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Skiing Utah

Skiing The Canyons

I returned to the Wasatch Mountains for the first time since the Salt Lake City Olympics last week and wow have things changed. I was invited by an old friend to join him at the Epic Ski annual Gathering. Epic Ski is an interesting phenomenon - it's a group of skiers from all over the world who regularly interact on a web forum and ski together informally throughout the year. Once a year they have an official ski week together, this year it was in Park City.

We stayed in the town of Park City and skied at Snow Basin, Deer Valley, The Canyons, Park City, and Solitude.

This was my first time visiting Snow Basin and I was impressed. The resort is owned by the same outfit that runs Sun Valley and the base facilities reflect that - they're posh. The mountain looked extremely interesting with plenty of tree runs and inviting terrain. Unfortunately I had a very bad case of high altitude sickness and ended up sitting out part of the day then skiing just on the lower part of the mountain. The resort tops out at about 9,400' - not the highest resort in the Wasatch, but it's up there.

Deer Valley continues to deliver on to its target market of upscale skiers. What was clear on this trip though was that most of these skies leave the more "interesting" parts of the mountain alone and stick to the big wide corduroy groomers. Runs like Judge off Empire Canyon and Morning Star off Bald Mountain were pretty much deserted. Fresh snow wasn't that hard to find.

The biggest surprise of the trip was The Canyons, previously known as Park West and Wolf Creek. A huge base village has sprung up at the resort and the skiing terrain on the mountain has easily quadrupled since I was last there 10 years ago. And a lot of that new terrain is great tree skiing and interesting pitches. I really loved the mountain. But I really hated the base facilities; mountain management couldn't do much more to discourage day visitors. You start out by parking about a half mile from the resort and riding a cold open stand-up gondola to the village. From there you have to walk another quarter mile to wait in a long line at the one and only gondola up the mountain. As you're waiting 20 minutes in line you notice all of empty lines dedicated to people staying at the various on-mountain lodging. Ugh. And god forbid you want a locker or need to rent equipment. You'll be forced to ask several times for directions and you'll end up walking all over the base village, destroying your boots on the hard concrete. I don't think I've ever been to a ski resort with a base facility that sucked this much before.

Skiing at Park City Mountain Resort and Solitude was like returning to visit old friends. These are solid mountains and offer fun terrain for everyone. I was especially happy to see that Solitude's intimate atmosphere wasn't ruined by Olympic development.

Thank you Spindrift for the great trip!

Posted by Bruce on February 11, 2006 12:05 PM

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