The Grinch Almost Skied Solitude…Thank goodness I didn’t!

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “That I simply must hear!” So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow… But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY! He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Was singing! Without any presents at all!

Christmas Skiers...They Came!

For some reason as I pulled into Solitude, the day after Christmas, these words from The Grinch popped into my head. I have to be honest, it was hard to motivate to ski this week. Last year, over Christmas, we were ripping powder turns down Parachute and this year we are trying not to wreck our equipment as we navigate down Easy Street. No matter how hard we have all wished for snow, Christmas came either way. The weather grinch had taken away the only gift that any of us really wanted. There was no powder wrapped up in a bow, waiting for us to tear it apart. There was no “openings” of new lifts and lines. There was just a slight drizzle that never amounted to anything and I had become quite the Christmas Grinch myself.

All Smiles

As all of you know, most of the country has been hard up for moisture. Even my native Washington, who was off to a great start, has been squeezed dry of the wet stuff. The lack of snow is affecting the ski industry as a whole and all involved are casting their gaze upwards in hopes for the gifts that we know Mother Nature can send our way. It was hard enough (as Utahns) to wake up to a “brown” Christmas but, finding the motivation to ski was even harder.

Isaac checking out the scenery at the top of Summit.

Forced onto the slopes by my family, I begrudgingly crawled out of bed, gathered my gear and packed a lunch. I also grabbed some magazines, Tylenol and apple cider, which I was sure, would all come in handy when I bailed on the slopes and hit the lodge. I hopped into the car with a sour attitude and headed up the canyon. The grey skies loomed overhead and the barren rocks of the canyon walls greeted my hapless gaze. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to head up with such a dismal weather outlook.

But then it happened. First the cars…they were zooming up, one after the other and pretty soon I began to wonder if people had missed the memo that there was no snow. I looked at my husband, bewildered. Did the Christmas crowds come to the canyons regardless of the lack of white stuff? We pulled

into the Moonbeam Parking lot and my lackadaisical self became curiously surprised. The lot was almost full and there was a LINE at the bottom of Moonbeam! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Was skiing! Without any snow at all! Well, of course there is snow but, really and truly, those words popped into my shocked head. There were people everywhere and they weren’t disappointed, or bummed out, they were smiling and laughing and having a great time! All were loving the slopes and they were all making the very best of a not-so-great situation.

Some Locals and Visitors from California Hanging Together at The Tude!

And what happened then…? Well…at Solitude they say, this grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day! And the minute my heart didn’t feel quite so tight, I popped on my skis and whizzed out of site! Hahaha, I wished I whizzed out of site…more like my kids took off and I followed behind them.

Silly stuff aside, it was wonderful to see everyone who has come out this week, both locals and tourists, supporting our mountains

and all those who are employed by them. The lodges were bumping, the ski school was packed and the cash was flowing. It was a genuinely, fantastic Christmas break and I am glad that I got to spend this time with all of you out there who love to ski and board and who happily loved (and are still loving) the slopes at Solitude! Merry Christmas to all and hopefully, we see you back up on the hill soon! May the New Year bring us ALL LOTS OF POWDER!

Noah and His Cousin Christian Heading up Summit

IT’S TIME TO SKI FOR THE AGES

I was reminiscing with friends recently about the way things were when we were young as compared to what our own kids experience today. Rotary phones, typewriters, and riding in the back of pickup trucks are all things of the past. Sadly, today’s kids will never know the joys of when disco was new, mullets were cool, and Neil Patrick Harris was an emerging child actor. Not to mention the fact that we walked to school in waist-deep snow, uphill both ways, and often in bare feet. We all had a good laugh and acknowledged that, if there was ever any doubt, this conversation officially made us ‘old men.’

A few days later I found myself riding a chairlift at Solitude Mountain Resort when I noticed yet another way things have changed—My kids will never experience the noggin-numbing wait of a long lift line.

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Ageless.

Yes, Virginia, there is a sun!

Study the two pictures below. The one on the left is the view of the city. The one on the right is from  Solitude Resort. Both are taken within an hour of each other.

Let us begin our examination in comparisons. Both photos have clouds. The photo on the left features a pollution cloud filled with smog particulates from an inversion that hangs over the otherwise picturesque valley of Salt Lake. The clouds on the right are happy little clouds filled with H20 and little else.

Both have lines. The ones on the left are power lines that crisscross the city and obstruct views of the mountains- which are visable when the city isn’t blanketed in yellow air. The lines on the left are chairlift cables that whisk you up to incredibly clear views of unobstructed panoramas.

Both pictures have people. The people on the right are hidden in buildings and cars- boxes that keep them from interacting with the outdoors- which is probably a good thing since they’d otherwise be sucking in the chemicals floating in the city air. The people on the right are fully exposed to the outdoor elements- a good thing because up in the clean mountain air, they are filling their lungs with freshness, getting vitamin D from the sun, and awakening their senses with crisp air.

…more

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Powder Turns at Solitude?

I need to apologize, its been a little hectic around my house the last couple of days and so I am a day (or two) late but, hopefully not a dollar short.

It seems as if a few people heeded the call and headed up to the Tude over the weekend. There were a few more cars in the parking lot and yes, I still got my secret spot. The weather was beautiful and there was even a slight dusting of fresh snow, not a lot, but the trees looked a little more festive and merry with their fresh white tips. It was also nice to see a line at the ticket office window, for a few minutes at least.

With Christmas less than a week away, it’s hard to believe that the snow angels have not yet bestowed upon us their usual, bounteous, winter gifts of white fluff. Are we on the naughty list, I wonder? Maybe they are just teasing us, a dusting here, a dusting there and then…the day after Christmas… BOOM…SNOW! I am sure that is what is going on, just a simple heavenly joke, right?

Either way, Solitude isn’t sitting around crying about the lack of snow, she is happily sitting pretty, nestled in her serene little corner of the Wasatch Mountains, biding her time and welcoming all those who support and love her.

While the grey clouds still cover the valley in fog and haze, Solitude’s peaks are glistening in the brilliance of the winter sun and yes, we ARE skiing while some of you sit around and dream of it. You might not believe it but, we actually skied some fresh powder on Saturday. Solitude gifted us with a sweet little taste of winter by opening the east facing side of Honeycomb Canyon. The news spread like wildfire on Facebook, Friday afternoon, and it seemed that everyone had something to say about it. No matter your reaction, this snow has lain untouched since the first snowfall and was ripe for the picking. While it was awesome to get our turns on, I was ever so grateful that I had on a pair of old skis.

I am not going to embellish for a great story, so yes, with the powder on the top came consequences on the bottom. Some people shook their heads at the chance to rip down Honeycomb but, I say to the naysayers…click into your rock skis and have some fun in life. If you are smart and watch your line, there is no reason that you can’t make it to the bottom of Eagle with your body and skis still intact. Well, you may need a little P-Tex but, what the heck…worth it, don’t you think? Thanks Solitude for that sweet run! My garage will smell of P-Tex and wax for a day or two but, hey, I actually LOVE that smell!

There is snow on the horizon…maybe even Wednesday and Thursday so, let’s try to get off that naughty list and see what gifts will come! However, don’t forget that Solitude has plenty of runs open to keep you entertained and life is definitely happening in the canyon! HEY!!! There is snow falling outside my window!!!

East Slope of Honeycomb Canyon....STUNNING!

Local Skiers Heading Out on the Traverse

Hello Blue Sky!

Noah, Navigating His Way Down

A Local Skier Gets His First Powder Turns In of the Season

WE WANT YOU!

Alright, I have been debating for a couple of days whether to post the following words or not. I mean, I have been quietly enjoying my blue sky groomer days all to myself but, I am starting to worry that I am not doing the job that Solitude has asked me to do. So, I suppose that this particular blog is really geared towards the locals who have seemed to forget that the resorts are open and that there is snow up in the canyons.

Sunshine Bowl...WAITING FOR YOU TO RIP IT!

I know what you are thinking…I live in the valley too. There is no snow in the yards or on the trees, in fact, it really is not beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! Thank goodness for the insane traffic and the Christmas lights glowing in the cold evening air to remind us what month we are actually in! I mean are we even in Utah…home of the greatest snow on earth? Oh wait, how could we forget? That nasty inversion that greets us every day is a sure sign of our location. It’s probably been days since you have seen the crisp blueness of the sky or the long shadows of the winter sun casting its light across glistening snow. Well, the last snow did fall over a week ago and obviously it was nothing to write home about and it didn’t do much for the barely there snowpack, did it? I am just going to assume that you are all on the same page when it comes to rallying the troops for a ski day. Why bother? Why not just hole up at home or continue on in that typical holiday fashion of shopping with the masses of people or wrapping the way too many presents that you have purchased? I guess that sounds fun.

JUST LOOK AT THAT SKY!

Well, what I am here to tell you is the honest truth about what is actually going on up at Solitude. YOUR NOT HERE! I was liking it for awhile. You know, all those perfectly groomed and empty runs that I have all to myself. The lunch tables that I can completely take over and kick my feet up on and oh, how could I forget…my own personal spot, right at the front steps, every time I pull my car in. It’s been great but, it’s getting a little lonely.

Big Cottonwood, GORGEOUS in the early morning light!

I am getting tired of breathing all that fresh, mountain air all by myself. I am getting bored of only having lifties to talk to…not that they aren’t AWESOME but, they can’t ride up and take a run with me. I am getting tired of being the only one laying out huge arcs on Sunshine Bowl (well, besides the patrollers) or not having to worry that someone might hit me…ever! I am getting tired of not having to evade the parking guys so, I can have a chance at my favorite parking spot and I am really getting tired of not having to wait in line at the bathroom on the main floor of Moonbeam Lodge! Really, what’s the fun in that? You know what else? I am getting bored of being the only person on the chairlift and watching the Ski School clinic all day because YOU are not driving up here. So, although you might think that there is nothing happening up here, really the only thing not happening is you!

SOMEONE, COME UP AND SKI WITH ONE OF THESE GREAT INSTRUCTORS!

I am going to lay it to you straight. No, there is not a ton of terrain open. Yes, if you head off a groomer you are likely to ding a ski. No, all of the lifts are not running and no, you are definitely not getting any freshies…at least not this week. HOWEVER, don’t fool yourself into thinking that there is nothing to ski and that coming up into the canyon is a waste of time. First of all, remember that fresh air I mentioned and the crystal blue skies that are filled with the warmth of the SUN! Isn’t that reason enough to ditch the valley and the chaotic shopping malls? Second, it is plenty cold enough at night that the trails have kept all of their snow and the snow machines can add to it. The groomers are SWEET right now. If you like to lay them out and rip turns, then trust me, arcs are right on your door step. Third, tickets are still not full pop, so why not take advantage and bring your family up for a day of skiing and lessons so that they are prepared for the snow that will certainly come? Fourth, think of all the employees at the resorts and at local ski shops just waiting for YOU to get off the couch and have a little FUN! And, I guess, the most important reason for you to come on up here, is so that I don’t have to be lonely anymore…just don’t park in my spot!

P.S. I actually, really like not having to wait for the single upstairs bathroom so when you come, be sure to use the ones on the first floor….there are plenty of them…thanks, me.

THE LARGEST GROUP ON THE MOUNTAIN...LOOK, THEY ARE HAVING FUN!!!

The Honest Tude

You might think after the last post that I may have gotten all of the early season kinks worked out but, oddly enough, this week was every bit as crazy. I don’t know, maybe the cards are stacked against me this year. I guess I have to have hope that as the snow begins to fall and actually covers the slopes in white, that I will get out of this rut…If not, you may see me on the news (insert tragic story) instead of on this blog.

Thanksgiving week has been hectic but, I managed to get up to Solitude a couple of days in between family, cooking and too much eating. First of all, let me just wish you all a happy belated Turkey Day. I assume that if you are reading this, you probably like to ski or board so, I hope that besides stuffing yourselves with delicious food you also found time to head up into the mountains for some fresh air and a few runs on the hill. Although, we are all looking for signs of the next big storm, Solitude is still managing to provide some good turns to those who head her way.

Powderhorn opened earlier this week to limited skiing, but, it was nice to head off the beaten track a little. Diamond Lane benefited from the past weekend’s storm which had delivered enough snow to get it in decent skiable shape. For early season conditions, the skiing was great! Now, with that being said, the key words here are “early season conditions”. What this means is, DO NOT ski on your brand new skis on anything but the groomers. I know better, you know better, but, sometimes, the new skis, with their perfect, untarnished, bases and edges are just too much to resist. I am sure you can guess the ending to this particular story. Lucky for me, I married a guy who can tune a pair of skis with his eyes closed and lucky for him, his US SKI Team tuning brother showed up and saved my husband from a night of P-tex, hot wax and diamond files.

On another magnificent Thanksgiving Week ski day, I managed to sink my Volvo in quicksand-like snow at the end of the Moonbeam parking lot. Seriously? I haven’t gotten a car stuck since, well, since never! I am going to blame it on the weird snow seeing how I am rocking some seriously sweet snow tires and a ride that can definitely handle winter. I know what your thinking, “Yeah, the car might be able to handle it, but she obviously can’t.” I am not going to go there, take back the thought! Anyways, 45 minutes and some very nice strangers later, I was free. I parked my car and Noah and I headed out for an afternoon of funness….I know that’s not a real word but I like it!

Noah and I had fun chasing each other down Sunshine Bowl until, I stopped to talk to someone at the top of Eagle Express and lost him. Actually, I didn’t lose him, I skied right past him, while I held his poles. I love skiing with two sets of poles…always a real pleasure and I also wondered how mad my son was going to be when I finally found him. Luckily for me, he stayed put and I retrieved him right where I had left him, unnoticed, standing at the top of the lift. I can’t blame Solitude for my mishaps, Solitude is awesome. Solitude is quiet, even during this past holiday week. Solitude is everything she is supposed to be…unfortunately, I am not. Solitude is so mellow and awesome and the people who ski here are so rad (Yep, I like that word too) that the following not-so-great thing could have been bad in an epic proportions kind of way.

Upon returning to my car, we found a familiar older gentleman standing nearby. I had parked next to him earlier and had smiled hello. Amazingly, he happened to come down at just about the same time we did. He informed me that he had just shut my driver’s side door as I had left it wide open. He mentioned that my iphone was sitting on the front seat and I immediately thought of my wallet which was in plain sight as well as my husband’s new ski boots which were still in the box. My heart was racing as I opened the door and found everything just as I had left it. I couldn’t believe it! We had been away from the car for about three hours and not one person had grabbed my belongings! Before I go on, I must say that this will NEVER happen again…so, don’t go getting any ideas! Anyways, the thing is this, this is exactly why I love Solitude. I love that you feel like you become family on this hill. I love that it is peaceful and quiet and that you get to know most of the locals that ski here. I love that no one bothered to take advantage of a car that was obviously unattended and that one, Rob Reece, decided to shut and lock the door for me. Most of all, I love that I can laugh about this stuff with all of you and Solitude keeps letting me do it!

So, along with a few other minor mishaps, I made it through this crazy week no less for the wear and look forward to what the next week might bring….PLEASE LET IT BE SNOW!

Help, I Can't Get Out!

Powderhorn Opens!

Sunshine Bowl...Living Up to It's Name!

Cream Jeggings and Apple Cider

I think It may take a few tries to get back into the rhythm of things. The resorts received enough new snow this past week to make it look like it is actually ski season and after a crazy week of Birthday parties (Isaac is officially 6), family, school and everything else, I was ready to hit the slopes…or was I?

Saturday morning came early as my sister and I had to drive our mom to the airport so she could head back home to Washington. Decidedly, a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call is never a good thing! In fact, it is currently 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening and yes, it has taken me that long to get this blog up. My brain is almost up to functioning, working order again. You might blame the following words on my blondish hair but, I am going to blame it on lack of sleep.

Returning home from the airport, I contemplated going back to bed and rolling out later for a noon entrance at Solitude. Not too bad of an idea I thought, until I walked in the door to two boys excited to get out on the slopes. Noah had been in New Mexico last weekend and was anxious to rip it up with his old DEVO Team buddies and Isaac (who has somehow turned into a 55 pound skiing machine) couldn’t wait to prove once again that he is almost as tough as his big brother!

Some of you may remember one of the first posts of last season, regarding the (not so great) behavior of my boys. A morning, not so far away, when getting two boys ready and out the door for a day on the slopes was a mighty chore. What a difference a year makes! It’s not the boys who need help, it’s me.

Usually, very organized, I realized (five minutes before DEVO) that Noah’s helmet and goggles had been left at home. After I convinced him that wearing my helmet was not such a bad thing (Thank goodness I brought a black helmet with black Oakleys…could have been hot pink) he headed out to meet up with his friends.

Before, I go any further, let me just add that I am ski clothes junkie. I love em! I love to get them for free and I love to buy them! This past week, I found a cute pair of Holden pants that fit like my favorite low rise, skinny jeans. After, getting the boys out the door, I pulled on my boots and then tried to pull down my pants. WT!? They wouldn’t fit over my boots! I finally had to roll them up just so I could ski. Fashion nightmare. I looked like I had super tight cream jeans on and when rolled up, my boot was totally exposed…loser. No helmet, no goggles and a pair of cream jeggings later, I pushed off the lift. Things were happening, I was making some nice turns and I was feeling okay….well, until I layed out my skis and about flew onto my side. I had zero edges. Immediately, I heard a voice in my head reminding me that I never scraped the wax off my skis. Idiot! I carefully, skied the rest of the way down and dropped my skis off at the shop.

Solitude has got a great bunch of guys down there and they respectfully didn’t laugh and call me names…at least not to my face. I am sure they were just like “What is that girl doing on these K2 Sidekicks?…I bet she can’t even ski…hahaha”. I decided that I might be better off in the lodge drinking hot apple cider. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, right?

As always, my ski days always end great and after my brother-in-law showed up with Noah’s helmet and made me laugh (see picture), I was able to enjoy some late afternoon bumps and cruisers. You know I really love skiing, I always have, but, sometimes, the off days are the ones we remember the most so, I say, just laugh about them…or in my case, just blog about them.

Isaac's first turns as a 6 year old!

Hey Mom! My outfit looks better than yours!

These guys were making me laugh all day...Don't worry, they figured it out eventually.

My brother-in-law Mark, How can this not make you laugh?

First Tracks Online Powder Day Report

by Marc Guido – First Tracks Online
www.firsttracksonline.com

Day 2: Powder day!

The second part of our one-two punch of a storm arrived around 3 am and was a bit bigger than expected. I’d been tossing around the idea of hitting up lift-served at Solitude or skinning at Alta with mbaydala, Skidog and Bobby Danger. I was partially dissuaded from the Alta option due to widespread reports of the collapsing of the snowpack on Saturday. I also knew that my leg conditioning would benefit more from skiing than from skinning. So, Solitude it was.

Random Skier off Eagle Express

En route, however, I got a call from mbaydala. He’d inadvertently left his skins in the car of a woman who’s in Mexico for 10 days. So, Solitude it was for him, too.

I had to start from the Village today and at 9 a.m. there was virtually no one on the Apex chair.

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THE 2011/12 SEASON IS OFFICIALLY UNDERWAY!

This morning was clear and beautiful as I stepped out into the crisp early light. The eastern sun shone brightly over the snow capped peaks and the browning leaves fluttered gently in the breeze. Snow from the last storm still lingered in the cool shade of our yard as the school children had hurried past to catch the bus to school. A typical November day, much like yesterday and likely, just like tomorrow. As the usual morning unfolded around me, I smiled as I loaded the car and called Noah’s school to let them know he would be a few hours late. The Thanksgiving holidays seem too far off in the distance for us to be loading the car with skis, boots and coats. But, that was exactly what I did this (anything but normal) November 10th morning.

Excitedly, we headed towards Big Cottonwood Canyon, slowed only by the occasional school bus taking the unfortunate children to their day of reading, writing and math. Noah and Isaac giggled as they saw their friends waiting on the street corners. I know, I know, I am soooo responsible. Sometimes, just sometimes, higher elevation is just a little more important than higher education and today was one of those days.

How could I let them miss the opening day at Solitude? The boys had been longing for this day ever since the first, wet snowflakes back in October. Well, I couldn’t let them miss it and I couldn’t miss it either!

Due to a few early storms and ample snowmaking, Solitude had plenty of reasons to open three lifts (with another opening this weekend).  Dear Solitude, Thank you! As we stood at the bottom of Moonbeam, I felt the flutter in my heart as I surveyed the lifts cranking, the groomers pushing snow on Sunshine Bowl and the ski school and patrol out in full force. I believe that the 2011/2012 ski season is officially underway!

With our boots clicked in and our helmets on, we were off to a great start. There were no rocks in site as we cruised down beautiful corduroy and enjoyed our skis beneath our feet once again. We skied run after run until, finally, it was time to get the boys back to school (no tears please) for the afternoon…must save those full hooky days for the powder…which is sure to come.

The resort is in great shape for those who are smart enough to come up this weekend for some early pre-season skiing. However, if your like us and need to just excuse yourself from life for one day, I am sure Solitude won’t tell anyone. Friday morning turns anyone?

First Chairlift Ride of the Season, Noah & Rachael Hodson

Noah's First Turns of the Year!

Tear it up Isaac!

Fall Is Spectacular at Solitude!

Utah has been enjoying some warm weather lately and the mountain foilage is responding beautifully to the mild temperatures. Winter’s chill is just around the corner and the snowflakes are destined to come but presently, the canyons are aglow in glorious hues of reds and yellows. Even though the thought of powder piling up outside my windows brings on pangs of excitement, I can’t deny that this fall is every bit as spectacular!

The leaves seem to be on fire this year as the rays of the sun bounce off the canyon walls and gentle winds fill the aspens and pines with life.
It has been a few years since the fall colors have peaked as they are doing now and if you blink, you will miss it.
So hurry up and get off your computer! Head up to Solitude and take in the last breaths of alpine fall before the snows blanket the slopes.

Grab your mountain bike or your trail runners or just grab your loved ones and come up and enjoy a peaceful lunch at Kimi’s and take in the gorgeous mountains aglow in fall’s joyful palette… I promise you will see Solitude as you have never seen her before!

Oh, and DON’T forget to bring your camera…that would be a VERY BIG mistake!