Fantasy Ridge was Open?!

Fantasy Ridge

For the Utah skiers and boarders who have experienced hiking Fantasy Ridge the name elicits memories and maybe even a couple of butterfly’s in the stomachs of all of us.  I was surprised to find that the ridge was open so early in the season!  Solitude is known for it’s fantastic skiing within the resort, but what often goes overlooked is what lies in store for those willing to explore the best ski resort in Utah.  Journey through the many gates that access the rest of Solitude’s Mountain Resorts in-bound and side country terrain and you are in for an epic treat.

As you get off the Summit lift and take a quick left past the patrol shack you stay right and come to a couple of gates awaiting your exploration.  The first is the Fantasy gate that heads straight up the spine that separates Honey-Comb Canyon from the resort boundary.  You are basically climbing the resort boundary line with the terrain that leads into Honey-Comb as in bounds with the additional “side-country” terrain adjacent to it and considered out of the resort boundaries.

The hike is not for the faint of heart and can be likened to the part on Angel’s landing in Zion National park where there are “no fall zones” with chains to help you along.  On the ridge hike, cables have been placed in certain areas to help you negotiate some technical aspects.  With some care and a little courage you can overcome the obstacles with some well placed footwork and a decent level of fitness.

Ridgeline Hike

Of course, like all of Solitude’s skiing the access and control is done by the world class Ski Patrol who kick in the initial hiking lines and make sure the avalanche danger is “controlled”.  With that said each skier and snowboarder must do their part and come prepared with a beacon, shovel, and probe as well.  Their is a beacon testing sign at the entrance to make sure you’re ready to go.  Take advantage of the testing site at the base of Eagle Express to hone your skills and make sure you’re ready!


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hikerocks and trees

 

After entering the gates you will find a boot line that is fairly easy to follow along with a couple of rocky sections that will definitely get your attention.  This is not a leisurely stroll by any means.  It is one of, if not the most technical lines accessed from resort boundaries.  The views are magnificent and make the hike worthwhile if just only for the views provided.  You have unobstructed views of Solitude and Brighton Ski resorts including lake Mary.

Lying above the lake slightly to the Southwest is the Wolverine cirque. wolverineBig Mountain skiers from across the globe come to drop some of the biggest lines and air in the Wasatch in that arena.

Cold and Beautiful below Fantasy Ridge

Cold and Beautiful below Fantasy Ridge

 

 

Views of additional Wasatch Mountain resorts including Alta and Snowbird lie below you as you feel that you are on top of the world.  In fact, looking down at the Powderhorn gate access point you are literally hundreds of feet higher while anticipating an awesome ride down.

 

Well, that is what we came her for right?  To ski or snowboard some awesome lines of most likely POWDER.  The choices seem limitless especially if you are considering some “side-country” skiing outside the resort boundary.  The hike allows you to access literally hundreds of skiable acres of terrain.  An awesome option is to ride into Silver Fork Canyon and end up on the road that leads to the base of Eagle Express.  I usually choose to ski back into Solitude using the multiple options available.

chute To the left is a nice tight chute that presents itself after the initial hike.  My buddy Kendall liked to drop in early and take a mandatory 40 footer, which goes to show you there is a line for anybody.  After the first couple of chutes there is another peak to bag and several options that present themselves for the taking.

peak

 

Yes that could be you standing  right on top of the peak taking everything in…

 

 

JakeFantasyThe farther down west you go there is some cliff bands that allow you to get pictures like these.  When heading down the mountain it seems something like a fantasy in which you are playing the starring role.

Welcome to Solitude.

Utah Snowboarding- Face Your Fears

When I go snowboarding in Utah, I like to be safe. Nothing is worse than flying down the mountain at uncontrollable speeds and catching an edge. The result is a pounding headache and the wind knocked out of you at best.

I’ve always been a nervous snowboarder. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just hang out on the bunny hill all day, but I do fall a lot. I have smacked my head, hurt my tail bone and wiped out in a terrain park attempting to learn my first box. But after switching over from skiing, I have always felt like I have less control on a snowboard. And having less control scares me. My irrational “dying while skiing” fears started at age nine when one of my mom’s friends lost her daughter to a ski accident. She had lost control and went straight into a tree. I remember going skiing after that and being scared to lose control and worried that if I went too fast, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

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Snowboarding at Solitude Mountain Resort this season has been the greatest way to overcome this fear. Instead of thinking about everything that can go wrong, I focus on the sound off my snowboard carving in the snow and spending my day at the best ski resort is Utah. On Saturday when I got to the top of the Summit lift, I strapped in and flew down the mountain. It was a busy day, but for Solitude Mountain Resort, that just means you wait two minutes in the lift lines instead of getting right on. I didn’t have to worry about watching for others on the mountain, I didn’t have to worry about anything.

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(The “line” at Apex)

When I got back down to Solitude’s village, I felt liberated. By far, this had been the best run of the day, and probably the best run of my snowboarding career. I felt free and ready to move on to more difficult terrain.

You can spend the day worrying about what could happen, or you can divert your energy to having a good time. Life’s too short to worry about the things that can go wrong. Sometimes you just have to be brave and just face your fear head on.

Anticipating More (and How to Find It)

Solitude Secret Stashes

Do you know what lies beyond Honeycomb?

It’s starting: we’re getting past the point of early season skiing in Utah and are starting to lust after some of our favorites lines. We hungrily eye the routes we haven’t taken since last season as we pass overhead on the lift. People stack up next to closure lines to assess how long until their favorite stash will be filled in and ready to tear into.

It’s almost there.

The anticipation is nearly as heavy as pre-season excitement, when folks are putting off their summer adventures and tuning up skis, practically jumping at every forecast that dips below 32˚F. We’ve patiently skied the opening day groomers, kept pristine for our pacification. We jumped off trail much too early, turning last year’s gear into next year’s rock skis, grinning during every turn and taking any gouges as badges of honor. We’ve explored all we can, and yet, there’s more coming.

That’s the beauty of Solitude Mountain Resort. Even when you’ve skied it all, you really haven’t skied it all. The place is filled with gems that many locals don’t know about. But listen closely: You’ll hear the whispers, the tales of powder that lasts for days after a storm. This is knowledge that isn’t given up willingly; it’s knowledge you have to earn.

Right now is the time to be doing just that.

We’re verging on mid-season greatness. Storms will be filling in those final inches that make it possible to drop in Solitude’s sweet sidecountry and traverse into terrain that goes unnamed on the trail map. So here’s my insider tip: Take lift laps with those in the know and find your way into their inner circle.

How do you recognize these folks? Well, you won’t unless you’re “on hill” and being observant. They are the ones up there several times a week, usually roving about the resort in the same small group of two or three skiers. Don’t look at the lodge during lunch; they are too far out to be bothered with warming their toes by the fire. And looking at the base will end your search fruitless: They use Moonbeam only to make tracks for the far reaches of the resort, namely its top elevations or peripherals.

If you happen to find the ones who know the places in-between, you’ve struck gold.

Admittedly, it will be hard to track down the most knowledgeable skiers while the lifts are spinning since Solitude has enough places to keep these skiers elusive. It’s time for “Plan B”: The Thirsty Squirrel. This pub plays after-party for the hill’s guests. In this après scene, you’ll find that skiers need little time to loosen up and get into the festive spirit of story-swapping and tale spinning. When it happens, pay attention: Feeling a bit of bravado, skiers let their guard down and their secrets out — and you’re there to soak it all in.

Now is your window to make this the season you’ve been waiting for: one filled with steep lines and trees that hold powder days after a storm. Oh yeah, and the one that your friends start asking you where to find all the goods you’re getting.