Are You a Better Biker Than A 7 Year Old?

…probably not this one.  Read on:

With a free invitation and an adventurous seven year old, I excitedly headed up to Solitude for a little mountain biking unaware of the beautiful and diverse terrain that awaited us. I have biked all over the Wasatch but, never considered that Solitude had mountain biking available. Not only are there some GREAT trails but most (The Summit and SolBright trail require some uphill pedaling) are lift accessible on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Behold: The future of Mountain Biking.

We grabbed our tickets and biked up to the Sunrise lift. Hopping off our bikes we sat back on the chair for a gorgeous and peaceful ride up the mountain. Noah was bouncing up and down and yelling in excitement as we passed over the SolBright Trail “I want to do that one he exclaimed.” I pulled out my map and explained to him that it was a “black” trail and we were going to start off on the easier Raptor Road and make our way over to Serenity. This was his first time “really” mountain biking (the dirt trail by our house doesn’t count) and my first time on Solitude’s trails. Well, guess who wiped out first…yup me! “Mom, I am better than you” he yelled, making a couple of day hikers look up and laugh, as he cruised away down the hill.

In case you are wondering I ate it because I had to stop in the middle of a rocky downhill to wait for him to hop off his bike and huff it on foot a few yards. Can I just say, trying to get your balance without momentum while your over the top of your handle bars isn’t the easiest thing! But who’s keeping track anyway? I was expecting a quick ride to the bottom however Solitude has done such a good job building and designing the trails that we had a long and somewhat challenging ride. Noah and I took over an hour getting to the bottom of the resort. A more experienced rider would be able to cruise down faster but at six dollars a lift ride just head back up for another sweet cruise. It is totally worth it…what a deal!

Mountain Bike & Mom....but not in that order.

There are several different trails to choose from and all are very well marked. Serenity is a perfect trail for those of you just getting back on the bike or just starting out but want a little challenge. It is a winding, scenic single track that has just enough ruggedness to keep you on your toes or in my case sliding on my face. We saw plenty of wildlife and even two deer which dashed off into the brush as we neared. If you don’t have equipment, don’t worry, Solitude has everything you need to have a great day on the hill. We are heading back up soon to ride over to Lake Solitude for a picnic and I am sure another AMAZING day up in the mountains, breathing the fresh air and working those quads which are gearing up for upcoming ski season. Again Big Cottonwood Canyon has happily surprised me and makes me long for MORE!

Silver Fork Expansion Application

Solitude Mountain Resort is applying for 182 acres of lift served skiing in Silver Fork Canyon, a reduction from the original proposal of 462 acres. The popular Meadow Chutes and West Bowl are NOT part of the proposed expansion that would include only one new lift, as well as a realignment of the current Honeycomb Return Lift. Solitude currently holds 167 acres in Silver Fork. This addition, consitent with existing watershed protection, represents a mere .0001% of the Wasatch Cache National Forest.

Many Solitude skiers presently use this area of Silver Fork for resort accessed side-country lap style skiing. Safe monitoring of this terrain will benefit these skiers, as well as expected additional Utah recreationists. Utah continues to grow as both a skier destination and in local population – with skier visits increasing by 37% in the past ten years.

This application is consistent with the US Forest Service’s Management Direction, which recognizes the importance of recreation in close proximity to the Wasatch Front, whose population is projected to double by 2030. The USFS encourages private enterprises to developed recreation facilities that contribute to the local economy.

Silver Fork Expansion Map

Silver Fork Expansion Map

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.

Solitude Mountain Resort Goes Mobile

Let’s just be honest. You want what you’re looking for as fast as you can get it – especially when it comes to skiing. You want to know what the road & ski conditions are like and what runs are groomed. And chances are, you’re looking up all this information on your mobile device as you walk out the door with your skis over your shoulder.

Well, ask and you shall receive! With our new mobile website, you can get all the Solitude Mountain Resort information you need straight from your mobile device. Just point your mobile web browser to: http://www.skisolitude.com/wireless and you will be connected to current conditions, weather forecasts and more.

The Home page features Snow Report, Weather Forecast, Breaking News and Live Camera Feed.

A single click to the Mountain Report displays a complete Lift Report and Groomed Run Report (both updated daily) along with a viewable Trail Map.

The Dining section features descriptions to all restaurants with links to menus and reservations.

We’ll be adding updated information throughout the season to always keep you up to date and in the know. Just think, now you can take Solitude Mountain Resort with you wherever you go! Can’t get any better than that!

Lock lips this Valentine’s Day . . . Solitude Style

Valentine’s Day is all about love. And what says love more than laying one on your significant other? Especially if the setting, or the elevation, takes his or her breath away! If you’re looking to woo your mate, or simply elevate your love life, pay attention, because I’m about to share some information that is guaranteed to make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one. Without further adieu, I present Solitude Mountain Resort’s Top 5 Places to Kiss.”

*Note from author: All of these locations have been field tested and proven to heighten feelings of love in the significant other. However, we do not accept responsibility for bad experiences resulting from poor kissing. To create a better experience, learn how to kiss and try again.

1. Fantasy Ridge: What’s your fantasy? How about locking lips at the highest point at Solitude Mountain Resort? Throw your skis or board on your back for the short, yet breathtaking hike to the top. Epic views of Honeycomb Canyon, Wolverine Cirque, and the Twin Lakes backcountry area are sure to take your breath away . . . or was that the kiss?

2. Silver Lake Loop – Solitude Nordic Center: Looking to slow things down? Grab your snowshoes or Nordic skis and head to the Solitude Nordic Center for a peaceful loop around Silver Lake. Beautiful forests and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains provide the perfect backdrop for a picturesque kiss.

3. Summit Chair: Not only is the Summit Chair the most scenic lift at Solitude, it’s also the longest. What does this mean? That you get gorgeous views of Honeycomb Canyon, Evergreen Ridge, Fantasy Ridge and Cathedral, plus you have ten minutes to kiss. Talk about a great way to pass the time!

4. The Yurt: What says romance more than a moonlit snowshoe or ski to a Mongolian yurt tucked back in the woods where a chef is waiting to prepare you an incredible five-course meal? Nothing does! With the mood set by one Utah’s most unique dining experiences, getting a kiss is a sure thing!

5. Solitude Ice Rink: After a long day of skiing, warm up with a cup of cocoa around the campfire before heading out onto the ice for a few romantic laps in the heart of Solitude’s quaint village. A full moon and the twinkling lights of the village create the perfect setting for a romantic kiss to end your evening.

There you have it. Five locations for five kisses, which will make this Valentine’s Day at Solitude Mountain Resort five times better.

Do you have a special location at Solitude to add to the list? Tell us about it!

SLC All-Star Chefs Bring Their Tastes to Solitude

Elevate your taste buds with Guest Chef Thursdays at St. Bernard’s. Over (at least) the next 4 weeks, a who’s who in the Salt Lake City gastronomic scene will be treating diners to five unforgettable course in Solitude’s quaint alpine village. Imagine your favorite dishes from restaurants you know and love…now, picture them fireside at 8,000 feet.  It’s true what they say, you know: Food does taste better when cooked at altitude!

We cannot guarantee snowflakes, but count on the fire.
Here’s the lineup:

2/11-Vienna Bistro’s Chef Froddy Volger is obsessed with freshness, and the European Alpine Cuisine he has brought to the heart of Salt Lake City is made from scratch daily.

2/18 Chris Durfee and Justin Shifflett lead the kitchen at Metropolitan Restaurant, and are the geniuses behind the restaurants handcrafted, fresh, and seasonal New American Cuisine.

2/25 Scott DeSeelhorst, former chef of the Yurt / Roundhouse & proprietor of Snake River Winery. A throwback Southwest fusion menu.

3/4 Lugano chef/owner Greg Neville, awarded Best Chef by Salt Lake Magazine, creates and recreates seasonal menus that thrive on locally grown organic produce and the freshest ingredients.

Reservations are strongly encouraged, as St. Bernard’s is a small, intimate restaurant.  801-517-7717

$65 prix-fixe. Wine pairings extra.

The Eagle Rants On

Last weekends’ snowstorm brought over 90″ inches of snow to Solitude (yippe!), but it also brought a slew of skiers from Smallwood {you figure out the translation} as well (bummer). The “feel” of Solitude is laid-back, relaxed and unpretentious – and unwelcome change is certainly in the air once our quaint resort is inundated with U-turners from another canyon. Now we know how you Floridians feel when the “Snowbirds” from the Northeast (pun intended) overtake swimming pools, highways and bridge games every winter.

The Eagle will protect the innocent’s identity, but will keep her claws sharp with response.  A few “words of encouragement” we heard  from uninvited transplants:

“This place sucks – there’s not a lot of terrain open”

Well, Your WHOLE CANYON is closed. Don’t be ungrateful – you’ll develop unsightly frown lines.

“When will all this huntington canyon thing open”

As soon as you leave.

“I thought it wasn’t normally crowded at Solitude”

It isn’t. This isn’t a normal day. See all the skittle thugs out there. They’re not normal, nor are they normally here.

In addition to the dynamic shift felt on the hill, our inbox fills up with many short-sighted pseudo-guest comments.  We had most of the upper mountain shut down for an hour and a half while patrol painstakingly did avalanche control work.  This is the same day there was major slides in-bounds at other resorts, in the backcountry, plus several resorts and roads didn’t open until well after noon.   Here were a few of the Eagle’s favorite…

“Why was Eagle Express not open right at 9? It was not safety related. Please don’t use safety as an excuse when there was a communication breakdown. You can only use Mother Nature as an excuse for so long…Otherwise, how is Solitude learning from these experiences?”

Sorry Dad, we’ll learn next time. 92″ of snow in 7 days is NO BIG DEAL. We’ll just open up terrain without ensuring it is 100% safe, because, after all, who wants to wait in the name of safety?

*

“IT IS POSSIBLE to know that the slopes cannot be opened for 30 or 60 or “Z” minutes. It’s basic math. If there are “X” places that need to be re-inspected before an area can be re-opened, it then becomes “how many patrollers do we have working on those areas and how long will it take to just do the basics?”

Really? Avalanche professionals admit they cannot forecast when an avalanche will occur. They can get an idea, and do control work accordingly and recommend to close or open terrain. But this readers simple algebra equation has it figured out! Quick, someone nominate him for a medal!! For the record: We do alot more then just the basics. However, I think Mr. Basic math just nominated himself for guinea pig work.

*

“I had to wait 90 minutes for a lift to open. This is not a way to treat loyal customers. Next time LCC is closed I will be going to Brighton.”

Hmmm.  This makes you our loyal customer? How? We’re obviously your plan-b resort. Your loss. Please do go to Brighton or Park City next time. However, I doubt they will want your attitude. I’m thinking Colorado is a safer bet.

Meanwhile, at the ‘tude, we’ll be doing this…

Important editor’s note: We do agree that communication could be improved concerning what lifts will open and when.  If and when we do have info available, we’ll post it to our twitter and facebook accounts. Follow us and become a fan – the girl who is getting first tracks in Milk Run is…