Wed 29 Jan 2014
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Yes that could be you standing right on top of the peak taking everything in…
The 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.