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Snowbasin discovered

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My son and I skied (actually, he boards) Snowbasin on Sunday March 4. We had never been to Snowbasin and wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. Plus, we were looking to avoid the weekend crowd at the 'Bird. We both loved this place and are very glad we went.

For those who haven't been there, it's very much worth the short drive. We were staying in Sandy, at the foot of the L.C. Canyon. The drive from there to Snowbasin was 1 hour and 5 minutes. Like Park city, it is on the eastern slope of the Wasatch, and I wonder if there isn't a way to drive due north out of PC to reach Snowbasin. Anybody know?

Snowbasin is laid out at the foot of 5 beautiful peaks. It covers over 3,000 acres and 3,000 vertical feet. The lift system is excellent and relatively new.

The biggest piece of Snowbasin, that right up the middle of the area, is marked, appropriately, as blue. We cruised a few groomers in here at the end of the day, after having been humbled over at John Paul. Except for the cliffs at the very top, this middle part of Snowbasin is (to me) very reminiscent of Park City. I think my wife and younger ones would love it. The more interesting terrain is on either end of the area, to the far left and the far right.

We tried the terrain to the far left (as you face the area), off the Strawberry Peak Express gondola, the first thing in the morning. The day we were there, there hadn't been any new snow to speak of in a few days. But, we were told we might still find untracked stuff at Strawberry Peak. In fact, there was plenty of it. Coming off the gondola, we skied as far right as we could go. That boundary of the area is not clearly marked, but I am sure we were beyond it. No matter; there is a catrack at the bottom which gets you back to the gondola base eventually. The snow was deep and soft--temps in the 40s--with no crust. Best of all, NOBODY was there. We had this giant area practically to ourselves. So we stayed and enjoyed life there all morning. Much of Strawberry is marked as blue, but we found that if you ski as far right as you can and stay as high as you can while traversing, you are rewarded with beautiful steep and deep.

As a bonus, there also is a series of about 10-15 beautiful chutes dropping off the Peak above. They reminded me a lot of the A-Z Chutes at Big Sky. It appeared that one could hike to these chutes from the gondola. But, we saw no hikers and no lines on any of the chutes, and as we did not have the benefit of a local to guide us, thought it best not to jump into these on this trip. (headline in the Salt Lake Tribune: " PA Men Lost in the Gaper Chutes at Snowbasin"). I would love to hear from any of you as to whether these chutes are skied legally, if there are restrictions, and how they are accessed.

A little before lunch we decided to go to the other, far side of the area, to ski the black stuff served by the John Paul Express. To get there we went right off the Strawberry gondola, hiked a little bit and were rewarded with great skiing in the steeps around the cliffs on what I think is the De Moissey peak. When it appeared that we could hike no further due to a rather imposing cliff, we clicked in and dropped down. later in the day, viewing DeMoissey from a different angle, we realized that if we had hiked a somewhat different line we would have hit another chute, which clearly had been skied by others, which drops down into what I think is the Needles area of Snowbasin. Oh well, file that away for the next visit.

Anyway, we made it all the way to the other edge of the area to the John Paul Express. This det. quad serves fairly steep terrain, with lots of trees, rocks, ravines and other interesting terrain features, as AC would say. Because of this, you could ski this chair nonstop for a couple of days and not get bored. For reasons I don't understand though (wind? sun vs. shade?) the snow here was much crustier than that at Strawberry. So there was an added level of challenge. The crust really brings out the imperfections in technique, doesn't it? Yep, I took a couple of nice diggers. Good thing Pierre didn't have to witness this. Never did determine whether this area would be best at the start of the day, or the middle or the end. Note to self--figure that out before next time.

I mentioned Park City above, but no one will ever confuse Snowbasin with PC. The day lodge at Snowbasin is small and kind of dumpy, if that is important to you. The food served in the lodge is extremely limited. I noticed that many locals "tailgate" for lunch, which on this particular day--sunny and warm--was a nice idea. That is probably not much of an option on many days. The facilities problem should soon change, though, as three day lodges are under construction for the Olympics. Clearly, this place is getting a major makeover. I'm glad I saw it "before", because I think it is going to look a lot different in 5 years. As for terrain, I'll take Snowbasin over PC (where I skied the next day).

The Unofficial Guide to Skiing in the West compares Snowbasin to Alta. I think that is a fair comparison, which is not to denigrate Alta, but rather to say that Snowbasin is one hell of a nice ski area. If Alta's terrain is better, it isn't much better. For me Snowbasin is actually a much better option than is Alta, because I can take my family to Snowbasin, where all of us will find some skiing that suits us. While Alta isn't even an option for families like mine, because some of us ski and some of us board.

post #2 of 14
Every time I travel to Utah to ski, I promise myself that I am going to try Snowbasin. Of course, this never happens because others in my group say it has limited terrain, lessor snow conditions, etc, etc, etc.

I think you have conviced me. I'm going back to Utah this Saturday (Brainshare seminar) and may ski Snowbasin on 3/18. It could be perfect - new snow this Friday/Saturday and no crowds.

The stuff off of Strawberry must be North facing, hence the better snow conditions there.
post #3 of 14
To get to Snowbasin from the Park City area you take I 80 east untill you hit I 84 and then take I 84 toward Ogden. I forget the exit # However the exit is clearly marked for SnowBasin.From Park City it takes 45 mins to an Hour depending on the weather.
There is a great funky little Bar( The Shotting Star Saloon) in the town of Huntsville.It's The oldest continuously operated Saloon in all of Utah.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #4 of 14
I was in Utah a few weeks ago, and also hit Snowbasin for the first time. It sounds like we had similar conditions. We were able to find pretty good snow on any of the north facing slopes. The terrain off the John Paul lift - especially if you take a short hike from the Olympic Tram - is pretty great, and would rock after a storm. The Strawberry gondola terrain is a bit more mellow, but would also be a blast in the fresh stuff. Snowbasin in huge and I just scratched the surface on my one day there. Great skiing and no crowds - hard to beat.

We also checked out its neighbor, Powder Mountain. Even less crowded than Snowbasin and almost as big! We were finding untracked knee deep (again on the north faces) 5 or 6 days after a storm.

Utah is an incredible place.
post #5 of 14
keep movin folks nothing to see here..............

baile para nieve
post #6 of 14
Thanks for the great write-up JW. How would you compare the Basin to Squaw Valley? Anything other then five Peaks? Is the snow very different? I've heard people rave about Utah snow but have never been there.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
By reputation, Utah snow is pretty much the creme de la creme, although Jackson, Big Sky, Steamboat and other CO mountains also get that super dry, super light fluff. There is a pretty big difference between Utah snow and the stuff we got while out at Tahoe (which I understand was typical). Tahoe's snow is wetter, heavier; and a Tahoe big dump is is bigger than a Utah dump (not meaning to start any fights here).

From a terrain perspective, I thought Squaw was superb. Not sure Snowbasin is quite at that level. That said, the terrain at SB is excellent--something (lots actually) for all ability levels. I think I would rate it above Sugar Bowl, Mt. Batchelor and Mt. Hood Meadows, 3 areas that I know you know. Rating it against the Big 3 of Utah (Snowbird, Alta, and PC), I would put it above PC,and damn near as good as Alta. Purely a subjective assessment on my part.

Ryel, have you got in any skiing since Tahoe?

How are things in my fav. town?

post #8 of 14
You won't get any fights out of me. What you said was pretty much on the Money.Yes Tahoe and Mammoth get bigger and wetter snow.And as far as terrain goes Snow Basin has a lot to offer every skier.However I will say this, The Cottenwood Canyons Get the lake effect snow. Moist air from The Great Salt Lake gets sucked up into cold dry air and pulled up into Both Big and little Cottenwood Canyons The moist air gets trapped by the 10,000 plus foot peaks and the clouds just let all that snow out on Alta and Snowbird as well as Brighton and Solitude.If the resorts on the East side of the Wasatch (including Snow Basin) get a foot of snow then 9 times out of 10 Alta has 2 feet of snow or more.Park City is my home mountain and I won't argue that there are better ski mountains but for me I can't think of a better place to live work and play then right here.Between Park City Mountain resort, The Canyons and Deer Valley I have 8700 acers of skiing.All with in 5 mins of my front door.I am Glad you had such a good time in Utah next time you are ut this way stop by Taminah Gallery on Main St

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49

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[This message has been edited by Utah49 (edited March 20, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 14
Hey JW, Portlands warm and wet (just a little) and I have been all work and no play. But the season isn't over yet, I'm still looking forward to getting out a few more times. Enjoy, Ray
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Utah, I've spent many an enjoyable day at PCMR and eve.s in town. It is my wife's favorite ski spot ('cept maybe for Crested Butte). You are lucky indeed to live and work there. Nice as SB's terrain is, there ain't no there there!! So I can see why living in PC would be a slam dunk.
post #11 of 14
Park City is a great place!
3 fantastic mountains, world class dining, friendly locals, i.e. 49 & TR, party till dawn!
no reason to ever go all the way up to Ogden. no base area, not many good skiiers, like I said earlier NOTHING TO SEE HERE!


this is not the resort you are looking for;

you can be on your way..........
post #12 of 14
Your right Snowbasin is a poor excuse for a ski mountain.You will find better skiing at Molehill Ski Resort, Alabama
FYI Earl Holding has said that he wants to make a resort at Snow Basin That will out do Deer Valley for service and amenities.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #13 of 14
today is my day to have my buttons pushed after a long absence. Earl Holding does a lot of things that enrage me, but I love the fact that he developed the ski mountain before the ski area. He has a long road ahead of him to accomplish what you wrote. Most of the people who work there are completely uninformed about skiing/conditions/events.
ti has a point it sucks stay away.
post #14 of 14
Earl does have a long road a head of him.But look what has happened at the Canyons in only 3 short years.Earl Has the know how and the Money to do what he says he can do.He was smart in getting the Downhill race at Snowbasin.The Buz about Snowbasin has a lot of skiers talking.To some the changes there are good news to others it's bad news.IMHO no matter what happens at the resort center base area The mountain is still the same The powder will fall and the skiing will be good.
I look at Vail and hate the village there. Beaver Creek is even worse.But I have to admit that I did like the skiing and enjoyed what the mountain had to offer. From what I have heard Earl has done a good job with Sun Valley.So i have a feeling that He wil put even more care into Snowbasin.After all Utah is his Home Just some of my thoughts on the subject.
Some more info that I just found out Snowbasin had the 2nd lift chair operation in Utah.2 years after the 1st was installed in Alta.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
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