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!
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?
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!
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.”
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!