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post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
My family and i are going out to park city in the middle of feb. 2006. We are planning on skiing pcm,der valley and the canyons. I am perusading them to try alta snowbird, or just snowbird. My father is a solid intermediate skier who can do any intermediate and some advanced trails, only if they are groomed. I on the other hand like the groomed trails but in places like utah I love to venture of into the powder snow. I know that these two places have reputations for being very difficult mountains, but please if you have any trails or comforting advice about the grooomers and variety of them at either alta or snowbird, and howhard they are I would appreciate it.

post #2 of 29
If you can ski "any" groomed intermediate terrain there will be plenty of options at both locations.
post #3 of 29
i went to both alta and snowbird while i was still doing the snowplow !!!
i still had fun, plenty of not so hard stuff
post #4 of 29
I posted in the Park City thread below. My wife and I are intermediates and spent a week in Park City this year. Thought we'd love Dear Valley and went there on our first day. Second day we skied at The Canyons, since that's where our Condo was located -- really liked the skiing better at The Canyons. We were a bit concerned that everthing at Alta might be over our head but wanted to at least give it a visit. So on the third day we drove to Alta -- absolutely loved it. There are groomed intermediate trails off every lift and you can access little areas of bumps and powder without venturing too far rom the groomed. We liked Alta so much that we drove back on our last day -- was a powder day and completely wore me out. Alta definately has terrain that's very accessible to intermediates and there are actually some very gentle greens as well. We didn't ski Snowbird but I'd think the intermediate terrain wouldn't be that different given their proximity. If (more likely when) we return I suspect we'll try to spend most of our time in the Cottonwood canyons. FWIW, Park City is a very fun place to stay. We had a great time in PC but preferred the skiing at Alta.
post #5 of 29
Snowbird is totally doable for intermediates, both the front and back (Mineral Basin) sections. My favorite run is off the Little Cloud (?) triple chair; long, steep, and fun!

But, you MUST go to Snowbasin, fantastico!
post #6 of 29

Heaven for intermediates

First know that the Park City ski areas are an intermediate's heaven. Having said that any area that doesn't cater to intermediates these days is going to go bust. So even the resorts with an expert reputation will cater to intermediates. So don't worry. Go and kill Alta and Snowbird. It's tough to get into trouble there (unlike Squaw where you can take a lift that only caters to advanced/experts - KT-22, Broken Arrow, The Chief, Headwall)
post #7 of 29
I've been to Alta many times and to Snowbird several times. To me and my wife, Snowbird is more difficult than Alta. At Alta, you will find many intermediate runs and good snow. At Snowbird, I believe that the runs are steeper in general, comparing blue to blue, black to black. Not much intermediaate terrain at Snowbird. Snowbird has lots of rocks too.
post #8 of 29
Originally Posted by garyskr
....At Snowbird, I believe that the runs are steeper in general, comparing blue to blue, black to black. Not much intermediaate terrain at Snowbird. Snowbird has lots of rocks too....
Big Emma at Snowbird (a green run) is steeper than some blacks I've seen at other resorts. Also, to say Snowbird has more rocks than Alta is a bit disengenous, as they both have similar terrain. At places like Alta/Bird, rock coverage all depends on route selection. There are after all, rock out croppings in the Wasatch that are so large that a glacier wouldn't cover them. It was possible to get core shots on your skis even this season if you selected the wrong route.
post #9 of 29
You'd do better to take your day trip up to Ogden and ski PowMow or Snowbasin.
post #10 of 29
i see you are from the east coast
the snow is so much better as a rule out west it is easier to do more difficult runs. when you go back to the east you will wish you were back out west!!
alta is one of my favorites out there.never got to go to snowbasin,tho. heard all good things about that one but it is a ride.i also love is so easy to try all the different areas out there
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
thanks for all the info, i really appreciate it
post #12 of 29
Originally Posted by RISkier
We didn't ski Snowbird but I'd think the intermediate terrain wouldn't be that different given their proximity.

Actually there is quite a bit of difference even with their close proximity. The reason? The little Cottonwood Glacier that shaped the canyon in the last ice age. The glacier started at Alta and traveled all the way down the canyon and emptied into old Lake Bonneville. All of the areas we like to ski at Alta/Snowbird (with the exception of mineral basin) are a result of this glacier. Standing at the top of the Sunnyside lift in the Albion basin you can see the approximate level of the ice. Think the base of all the major cliff faces. This is the reason the rope toe and "home run" at Alta are fairly flat. You're skiing down the path of the glacier. As you make your way to the Collins side of Alta The upper part of the mountain is relatively steep until you reach the "meadows" The you must come down steep/narrow "Corkscrew" or Nina's curve. This is because a secondary glacier entered the main glacier at this point. This created what is know as a hanging valley. Snowbird has two major hanging valley's, the cirque side and the gad valley side. What snowbird doesn't have is the nice way down created by the main path of the glacier.

For those of you not familiar with LCC, here's a virtual tour that shows much of what I've described.

What I would do is wait to see what the snow is like next year and make you decision based on that.

post #13 of 29
I respectfully disagree with Nancy and somewhat agree with Lonnie (Glacier research aside). Both are "PHEMONENAL" ski areas, but for the average intermediate Alta is much better. I'm not local, but Snowbird has almost NO beginner terrain and the beginner terrain is between 2 lodges. The top half of "BIG EMMA" is blue by any standard. Not to say that a good time can't be had by ALL at Snowbird, but it's much more difficult than Alta from a grommer perspective. Off piste they're very similar animals in level of difficulty if not terrain.
post #14 of 29

Very interesting info. Hopefully we'll get to try Snowbird the next time we visit Utah. Of course, we really want to try Snowbasin (always hear great things about it) and Solitude as well.
post #15 of 29
Snowbasin and Solitude are excellent fits for your desired description in terms of terrain. Alta has just a couple of groomers from each lift but they are mainstream blue intermediate in pitch. Snowbird has more groomed runs but nearly all of them have sections that would be single black on most mountains.
post #16 of 29
I think you would both definitely enjoy Alta. It's hard to say about Snowbird, as far as your father is concerned. Depends upon how adventurous he is. Even though the two resorts are next to each other, Alta does have gentler slopes, and more of them. There is considerable variety at Alta, and your dad would feel like he got to "explore" the mountain without being nervous about getting in over his head. Snowbird can be very intimidating because everything is surrounded by steeps, and many of the blues are definitely steeper than what you find at most resorts. It's also easy to get in over your head, especially since they groom less terrain. However, the blues in Mineral Basin at Snowbird are great, heck, even the greens back there are fun (Mineral Basin is on the back side of the mountain, and it feels like you're in the backcountry). I would imagine your dad would be comfortable on those. Mineral Basin is Snowbird's saving grace when it comes to intermediates and beginners. But it can be scary to work your way back down the front of Snowbird from the Tram on Chips, rated blue but narrow and lots of drop offs (you can always take the Tram back down, though).

Where do you ski in the East and what trails does your dad like at these resorts? That would help in evaluating the Utah terrain for him.

Also, I suspect Solitude would be wonderful for both you and your dad. Solitude's terrain is well-balanced in all its ability levels, making it easy to work your way up to more difficult stuff.

post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
we usually ski looon and he can do just about every trail only if it is groomed, alos last yrear we skied that back bowlsaof vail and he did china bowl with no problem but the chutes were all groomed.
post #18 of 29
You need to get these folks some lessons so that they can end this "groomed only" silliness and enjoy more of the mountain.
post #19 of 29
Nowhere is xdog1's statement more true than at Alta. I have a terminal intermediate friend who learned to ski back east and only did groomers for 20+years out here. As soon as he got a decent shaped/all mountain ski he could appreciate a lot more of Alta.
post #20 of 29
Originally Posted by skierecs7
...last yrear we skied that back bowlsaof vail and he did china bowl with no problem but the chutes were all groomed.
Then you still don't have a good picture of true Western steep mountain skiing. Vail's Back Bowls are truely the most over rated "expert" terrain in all of North America. Vail's back bowls are nothing like Alta/Bird. Groomed "chutes"?!?
post #21 of 29
Originally Posted by skierecs7
we usually ski loon and he can do just about every trail only if it is groomed, also last year we skied that back bowls of vail and he did china bowl with no problem but the chutes were all groomed.
Based on this, I think Snowbird will be very intimidating for him. He will enjoy Alta much more. Or Solitude. Alta has a great ski school. I would get your dad to enroll in a lesson so he can thoroughly enjoy himself.

If he doesn't want to take a lesson, he will like the groomed blues at Alta. If he wants to try ungroomed, try the edges of the greens first or some of the gentler blues so he can bail out if he needs to. But a lesson will probably help him get passed his dislike of ungroomed slopes.

Alta does a good job of grooming, so he will have some nice choices, but he won't get the real flavor of the mountain until he feels comfortable in the ungroomed. In fact, skiing just the groomed out West really doesn't do a ski trip justice. I was in my 30s when I first learned to ski the ungroomed well (been skiing since I was 4), and I wish I'd learned long before that! It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be!

By the way, your dad will be in heaven at Deer Valley!

post #22 of 29
Maybe an opinion from a couple of good ol' regular intermediates might be helpful, especially with regard to the family.

My wife and I are occasional skiers who get out to ski during one or two vacations a year. This past year we, that is to say she, picked Snowbird. We spent the first day at Alta and the rest of the trip at Snowbird.

First off, the initial view of Snowbird with seemingly nothing but steeps in every direction intimidated the heck out of my wife. She just never felt comfortable there all week. She is also one of these who sticks to the groomed. Any small mounds or more than a few inches of powder and she is lost.

The first day at Alta seemd to be much more to her style. We stuck to the Sugarloaf / Albion side all day. She was able to find some groomed terrain on which she felt comfortable at different places and never seemed intimidated. There was also plenty of opportunities to direct her down one way while I took a different route to try something a little steeper or to bash a little powder or otherwise go for more of a challenge.

The other days we stayed at Snowbird. It was harder for her. (We did not head back to Alta mainly because we were staying in Snowbird. Staying there fit our style where we come back to the room for a quick snack at lunch and where she can go back to the room easily in the early afternoon when she gets tired leaving me a couple of hours to explore.) We did almost all of our skiing together in the Gad Valley. Staying in the lower valley meant pretty good crowds with a lot of beginners. It also meant the green run known as Big Emma. The top half was as steep as just about most blues I have seen. Only about the middle half was groomed. And we had fresh snow every day which meant that even the middle section got real uneven real fast.

We were able to go up higher and find some runs from the top of Gadzoom and Gad2 which were more her style. The blues there had some pretty good pitch in places but the thinning crowds and good grooming were more to her liking. I didn't really find many opportunities to take alternate routes down. There were a few, but most of my exploring had to wait until she retired for the day. On the other hand, the blues up there were plenty challenging to keep me interested.

I never made it to Mineral Basin. I think we would have liked it. I went up once by myself on a scouting mission but when I got to the top I could not see more than a few feet. I finally found a trail sign that said one way to Chip's and another way to Chamonix Chutes. Not wanting to get in over my head I headed down Chip's. I found out that it would have been a bad idea to try and bring my wife down that way in any case. I even bailed. After the first couple of switchbacks I decided I had had enough. As the cat track turned back right I simply headed down some open area to the left. I few steeps, meadows and gullies later I popped out at the top of the Peruvian lift. Much more enjoyable than Chip's.

In summary I had a blast and would go back to either. My wife had fun at both but I doubt she would want to go back to Snowbird. I was also finding untouched powder easily at Alta even in the afternoon (some out in the open) while at Snowbird it was hard for me to find anything fresh after about the first hour without some adventurous searching.
post #23 of 29
Brandon gave a great assessment!

post #24 of 29
Excellent post Brandon Too bad about Mineral Basin as it's a lot of fun and mostly wide open so you can make your own way down. Although my friends and I ended up in a cliff area that was definately a challenge to get through:
post #25 of 29
Skierecs7, I sent you a private message the other day. Just thought I'd let you know, since you don't seem to have seen it yet.

post #26 of 29
I have to say that I agree with the majority. When I did Utah a few years back, I'd never done any ungroomed. While there, four feet of snow fell over the course of the week. Alta and Park City made my favorite resorts of all time, but Snowbird is at the bottom of my list. The day I was there, every time I rode up the tram the place was totally socked in so you had no clue where you were and ending up on the "wrong" trail was highly likely. The snowboarders on that mountain were among the rudest I've ever run into and moving from one section of the mountain to another seemed to involve lots of skating around. I know there are people who love the place and maybe the day was just a bad day to try the place, but frankly, with all the other great skiing in Utah, it will never get a second chance from me. Alta was wonderful, Park City was wonderful, Deer Valley was okay, and Canyons seemed to have possibilities.
post #27 of 29
Originally Posted by Powdr
Then you still don't have a good picture of true Western steep mountain skiing. Vail's Back Bowls are truely the most over rated "expert" terrain in all of North America. Vail's back bowls are nothing like Alta/Bird. Groomed "chutes"?!?
I'll second that.
post #28 of 29
That's a Girl and Brandon have it right. I've said it before on this board too - Snowbird is a great area but for intermediates just looking up at all the cliffs and steeps is intimidating as hell and can freak 'em out roght off the bat ruining the day. Also is great all the way around - the high traverse can scare those not used to that sort of thing but you don't need to go there.

The 3 areas in Park City should have plenty of terrain to please and challenge your entire group.
post #29 of 29
Ah, an intermediate could have trouble in Jupiter bowl at Park City. There are no intermediate trails down. Maybe a "high" intermediate.
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