Wasatch Ski Trip

Skiing Utah in Fine Style.  

Trip Report:  Feb 9-13, 2006

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View of Mt. Timpanogos from the peak at Deer Valley.

The Trip

Kathleen and I try to get at least one good ski trip in each year. Our favorite skiing partners are Bob and Lois Means. We have done many, many trips with them over the years, including trips to Whistler and Zermatt. Since we had not seen them in awhile, we put together what was supposed to be a short trip to Salt Lake City. Weather in New York would extend the trip by one day. The photos below show the great time that we had.

We left Manhattan on Wednesday late and had no real issues in getting to SLC. While we arrived late, there were no major obstacles. We stayed at the University Marriott which is reasonably close to the slopes, and priced right.

Sunrise over the Wasatch Range as seen from the Marriott.

For the first day on the slopes, we went to a local favorite: Alta. Above is the view of the south facing slopes in Little Cottonwood Canyon (where Alta is located).

Kathleen dressed for the slopes.

Bob and Lois preparing for the first run at Alta.

A somewhat confusing sign with a great view of the Salt Lake Basin in the background.

Alta is a pretty big area, maps are a must. Kathleen, Lois and Bob are attempting to figure out where we should go next.

View looking south toward Mt. Timpanogos, one of the higher peaks in the Wasatch. Note the bedding in the rock near the peak.

Bill finishes taking a photo and gets ready to roll. The Heber valley is in the background.

More peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the distance. Alta ski area.

We had lunch at one of the mid-mountain chalets. The sun was warm, the sky clear and the food was great.

The base area at Alta. View of the south face of Little Cottonwood in the background.

Clouds are coming up the canyon from the basin, obscuring visibility.

The weather is closer. We are at risk of getting socked in. Many years ago, we were stranded in the lodge by bad weather.

The "Powderbird" copter based at Snowbird (just down the canyon) hauls ass back to base before the weather closes in. The copter is used for medical evacuations and hauling heli-skiiers to the top of the ridge.

The wind started to increase. Note the pattern in the drifts just above the traverse. Alta.


End of the first day at Alta. The conditions were nearly perfect. As we were preparing to leave, Bob got a great idea: leave our skis at the shop at Alta and have them do a tune-up. That way, we would not have to haul them home and they would be in great shape for the next day. Sadly, the shop ground the wrong angle on our edges (all 4 pairs) and the next day were were out of control. While none of us fell, we did return the skis to the shop for some remediation. They did improve a bit, but they were still unstable and chattered terribly. We skied the rest of the day, but had to take them to another shop for more work to un-do the "repairs" done by the other shop. They did give us our $100 back. But, the money was a small consolation. The funky skis pretty much ruined an otherwise great day. As a saving grace, we did have a great lunch at the Collins Grill at mid-mountain.

Following our misadventures with ski tuning, we decided to head to Deer Valley and try out the repairs. Happily, the second shop did the job right. That shop, "The Sports Den" did a great job at a reasonable price. And they sell discount lift tickets, which is good since Deer as $75 a person. Above is a view from one of the peaks at Deer Valley looking south.

Deer Valley has some huge, very expensive homes. This is a view looking north toward Park City. Note the houses on the hill and in the valley. The snow was great at Deer, we had a great time and great food. Deer is known for amenities, and they definitely have them. Do you know of any other ski areas with granite counters in the restrooms?

Here is a shot of one of the many fire places in the mid-mountain lodge. Very nice and the food, while pricey, is outstanding and well worth the cost. Particularly after eating $10 burgers at Mammoth Mountain.

Lois, Bob and Kathleen are enjoying some apres action in the lodge at Deer Valley after a super day. While we were in Salt Lake playing in the snow, the east coast was getting hammered with some snow of it's own. The blizzard of the century is what the news is calling it. The weather channel reported 26" of snow in Central Park. All that snow played havoc with the air transportation system. Our red-eye flight back to Manhattan on Saturday was delayed 6 hours. During the delay, we decided to move our departure date to Sunday. But, all the flights were full (of course). The best we could do was the red-eye on Monday. So, armed with a full day delay, we elected to attempt to ski again on Sunday. That night, back at the hotel, we decided to go to an area where none of has had gone before. The group consensus was "Solitude".

The group "suits up" for the slopes at Solitude.

Solitude has some long, steep runs. But, the runs are well groomed, so that makes it much nicer. We were there on Sunday, and there were no lines at any lift that we rode. Solitude is in Big Cottonwood Canyon, close to SLC.

A view of Big Cottonwood, looking north from the top of Solitude.

A motley character.

Another view of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Solitude is more suited to accomplished skiers. I enjoyed it there and will definitely go back next time I am in the area.


Salt Lake City is one of my favorite ski destinations. Things have "liberalized" somewhat since the 1970s, and after the Olympics, the whole area is very tourist friendly. But, as the east coast weather episode demonstrates, you must always go prepared. We were blessed with good weather in SLC, but will return to funky weather on the east coast. The only fly in the ointment was the inability to get back to the city in a timely manner.

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