As a Utah local (now on the East coast) I am one of those who grew up skiing Big Cottonwood. Incidently, Big Cottonwood, and specifically, Brighton, is where a lot of skiing started in Utah. My grandfather was up there in the 30s.
Anyway, Solitude is a great mountain. Brighton is cool too, but in general has a much more beggineer focus, though there is good terrain off Millicent, and the newer lift to skier's right (Great Western? been quite a while since I've been there.
Anyway, Solitude is definetly worth a visit. The name implies correctly, it is usually not crowded at all, although some areas will see crowds.
There is a newer detachachable quad on skier's left (Eagle Express), and then a series of lifts up each ridge line, pretty much. The quad is really nice for doing quick laps on, the terrain ranges from reasonably steep bumps to wide intermediate cruisers.
As you move along skier's right, from Powderhorn to Summit, you have access to Honeycomb canyon, (and for the more adventurous, from Eagle, but I haven't done that) great partially treed terrain. The only problem is that there is a long traverse out the bottom, and then you have to cycle across a couple of lifts to get back to the gate. But in general it is worth it. In my limited expereince, av control takes some time, so often this won't open until days after a big dump (can anyone shed light on this?) -- anyway, you have a chance of getting fresh snow there, for sure. And the terrain isn't that harry for the most part, so it'd probably be a nice place to go if you're just getting familiar with this kind of terrain. Of course, the usual caveats apply.
On the main side, there is good stuff, esp. off summit. Headwall, etc. As the previous poster mentioned, there are lots of cliffs, etc.. around in bounds. Actually one day when I was up there a couple of guys in a family got killed off one of them, IIRC. Pretty sad. This was on a day where conditions were awful, loose blowing over glare ice, so what they were doing there, I don't know, anyway.
I also like the area between Eagle and Powderhorn, seems like it would be a nice reasonably gentle place to learn to ski deep snow. It can be a little bit tiresome getting from one lift to another, the high traverses are weird and often you have to take a different lift back and up to get to particular terrain, but that's ok, I guess it keeps things from getting skied out.
Overall, a really neat, locals oriented mountain. People who are annoyed by little things, and want the "perfect" skiing vacation might not like it, but that's not what the mountains for. Great people, down to earth, no one takes themselves too seriously. You should put it on your itenerary if you can, its definetly worth it.
<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 01, 2001 08:03 AM: Message edited 3 times, by Lodro ]</font>