Posts Tagged With: alta ski area

On The Lift With

I’ve sat on plenty of lifts in my day. And while I have sat next to my share of Joey’s and couldn’t wait for my skis to hit the off ramp, the majority of the time I’ve found myself deep in interesting conversation, wanting the ride to continue.

Whether you agree with me or not, riding a chairlift with a stranger is a unique social experience. At the same time you have both nothing and everything in common.You’re free to share too much or say nothing at all. And with a definite end in sight, you’re able to let the conversation run its course, knowing that there are no strings attached when your butts leave the seats.

On The Lift With Jim Cantore

On The Lift With Weather Channel Meteorologist, Jim Cantore

The people you meet on chairlifts are interesting. Their backgrounds vastly different, yet what brought them to your hill – skiing and snow – seemingly universal. Each story seems more unique than the last. Why did they choose your ski hill? What makes them tick? For years I’ve wanted to share these stories, and the people telling them, with those not fortunate enough to be riding a chair with us. But where? And how?

The “where” fell into my lap when I started working at Alta Ski Area. Seventy-five years of people, stories and personalities were, and still are, waiting to be uncovered. After talking with people and seeing their expressions, it was plainly obvious that the written word would not do these stories justice. It had to be video. With the “where” and “how” taken care of, “On The Lift With” was born.

The goal of “On The Lift With” is simple – Uncover and introduce you to the people and personalities that make Alta the quirky, unique and historic place that it is from the only place that makes sense – the lift.

Here’s a look at the five episodes from this season:

What do you think? Is there anything you’d change about “On the Lift With” for the 2013-2014 season?

Categories: Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Multi Sport Season

For most people there are four seasons: Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall. But when it comes to the state of Utah, there is one season not mentioned in the previous four that rules them all – Multi Sport Season.

By definition, Multi Sport Season is the short window of time when the cool, yet dry, weather of late Winter pairs with the warm, long days of Spring creating the unique opportunity to experience silly good skiing and quality mountain biking and/or trail running in the same day.

Disclaimer: I totally made up that “definition.”

I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure no other destination, city or state, offers the quality and quantity of Multi Sport days like Salt Lake City and Utah do. Sound off if you disagree.

From making turns at Alta to hittin’ the singletrack on Antelope Island, here’s what this year’s Multi Sport Season in Utah has looked like to me:

First Tracks in Main Chute. Approximately 11 a.m., Friday, April 26

First Tracks in Main Chute. Approximately 11 a.m., Friday, April 26

Trail running Salt Lake City

Trail running on Jack’s Peak. Approximately 7:00 pm, Friday, April 26

And one more example, just for good measure:

East Castle Alta Ski Area

Topping out on Alta’s East Castle hike. Approximately 10 a.m., Saturday, March 16

Biking on Antelope Island

Mountain Biking on Antelope Island. Approximately 2:30 pm, Saturday, March 16

Categories: Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earning it Inbounds

Earning it is an art at Alta Ski Area. And while the “earning” part of this phrase takes many forms – traversing, side stepping, boot packing – the “it” means only one thing – fresh, untracked snow.

Alta Ski Area

The “it”: Blue on white. Photo: Joe Johnson

Perched at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon and annually coated in 500″ of the “Greatest Snow on Earth,” Alta offers 2,200 acres of some of the best skiable terrain in North America. From Baldy Shoulder off of the top of Wildcat Chair to East Castle off of Supreme Chair, signature stashes call out to skiers promising first tracks and guaranteeing snow in their face.

So, why isn’t all of Alta tracked all of the time? The answer can be found in an old Alta adage – “Ain’t no side step like an Alta side step.” Translation: You gotta earn it and it ain’t easy.

Alta Ski Area

Sidestep. Photo: Joe Johnson

Every resort has its own hikes. Yet no other resort requires its skiers “earn it” quite like Alta does. Baldy’s Main Chute and Little Chute, require a sturdy bootpack that tops out at 11,500 feet in elevation. Devil’s Castle asks skiers to to participate in the traverse side step combo move. At 30+ minutes, East Castle offers up what might be the longest side step in North America. The best of the Backside is only accessible via a side step-traverse-side step-traverse. Gunsight, Eddie’s High Nowhere, the list goes on . . .

Alta Ski Area

Top of the Baldy booter. Photo: Joe Johnson

While this may turn off some skiers, it’s the reason many, including myself, love skiing at Alta. If you don’t like what’s downhill from the tips of your skis . . . just go farther. Some will call it quits too early. Others will make their way into the backcountry. Meanwhile, I’ll be making my way to the inbounds goods. Believe me, the payoff at the end is well worth the pain in the present.

Adam Clark Alta Ski Area

Kalen Thorien and Caroline Gleich enjoy the view from the top of East Castle. Photo: Adam Clark

Baldy Alta Ski Area

The view from Baldy. Photo: Joe Johnson

Categories: Ski | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

95 Years Young

George Jedenoff is 95 years old. His voice, a smooth mix of confidence and experience that could only come from life fully lived, has a way of putting you at ease. His eyes are gentle. His skin, weathered from many a day on the slopes, tells the story of what this man loves most – skiing.

George Jedeoff Alta Ski Area

George Jedenoff

I met George on Wednesday at Alta Ski Area’s Alf’s Restaurant. I’d heard about his story and was hoping to get a photo of him, and if I was lucky, make a few turns. He greeted me with a firm handshake, followed by one simple request:

“Would it be possible to make this quick and skip lunch? I want to get in as much skiing as possible before I have to catch my flight home.”

Coming from most people, this request might seem weird, maybe even presumptuous. But not George.

Born in 1917 in Russia, George and his family up and left their homeland for the U.S. via the Trans Siberian Railway at the height of the Russian Revolution. After living and working in the Midwest, George landed in Utah where he decided to take up skiing at the suggestion of Earl Miller, the inventor of releasable bindings. In 1960, at the age of 43, George skied at Alta for the first time, starting a lifelong love affair with the sport of skiing and Alta Ski Area. From taking lessons and learning the art of skiing from Alf Engen to becoming the only lifetime season pass holder in Alta Ski Area history, George has left a unique and memorable mark on Alta both past and present.

Riding up the Sugarloaf Chair with George, I got a glimpse at what makes Alta, and the sport of skiing, so special. From favorite runs and gear to historic events and developments, he spoke with a sincerity that I have yet to experience at any time or from any person in my life. I hopped off of the chair, not thinking I could be more inspired and impressed by this man. I was wrong.

Should I ski slow? Should I wait? Should I ski behind him? All of these questions were put to rest as George dropped into the run carving confident, text book, parallel turns. On piste and off piste, George’s technique and energy blew me away. With a smile on his face the whole run, George showed me that no matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been skiing, that loving what you are doing is what matters most.

I don’t know if I’m going to be skiing when I’m 95. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll live to reach that ripe old age. But I do know one thing – I will never take a day of skiing for granted again. Rain, snow or shine, I will click into my skis with a smile on my face, thankful for the chance to be doing something I love.

As you can see, I ended up getting my photo of George. And while my photo gives you a glimpse at the man, the folks from Ski Utah were able put together this great edit that gives you a glimpse at the person. Enjoy.

Categories: Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ski Salt Lake – A Contrast in Personalities

Every ski resort has one.  It is what differentiates them from their competition.  It is what people remember most.  It is a combination of terrain, amenities, apres ski activities, reputation, service and of course, the attitude of the locals.  Resorts spend thousands of dollars every year trying to enhance, fix and promote it. It is one word, yet it describes so much.  It is personality.

Personally, experiencing the personality of a resort or mountain is my favorite part of skiing.  There’s nothing quite like exploring the mountain on your own and finding fresh stashes, riding the lift with the locals, chatting it up with the mountain staff and telling stories that may or may not be true in a crowded ski bar at the end of the day.

It’s a ritual I’ve repeated on ski trips through Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Western Canada.  I’ve fallen in love with the personalities of resorts like Big White Ski Resort and Schweitzer Mountain Resort.  And I’ve been turned off by the personality of resorts like Deer Valley Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort.  Yet never, in all my travels, have I made tracks in an area that boasts resorts with such unique and strong personalities as Salt Lake City.  Four world-class resorts.  Four drastically different personalities.   Four completely different experiences.  Here’s my take on each one.

Brighton ResortBrighton is chill.  From the parking attendants striking yoga poses in the parking lot (No lie, I saw it happen!), to the “Bro Brah” attitude embodied by everyone from lift operators and bartenders to rental shop staff and the locals, the whole mountain is laid back.  As the nice guy who I hitched a ride up the canyon with so eloquently put it, “Dude, Brighton is just laid back.  There’s no drama.  Everyone  just wants to shred the gnar.”  I’m not kidding, that’s a direct quote. 

But seriously, I’m a fan of Brighton.  And for more reasons than their chill vibe.  I like that Brighton is known for its snowboarding, despite being open to both skiers and snowboarders.  I like how 100% of Brighton’s terrain is accessible by high-speed quad lifts.  I like that Brighton features legitimate night skiing.  None of that “one lift and a few runs” stuff.  It offers 22 runs on 200+ acres, three lifts and the mountains main terrain park.  I like that Brighton offers sweet cliffs . . . easily visible and accessible from its lifts.  I like that you won’t get jeered or looked down on for sporting rear entry boots or wearing camouflage, Levi 501’s or duct tape.  I like the mix of locals who call Brighton their home mountain.  And I like that there is no valet parking.  Bottom line – Brighton is a no frills, no-nonsense kind of resort where it’s all about the boarding and skiing – Just like it should be.

Snowbird Ski & Summer ResortSnowbird is legendary.  Ask anyone, skier or non-skier, to name a resort in Utah and Snowbird is likely be the first one out of their mouth.  Don’t get me wrong, this recognition is well deserved.  Snowbird boasts arguably the best terrain, the most vertical and earns a tram load of awards from ski publications every year.  Even I, a Solitude Mountain Resort and Big Cottonwood Canyon advocate, can admit to skiing Snowbird whenever I get the chance.  Let me tell you why.

I don’t ski Snowbird because of its vibe.  It’s a bit too intense for me.  I ski Snowbird because it’s terrain is unmatched.  In bounds, off piste, trees, chutes, bowls; I’m NOT lying when I say that Snowbird has it all. I ski Snowbird because of the Tram Club.  Awesome apres ski scene offering $5 “Shot and a Beer” deals.  I ski Snowbird because I like riding the conveyor lift from the top of Peruvian, through the mountain (literally, you’re in a tunnel) to Mineral Basin.  I ski Snowbird because of The Cirque.  Steep, deep and technical!  I ski Snowbird because I like comparing myself to some of the best skiers the Salt Lake City area has to offer . . . even if I don’t stack up. I ski Snowbird to catch up on the latest and greatest in ski industry fashion and gear.  I ski Snowbird to rip the bookends.  And I ski Snowbird to poach the hot tub at the Cliff Lodge at the end of a great ski day (Shhh!).  Bottom line – Snowbird rocks!  But no matter how much I love skiing its terrain, I’m always glad to leave the lift lines and attitudes behind and head back to Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Solitude Mountain Resort: Simply put, Solitude lives up to its name.  In fact, I’ve never skied a resort that more thoroughly lives up to its name and slogan.  You might think I’m being biased (Solitude Mountain Resort is my place of employment), but I’m being completely honest when I say that I love Solitude.  In fact, if I created a “Joe’s Top 10 Favorite Places to Ski” list, Solitude would be numero uno.  I just love it.

I love Solitude because there are no crowds.  I love Solitude because lift lines are non-existent.  I love Solitude because the FOG’s (Friendly Old Guys) are exactly what their acronym suggests.  I love Solitude because it DOESN’T get tracked out by noon on powder days (see Little Cottonwood for the opposite).  I love Solitude because working for your turns makes them that much better.  I love Solitude because it has a bar called The Thirsty Squirrel.  I love Solitude because Honeycomb Canyon is as peaceful as it is epic.  I love Solitude because Fantasy Ridge is gnarly, tasty, scary and sweet!  I love Solitude because lounging on the patio at the Sunshine Grill on a blue bird day is perfection.  I love Solitude because it really is family friendly.  I love Solitude because of EGP (This acronym has been used to protect the identity of some of the best skiing Solitude has to offer).  I love Solitude because you can find untracked powder days, and sometimes weeks, after a storm.  But most of all, I love Solitude because it’s my mountain.  Bottom line – Solitude might not be the biggest mountain, or the most well-known.  But to those who know and love skiing, Solitude is truly a secret.  A secret that is worth keeping.

Alta Ski AreaAlta is to skiing as Germany is to beer.  The two are synonymous.  From its logo and reputation to its faithful skiers and die-hard locals, Alta is known as THE classic ski hill.  But don’t think for a second that this reputation isn’t well deserved.  Alta consistently ranks at the top of ski industry lists when it comes to snow quality and terrain.  And I can’t help but agree with the writers and readers handing out these awards.  Alta is awesome!

I dig that Alta is for skiers only.  Sorry snowboarders! I dig that you can “Ski Free After 3” at Alta.  I dig that you can easily access Snowbird from the top of Alta’s Sugarloaf lift – using the AltaBird pass of course!  I dig that Alta, despite being one of the premier ski areas in North America, has yet to become “resorty.”  And yes, I did just make up that term.  I dig the spectacular views Alta has to offer.  I dig Alta’s terrain.  I dig that Alta’s stickers are everywhere – literally!  Talk about grass-roots marketing at its finest.  I dig that Alta’s reputation has spawned a group of haters.  Bottom line – Despite the intense vibe, the “We’re better attitude” of the locals and the tracked out snow by noon, I dig Alta’s terrain and would gladly ski there any day of the week.

Do I like certain Salt Lake resorts better than others?  Sure I do!  Who doesn’t have their favorites?  But the fact remains, that if given the opportunity I would rather make tracks at Salt Lake resorts than anywhere else in the U.S.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

20 Things I’ve Learned This Winter . . .

Moving to Salt Lake City to work in the ski industry was a big change.   Gone were the comforts of family, friends and familiarity.  Only to be replaced by the unknown and uncertainty of a new job, new city and new circumstances.  Sure, one could look at this negatively.  But what’s the point?  Why focus on the negative when there is so much to be learned from the experience?  In fact, I was thinking about how much I’ve learned this winter.  Some things have been important, and others not so serious.  Some have helped me develop professionally, and others have changed who I am personally.  Some have been necessary for survival and others have been purely for entertainment.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned: 

1. I learned that cat skiing is the poor man’s heli-skiing. Which means using a snowmobile is the poor man’s version of cat skiing. Which leads me to the conclude that I’m flat broke since I’ve never done any of the above types of skiing.

2.  When one thinks of great beer producing cities, Salt Lake City probably doesn’t garner a lot of votes.  But to leave Salt Lake City off the list would be a mistake.  Squatters Pub Brewery,  Desert Edge Brewery at The Pub, Red Rock Brewing Co., Wasatch Brewery, Uinta Brewing Co. and Bohemian Brewery are just the start of an impressive lineup of award-winning breweries that call Salt Lake City home.

3. When skiing deep powder, it is smart to ski with your mouth closed.  Even though you may be laughing or have a case of the powder yelps, a mouth full of powder can choke you and result in having to stop midway through one of the best runs of the year.

4. Not all journalists who cover the ski industry are good skiers.  When skiing with a journalist it is wise to discuss ski ability before committing to a run.  Though entertaining, the end result is not always good . . . particularly for the journalist in question.

5. Anyone with half a brain – yes, I’m talking about you Scott Willoughby – knows that Salt Lake City is far superior to Denver when it comes to ski town supremecy.

6.  Contrary to popular belief, Salt Lake is a very diverse city, particularly when it comes to the culinary scene.  My favorite new restaurant so far – Himalayan Kitchen.  Delicious Nepali and Indian cuisine!

7. Utah really does have the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

8.  SugarHouse Coffee is the ultimate coffee shop in Salt Lake City.  Great coffee, great food and even better live music.

9.  Despite sounding very similar to the word “Skeezy,” which carries a negative connotation, the word “Steezy” is actually a good thing when talking about skiing or snowboarding.  For example, “Dude, that corkscrew 720 was straight steezy!”  Note:  I have never actually tried a corkscrew 720. 

10. A month-long backpacking trip through Europe is a great idea and a life changing experience.  Becoming a ski bum is a fantastic idea and a great experience.  However, speaking from a strictly financial point of view, a month-long backpacking trip through Europe immediately before becoming a ski bum is not what you would call a  fiscally responsible decision.

11. Once the gas light comes on in a 2001 Kia Spectra, you can drive exactly 24.1 miles before running out of gas.  Not 28 like I originally thought.  Lesson learned.  Oh, and you can carry a lot more than you would think in the back of those Spectras.

12. As a AAA member, you are only allowed four free calls per year.  After the fourth call you get charged.  Bummer.

13.  Top Ramen comes in six delicious flavors: beef, chicken, shrimp, oriental, picante beef and chilli.

14.  A bad ski day in Utah is a great ski day anywhere else.

15.  Simple Fact:  The Ski Salt Lake resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude) get more, and better snow than the Park City resorts (Park City, Canyons and Deer Valley).  Live with it!

16. Steve Lloyd, Adam Barker and Mike Brown are amazing photographers and artists.  It has been a pleasure picking their brains and watching them work.

17.  Even more than other industries, I think Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media are transforming the way the ski industry connects with their customers.

18.  The reporting of snow totals is a very misunderstood “science.”  However, ski areas do their best to accurately report the snow fall totals.  And for those of you wondering, yes, two resorts which are very close to each other (2 miles) can report different snow totals!

19.  It only costs $1.50 to watch a near new-release movie at The Cinemark Sugarhouse Movies 10 in Salt Lake City, UT.  Score!

20.  Feel free to disagree with this statement if you’d like (please comment below) – Salt Lake City is the mecca of skiing in the United States.  Where else can you find seven world-class resorts, each offering a unique experience, within a 40-minute drive of a city?  Nowhere! 

Pretty impressive list, huh?  Sure, some of them may not seem very important.  But in the end they’ve all played a part in the amazing experience and adventure that this winter has been so far.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Opportunities For Two Feet to Adventure

Yes, I know.  I have been a bad blogger.  I apologize.  But I swear it was for good reason.  You see, not only have I been having awesome adventures, including sliding head first down a chute at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (story to come), I’ve also been working on stirring up new opportunities for Two Feet to Adventure.

What are these ‘opportunities’ that I speak of?  Drum roll please . . . . Two Feet to Adventure is now an official blogging partner of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and Ski Salt Lake!  Pretty awesome, huh?!

So, what does this mean to you, my faithful readers?  More stories and more adventures!  Nothing will change.  You can still count on stories.  You can still bank on entertainment.  And you can still get your adventure fix right here at Two Feet to Adventure.

Speaking of adventure fix, I want you to pick the resort that will be the focus of my first ski resort blog.  Vote in the poll below.  The resort with the most votes wins!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.