time up there as hoped, instead did mostly runs off the Eagle express quad, cause it was way faster than all the other lifts. Brighton I didn't really get to enjoy as much because I was feeling whipped and cold by the end of day and night skiing was tricky on terrain I didn't know by day ... And after seeing two ski patrol scrape up two other injuries, I didn't want to be the third!

Altitude? Not as big a factor as I had expected. Had some wooziness in the a.m. -- lightheaded -- but also hadn't eaten anything solid. So I chowed down early and stayed hydrated. Even sugar water which I normally avoid (gatorade). Seemed to stabilize me.

My overall impression though was Brighton is for boarders, they were parked all over the place, and the runs that were lit for night skiing had only a little bit of steep fun stuff at the top and then there were long, flat stretches that didn't do much for me. Solitude had more interesting / challenging bits. Alta is definitely on my list for future trips, as are other pipedreams -- but I could very happily spend a week at just Solitude and Brighton.

From an eastern skier's perspective, what amazed me is there's just more of everything. The steeps are steeper, the groomers are better groomed, the bumps are bumpier, the runs are longer. So is it harder or easier than back east? BOTH -- just find what you want, and there's more of it -- but on balance perhaps it was a bit easier, because there was more margin of error on wider, bigger terrain; and very little if any ice.

And there were absolutely no lift lines. None. Zero. Like owning a mountain (and sharing it with other nice people). Cool, if you're used to the same moves on a lift line as getting on the subway at rush hour ...

Logistics -- Marriott Courtyard SLC airport was a great overnight spot for friday night - and they have a shower and whirlpool by their pool that they let me use saturday night on the way back to the airport. Perfect.

Equipment -- Rented skis at Utah Ski and Golf at the airport -- they're open later in the evenings than was posted on their website so I just rented there instead of on the hill. Plus they had a 15% rental discount coupon from their web site. I thought it was time to rent "all-mountain", i.e., wider, skis than I ski back east. Not really necessary though given it was two or three days after a big dump (early Feb). The poweder was skied off and I stayed on groomers, so I really missed my narrow-waisted carvers (Dynastar Speed SX 63s), which are much more responsive and less noodley and vague than the "all mountain" ski I rented (Salomon Scream Pilot 8). But you couldn't beat the convenience and price on Utah Ski & Golf -- just don't believe the hype about "all mountain" skis.

So, I would strongly encourage anyone considering a quick layover to do it. It'd be great to stay a week but get what you can. I was on an 11:59 pm flight out of Salt Lake -- asleep before takeoff, opened my eyes to see Verrazano bridge as we descended to JFK, and got home in time to cook breakfast for my kids. Felt strange, but very good.

Thanks again for the encouragement and planning.
post #21 of 21
nice work.

Glad it worked for ya, & ya even used a Marriot hotel!
we all take the convenience here for granted.

1 caveat, do not judge "all mountain skis" by the one rented to you. There are plenty that are quite responsive & not "noodely"

come out for a week next time!
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