Posts Tagged With: snowbird

Spring Skiing

Give me blue skies, spring conditions on the slopes, and a pair of skis and I’ll be the happiest guy on the hill. This past weekend I got the chance to ski Snowbird with former Hot Dog stunt skier turned photographer/videographer, Bob Legasa. Was I nervous to be skiing with one of the stars of a cult classic? Hell yeah. The man threw down more classic tricks during that movie than I have in all of my years of skiing. Don’t get me wrong, I was still dropping spread eagles and daffys all over the place. After all, that’s what spring skiing is all about. And as you can see from the smile on my face, I was having a blast. From hot laps down Peruvian Basin and creamy turns on the Cirque to aprés beers on the tram deck and shots from the one-and-only Shotz Ski, we did spring skiing right.

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Boots and flip flops - There is something seriously awesome and wrong with this photo.

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

A big thank you to Bob, Scott Evans (Shotz Ski) and Eric Wilson for a killer afternoon. Where are you getting your spring turns in this year?

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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.

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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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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!

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