Utah TR 3/6 - 3/8
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skiobsessed
March 9, 2009
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
I would like to thank all of you who contributed to my thread earlier on suggestions for our trip. I took some advice to heart and it made a world of difference for me.

Alta:

We arrived on Thursday night and was informed that there was a 1 foot dump the day before. My buddy and I decided to check out Alta to gauge our "advanced beginner" ability in Utah. We got our first run at Alta around 10:30 am and we spent an hour using the Sunnyside lift (the Albion lift was closed for whatever reason) getting used to the blues and greens on the Albion base. The conditions were AWESOME. The snow was the softest I've seen and skied on. When I first skied on powder, my skis stopped suddenly and I fell face-first on the snow. But I was having so much fun I didn't mind kissing the pure white stuff.

The weirdest sensation happened as we were on Race Arena (#8). The snow was so soft, it was like I was skiing in a sea of whiteness. However, while I felt I was making the right moves with my body, I didn't actually see myself moving along the trail. I got light-headed and actually fell a couple of times because I felt "buzzed" skiing. At this point, my buddy pointed out that it was probably the altitude so we stopped by the Alf's Restaurant to take a break.

After our break, we got on the Sugarloaf lift and did more blues. It was snowing the whole day we were there and I couldn't imagine a better condition. The trails do seem steeper than the ones back home, but the snow was so soft and pure that I had a great time just SKIING. After an hour of skiing the blues around the Sugarloaf lift, we headed over to the Supreme lift to escape the wind that was picking up and to experience the blue runs there. This was the only part of the day we encountered any type of waiting...and we waited 2 minutes max. Can you tell I'm in love with Alta???

Around 3:00 pm, we decided to head over to the Collins lift and try out some blues and maybe even black runs before we call it a day. Perhaps I was getting exhausted from skiing, but the trail never seem to end! They just kept going and going. I can't count how many times I stopped in the middle of the trail just to give my legs a break. Even though I was very confident in my skiing and had a blast doing it, I skipped the blacks because I didn't want to try them with sore legs. After an hour of killing my legs, my buddy decided to head back to the Albion base by taking the transfer tow, but I wanted to ski my way back to the Albion base. I took Devil's Way (#55), to Devil's Elbow (#40), and then Homerun (#6) back to our lockers. The trails kept going and going and I couldn't be any happier smile

Overall, I was very impressed with the snow conditions at Alta, their card-entry to the lifts, the beautiful scenery at the summit, and the size of the resort. The ski lodges seemed a little bare-bones to me, but I didn't care since skiing was a top priority. Overall, I couldn't have picked a more perfect place to start my journey out West!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
March 9, 2009
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,227 posts
That's a great TR. I can tell how much you enjoyed it. Thanks.

Originally Posted By: skiobsessed

The weirdest sensation happened as we were on Race Arena (#8). The snow was so soft, it was like I was skiing in a sea of whiteness. However, while I felt I was making the right moves with my body, I didn't actually see myself moving along the trail. I got light-headed and actually fell a couple of times because I felt "buzzed" skiing. At this point, my buddy pointed out that it was probably the altitude so we stopped by the Alf's Restaurant to take a break.


That was almost certainly a touch of vertigo, which happens when the light is very flat and there is no definition around you. It has nothing to do with altitude. It is a well known phenomenon among mountaineers and it can get much worse in a white out. I have experienced falling down because I didn't know which way was up. The problem is that we use both the balance organs in the inner ear and our vision to keep oriented. If we receive no message from vision the brain becomes confused and vertigo results.

The only way to combat it is to find a stationary object and focus on it. Being in the trees or next to the trees will do. Even a single tree in the distance, or a rope line like you have at the side of that #8 trail.

The last time I had a bad case was on Mt. Hood a couple of years ago, when it suddenly clouded up. I had skinned up well above the lifts. I had been there the previous day (sunny) and was able to find my previous tracks and ski down in them. As long as I had the tracks as a visual reference I was OK. I briefly left them to see what would happen and got vertigo again. 2 skiers can leapfrog each other as a tactic. The second one has a visual reference and the first can usually make 3-4 turns before it sets in. Weird stuff!
skier219
March 9, 2009
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Great report, I think you really captured the Alta experience. It's a great place.

The Collins trails are among the steepest trails there as a group, compared to the other parts of the mountain, and there is a good run of vertical drop there. They can be killers, especially at the end of the day.

I experienced a bit of vertigo this morning when the light was flat. I stopped to give directions to my partners, or so I thought, but I was actually moving backwards. Weird feeling. We spent most of the day over in the Supreme area where the light was much better and the wind was almost nil. Winds at the top of the Sugarloaf lift were insane today.

Snow report said 0" new this morning, but there was a good 4-6" up on the mountain for our first run down, and it snowed heavily all day (2-3" per hour at times). I don't know what the real tally was, but by the end of the day, knee to thigh deep was typical all over the place. Never mind face shots, I had streams of snow flying past my shoulders like rooster tails! Forecast calls for another 10-12" overnight, so I expect some chest deep runs tomorrow. That will be a new frontier for me.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
skier219,
I am jealous. Go get 'em.
The Colonel
skiobsessed
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Wow, I've never even thought about Vertigo as a possibility, but thanks for the advice! I will be sure to use something as a point of reference next time I'm out.

Solitude

We skied Solitude on 3/7 (Saturday). This was the resort that made me realize how much of a punk I am and what I need to do to become a "real skier". We ordered a shuttle service from our hotel to drop us off at 6200 S Wasatch at 7:45 am. Unfortunately, we were 10 minutes late and the shuttle driver can only drop us off at the bus stop by 9:15 am at the earliest. We decided to hail a cab to the ski bus stop and still managed to start our day at 9:20 am.

Perhaps the ordeal in the morning should've been an omen of difficult things to come, or my bold statement to my friend about how we should be able to ski down most trails on Solitude, but I definitely had my share of humble pie to last the rest of the ski season.

We started things easy by taking the Moonbeam Express to the top. My buddy didn't have the best day at Alta and wanted to do some greens to ease himself into skiing. The conditions were completely opposite from the day before: blue-bird skies with packed/groomed runs. We got to the top of the Moonbeam Express and was taken aback by how expansive the trails are. It's just wide open skiing! We did all the greens and blues off that lift except for Home Run because of the small moguls on the trail (I have to learn how to ski moguls next season).

We got to the Eagle Express to try out some other blue trails. I had my heart set on going down at least a black diamond that day, but it just wasn't in the cards. We took Sundancer down as our first run off the Eagle and I punked out. The beginning of the trail seemed steeper and faster than anything I've ever been on. I literally froze at the top (this is a recurring theme in my skiing experience. Whenever a trail is kicking my butt, I tend to look at it from the top for a good 15 minutes before going down like a chump). I finally got over the beginning steepness and finished the trail. Unfortunately for me, I kept going back to Sundancer and kept repeating the process; my confidence was shot. I would continue my crappy skiing down Gary's Glade, Sundancer, and Sundance Bowl.

My friend and I got lost and ended up meeting at the Apex Express. I did better on Fleet Street, Wall Street, Fluid Street, and Main Street. Blue Spruce was probably the most appropriate trail, challenge-wise for me. Once again, I froze at the top, but I was able to ski better than I had at Sundancer.

We finally took a break and ate at the Last Chance Mining Camp. Their chicken fajitas hit the spot! It was there that I actually noticed the beauty around me. I saw the mountains around me and The Village lodging/resort area. It was a great way for me to just appreciate the beautiful surrounding, suck in my pride, and attack the mountain once again.

We hit the Sunrise Lift and did North Star and South Star, easily the steepest and longest green I've been on thus far. We decided to check out the Summit lift via Summit Access before actually studying the trial map. Once we got to the top, only one word came out of my mouth repeatedly...CRAZINESS!!! The view was breathtaking, but with the wind howling and the steepness and narrowness of the slopes, I was a scared little punk. What in the world was I thinking??? Would I actually make it down in one piece? My buddy, feeling a lot more cavalier than a day before, went down no problem and actually hit a black diamond that connected with Solbright and ended up back at the Sunshine Lift. I, on the other hand, can't even tell you how many times I fell, or how frustrated I was, but I finally managed to make it down Dynamite. I don't know how others skied off the blacks from the summit, or ventured on to Honeycomb Canyons, but I have a lot of RESPECT for those who can. Hopefully with enough practice, I will be able to do it soon.

With my ego bruised, my confidence shattered, and my body aching, I headed back to Apex Express to work on my skiing. I got "stuck" on Blue Spruce again but kept hitting that trail until it was time to head back. It was definitely a "character building" day for me. I actually thought about going back to Moonbeam Express and work on the greens, but I thought I needed to keep my ego in check by bruising it even more (does that make sense???) on Blue Spruce since I feel in my heart that's a trail I should be doing. I found out what type of skier I'm NOT that day. Truth hurts eh?

At the end of the day, I am glad to have pushed myself to the limits I was comfortable in, even though it was very humbling. It was a character building day, but my mindset was definitely different after that day. A problem recognized is a problem half-solved right?
BushwackerinPA
March 10, 2009
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
haha if you went to solitude and got scared, I hope you avoided snowbird at all cost.
jimmy
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Dude don't beat yourself up so much. Those groomers on the skiers left ARE pretty steep. The thing about western skiing everything is bigger wider steeper deeper than back here. Trust me u will come home a better, more confident skier than u were when u left. Do the bird next year, it'll scare you from the parking lot laugh .
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter
March 10, 2009
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
1,860 posts
Taking on new terrain is always a challenge. It looks like you got the best of it at Alta and Solitude got the better of you but you know, it is precisely that challenge that makes you ski obsessed. The experience should elevate your game even if it humbled your ego. You're here sharing with us and I can fell the excitement in your words. I'm envious of your experience, no doubt it will be among your fondest ski memories.
skiobsessed
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Originally Posted By: jimmy
Dude don't beat yourself up so much. Those groomers on the skiers left ARE pretty steep. The thing about western skiing everything is bigger wider steeper deeper than back here. Trust me u will come home a better, more confident skier than u were when u left. Do the bird next year, it'll scare you from the parking lot laugh .


Yes, I beat myself up way too much. Thanks for the words of encouragement. I do feel like I'm a better and more confident skier after my Utah trip. smile

Originally Posted By: Laurel Hill Crazie
Taking on new terrain is always a challenge. It looks like you got the best of it at Alta and Solitude got the better of you but you know, it is precisely that challenge that makes you ski obsessed. The experience should elevate your game even if it humbled your ego. You're here sharing with us and I can fell the excitement in your words. I'm envious of your experience, no doubt it will be among your fondest ski memories.



I agree. This is the type of challenge that keeps me coming back. This was a great trip and I feel lucky to have shared it with a great skiing buddy. It was a great way for us to improve and struggle together in our quest to be better skiers.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Boy, you are making me very envious. We're stuck here in the beginning of March with slurpee hardpack and your skiing big time pow. You sound like a gamer, though. Enjoy!
fishnski
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Like Las vegas...Its a money Gamble..They hit the Jackpot... Some earlier DCSkiers wer'nt so lucky...Got to Play to Win though!!!
skiobsessed
March 10, 2009
Member since 03/10/2008 🔗
80 posts
Snowbird

For our last day in Utah, we decided to check out Snowbird. After my character building day at Solitude the day before, I was apprehensive about going to Snowbird because of what I had heard from people in this forum and even the locals I was talking to during our chair lift rides at Alta and Solitude. Apparently, Snowbird is the steepest of the Cottonwood Canyon resorts. In the end, I thought you only live once and might as well go do what your heart tells you to do, even against better judgment.

We started the day early and was at the lift by 9:10 am. I had wanted to go find the Baby Thunder Lift and test out the family-area greens on the far right side of the mountain. Since we couldn't find it, we got on the two-seater Mid Gad Lift and got off at mid-station to test out West 2nd North and West 2nd South. We then tried our luck at Big Emma. I had read on this forum about Big Emma and wanted to give it a try. Let me just say that is the BADDEST (in a good way) green trail I've ever been on. Wow, that Big Emma has BAD INTENTIONS. Just the sheer length of the trail should be a blue on the east coast. You pick up so much speed off that drop it's ridiculous. I had a great time skiing Big Emma and actually counted the number of turns I did from the top drop to the last slow sign (22 turns). My friend hit 21 and caught some air before falling face-first. Great times smile

After giving some more love to Big Emma, we wanted to at least see the Tram and experience the tunnel before finishing our day at the "Bird". We skied down Bass Highway to get to the Tram. Since we went on a Sunday, we were hoping that the crowd wouldn't be as big for the people who attend church, but we were packed like sardines in the Tram. Once we got to the top though, the view, once again, was breathless.

For whatever reason, I didn't panic like I did at Solitude. We skied down Chip's Run to the tunnel. It's on Chip's Run that my weakness was exposed. I can't make sharp, short turns to control my speed that well. Chip's Run kind of meander and winds itself around the mountain, so if you're not careful, you'll be going off-trail on stuff steeper than what I'm accustomed to. I stopped a couple of times because it was the only way for me to control myself without falling off to the side.

We got to the tunnel and went to Mineral Basin while we stood on conveyor belts. I took the time to take pics like a tourist. It's very interesting, is the tunnel created so people can take the Peruvian lift through the tunnel in the event that the Tram is busy?

We skied all the greens on Mineral Basin: Lupine Loop, Luckey Boy, Claim Jumper, and Bird's Nest. We also skied the lower part of Bassanova to get to the Baldy Express. They had an "action photographer" stationed at the bottom to take pictures. We had taken the lower part of Bassanova at least 5 times before, so I was confident I can ski down it without much fanfare. On my 6th attempt, I crossed my skis (don't ask) and fell down like a champ. Unfortunately, the action photographer happened to change his equipment as I was falling, and missed my modeling pose on the slope smile I am willing to bet that my friend would've bought the picture just so he can rub it in my face. That's what friends are for right?

We had to be back at the hotel around 2:00 pm, so we started heading back to the Creekside Lodge around noon. We took the Mineral Basin Express back to the top. Our plan was to ski down Chip's Run to Who Dunnit to Skischool Lane. The trail map does not justify how long these runs are. It took us at least 30 minutes to get back, and got lost on the way. I ended up taking the bottom part of BlackJack but we still made it back to Creekside in one piece. I also went off the steeper part of Chip's Run instead of following the trail that snakes around the mountain. I had learned to point my skis down and JUST SKI over my fears. It was a small redemption to my earlier day at Solitude.

Overall, it was a great day of skiing. The conditions were blue-bird skies with packed/groomed trails. I was a bit surprised that Snowbird doesn't use the keycard entry that Alta and Solitude uses, but it was not as inconvenient as I thought it would be to have people checking your lift ticket (by the way, I am NOT taking off my Snowbird lift ticket off my jacket smile I was also a bit taken off by their $4.00 charge to rent lockers, but they do provide you with all-day access throughout the day. Their chili-dog at the Creekside lodge hit the spot.

Looking back, there are so many blue and black trails we didn't do on the mountain. We were limited to the mountain exposure due to our skiing ability. Hopefully next time we head back, I'll be able to ski more of the mountain and experience Snowbird in a different way!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 11, 2009
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,727 posts
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