Posts Tagged With: greatest snow on earth

Slackcountry Saturday

I woke up Friday morning to an unexpected storm that proceeded to drop 12″ of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” on the Wasatch Mountains. This welcome, and much needed, taste of winter was then followed up by 50-60 degree temperatures. Yup, just another spring weekend in Utah. Question – What does one do with such a sweet little gift from Mother Nature? Answer – Take full advantage.

At 9 a.m. Wes, myself, Lauran and Ski Utah Powderhound, Matt Baydala, caught first chair at Canyons Resort with our sights set on 9990. From the top of 9990 we made a boot pack beeline for the infamous Square Top whose steep slopes offer what most consider the best skiing in the Park City area. Honestly, there’s no better feeling in the world than when you’re standing on the top of an untracked run, with your best friends, getting ready to drop in. It’s unbeatable. And believe me, the turns we made on Square Top did not dissappoint. Long, consistent vertical paired with deep snow is always a good combination.

After another ride up 9990 followed by a scenic boot pack to the top of Dutch’s Draw, we clicked into our skis and headed across the ridge for Main Mac. A quick side step brought us to the top of a completely untouched, untracked, and unblemished bowl. Naturally, it didn’t stay that way for long as one after the other we dropped in, arching long, deep turns down Mac’s shoulder.

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Now fully in “powderhound” mode, we slapped on the skins and headed for the zone known as “Powder Puff.” The gradual yet scenic route climbs along a ridge offering views of West Monitor to your left and Canyons Resort to your right. Once you reach the top you’re treated to a panoramic view of the Wasatch range. From the Jordanelle Reservoir to the Cottonwood Canyons and their four resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude), you can see it all. Dropping in on Powder Puff, we were rewarded with top-to-bottom turns full of face shots. Feel free to disagree, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing better than being the first one to get to the goods.

Looking to finish strong, Wes and I hopped on 9990, took the boot pack to the top and dropped off the back side towards Desolation Lake. A quick skin brought us to the rim of the bowl that surrounds Desolation Lake. After ripping skins, we dropped in on a north facing, treed run that was so good we had to do another. Following another quick skin, we dropped in on an open face that funneled into a north facing aspect offering perfectly spaced trees and the deepest, softest snow of the day. Skinning up for the last time, we hiked out of Desolation basin and up to the shoulder of Square Top where we skied our final run, again untracked, back to Red Pine Road and from there back to the base of Canyons Resort.

Start time: 9 a.m.
End time: 3:30 p.m.
Total Runs (not including groomers): 6
Total Tracks Crossed During Runs: 0

Sitting on the deck of the Umbrella Bar with PBR’s in hand, turns were re-told, runs were relived and laughs were shared. It had ben an amazing day to say the least. We had just skied fresh powder from first chair to last skin  . . . on April 7. Some folks will never experience such a feat. But to those who live in Utah it’s just another slackcountry Saturday.

If you need visual proof of the tale I told above, check out the edit that Matt put together.

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My Top Photos From the 2009-2010 Ski Season

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  So, instead of using the written word to eloquenty describe to you how great my winter was at Solitude Mountain Resort, I figured it would be best to use photos.  No, I’m not being lazy and not wanting to write.  I’m actually doing this for you!  I want you to be able to SEE the terrain, SEE the snow and SEE the mountains, so that maybe, just maybe, you can feel what it’s like to ski in Utah and ski the “Greatest Snow on Earth.”

I’m not a professional photographer.  In fact, my skill with the camera would be more aptly described as a work in progress.  However, I did get to shoot a lot of photos this winter.  Some were good.  And some were bad.  Yet, no matter how many bad photos I took, the feeling I got when I captured an image that I knew was a winner made it all worth it.  Will my photos make it on the cover of Powder MagazineSkiing Magazine or Freeskier Magazine?  Probably not.  Nonetheless, here are some of my favorite photos I shot this season:

After being behind the lens and experiencing the pressure of having to get “The shot,” you would think that being the skier in a photo shoot would be less stressful.  I beg to differ!  In fact, I would say I was more nervous as the skier.  Not only do you have to concentrate on skiing, but you have to try and look good at the same time.  How’s my line?  How’s my form?  So many things to think about!  Here’s a few photos from this season where it all came together:

Jealous, huh?  Maybe wishing you’d spent your winter in Utah?  Or perhaps you’re regretting not skiing enough this season?  All reasonable feelings to be having after seeing pictures of Utah’s famous powder.  I believe Dolores LaChapelle summed it up best when she said, “Powder snow skiing is not fun.  It’s life, fully lived, life lived in a blaze of reality.”

Got any great powder shots from this winter?  Comment below with links to your favorite ones!  After all, I showed you mine, now you have to show me yours!

Check out Solitude Mountain Resort’s photostream on Flickr for more great photos!

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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.

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