Mon 13 Jan 2014
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.