A Little Crazy But Still Fun!

I am not going to lie, the last few days have been a bit crazy. Busiest I have seen either of the canyons since the last major pow storm of Spring 2010. Christmas Day was mellow and definitely low key. Sunday was about the same (all the locals were at church). But, then… Monday and HELLO People!

My take is that all the stranded East Coasters finally dug themselves out of their own giant snowstorm and made it to Utah. Combine them with post Christmas skiers flaunting their new gear and oodles of kids still on winter break and that makes for a lot of ticket sales and tons of big SUV’s. Big Cottonwood Canyon was chock full of people enjoying many different winter activities from sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skiing, boarding and everyone in between.

On Monday, we arrived at Solitude a bit late and were turned away at the lower parking lot. However, with 4 kids in tow (3 not my own) I wasn’t about to give up. I stealthily maneuvered into a perfectly timed vacated spot and breathed a sigh of relief. I have to admit the prospect of ripping with thousands of other people wasn’t really my perfect cup of tea but, we were there and we were going to make the best of it. It’s Solitude for goodness sake! I had faith that we would be able to escape the mobs and find our own slice of the goods.

After grabbing some extra tickets we headed down the cat track to Eagle. With a stroke of good luck (I assumed) we skied right on to Eagle Express and then ripped down to Powderhorn. No lines again? We skied  through the gate and with no one in sight made our way into Black Forest. Trust me when I say…NO ONE WAS THERE! Seriously, all day long we skied soft bumps and untouched pow in Honeycomb. There were a few people jamming up the groomers but, nothing too crazy. What gives?  I wonder if everyone just used Soli’s parking lot and hopped onto the ski bus to Brighton? Who knows but, Alta claimed that Monday was HUGE and ticket sales were through the roof and I can’t doubt that Solitude was the same but once again Solitude lived up to it’s overly hyped name and gifted everyone who was skiing with awesome holiday week turns!

Checking out Middle Slope on Christmas Day

hardly any tracks!

Merry Christmas from Solitude! Isaac, Matt, Noah & Rachael

The canyon was full but Carter Budge managed to find some sweet turns!

Hmmm...Monday was the busiest day of the year but the Budge Bro's are all alone on the lift!

Santa Claus Visits Solitude!

After yesterday’s not so hot day of skiing (i.e. blown power lines, wind and stalled chairlifts) the last of the hazy clouds blew out of Utah and with their deperture the sun once again rose over the snow capped peaks of the Wasatch beckoning skiers and boarders to come up and enjoy the perfect weather and snow filled canyons.

A Gorgeous Day!

Even though Solitude’s parking lot was PACKED (unusual) there were still hardly any crowds. The snow was perfect, the groomers pristinely manicured, the steeps remained untouched and the warm sunshine filled Christmas Eve Day with blissfully peaceful turns.

You call this a line?

The only thing that could have made the day any better was Santa himself!

The holiday brought many up to Solitude but, what to our wondering eyes should appear? A certain somebody in red with a bag full of candy and shiny red skis! No one was more excited to see the special visitor skiing than all the children who happened to be at the resort today.

Santa Visits Solitude!!!

It was Santa himself who had taken a ski break from delivering presents to come hit the trails at Soli. We happened to be lucky enough to catch him on the lift and consequently gave him the third degree… I know, I know, leave the poor man alone….but, we couldn’t help it.

A Lift Ride With Santa!

We are avid followers of Norad’s Santa Tracker and we happened to know that when we started skiing this morning Santa was in Asia. How on earth could he be at Solitude???

Well, magic of course! Santa said he heard the snow was so good in Utah that he just had to make a few turns while his reindeer rested and got some yummy hay in their bellies. Since, Santa’s sleigh travels 650 miles per second (3000 times faster than the speed of light) He can easily take a much needed R & R (recreational riding) without any of his elves back home realizing what he is doing. Santa explained that he flew over the canyons a few times and when he saw how uncrowded Solitude was he decided that it was the PERFECT place for him to play for a few hours (human that is…seconds to him).

WOW!!! How exciting! Santa told us that he liked it here so much that he just might come back for a few hours tomorrow while Mrs. Claus is taking her bath and before the reindeer games begin. Hmmm…maybe we will get to see him again and tell him thank you for the awesome presents?

I sure hope so!

Say Cheese Santa!

How Old Is He….Almost 8!

Yeah Baby!

In the last two days Matt and I have probably been asked that question about 20 times. How old is he? Are you sure he should be in Honeycomb? You are actually taking him into Here Be Dragons? He is so little!!!! Blah, blah, blah.

Solitude has been the benefactor of insane amounts of snow the last few days and the 239 inch December snow pack is far ahead of the game when it comes to yearly snow totals. While most parents are trying to scam on friends to watch their little ones so they can rack up powder turns unhindered, Noah is catching mad faceshots with the best of them! A face shot truly is a face shot when you are three and a half feet tall and his white room is legit.

The White Room

I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the inquiries. People usually have something to say about both Isaac and Noah but, when your seven year old is packing his own trail out to some untracked line in the Black Forest (with gawkers in tow) it is pretty gratifying to know that he is about to rip turns better than most of the big boys on the hill!

Some don’t understand my obsession with my two boys but, I have found that life is much more gratifying when you get to watch your children find their own passion for the mountains and develop the skills to actually ski with you! Like they say…if you give them the wings to fly they will soar far beyond you.

Solitude is one of those places that has soul and you find yourself quickly connected to the hill and her secrets. It is a great place to foster a child’s love for skiing. Empty lift lines, the room to find your turns without others in your zone, steeps that are accessible, a terrain park, little natural jumps at every turn and terrain that encourages and rewards every ability.

Quiet and Peaceful

If you put the time in and give up a few days of personal satisfaction, your time and efforts will surely pay off…or you can always become a benefactor of Solitude’s Ski Academy and let them put in the hours.

Well, the snow is sick and deep… I am off to catch some flakes…with the Gromits!

LA Times Feature Story/Video on Solitude.

By Christopher Reynolds Los Angeles Times Staff WriterDecember 12, 2010

Reporting from Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah —

At last — a ski area suitable for our readers in the federal witness protection program.

Solitude Mountain Resort lies about 30 miles from downtown Salt Lake City, tucked into the same Wasatch range that harbors such famed ski destinations as Park City, Deer Valley and the Canyons. But Solitude occupies a different canyon and a different category. It makes less fuss and draws fewer people than most of those other resorts. Yet it gets just as much snow, often more. And as I found a few weeks ago, it gives skiers plenty to handle.

To reach Solitude, you fly to Salt Lake City and drive (or get driven) southeast, concluding with a careful cruise up curvy Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. As you near 8,000 feet above sea level, a little lodge will pop up on your right, then a pedestrian-only neo-Bavarian village. You have arrived at the retreat Ski magazine calls “North America’s most aptly named ski resort.”

Read the full article here:

Two Girls and a Guy

We all know Solitude likes to pride itself on being a family destination spot. You know… the place where kids are always smiling and parents beam with self gratification at their wise decision to vacay in the solace of one of the most peaceful resorts on planet earth. We give Soli kudos for their laid back, family friendly environement but, I am here to tell you that you can still rip this mountain to shreds. Well, that is if you have the skills!

Today, just happened to be one of those put up or shut up kind of days. Sometimes, it is nice to leave the kiddies at home and find your own smile in the steeps and fluff. Elsewhere, any powder left from last week’s mammoth storm would surely be skied into oblivion and packed out into a wind crusted slab of knee injury induced crud. However, Solitude once again gifted us with fresh sugary turns and lonely lift lines.

Lonely lifts aren’t so bad though if you have a couple of fellow riders to laugh and shred with. Fellow gal pal and ripper, Jill Adler joined in the fun and Solitude’s very own Nick Como got a little “on the job” work done while figuring out his new HD 170 camcorder  from Drift Innovation and boosting our already self absorbed ego’s. I am proud to say he took some great shots and kept us giggling from Powderhorn to Honeycomb and everywhere in between all while tearing up the hill like any self respecting PR guy should!

November has barely turned into December and already the mountain is a month ahead of schedule as far as snow conditions go and the skiing is unbelievable for such an early start! After Nick’s departure to office land, Jill and I decided to go back and hit a sweet line which he had graciously led us to several hours earlier. Three solitary lines were still there beckoning to us for more. How could it be that not another soul had ventured upon our powder laden line? Could it be possible that hours could pass and fresh, beautiful turns still awaited us in Honeycomb so late in the afternoon?

Solitude offers so much more than meets the unassuming eye. Formidable but beautiful terrain awaits if you choose to seek it out. And if you do, you will be blessed with perfect turns and heart pounding action!

So, although there may be not a single soul in sight just remember that three tracks are always more fun than just one! Thanks for the turns and the laughs you two!

Tanner Hall, Chad Spector & Posse Shred the ‘tude

Excerpt from http://chadspector.com/blog/

“A little bird whispered in my ear last night that Solitude was going to open the Powderhorn and Summit chairs for the 1st time this season.  That meant that there’d be many many feet of snow that was just sitting there waiting for someone to ski it.  Snow that had taunted all the weekend warriors who were forced to look up in frustration as they could not reach the promised land.  I felt I owed it to these poor souls to do my part and ski it for the greater good.  You know, base building and compaction and all that snow sciencey stuff.”

read the entire post & check out photos here:

Powder Before Thanksgiving?

DEVO kids taking a breather after a powdery thigh burner

Are you kidding me…face shots before Thanksgiving? The forecaster’s have all been warning us of a whomper that has been heading our direction but the snow wasn’t supposed to hit until late tonight. Well, while the valleyites spent their day raking up leaves in the blustering wind, no one could have guessed that just a few miles up the canyons the winter storm had arrived early. Although, the winds in Salt Lake were downright treacherous, Solitude was blissfully unaffected by the valley’s gusty mayhem. The morning’s early snowfall may have been a bit reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest but as the day progressed and the temperatures dropped with the formidable low pressure, Utah’s famous fluffy flakes soon turned the slopes into a sugary dream!

How can you not love this place? Solitary ride after solitary ride on Eagle Express produced untracked turns and sheer powder paradise. It’s possible that there are some folks around here who wished that all the piles of people who headed up the canyon first thing in the a.m. had pulled off into Soli’s parking lot. But, as for me and the handful of other boarder’s and skier’s who effortlessly carved untouched fluff we were grateful that Solitude once again lived up to its namesake!

Half way through the day I decided I should probably check in on the boys who had been dropped off earlier for DEVO. It’s possible that my powder heaven wasn’t exactly theirs but, I was happily suprised to find Isaac….hmmm…how should I put this…oh yeah, shredding the gnar! He was skiing as tight as a little four year old…excuse me, his Birthday was yesterday…as tight as a little five year old could, in the onslaught of early season snow. However, as soon as he saw me, he decided to complain about  his scratchy coat and obnoxious goggles. I quickly left him to his teachers to finish out the morning.

After a quick lunch with both the grommits I decided to hang out with Noah’s class for a few runs but had so much fun with them I stayed all afternoon. I mean there really is not much to say when your seven year old and his cohorts are catching freshies and slaying it better than most of the adults on the hill. (well, actually, “Rip it up Noah!” comes to mind.) I had to hang…who wouldn’t?

What are you looking at Noah? Get on it!

By 2:30 the temperatures had probably dropped about twenty degrees since the first run and everyone was beat. I was getting a little nervous about the drive down as we had seen numerous flashing lights and even a firetruck heading up and down the canyon. After a little help from a shovel and a couple of awesome parking attendants I freed the car, loaded the boys and carefully headed out of the lot.

If any of you were headed down around three, you may have witnessed the same four slide-offs and how can we forget…the 40 minute delay as some nimrod in his tiny front wheel drive was towed back onto the road. Lucky for us we were the first on the scene and got to watch as cop after cop showed up to survey the scene. I am sure it seemed as if something serious was going on but, I am here to tell you (in case you were behind me and couldn’t see) that it was NOTHING! Can I just remind everyone (since I am on the subject), PLEASE check to see if it is snowing before driving your itty bitty AMC Pacer (You know, like the one in Wayne’s World) up into four wheel drive territory. Now, I couldn’t exactly see what make of car it was because every cop within 20 miles was surrounding the scene like it was some kind of homicide investigation but, I swear Wayne and Garth popped into my mind as I caught a glimpse of the retreating car. The hottest part of this little story is that less than a mile down the snow cleared and the roads were barely wet but, the little (whatever it was) car was nowhere to be found. Now, I am not an expert but, since I was the next car down the road (and not a turtle), I am guessing that he pulled off somewhere to hide to let the line of impatient drivers snake their way down. I am sure he waited just long enough before pulling out so that no one would realize he was the lame culprit that held up the traffic all afternoon!

Were Wayne and Garth in the Canyon?

So there it, another day for the books, and the snow is now piling up outside my window. Anyone who is lucky enough to catch some turns the next few days will be greatly rewarded…and who could have guessed…all this before the turkey is even carved!

Solitude is Officially OPEN!!!

I got the call from Solitude’s marketing department that opening day had been bumped up to Friday late Thursday night. “Would you be able to come up and write about it” Nick’s voiced echoed through the phone. “Absolutely”, I said. I mean, was it even a question? For a brief second, I wondered if I should send Noah to school and Isaac to the sitter and go solo. Nahhhh….that wouldn’t be fair, I thought. It was opening day, let the boys miss a day. I excitedly woke them and shared the good news.

As many of you know, skiing with kids can be quite a challenge but, of course mine are the exception. I mean, come on, they have been on skis since they could walk and of course every opportunity to be on the hill means at least some (if not all) of the Hodson clan can be found on the slopes. Our two grommits were born to ski!  So, after a summer of wishing it were winter and after a couple of nice snowy storms, Friday morning’s early opening was a day to celebrate!

At 8:30 a.m. sharp, with giddy enthusiasm, we happily piled into the car…..Whoa…not so fast. Did you really think it would be that easy? Solitude’s 9:00 a.m. opening came and went and we were really doing was trying to find thermals that fit, deciding which helmets to wear and trying to locate those brand new ski socks which had somehow disappeared. At 9:20 Noah and Isaac were fighting over newly discovered ski stickers which surfaced at the worst possible moment. Fists were flying, tears were falling…Really? I mean did it really matter who got to stick the Rossignol sticker on their K2 skis or the Bern stickers on their Smith Helmets? By 9:30 the car was finally loaded…with gear that is but, no children in site. The bathroom beckoned, the dog needed to be greeted, the…WHAT THE??? Noah emerged in full gear, boots buckled, coat zipped, helmet on and goggles down. I tried telling him that he was going to fry in the car and that his boots would scratch my leather seats – not to mention that his goggles were going to fog up and that I was about to lose my mind! He shrugged his shoulders, threw a snotty comment my way and hopped in the car like a good little boy…NOT! Instead of buckling up, Noah has grabbed his scooter and headed for the road. Are you kidding me? Isaac finally arrived with his britches falling down past his knees and climbed into the backseat of the Volvo, while Noah, in full ski gettup, whizzed down the street while whistling for all the nosy neighbors to see. I had a passing thought that if he crashed and burned and I didn’t catch it on film, I may be missing out on some serious YouTube exposure. Who am I kidding? Kid on scooter, flying down hill in neon ski outfit crashes into neighbor’s car. Helmet and goggles save mini daredevil’s life. I imagine the whole scenario in my head and then come back to me senses. I am his mother not the producer of MTV’s stupidest kids.  By the time Noah had finished his comedy act it was 9:45 and I should probably have just gone back inside and went back to sleep.

By 10:00 a.m., we had finally turned up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The boys were silently fighting in the back (like I didn’t know what they were doing) and I was practicing relaxation techniques without crashing the car. Breath in, breathe out.

Solitude rolled into site and I hoped that the rest of the day would be cake. Blue skies, sunshine and freshly fallen snow lifted my spirits. We pulled into the upper parking lot to grab our passes and my boys, who were ready to shred, immediately voice their displeasure over the delay. Within 5 minutes the ticket lady was silently voicing her displeasure that she had to deal with my boys. Noah, always the angel sweetly said to me, “mom, aren’t you glad you have a nice butt” as he annoyingly smacked the don’t even think about it zone right in front of her.  He is lucky I didn’t knock him down on his backside. I force a smile at the lady as she rolls her eyes. During this seemingly lack of parental control, Isaac had decided it was his job to discover what was in some of the boxes that were in the ski shop adjacent to the office. Within moments of an impending disaster, he was shooshed out and a metal gate was loudly pulled or rather flung across the entry and locked.  Next came the pass pictures with one child who couldn’t smile and another who couldn’t stop bouncing up and down. After three failed attempts at a photo without an arm for a face, we finally had success and emerged triumphant.

We got back into the car and headed to the lower lot. Isaac who had been dying with excitement to get on his skis must have forgotten over the summer just how much he hated his ski coat and helmet oh, and ski boots and how could I forget those dang ski thermals which rode up his hiney. I mean if the kid would just wear undies he probably wouldn’t have that problem! 10:45 found him crying in the parking lot as everyone stared at the lame mom (yes, me) who was forcing her tiny four year old to toughen up and get on with it! It was a darn good thing Noah was already dressed and ready to go…or was he? “Uh, mom….I think I left my gloves at home” he says in that soft little voice which knows I am about five seconds from blowing like an atomic bomb. Seriously, when the kid comes out with his goggles down and his boots buckled you would ASSUME he would have put on his gloves. Duh.

11:00 a.m. found us in the ski shop buying two pair of gloves because obviously Isaac’s were way too big.  At 11:17 we were FINALLY on a lift. Isaac had temporarily forgotten about his clothing issues, Noah was grateful he was still alive and I was looking forward to a few turns.

Everything was finally right with the world. Oh, who was I kidding? Isaac had temporarily forgotten how to carve a turn, his new skis seemed too long and his emotions were raw. Noah, who is usually the naughty one, was obnoxiously reveling in the fact that he was acting perfect and that it was Isaac who had gone loco.

The first run, after a long hot summer of pools, flip flops and lazy days was not the happy Kodak moment I had expected but, I have to admit by the third run things started to look up. After a late lunch of fries, fries and more fries, Isaac was, at last, happy and ready to rip.

Although, the first day of the season didn’t quite go as planned and this blog may not have been exactly what Solitude had in mind, the day ended remarkably okay….Well, okay enough that I was still alive to write about it.  Noah, started laying out some gorgeous arcs and got to be interviewed by the news. Isaac eventually discovered his skiing legs and inevitably got used to the longer skis (which were his perfect size by the way). His snowplow evolved into the nice, fluid carved turns which he had mastered the previous season and his confidence soared. By the time we had loaded back into the car and headed down the canyon we were all smiling and looking forward to the next day’s return to the slopes. Thankfully, for me, Saturday means DEVO Team and the Coaches can work out any second day kinks while I get to peacefully enjoy my day on the hill!

Happy Ski Season 2010!!!

SKI Magazine Ranks Solitude #5 For Snow and #30 Overall!

When it comes down to it nobody who skis or rides at Solitude cares if they rank top in off-hill activities, dining or apres-ski. Leave the high falutin money and the attitudes at #1 ranked Deer Valley and #2 Vail. Yes, these mountains offer the world when it comes to skiing but, folks around here want Solitude to keep living up to its namesake!

Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t want vacationer’s and locals who are bent on skiing in Park City or Little Cottonwood Canyon not to come and discover our hidden little gem of a mountain. We hope they do! It means that we care about the things that are most important.

We care about snow, we care about terrain and we care about the silence which surrounds us as we carve untouched turns through Black Forest. We care about our children enjoying a great lesson without fifteen other kids vying for their instructor’s attention, we care about accessibility and most of all we care about our bank accounts affording us yet another year to enjoy some of the best skiing in the nation. Period.

SKI Magazine got it dead right by ranking Solitude in the top five when it came to snow, weather and access as well as #6 for value. Thank you to SKI Magazine for recognizing Solitude for what it is…not just a tourist destination but a skier’s paradise! And trust me when I tell you that you can still find a comfortable and beautiful room to sleep in as well as delicious, down-to-earth great food to help remind you why you are not shuffling your way through the crowds of people who descend on other mid-mountain lodges for lunch on any given day. One thing for sure is all the folks who care about Solitude and what the resort stands for and means to them were definitely excited to see their mountain ranked by SKI but also probably grateful that Solitude was not #1!

Solitude ranked #1 in fun by these two little rippers!