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SLC, Alta/Snowbird Advice

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
We just booked a trip to SLC and will stay in the Sandy area at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon to access Alta/Snowbird. With a 6.5' base the skiing will be fantastic! I'd appreciate some advice about which ski areas you would recommend. I'm an experienced advanced skier, my wife is a solid advanced intermediate skier that prefers groomed bowls (ie loves Vail), my 8 yr old twins will follow me through glades and some easy diamond terrain. When we ski together, I ski off the groomed as much as possible to for fresh snow and glades.

Since we're staying in the Sandy area, we plan on skiing at least 3 out of our 5 days possible at Alta and Snowbird. We will use the SkiUtah discount program for tickets offered to the hotel guests ($42 per day, kids FREE!).

Q#1: Is the interconnect trail between Alta and Snowbird OK for the family?

Q#2: If yes, which is the better starting/ending point for an interconnect day of family skiing?

Q#3: My impression and memory from skiing Snowbird in 1980 was that there is limited intermediate runs there. Is that still accurate? Is Alta better?

I'm concerned about Little Cottonwood Canyon closures. Does the canyon road to Brighton/Solitude usually shut down when the road to Alta closes? If there are closures, which area is better Snowbasin or Canyons (I really want to avoid the crowded Vail type scene at Park City)?

And finally what is the best food/value restaurant in the Sandy area?

Thanks for your help! And for fun, my daughter just asked me to ask you what is your favorite color?

Eric
post #2 of 22
I have a question for you. Whats a groomed Bowl? Deer Valley doesn't even groom bowls. They once groomed the edge of Empire Bowl but that was it.
If the roads up to the Cottenwood Canyons are closed both roads will be closed untill Avalanche work is done. The Road up to Alta and Snowbird is the most avalanche prone road in the nation that is open year round. You may also get stuck inbounds at one of the resorts. They close the mountain and roads so you stay in one of the lodges (sleeping on the floor) untill they say it's safe. to ski or travel. They take avalanche safty seriosly in The Cottonwood Canyons. If the roads are closed one of the best kept secrets is Powder skiing at Deer Valley. By the way if you like trees and glads Deer Valley has some of the best.
You didn't say when you booked your trip. Don't worry about any Vail like crowds in the Park City area. At Christmas and Presidents day it will be packed but never anything like Vail. Deer Valley limits lift passes to 5500 I have never been in a lift line longer then 10 mins.
Snowbird now has more intermediate terrain with the opening of Mineral basin still it can be intimidatiing place to ski for some. Alta could be a better choice for the whole family. But also check out Solitude It is a nice mountain witha new base village and Honeycomb Canyon can keep the most hard core skier happy. Plan a day at Snowbasin it is big and wide open. There are steeps, chutes, cliff bands, trees open glads, bowls and really fast groomers all over the mountain. The lodges there look like a five star hotel. I just wish it were closer to Park City. Snowbasin has to be the best all around mountain in Utah. It is well worth the 45 min to one hour drive from Sandy.

The interconnect can be a long day as there is a bit of traversing. From what you have said, I don't think your wife will like it vary much. Maybe you and your son could do a Interconnect and You can just hand over the credit card to the wife for a day of shopping on Main St in Park City. As for places to eat the Porcupine Grill right behind the Lifthouse ski shop has good food and is a skiers handout.
post #3 of 22
1. I have yet to see anybody make a valid argument for why anybody should buy the interconnect ticket. The ONLY reason you would buy it is - a) if you have only one day in utah to ski AND b) you don't plan to come back to UTAH anytime soon AND c) you want to brag to your friends that you skied both the same day.

basically, they both have enough terrain to keep you busy for an entire day (or more).

you will be there for 5 days. ski them each one day and decide for yourself where you want to spend more time.

I guess there is one other potential reason for the interconnect - if one of your kids is a snowboarder and other family members want to spend time at Alta and you want to start and end your day at the same place !!!!!!!! pretty weak.

2. There are days when LCC is closed but BCC is open. if that is the case - then brighton and solitude are good options. better option might be to not waste time waiting for the roads to open and head to PC and DV. Different experience but enjoyable.
post #4 of 22
Marty The Innterconnect is a Backcountry tour that will take you to five diffrent resorts in one day. I think you have that confused with the Alta/Bird ticket. Your right either one has more then enough terrain to keep you happy. Mineral Basin at Snowbird has a lot terrain then many resorts. The Alta/bird pass gives you about 8000 acers to play in and can be an over load. Still it's fun in frantic, mantic powder hungry way.
post #5 of 22
oops - sorry about that. if anybody has done the interconnect - would appreciate a review. sounds interesting.
post #6 of 22
I did it years ago. A better way to spend a day is with Park City Powder Cats in the Uinta Mountains. Or go up to powder mountain and hike a rigde line to get a backcountry feel. I have a friend who guides for The Interconnect I sure hope he doesn't read this.
post #7 of 22
eric -
utah49 and others who actually live there certainly have great input; just to add a few cents worth:
my fiancee and I visited Utah last December and loved it so much we will most likely head back again this year. We're advanced intermediates, had five days, and chose Alta and Snowbird while there. Just loved Alta, a large, quiet mountain with plenty to choose from - and without the kind of swooping intersections that ruin many places. The blues and blacks roll out, just a sensible layout to the mountain. (Check out the trail maps to see what I mean, esp. compared to Snowbird.) The new Collins lift should only add to it. The ski school there was just the best as well (Steve and Arthur), great guys to ski with, hung out with Arthur on his off day and he took us to a few stashes. Going again this year, we'll skip Snowbird, and stick to Alta, though a day at Snowbasin sure sounds tempting. Your memory of Snowbird is still pretty accurate I'd say, the layout isn't nearly as intermediate/advanced friendly as Alta. There's Chip's Run on the front side the and mineral basin out back - when we were there, we were between dumps, and I'm sure with fresh snow MB would've been a ton of fun. As it was, we had an intense sun and freeze cycle so conditions were what you'd expect: ice in the shade, slush in the sun.

and btw, color -- Blue, as in bluebird skies
post #8 of 22
Snowbird is OK for Intermediates after a good grooming. In fact, it is our favorite in Utah because it is steep yet skiable, has a very good lift system, and the Mineral Bowl is fantastic. The runs off the Triple chair that would connect to top of tram are great. Alta is cozier, yet not as groomed.


In PC, definitely the Canyons; for corduroy, Deer V.

Snowbasin's lift and mountain layout are not too good.

Enjoy!
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
Marty The Innterconnect is a Backcountry tour that will take you to five diffrent resorts in one day. I think you have that confused with the Alta/Bird ticket. Your right either one has more then enough terrain to keep you happy. Mineral Basin at Snowbird has a lot terrain then many resorts. The Alta/bird pass gives you about 8000 acers to play in and can be an over load. Still it's fun in frantic, mantic powder hungry way.
...Except that's not what this guy's talking about, I don't think.

Based on how he's described himself and his family, I don't think the interconnect tour is even on their radar screen. I'm fairly sure hee's talking about the Alta/Bird connection.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

SLC, Alta/Snowbird Advice

Thanks everyone for your time and advice.

Yes Utah49, it does seem strange to ask about "groomed bowl" skiiing. I ask because my wife liked how Vail grooms the popular back-bowl runs so that intermediates will venture back there. I think it is like skiing in Europe with a piste highway groomed on a wide open bowl or glacier.

I'm still wondering about the Alta to Snowbird connection trail access and degree of difficulty for the family. ...

Does anyone know about how long it takes to drive to Snowbasin from Sandy? To Canyons? To Deer Valley?

Thanks Tigerpaw, we really enjoyed your review of the Alta vs Snowbird choice. Snowbird is visually intimidating and has more super steep terrain than almost any US ski area I can think of. My daughter thanks you for the "cool" color vote.

Oh I almost forgot to ask.... Where can we find a great tubing hill for an evening activity? Thanks again.
post #11 of 22
there is a dead flat trail at the top connecting the top of the quad
at alta with one of the quads in mineral basin... chek the maps alta.com or snowbird.com
post #12 of 22
Felker,

You're all over the place dawg, too many Q's, many easily answered by Alta/Bird websites.

Focus. Thin out the list, then check back.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

SLC, Alta/Snowbird Advice

Hey XDog,

You were right, I'm not interested in doing the 5 resort interconnect trip. Sorry I didn't make it clear enough.

Everyone thinned out my initial questions, so I asked a couple more. If we were on a chairlift and I asked how long it would take to drive to 3 ski areas and if there was a good tubing hill nearby, I don't think most people would mind those easy questions.

Epicski has always been like a cyberspace chairlift conversation that sometimes extends to bar chat. Let's keep the good vibe and help each other.

I might even ask some Alta locals to recommend the best, "non-top double secret" glades to me. On my last visit to Snowbird, some local guys and I skied some untracked powder in the woods 2 weeks past the latest storm. Now that's what I'm talking about!
post #14 of 22
>I'm still wondering about the Alta to Snowbird connection trail access and degree of difficulty for the family. ...

no problem to back and forth between Alta and Snowbird, but to do it you need the combo pass and it's a bunch more $$$, why bother, there is plenty of terrain at either to keep you busy for the day and then hit the other one the next day. Although i'm a total Snowbird devotee.

>Does anyone know about how long it takes to drive to Snowbasin from Sandy? To Canyons? To Deer Valley?

Sandy to Snowbasin - about 1 hr, canyons 35 min, deer valley 45min - i am not a local, could be off by 10. The person that downgraded Snowbasin is off their basin. The lifts are better than anywhere else, with those gondolas scooting you up the mountain, the 5 star food certainly puts the grovel at Snowbird Mid Gad to shame, Snowbird food is a SHAME!!! The mountain is fine, pretty much top to bottom steep,(some runout at bottom), must be amazing on a powder day, because there is so much stuff to find. Great for intermediates too.

Canyon - funny layout, too much runout on flats to lifts, IMHO too much of their stated expert acres is tree skiing(tight at that). However this will be my first stop this year for the freebie half day. Park City - let's face it, this place is pretty darn ugly compared to the cottonwood canyons!

Snow quality - always a big factor, because the snow is just soo much better at alta/snowbird than anywhere else, in a good storm they will get 30", other places get 14", same thing with a dusting in park city could be 12" on top of snowbirdl no problem!

Except for food, Snowbird is just the best. THe scenery at Little Cloud Bowl just beats everything and Mineral Basin view isn't too far back. THe crazy steep terrain everywhere, stashed powder(just keep going sideways off the trail and follow the traverse tracks through nooks and cranny's, but beware!!! Steep right to the very very bottom, and even better yet, me and my pal cram every single verticle foot we can in for the day, and the Peruvian lift opens to 4:30pm which is just a great way to finish off the day pumeling the models down the front of the hill.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

SLC Advice

Thank you Glenn, your advice is excellent. I think a fresh powder sandwich will satisfy my appetite at Snowbird.
post #16 of 22
Hey, Utah49...we've gotta hook up when I come to SLC this year. I missed you last year on my powder weekend trip around New Year's.

By the way, DV is a great place to ski on a powder day. You'll get freshies until 2-3 pm and plenty of great, great tree skiing.
post #17 of 22
About the combined Alta / Snowbird pass...

My lovely wife has booked us an excellent deal at Snowbird. The bad part is that it is Friday - Monday of New Years weekend. My biggest concern is crowds and how to avoid them. As background Iwould say I am a fairly strong intermediate skier and she is a little less strong. I say that because for her it just about has to be groomed. Though steep (relatively speaking) doesn't seem to bother her. She even has balked at me when I mistakenly assumed that she would like to spend some time on some lower intermediate trails.

I have considered getting the combined ticket to give us more chances to find some less crowded areas to ski and to provide some variety, especially for her. It looks like it would be about $8 a day each to get the combined over just Snowbird. For this circumstance is it maybe worth it or are there better ways?

Any advice on how to avoid crowds and long liftlines at such a time? I know it is not an ideal time. Do you have advice for good places at either mountain where she can take a nice groomed route down and I can look for something a little steeper or otherwise more adventurous? No cliff hucking or anything.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

SLC, Alta/Snowbird Advice

Brandon,

We'll be there during that time frame too. It doesn't seem worth the extra money to get the dual area pass. We won't ski Snowbird or Alta on the weekend. If you are staying at Snowbird and will ski there on that weekend I'd make two suggestions. Either get up early and get ahead of the crowd in the morning or book a ski lesson to cut the lines. As long as the group insists that there be more skiing than teaching, group lessons are a fun way to avoid lift lines on holidays/weekends.
post #19 of 22
Thanks. We are staying there and we managed to hit the holy grail of a holiday and a weekend.

I am hoping that everyone will stay out partying too late and early New Years day itself will see people taking a while to roll out of bed. We usually take a lesson and Saturday seems like a prime time for doing that to get some line cutting priviledges. I am also hoping that a lot of people have to either be back to work Monday or will travel Monday to be back at work Tuesday giving one less crowded day. Maybe the road in will be closed for avy control and we will only have to deal with the people already in the canyon for a while.

If you get out early enough, do some of the upper lifts stay in better shape line wise? I usually try and ski midweek which eliminates line problems just about everywhere. (Which is why I try and go midweek. But when your wife says she has a great deal for Snowbird and wants to go, who am I to question when?) In my experience, when you get away from the main lifts, it often seems possible to avoid most crowds. Are there places to do this in either place? Mineral Basin? Gad2? Peruvian even? Supreme?
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 

Snowbird/Alta advice

I don't know the answer to the last questions you asked. Hopefully for both of us someone will help us out.
post #21 of 22
>If you get out early enough, do some of the upper lifts stay in better shape line wise?

upper lifts being Gad II and Little Cloud Bowl - no they get crowded more than the lower lifts. but i wouldn't think until at least 11am.

>In my experience, when you get away from the main lifts, it often seems possible to avoid most crowds. Are there places to do this in either place? Mineral Basin? Gad2? Peruvian even? Supreme?

I don't ever remember a real croud on Supreme. Mineral Basin - definetely the main lift gets a bit of a line on a good day, but the other lift that services the more intermed terrain is not croweded.
post #22 of 22
Quote:

I am hoping that everyone will stay out partying too late and early New Years day itself will see people taking a while to roll out of bed.
Brandon- I have never seen a bad crowd on New Years Day. No doubt due to the hangover situation. We also did a similar trip to yours a few years back, and I think you will fair better than we did. I don't think you will have a problem with crowds either Saturday or Sunday, (unless you get some powder). Also, you should get up to Alta and ski there one day. I think there might be a bus you can catch, maybe I'm wrong but I seem to remember one.
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