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Trip Report - Snowbird - Very Belated - New Years

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Long. Too long.

It has been over a month ago, but I went with my wife to Snowbird over New Years Weekend, plus Friday and Monday, and I thought I would offer a little of my impressions and experiences.

For background, we are both intermediate skiers. I have been skiing for about 5 years, one or two trips a year. Total of 28 days prior. I might be a little better than the average intermediate. Mt wife had been a couple of times but not in years. Since we met she has been three times in two years with me for 9 days prior to this trip. She may be more low intermediate. We own boots but rent skis.

We stayed at the Snowbird Lodge. It served our needs well. It was fairly nice, the rooms were clean. It was only a short walk across the parking lot to the tram plaza. For a couple of bucks each morning, we were able to go downstairs and grab some bagels and other assorted breakfast foods. My one complaint would be that we arrived late Thursday, about 9:00. The bellhop took our bags, locked them up, and headed off in the van to pick someone up from a restaurant in Alta. All we wanted to do was hit the sack but I ended up having to wait on him. No one had a key to let me get the bags. I would have preferred to just carry them myself.

Being New Years weekend, I was prepared for long liftline waits. I was very pleasently surprised as the mountain was not nearly as crowded as I expected. Most lines were a few minutes at most. The only long line I remember was the Tram.

Friday - Dec. 31

We actually went over to Alta the first day. First day of the year and we agree that she might have more fun without all the snowboarders. Grabbed some rental skis that morning and took the bus over. We did like the bus. Very convenient. We just happened to make it to the bus stop right after a bus and had a bit of a wait. We spent the day over on the Albion area. That was a very nice beginner area. There had been several inches of snow the night before and continuing making for very soft conditions. Very windy, but once you got off the ridges it was fairly sheltered.

We spent a few hours just cruising on the easier trails getting our legs back. Sugarloaf was on wind hold that morning. Wanting to move up to some intermediate terrain, we spied Blue Bell. (right name? little short intermediate looking trail near the top of Sunnyside.) No one it seemed had been down all morning. The top was polished by the wind to a very hard and icy shine but it turned to about 8 inches or so of very heavy powder just below this. Unfortunately my wife had never been in much powder and this was fairly wet. She fell several times and climbing out of the snow wore her out. We went in and ate a bite of food from our stash. When we went back out I let her play on the beginner terrain while I practiced skiing the powder on the run from before. No one else was touching it. We'd meet at the bottom and ride back up.

I noticed that Sugarloaf was running so I road up once before we left. Came basically straightdown the lift line bearing a little right part of the way down. Enough people had beet me to it to chew the powder and start small bumps, but very enjoyable. Having remembered how to slide, we left early.

Saturday - Jan. 1

Powder day! Offically 15" of nice light powder. After the previous day, we spent the morning in the lower part of the Gad valley so she could have a groomed surface and I could partake in the frenzy. I would not have believed how quickly a mountain could be tracked out. I think I got one run in untouched powder. The rest of the morning was a very quick progression through tracked powder, crud, bumps and everything else that happens to the snow. I felt great! I found that nice rhythm and floated down the mountain. The snow was so light that ever after bumps were everywhere you just bust through them most of the time.

Julie called it a day at lunch. I was tempted to take the tram up after lunch but the line was out nearly onto the plaza and the red light was on over the entrance which I assumed meant something about wind. So I rode up the Peruvian Lift. I started down the cat track that goes right back under the lift but soon found it was one giant icy bump. Just before going under the lift I got tired of that and just headed down. I guess that was Primrose. Much better than the cat track. Surprise. That was fun.

From there headed across and eventually made it to Gad2. On the ride up I sawa gully under the lift that looked fun. Went right off the lift and wound down till I found the top of the gully. It was steeper than I felt comfortable with given the spacing of the trees so I went on. Just downhill I found place to get in that was much more open and that had a few others heading in. This I felt more comfortable with even though it was rather stepp by my standards. I tried to follow were others were heading as much as I could. Did some traversing and found several nice pitches to go down. It was all outside of my comfort level but not outside of what I could do safely. Did get stuck in one bit of deep snow on a flat. Spent the rest of the day on more traditional runs in the area.

Sunday - Jan 2

A little more snow overnight. We spent most of the day together just cruising runs under Gad2, Gadzoom and Midgad. Fun day.

Monday - Jan 3

A bit more snow overnight. Spent the morning like the previous day. Cruising in the Gad Valley. Julie called it quits after lunch. After lunch, I took a tram ride up. I wanted to go back to MB but was waiting to see what I found when I got up there. Well, pea soup fog is what I found. I circled around under the tram with the intention finding the catwalk down into MB. From there I could see what looked good. I came to a three way fork with signs I did not understand. To the left was obviously the top of Chips. But for the other two ways there was one sign for Chamonix and Lupine and I could not tell if you were to go straigh or right. Afraid of the consequences of a bad choice, I headed down Chips.

But not for long. Quick switchback to the right followed by another to the left. At the next I bailed and just headed dwon the mountain. It seemed a whole lot more fun than the cat track. Very interesting mix of conditions after a few days of snow. Went down a decent pitch and out onto a little meadow. There was a choice in ways to go. The one I selected funnelled into a very narrow gully. The bottom was like a small halfpipe. Another choice. Stayed straight or maybe a little left. Ended up at the top of the Peruvian lift. Not sure exactly what I cam down on but it was fun.

Headed back over to Gad2 to finish the day. At the top, Bassackwards, which had been closed all week, was open with one narrow path through those days of powder. It had settled with time into something a bit heavier than beforea and gave me a little trouble. So, I kept repeating until I fell twice in about 10 feet and wore myself out tring to get a ski back on. Decided to just head down then before I got hurt from continuing while tired.

All in all a very fun first trip to Utah. The terrain was fantastic. The snow was great. The crowds were smaller than I expected. I think Julie was intimitated by the reputation of the area and never quite relaxed enough to enjoy it as much as I did. I would have liked to have poked around both mountains some more. I barely touched Alta and there were large areas of Snowbird that I never made it to. Some because of avy control closures. I would love to go back though I think my wife my insist on something a little less intimidating next time.
post #2 of 4
I just returned from a 5 day trip to Park City and skied 3 days at the Bird and one day at Alta.

Snowbird just might be my favorite place on the planet. I intend to return and honestly am thinking of buying property there. Alta is great as well, especially the Supreme area, but I found that by hiking or exploring at Snowbird I was skiing amazing stuff all day.

Snowbird is not for the feint of heart. Any runs which were groomed cruisers were quite crowded. For experienced skiers, and people looking to enjoy powder and bowls and challenge, Snowbird is beyond compare. (Never skied Jackson Hole, but very interested). The Bird's terrain is unreal and the snow tips the scales over Whistler.

If you are an experienced skier looking for a ski holiday, compared to a holiday with skiing, I strongly recommend Snowbird.
post #3 of 4
I feel exactly the same way about Alta.

There are stashes at Alta that will last for a week at least, and being from the east its a treat to go out there and rip powder for days on end.

Glad you had a great time.
post #4 of 4
We hiked Devil's Castle at Alta and had a blast. (is that what it's called?) Also had a great time on the high Rustler. Really cool we ran into some nesting birds right before the big descent. And Supreme was just great, we started out a few runs WAY across the left and then down but had our best runs through the trees/cliffs right under the chair. AWESOME stashes all day.

At Snowbird we just had a blast. We skied nearly everything in Mineral Basin, had a huge day skiing the woods and found great cliffs/couliors hidden around Gad 2, but had our best times exploring Silver Fox/Upper Cirque area and all of Gad Valley off of Road to Provo after a big storm. There were a few big cliffs in plain sight which we "found" in Gad Valley basically by dropping off RTP and skiing up each little hump we were rewarded with a steep face on the backside.

And I skied at Loon (NH) last weekend. Loon's, um, great and all, um, but dude it was really cold and icy and I want to move to Utah.
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