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Utah trip report from a "former" powder-phobic

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
First things first, Utah is a terrible place and no one should bother going there. A 70-80 inch base in early December? What kinda crappy conditions are those? So stay away unless you’re really desperate….

12/1- Travel day and it’s my first Utah ski trip, could barely sleep the night before. Flight gets into SLC (via ORD) right on time. Some delay at the rental car counter due to Alamo not having any cars that have a fold-down trunk to hold my skis. This was only really an issue since I cheaped out and wouldn't pay around $400 for an SUV. I ended up fitting all the gear into the mid-size Impala they had reserved for me just fine anyway. It does pay to plan ahead...my total rental bill for the week was only $176 and woulda been closer to $300 for the same type car rented on the spot that night.
Get on the road and start driving to Big Cottonwood Canyon. Stop at a liquor store (nice one by the way, right on Ft Union Blvd only a mile or two from the canyon entrance) and Dan’s Supermarket, and then pop in my "driving up into the real mountains" disc (Miles Davis/Bitches Brew Sessions, Disc Three) normally reserved for Colorado trips. Now I'm living, it’s after 9pm, no cars on the road, nice bright moon lighting the dry road on up to Solitude….
A while back I posted a question on Epic about which was "scarier" Berthoud Pass in Colorado or BCC road. Well I'm here to tell you, in good weather conditions BCC road is much less "scary" and after you get about a third of the way up, it's a piece of cake. Of course I only had tough weather conditions one time the whole week and that was on the way to the airport on the last day. Even then the road crews were doing great work. But a 4wd would be nice if you’re staying up near one of the Cottonwood ski areas.

12/2- Solitude. Sunny day, a few days after a 30-inch dump and the mountain was practically all mine. Excellent snow and grooming. I had arranged to meet up and ski with none other than yours truly "ydnar". This was my first day of the new season so the legs and technique were not jelling too well, but by the PM ydnar’s tips had begun to work their magic and I was feeling and skiing much better...thank you Sir.
12/3- Brighton. Just a scant mile or so up the road and another picture perfect day. I should note there was an approximate 10-1 boarder to skier ratio at Brighton that day but when there are only a couple hundred bodies on the mountain who'd notice? Anyhow, I only got to the middle and left side of the resort and never over to Mt. Millicent. The terrain was great but different than Solitude. Reminded me a little of the Eastern US or even some Colorado terrain, based on the more narrow trails and a lot more trees than Solitude. Also had a celebrity sighting that afternoon when I was taking a break…Montel Williams, big-time snowboard dude. Seems like a pretty cool guy.
12/4- Solitude. Another sunny day, with excellent conditions again. Should have probably taken a rest this day but headed out there again. The legs were a bit weary but the head was excited. Was feeling so good so I decided to try the Diamond Lane trail. Now keep in mind I’ve only been doing this ski thing for 4 years now and Western “black” trails just aren’t in the repertoire yet…. well this one was today and it kicked my butt. Was not pretty but I made it down safely. Got to see a bunch more of the mountain today and the views from up high are awesome. Even peered down into Honeycomb Canyon and said nah, not this time, but someday maybe…
12/5- Alta. What can I say…this place is the bomb! Hooked up with my PMTS buddy JM, met me there at the Albion Base and gave the grand tour. And I thought the other two places I’d just been were awesome. This is the next level and I am barely worthy…. We stayed mostly on the left side of things at Alta as some of that other terrain is just plain scary, at least to me. But there was plenty of friendly but challenging terrain for the groomer-happy skier like me. My day at Alta was like a great reward for doing something right in life, I’m just not sure what.
12/6- Day off from skiing. My wife and I drive over to past Park City (Midway?) to spend the afternoon snowmobiling. We ended up in these meadows at around 8500 feet just behind PCMR and Brighton.What a blast…highly recommend it.
12/7- Solitude. Last day to ski and it’s been dumping since the previous evening. There must be a whole 50 people at the mountain today. I finally get a taste of skiing in fresh powder. At first I’m a bit tentative, but after a little while I am loving this! I must’ve made a dozen runs down the green North Star trail and was just about only person on that trail. even the lifties were telling me how lucky I was..It was nearly knee high in some places by the afternoon.

Now I think I understand what this is EPIC thing is really all about…it’s the powder stupid!

Some general observations;
Phil P. you were right, I need slightly longer, fatter ski's for the West.
Ydnar and JM, you guys rock, thanks for taking care of me.
Solitude is really named appropriately. The village there is a great place to stay if you want peace and quiet. The mountain is all yours at least this early on but I expect it’s that way most of the time.
Alta had by far the best trail labeling; Solitude seemed bit lacking in that department and Brighton was fine. There were no lift lines at any of the mountains any of those days.
I preferred the old-fashioned lift tickets that Alta and Brighton use as opposed to the high-tech automatic card scan that Solitude uses.
The microbrews in Utah are fine; liquor and wine are everywhere and every establishment we went to conveniently waived the “fee” for us to imbibe.
Food was great everywhere, especially this little taqueria on Ft. Union Blvd and the all you can eat Pad Thai on Sundays in Park City.
Sorry for being so long-winded, just wanted to share some of this great experience.
Remember this mantra, Utah is a terrible place.....
post #2 of 8
As you now know, there is a reason that the Utah license plates have "greatest snow on earth" on them.
post #3 of 8
Wow--your trip sounds awesome. Where was your lodging?
post #4 of 8
Next time you come to Utah we will have some "real" Utah powder the 7% water kind of snow. Not the 19% water, east coast style powder. glad you had a good time here.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
"Where was your lodging?"
I stayed at the Powderhorn Lodge in Solitude Village. Found a a great off-season deal.
Great place, highly recommended.
post #6 of 8
What SnoMo outtfit didja use? I'd like to try that.
post #7 of 8
Congrats on a great trip. Let me know when you want to go ski shopping.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

snowmobiling info

Originally Posted by xdog1
What SnoMo outtfit didja use? I'd like to try that.
We used Homestead. Tried to do Summit which is at Snowbird and a lot closer to where we stayed, but they actually didn't have enough terrain ready at that time, which is kinda hard to believe...anyhow, they recommended Homestead and it was "all that". Seemed a little lame at first as you start out at this golf club but then hey drive you up a bit to get started and then you're winding your way up pretty darn high and end up just on the back side where PCMR and Brighton meet. The guides are really cool and worthy of a decent tip...
Their homepage is at http://www.snowmobileparkcity.com/

The 2 hour trip (which in reality was almost 3 end to end) cost $89 apiece and an extra $7 for insurance, which in hindsight was a good investment.
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