What’s your fantasy?

From the first time I saw Fantasy Ridge, towering high above the east face of Solitude Mountain Resort’s Honeycomb Canyon, I knew that I wanted to ski it . . . I just didn’t know if I had the guts.  You see, Fantasy Ridge isn’t your normal ski run.  In fact, it’s not a ski run at all.  There is no lift access.  There is no groomed terrain.  And there is certainly no easy way up or down.  It’s a bootpack, and one of the gnarliest bootpacks you’ll ever encounter . . .

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A skier’s best friend

If it’s true that a dog is a man’s best friend, then wouldn’t it make sense to assume that an avalanche rescue dog is a skier’s best friend? I think so! Especially considering that these specially trained dogs bring such a valuable skill and service to the table. And what would that be you ask? They find people. And not just any people. They find people who have been buried underneath feet of snow. Let’s see a human do that with just his nose!

And just like any other member of the Solitude Mountain Resort Ski Patrol team, when an avalanche rescue dog goes down with an injury, it’s a big deal. Because as Scott Rogers, owner of Subi, a Solitude avalanche rescue dog said, “She’s not considered a pet. She’s considered a valuable, contributing member of the Ski Patrol team.”

Subi, a 5-year old Australian Shepphard, suffered significant tears to both her anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) during a training exercise at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort last February. After undergoing bi-lateral ACL surgery at the Cottonwood Animal Hospital, Subi’s recovery was estimated at six months. But like the champion she is, Subi was working her way back into the rotation, featuring 100% mobility and flexibility in just three months! Now that’s toughness!

For those of you who don’t know, avalanche rescue dogs are bred and trained specifically for rescue. They know how to find people, and they do it fast! Avalanche rescue dogs do this by finding where the human scent is rising out of the snow and indicating that location to the other members of the Ski Patrol team. In fact, depending on the wind conditions and the strength of the scent, avalanche rescue dogs can sometimes find avalanche victims faster than Ski Patrollers using beacons! How’s that for efficient!

Subi is now back, working full-time with Ski Patrol in their efforts to make the slopes of Solitude Mountain Resort the safest slopes around.

Time to try something new

I had an epiphany the other day.  Do you want to know what it was?  Of course you don’t!  My epiphany, however simple it may be, is that I’m going to try something new . . . every day . . . or at least as often as I can.  What classifies as something new? Basically, anything involving snow that I have yet to master.  Needless to say, this leaves me with quite a few options:

Classic/Skate Nordic Skiing:  With the Solitude Nordic Center accessible from the Village, I’d be crazy not to include classic and skate style Nordic skiing, even if it does require more work than I’m accustomed to.  Nordic skiing may seem like it requires little to no athletic ability, but believe me, it does.  Unfortunately, it also requires copious amounts of stamina – which I lack.  Luckily, nothing will get in the way of me trying out both skate and classic styles . . . except for a powder day: all bets are off on a powder day.  And as an added bonus, Aram, the Nordic Center manager, competed in all of the Nordic events at the 2002 Olympics for his home country of Armenia.  Talk about learning from the best!

Telemark skiing: I have always been envious of Telemark skiers.  They look so cool!  I’m not kidding when I say that I think Telemark skiers, when they know what they’re doing, are the coolest looking people on the mountain.  Yet for some reason I’ve never made the leap to Telemark skiing.  Maybe it’s the constant bending and crouching.  I honestly don’t know if my chicken legs can handle it!  Or maybe it’s the requisite beard that is sported by all free healers.  Mine just doesn’t fit the bill.  Nonetheless, Telemark skiing will be first on my list.

Snowboarding:    Two things worry me about snowboarding.  One, will I fit into the brightly colored snowboarding culture?  Probably not, I’ll most likely stand out like sore thumb with my normal colored outfit.  Two, am I goofy or regular? And what does that even mean?  Most likely I’ll be so bad that it won’t even matter!

That’s my plan of attack. Are you thinking something similar? Don’t let lack of experience or gear get you down. Solitude Mountain Resort offers top-of-the-line rentals and lessons.