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How does snowbird compare to alta difficulty wise?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I've skied at alta several times but never gotten around to snowbird before.
I'm fine and enjoy on the moderate black diamonds at alta (i.e. high rustler, most of eagle's nest, sidewinder, angina chute, main baldy chute, wildcat trees ...)
I have have some trouble on some of the more challenging runs  (regal chute, most of piney glade/those really thin chutes off of challenger, eddies? i think it's called? but am fine with the occasional run in those areas).
I'm trying to completely avoid runs like the chutes to skiers right of spiney chutes, the cecret chutes and perla's chute (basically anything that's steep, narrow and filled with unavoidable cliffs).

Which areas should I look for and which runs should i completely avoid?
I've heard a lot of the runs off the cirque traverse are quite nice and manageable, along with tiger bowl?
Any other recommendations?
post #2 of 14
The Snowbird fans will be all over me for this....the he Challenging terrain on both mountains is roughly equal (High Rustler+the Cirque, etc), But I think Snowbird's steeps are easier to access (especially from the tram or the Gad 2 lift) whereas Alta's best challeging stuff always asks for a little effort on the part of the skier.,

I think that snowbird's 'non-challenging' terrain is very limited...oh, they have the acreage of non-challenging, it's just not very good, whereas Alta's intermediate and upper green offerings are a little more pleasing. Snowbird is a fantasticmountain, but if you aren't there for the steeps, it's appeal gets diminished in a hurry!  (ok, here come the arrows from the snowbird fans..remember, guys,  I did say it is a GREAT mountain!)

Give Solitude a try-excellent challenging terrain (more trees than Snowbird and Alta put together), but a lot of really nice intermediate terrain as well.  It has a lot more appeal to the skier who wants more dark blues and isn't chasing the true cottonwood double blacks.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I think you misunderstood what I was saying/didn't fully read my post.
I'm looking for stuff at snowbird similar to high rustler, eagle's nest, supreme bowl, the wildcat trees and supreme bowl (basically runs that would be considered expert terrain at any other resort).

The only thing I'm trying to avoid are the more extreme runs, such as those that you probably wouldn't survive a fall (i.e. perla's),  runs that end in unavoidable cliffs(i.e. wirlwind, bad idea and some of the other chutes at the far end of the supreme bowl traverse, and the steep runs with no room to turn (i.e. cecret chutes).
I'm also a huge fan of having to jump over 15 feet of rocks to get onto a run.
post #4 of 14
monkeydog, I know Snowbird pretty well.  There is SO MUCH of what you are looking for at the Bird that it is hardly worth it to guide you online.  You will easily find IT, much easier than at Alta.  Rarely do you have to work for IT or make a long traverse.  But here goes anyway. 


Start with the Experts Only gates which are found throughout the entire mountain.  If you are timid about entering, you can sometimes scope out the terrain while riding up a lift.  There are a few that are hairy, but not usually.  Most are on the order of the Supreme under the lift chutes, or less.  Have a buddy and go for it. 

You won't want to miss skiing what is termed the Cirque, which you will see right under the Tram 2/3rd up.  Follow the guys and traverse your way down, looking at the chutes, the farther down you go along the spine, the easier it gets. 

Under the Gad II lift is always one of my favorites because the sun never touches that slope, it is steep enough to make you pause, but the snow is always perfect!  And you have an audience.  Make sure you find the Black Forest, a unique run into Gad below Little Cloud. 

The key to Snowbird is as you make your way down the mountain, just keep following the tracks into the woods and the unknown.  Usually they can be trusted. 

Mineral Basin is self-explanatory once you get there, you can scope most of it out while riding the lift up.  It is very steep under the main lift, but there are many, many nice lines down, all around.  After you get the hang of it, go on a "tour" and traverse all the way left and then all the way right.  Both ends are nice. 

I like Snowbird better than Alta.  I feel there is tons more of good terrain at Snowbird with less runout and traversing to deal with.  I don't believe the stats that say that there are similar amt of acres at each resort available.  To me, Snowbird skis about twice as big as Alta. 

There are many, many areas, runs, and nooks and crannies to explore, all over the place.  I am no super expert, just a sport, but my buddy and me always look to get the most pitch and moguls out of every single run.  Snowbird is my favorite place on planet earth.  The snowfall, north facing orientation, lift system and incredible terrain top to bottom make it likely the best overall resort on planet earth for challenging skiing.  It has a bit of rap, of being for the rich, compared to Alta, but that is fading and unjust.  To me, the facilities are nothing to brag about, and I wish they had better overall food, like at Vail or Snowbasin.   

The Blackjack area, the entire left side of the mountain looking up, has tons of quiet steep areas.  You won't have company and there is much to find.
Edited by SnowbirdDevotee - 2/25/10 at 2:13pm
post #5 of 14
Snowbird Devotee, you should think about writing a review of Snowbird for the contest that ends on Sunday--3 nights at The Cliff and 3 days of skiing for two. Judging from what you posted here, it would be a piece of cake!
post #6 of 14

Originally Posted by nolo View Post

Snowbird Devotee, you should think about writing a review of Snowbird for the contest that ends on Sunday--3 nights at The Cliff and 3 days of skiing for two. Judging from what you posted here, it would be a piece of cake!

If he could put together all his posts on Snowbird over the years.....he would win.!!

To me, Alta and Snowbird are 2 different ski experiences.

I don't find Snowbird as beautiful as Alta. Alta is pristine, pure. Traversing and hiking at Alta is a must. 

Snowbird is scenic as all get out and very well lift served. Mineral Basin....God, I thought I had died and gone to skiers heaven. Un-real.!!

First picture is Mineral Basin at Snowbird and the 2nd picture is the Wildcat area at Alta.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've heard that although mineral basin looks beautiful, the snow sucks due to it's exposure/the side of the mountain it's on. Any truth to that?

Does any other portion of snowbird have that same problem?

post #8 of 14
 The locals call it "Miserable Basin" for a reason.  But I have had some awesome skiing over there.  Like always, be mindful of the weather, exposure, and recent snowfall history.  Mineral Basin can be great when all the factors are favorable.  Much the same consideration needs to go into skiing far out into Catherine's area at Alta, due to similar exposure.

My simple impression is that Snowbird is consistently steeper than Alta overall.  Take the steepest stuff at Alta, and it's representative of typical terrain at Snowbird.  So I consider Snowbird to be a more serious mountain, and it indeed gives better/easier access to terrain.  However, for variety, accommodating a wide range of skill levels in a group, and general feel/atmosphere, I like Alta.
post #9 of 14
When we were there -- a bluebird day -- the snow was beautiful powder in Mineral Basin until about 10:30 or so, then the sun messed it up.  That same morning, the front side of Snowbird was clouded/fogged up, so MB was definitely the place to be. 

The same general rules apply as anywhere -- start in the sun, then move to shade and/or North facing slopes later in the day (different rules apply for freeze/thaw cycles, where you want the sun's effect). 
post #10 of 14
I've heard that although mineral basin looks beautiful, the snow sucks due to it's exposure/the side of the mountain it's on. Any truth to that?

Does any other portion of snowbird have that same problem?

It depends when you are there.  It is generally much better in mid-winter before March, i've skied it yearly in late February and don't remember bad snow there for a few years in a row.  But it can be terrible.  A warm afternoon followed by a cold night makes it dreadful, esp because it so big it doesn't really get moguled up too fast and can stay jumbled up powder days after a storm, which turns into death cookies in the morning.  MB is fantastic, there is nothing that comes close to it in the entire Alta.  Maybe nowhere else either.  Most of Snowbird faces due north, but there are exposures on various ridges that get more sun than others.  This becomes more important after March 1st, like now, I can definitely feel spring coming on where I live in Pennsylvania.  This is of course a problem at any resort, but likely less so at Snowbird because it has almost perfect geography.  There is more exposure at Alta. 
post #11 of 14
 snowbird is steeper overall, and doesnt have true beginner/inter/ terrain.

to put in perspective the top of Big Emma a Green at snowbird is steeper than any blue at Alta and several blacks. 

Mineral Basin can be quite good early season as the sun is actually so low and at a different angle than late season that the snow can actually be better there in december and januray than the front side cirque. Also the bookends face more north than anything else there. With that said the spring time can be a great time in mineral basin as it can corn cycle and corn cycles are nearly as good as powder IMO.

With that said the best skiing at snowbird is off the trams and Gad 2 lifts. with very few exceptions there is really no reason not to ski the front side(s) of snowbird over mineral basin. you can have midwinter snow days after a storm well in to April in the P-gulch.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
After 2 days of skiing at snowbird for a day, although it as a great mountain, I personally didn't enjoy snowbird nearly as much as alta. Sure you have to hike to a lot of the good terrain, but  with the exception of east castle, baldy chutes and a few other random lines, it's really only a 5 minute hike/traverse.

In response to snowbird devotee, the backside at alta is a very similar to mineral basin.

My favorite areas at snowbird were probably thunder bowl and the bookends at the end of mineral basin. The stuff off of the baldy traverse was also quite nice.

The runs off of the cirque traverse were longer and steeper than a lot of the runs alta, but they had been skied to death and the conditions weren't quite as nice and the wait for the tram was often longer than the majority of the traverses at alta.

I also thought that runs like eddies high nowhere, piney glade and even gunsight were more challenging than great scott and silver fox.
post #13 of 14

Mach Schnell which is at the end of the Cirque traverse reminds me alot of Eagles Nest and Wild Cat. It's tucked in the trees so there is always good snow there. Try it out! 

post #14 of 14

Hey Guys,

  I will be flying out to Utah for a 2-3 day trip in February.

  Skill level... humble back country/ski guy with fat skis that loves powder.  Ready to push it and have fun :)


  Have never been to Utah, would love to visit Alta/Snowbird (since they are super close)


  Can you please give me some suggestions?  Should I rent a car/stay in hotel in Salt Lake City... or are there busses that run from the airport to the mountain, and use local transport there?


  I would LOVE to hire a guide, and spend the few extra bucks skiing the KNOWN stuff :)



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