Outdoor Retailer On Snow Demo was a WILD SUCCESS!

“It is great to put our mountain in front of the biggest names and vendors in the business.” Nick Como

This year, Utah’s biggest trade show, kicked off to a very successful start at Solitude Mountain Resort.  The Summer and Outdoor Retail Shows are big business for the state of Utah which has played host since 1996. Utah estimates that over 5.8 billion dollars in revenue was generated last year due to the outdoor recreation industry. With over 19,000 who attended this year’s show and 919 exhibitors it was a fantastic opportunity for Solitude to be in the spotlight and recieve some well deserved attention. Although, Snowbasin has hosted the last two years, show officials decided to move the On Snow Demo to Solitude this year to highlight and showcase one of Utah’s sweetest playgrounds. With easy access and it’s close proximity to downtown Salt Lake City, Solitude was definitely the right choice. Generally, the On Snow Demo showcases backcountry gear such as telemark equipment, snowshoes, touring gear, safety equipment and other related items. This year, 39 companies participated in the On Snow Demo bringing with them an added interest in alpine which is generally saved for the big WWSRA show at Snowbasin. With several companies including alpine gear such as Movement, K2 and Volkl the buzz in the air was that Solitude may just have turned the tide for the On Snow Demo.

After days of heinous skiing conditions, the sun dawned on January 19 (my Birthday BTW) to reveal 8 inches of fresh pow pow. I was a little worried for Solitude not being able to showcase the famous Utah flakes that many came from all over to experience but, we have to thank the snow gods for the snow fell just in time to cover the Eastern like ice! I arrived at Solitude to a parking lot packed chock full of cars, vans and even semi-trailers. Just about when I thought I was going to have to actually park on the road someone left and I scored my usual up front spot. Patience, patience, patience…trust me, it’s a great quality.  Solitude chose to host the demo next to Eagle Express for easy access and plenty of diverse terrain on which to test different products. Most attendees pretty much stuck to Eagle and all were thrilled with the conditions. The day played host to a snowshoe race, bumping music, pro skiers (i.e. Kent Kreitler and gang), decent weather, fresh snow and plenty of people excited to be hanging in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

As the day wore on some of the lucky ones who had all mountain passes eventually ventured away from the demo to free ski and enjoy the great snow. The patrol had kept much of the access gates and Honeycomb closed due to avalanche danger (I personally think they were hoping to save some of the fresh snow from the crowds of people). Lucky for me, some friends and I arrived at the top of Powderhorn just as the patrol opened the gate. Yes, first tracks down Parachute. Ahhhh….the best Birthday present I could have had was untouched turns and face shots. Although, I was busy with the show (downtown) all weekend I was certainly grateful to have started the OR Show at the sickest little ski spot in the Wasatch. Go Solitude!

Kent Krietler and Posse

Jenny Wilden and myself hanging at the show

On Snow Demo 2011

Crockpots and…a Skunk Hat?

Sometimes, the most interesting things that happen at resorts is the stuff that most people wouldn’t even notice. The last week or two have been on the boring side…I don’t know, sometimes you just aren’t feeling it. It has been, well…cold.  I know it’s winter, it’s supposed to be cold but, it is has been North Pole cold! Along with the icy temps I got a cold! Sinus infection, sore throat, the shivers, I just can’t seem to motivate. What a wuss…I know, I know.  For some reason I would just  rather be hanging by the fire reading a good book than hitting the slopes. Maybe what I need is a fresh dump to brighten my spirits or maybe all I needed was a crockpot bubbling with chili to put a smile on my face.

A crockpot! For real…here’s the sitch. I walk into the brown bag area this morning after dropping the boys off for DEVO. I am having a girly girl day and can’t decide what skis I want, what boots to wear, what jacket goes best with either choice? Anyways, I decide to leave some of my DIVA luggage so, it stays warm and accessible. I can say it, I am a LOSER! As I step inside, the aroma of chili overpowers me.

My new found buddy, Becky Hulinsky, is at her usual table. She probably thinks I am a little wacked but, oh well…I am crashing by her either way. She hangs out every week with her adorable sixth month old son while her husband teaches skiing and I am glad I discovered her. Let’s just say, last week I was eating lunch on the floor…this Saturday, I got myself a table (imagine me saying that in a southern drawl…that’s the way it sounds in my head)! It seems like Saturdays have turned into quite the family day at Solitude. Before I go on, I just want to say that yes, Saturdays can be busy at Solitude….not in the way that some places can be busy…but, for Solitude…it’s you know, a little busy. Mostly you just notice it in the eating areas NOT on the slopes! And just so you know (in case you didn’t), the rest of the week is pretty slow. So, don’t go thinking I am wishy washy on the whole Solitude is empty shpeel. It is, even on Saturday…as long as you have not been banned to the ever popular brown bag room in the basement with no view….aaaaah.

So with chili smell permeating the room, I look at Becky and then over at the wall. Sure enough, there is a crock pot plugged in with large coolers stashed nearby. You have got to be kidding me! What happened to good old PB&J’s, chips and a drink? I step closer and take a looksy. Yep, chili oozing over the sides of the largest crockpot I have ever seen outside of a church BBQ. I think to myself “Gee whiz, I am definitely slacking in the my mom makes the best lunch department”. But, really, who brings a crockpot all the way up the canyon and plugs it in the lodge? Are we in northwest Idaho or better yet, Colorado City (they probably aren’t even allowed to ski there so that wasn’t really fair)?

No, of course, we are in UTAH! Home of big families and provident living. Remember the motto… families that play together stay together. Well, these families play, pray and stay together and it’s a good thing because they are keeping Big Cottonwood packed every weekend. I am sure that some people wished they were paying to eat in the “cool” lodge but, most of these families are delving into their college and missionary funds to give their kids great family memories and experiences.

“You watch” I said to Becky, “At noon there will be some mom dishing up chili to her eight kids.” Sure enough lunch rolled around and there she was, a modern day Utah mother! Blonde hair, youthful with…ahemmm…nice measurements. She had a tall, decent looking (but admittedly loud) husband and a brood of kids that would make any Catholic school jealous.

We watch as she pulls out the nicely shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and of course…fritos (it is Utah). What a feast! I bet her family eats better out of her smartly saved food storage than all the other skiers in the canyon! I glance at  Isaac’s cold pizza and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I mean, what more can I really say about this little situation except…You know it is funny! Well, at least it made Becky and I laugh.

So, I am not sure why the crockpot and the seriously UTAH family deserved to be blogged about especially, because I am one of those Utah girls (although, I have admittedly MUCH smaller upper measurements and two kids instead of ten). It’s just that sometimes it is these wierd moments that make your day and make you love Solitude that much more. Because you know, the crockpot would NEVER be seen (southern accent here) at any other self respecting resort in the Wasatch (I think)!

Bottom line is that Solitude should probably be grateful to all these parents carting up their hundreds of children each Saturday. They may not be spending money on food but, some business is always better than no business and trust me if more of these types of parents made it up here, Solitude would be rolling in the dough.
Maybe a bigger brown bag lunch area (with lots of outlets) is all this place needs…oh, and maybe a new slogan…THE FAMILY THAT SKIS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER!

P.S. I am just curious if they duck taped that crockpot together so, it didn’t spill? Any thoughts?  Trust me when I say I would NEVER put a full one of those in my car!

THE CROCKPOT! Can it get any better?

Better than Chili? Well, Yessireee! Just ask these fellers...a skunk hat and who knows what is WAY BETTER THAN CHILI!

Brrrrrrrrr!

This past week’s artic temperatures were downright frigid! How the masses of tourists and locals who packed the canyons for the last few days playing is beyond me? I mean if anyone can hang on the mountain in sub zero temps it is me and I was brought to tears. Yep, Thursday’s mad dash to the canyon to get first tracks in the newly fallen stashes of light as air powder ended in a beeline for the car at two. The morning began with a detour from my house off 9400 South due to the line of cars waiting to get up Little Cottonwood Canyon. We made our way over to Highland and up Bengal only to emerge onto Wasatch to cars backed up almost to the 7-11! Are you kidding me??? I guess everyone had the same idea as we did…except they were just headed the wrong direction. Huge dump, no work = PLAYTIME! I was so grateful when I turned right into Big Cottonwood and zoomed up to the top. Yes, the canyon was full but three hour waits? Not a chance! Solitude’s front side was tracked out faster than usual and there was actually a line at Summit Lift but the snow was so fluffy it didn’t matter. Parachute and Here Be Dragons

Catching a Sugar High in Here Be Dragons

were amazing and even though we were all freezing, the morning was insane! However, as the hours passed my elation turned to misery and finally I had enough of ice box toes and chattering teeth. With “I am going to die if I don’t get to the car” on my mind I straightshot it from the top of Sunshine Bowl to the bottom and didn’t stop until my skis skidded to a halt beside my ride. Turning was too much work. I huddled in the Volvo with the heat cranking, toes thawing, cheeks stinging and icy tears of pain slowly sliding down my face as Noah and Matt smirked at my discomfort. The holidays were definitely busy and skier numbers were WAY up but the temps were WAY down. I swore off skiing for the next couple of days to enjoy Noah’s Eighth Birthday, family and a little down time.

A line at Summitt? Heck, we are going for PIZZA!

Pizza at Kimi's...Soooo good! Great way to warm up!

Because Matt has to get back to the daily grind on Wednesday after a month off from the boating world, we let Noah skip a day of school and headed back up the canyon this morning for one last hurrah with the whole family. I was worried about the cold but as we ascended above the valley haze, the sun broke through with its brilliant light. Crystal blue skies and temperatures hovering just below 30 degrees (yeah) awaited us as we turned into the (thankfully) empty parking lot.  Solitude was back to Solitude and my smile returned. After a quick hike out the west face of Honeycomb I was actually WARM! I had to lose my hand warmers and a layer of clothes and with that complete happiness returned. The boys were getting along, no one was whining, the sun was shining, there were still fresh tracks in the trees…I mean what more can a girl ask for? A liftie even told me I had “delightful” children…hmmm, not sure if he was being facetious or not? I mean Isaac did call him Santa Claus about ten times. He probably thought he was an annoying little brat but, I am taking it as a compliment and calling it good.

Morning Rays Over Headwall

Isaac having a little fun!

Snowboarder cranking a sweet line in Honeycomb

The news said it should be getting a little warmer (oooh…30 + degrees, a downright heatwave) and most of the skiers are back to work and school so, Solitude is back to being its quiet little, magical self and I am estactic! See you this week on the hill…ALONE!