Utah SRP Feb 29-Mar5
March 11, 2004
Ok 6 days of skiing and half were powder days.
Day 1: Snowbird - 12-24" ON TRAIL
Day 2: Alta
Day 3: Snowbird
Day 4: Solitude
Day 5: Brighton - 8-12" ON TRAIL
Day 6: Brighton - 8-12" ON TRAIL
In the trees and in various off-trail locations up to 3ft of the soft stuff.
This place delivered in a BIG WAY snow wise, terrain and everything else. Lightest fluffiest snow I've ever skied in. (not saying a whole lot really considering my somewhat limited experience)
I'd go back any time.
Snowbird likely open on Memorial Day...
How was Solitude? Heading out there for a three day affair this weekend. Snowbird on Friday, Solitude on Saturday and Alta on Sunday. What runs did you ski at Snowbird? I want to attempt some of the blacks for the first time, roll around Mineral Basin, etc. Damn, you were there at the perfect time! Nice.
I loved Solitude, just my two cents. Even midwinter there's no lines. It lives up to it's name. Enjoy!
Solitude was great. I really enjoyed it. Off of Summit lift there are some very accessable black runs. The nice thing about solitude is that it is pretty easy to see where the crazy stuff gets crazy and you can easily bail into some easier areas... more or less.
Alta is very similiar I think. At snowbird i thought this was more difficult to see in places.
I also HIGHLY recommend brighton if they have snow and you like or would like to learn some tree skiing. On one side they have a big bowl and sloping hill runs. if they are covered in powder it is some awesome easy powder skiing. HOwever, the boarders come out in force on a good day so get there early and ski off millicent lift first for awhile . Then haead back and ski under snake creek. I recommend highly some of the trees next to THUNDERHEAD but anything below the double-black tree is a good place to fiddle around in... snow was up to waist level in some places in the trees.
At solitude, i didn't go into mineral for some reason but heard good things. Also in my mind Solitude was a BIT more like east coast resorts with some steep groomers and so forth.
Unfortunately we hit solitude 3 days or so after the powder fell on Sunday and it had gotten a bit hard and crusty in the front bowl and... maybe that's why I didn't go into mineral... i didn't want to ski through the crust.
anyway, Alta is STUNNING in sunshine and you can't beat the terrain overall IF you don't mind hiking and are that level of skier (i am not).
Snowbird is just a LITTLE step down from that in my mind but not by much. it's got steeper average terrain, whereas alta is DEAD pan flat in the middle and you get lots of wide groomers with retirees on them...
SOlitude & Brighton are up big cottonwood which RARELY closes whereas little cottonwood OFTEN closes..
try 'em all!!!
If you haven't skied any blacks at Snowbird, Mineral Basin along with trails off the Little Cloud and Peruvian lifts are great. The Little Cloud area is a good start because it is an open bowl area and you can clearly see what you are getting into from the lift (provided it's not snowing and visibility is poor.) The double blacks at the Bird are very steep (and often rocky) and are not to be messed with unless you can easily handle the blacks. Snowbird is an area where you do need to pay close attention to the trail signs and trail map - you may find yourself in an area that you won't be able to ski down.
While it has some challenging terrain, the steepest trails at Alta aren't as extreme as those at Snowbird. If you can handle the open-bowl black runs, Catherine's and Wildcat areas are nice.
The black traverses at Alta and Snowbird may be the most challenging part of your day; they are often narrow, full of extreme washboard ripples and rocky. On a powder day, you are apt to find hidden treasures on them.
Ok, this might show up twice.
I can recommend the area under Germania (?) lift at Alta. It has multiple access points and you could more or less see what you were getting into. There were many places like this at Alta. The truly gnarly stuff seemed to require hiking.
Sugar Bowl in CA had the same situation: gnarly terrain easily scoped from the lift. Generally if I can't scope out a run from some other point on the mountain I avoid it. But skiing under a lift has it's drawbacks too: for the easily embarrassed (such as myself), I always get nervous that the people on the lift will think I'm showboating and I have to work extra hard to not get panicked about what people will think if I fall. Incredibly stupid thing to be thinking of when you're about to drop a tough run.
It's been a long while since I've skied Killington, but the couple double blacks I remember were nothing to sneeze at. Main difference is that Vermont (New Hampshire?) double blacks tend to be icy with not much snow on them, but the blacks out west have much more snow. More snow doesn't always equal easier. Depending upon temps and sun exposure, the snow out west can be cruddy, i.e. heavy, partially-frozen and of variable consistency. Of course, the snow could also be epic powder or packed powder.
I agree with JohnL. I hit a couple double blacks at Killington that were comparable in steepness to the stuff out west but icier, therefore in some ways a bit more testy. Think you will enjoy feeling your edges grab the pitches out there and you'll feel like superman. Don't let it go to your head though!
For me personally, I find icy steeps easier to ski than cruddy steeps. Steep crud can be real tricky; your skis tend to get hung up in the snow with your upper body tending to launch too far forward. Head-first slides down steeps are not fun! Plus, when you are skiing conservatively as you often do on steeps, turn initiation is easier for me on ice than in crud.
Of course if I do fall and am sliding down a trail, the more snow the better. Doesn't matter what kind.
I hear you guys. I surprised myself on at Killington, but it was pretty mild and sunny so there wasn't "much" iciness. I think if I can run a few with an instructor out west I'll be ready to rock. Supposed to be sunny and mid forties when I'm there. Should make for some nice soft pack. Anyone else going to be out there this weekend?
Yes crud can be much worse. But soft powder that's just chopped up isn't that bad. Nor is packed-powder that you can slice up!
I'm ready for some serious slicing and dicing. Might as well throw in a nice face tan just for kicks! I'd like pow but I love it when it's sunny. Spring skiing! Yeah!
Roger and Kev,
Thanks for the info! I think I'll be heading to Alta on Friday and most likely will take the "Beyond the Blues" workshop, as I'm just now progressing into that level. I skied double blacks at Killington but somehow don't think that compares well with stuff out west. I'm looking forward to testing out some blacks. If it's wide and steep I don't mind that much but hopefully the workshop will allow me to work on short radius turns on steeper action. I saw those traverses at Alta when I was there earlier this year and thought "no way in hell am I going up there" but now I might have to check it out. In any case, I need to kick it up a notch - heading to big sky with the Ski Chalet crew in early April. There's no way I can punk out at the top of Lone Peak, even if I have to traverse off the back side!
OK back finally from Utah & Big Sky...
Well here's the way I see it. At a resort like Alta you can ski on anything really. Yes there are a "few" trails... but in fact that is simply a suggestion! (alta is quite flat in the middle, I think you'll find most blues to be forgettable and naturally think about venturing a bit "over here and over there...")
So I'd experiment a bit, especially if they get a lot of snow. The snow will be quite forgivable. Also it IS helpful to have a local or a more experienced skier along to help as a guide. You should NOT ski alone in many areas in alta, I'd say.
BUT you are likely to not hike to anything probably and get to the truly hairy stuff...
MOSTLY black diamond and up are ungroomed out west in general. So chances are they will either be heavily moguled, in a large bowl area (probably also moguled somewhat or on its way towards it), or through some tree area... which maybe also be moguled up a bit...
Unless you get 2 ft of fresh stuff, then it will all be pristine for about 3 hrs!
Snowbird recommendations: peruvian at the lodge, or little cloud lift and take the bowl down, or take the TRAM to the top follow the signs to the mineral basin and then follow this down eventually through the peruvian area ( i think we took primose from the top). You can mix it up a bit, some blacks, some blues... and see some of the crazier stuff people ski down.
ps. it was QUITE warm passing through SLC airport today. Mountains looked like they were caked in snow however.