Sun 22 Jan 2012
|That’s more like it…
from the Solitude Facebook page
Sun 22 Jan 2012
|That’s more like it…
from the Solitude Facebook page
Sat 21 Jan 2012
The sheriff was at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon turning around cars so, I knew it was going to be big but, it was hard to grasp the concept of snow when rain had been pouring in torrents throughout the night and there was nothing but fog and water socking in the valley. My windshield wipers flicked back and forth as I headed up the canyon road and memories of my youth came rushing back with every bead of water that slid down the windshield. Rain usually accompanied every drive up to Crystal Mountain or White Pass in Washington only to finally change to snow about ten minutes from the resorts. I had grown up with this stuff but, was I ready to ski in poncho weather after 17 years of Utah fluff?
The fog and rain was thick as Noah, Isaac and I kept our sights on the digital temperature display that was gradually dropping from the 40’s down into the 30’s. About 8 miles up, the rain started turning into slush and then into giant wet flakes. By the time that we reached the Solitude parking lot we had hit the motherlode!
In celebration of the first “real” powder day, I let the boys skip DEVO. We came to play and we were going to play hard! Isaac and I headed up Powderhorn after he had a few minutes to figure out the heavy, powder that encircled his tiny body (relatively speaking) off of Moonbeam. Cool, wet flakes drizzled down our necks and my pants were already taking in moisture but there was white stuff all around!
Powderhorn has been a base weld trap for the past month or so and I was excited to finally get our relationship back on track. Of course, no lines and we slid right onto the icy, wet seat. I wondered for a moment at those silly ponchos that the Crystal Mountain ticket guys would give us with our passes and laughed at the thought of Utah locals doing such a thing. In retrospect maybe a garbage bag with a few holes punched through wouldn’t have been half bad but, what fun would that have been? I think all of us would have rather been soaked than dry…right? Noah, who had beaten us up on the hill, came tearing down below with some of our favorite locals, Mike and Chris. We yelled out to him and got a grin from ear to ear as he gave us a thumbs up and then disappeared into the blur of snow and fog. I love that my nine year old has discovered heaven at such an early age!
Although, the visibility was questionable and Solitude was still our quiet Solitude as far as crowds go, the atmosphere was different and any of you who were skiing at any of the Cottonwood resorts today know what I am talking about. We all knew the rocks were not far below but dang, it felt good to have snow blowing past our faces for once as we popped in and out of the piling drifts of snow that were quickly filling in our tracks. As the day wore on and the temperatures continued to drop the skiing only got better and better. Excited whoops and cat calls reverberated through the stillness of the winter filled landscape. The snows had returned along with the happiness of all those who have longed for it! I smiled to myself as I sat back on the lift and listened to the canyon echo with Joy.
Sat 14 Jan 2012
My very first blog of 2012! Yippee! Can you believe it’s been a year since I last wrote? After a long, two week hiatus from Solitude, It sure felt good to get back up in Big Cottonwood Canyon and enjoy some serious sunshine as well as some beautiful turns! I am pretty sure you didn’t miss me but, just in case you did…just a little bit…I didn’t go AWOL, I promise, life just happened. The last few weeks were busy with an out-of-state wedding, travel assignment, kindergarten testing, and a few other hiccups so, it was definitely relaxing to hit the home turf today.
I see not a lot has happened (as far as snow) in my absence but, I hear it’s coming….that’s right! Word on the street is that things are about to change. Change is good but as far as tomorrow goes…why worry about it, why not enjoy what today has to offer, and today was simply perfect!
Seriously, what a day! I don’t know, sometimes, days just click (and if you read this blog, you KNOW that doesn’t always happen for me) and today was one of them. I loved today! The weather was phenomenal, in a springy, laid back kind of way and the brilliant sunshine, reflecting off the snow, was just what this girl needed. All the regulars were on the hill having a great time, the kids were happy, my skis were the right size (long story), my boots were finally fitting the way the they should (another long story) and we even ran into a few unexpected friends which always makes for a good time.
On another note, it seems like every time I turn around someone asks me about the conditions and gives me their feeble excuse about why they don’t want to ski and why they haven’t made it up yet…not even once. I listen and nod my head and some days I might get you and feel your pain but not ski? Not ever? Why? That…I just don’t get! A friend of mine, from another mountain, was telling me that the resort gets calls every day from somebody or another asking whether the mountain is even open or not. PEOPLE, THE RESORTS ARE OPEN! Spread the news for goodness sakes! No, it’s not epic goodness, but the slopes are still worth your time!
So, for the last time, if any of you are still wondering if you should rally and head up the canyons…What the heck are you waiting for? Powder? Well, who isn’t, so why don’t you just put a smile on that face and realize that you can still have a great time without the fluff. Why wait for the crowds when you can still get some peaceful alone time on the hill? Why worry about your new fat skis when you can just grab those four year old giant slalom skis, hiding in your garage, and lay out some serious arcs? You could do what I have done most of the season and ski on a pair of midget slalom skis and try to actually make more than three turns down the hill. I have never turned so much in my life! I know a few people who would be shocked by my precise, little turns. I am telling you…good stuff!
You don’t have to listen to me or to any one else for that matter and you can go ahead and pull out your boring old golf clubs or whatever else you think is better than cruising down the ski hill, but just remember, when the snow comes and it will (because Mark Eubanks says it will) all of us who are ripping around, fine tuning our game, are going to crush your skinny legs when you finally do decide to make it up here. Just saying…
Fri 13 Jan 2012
I‘m not going to lie to you, I really like snow. Not in a “Hey look, it’s snowing!” type of way, but more of a “snow flows through my veins” kind of thing.
Some may say that I’m addicted to snow, but I’m not. I can stop anytime–but why would I? I’ll take as much snow as i can get. To me there is literally no downside to the white and fluffy stuff.
Driving in it? I wish I could do it year round. It makes driving fun again.
Shoveling and clearing it? One of the best winters of my life was when…
Read the rest on dadventurous.com
Wed 11 Jan 2012
With so many neglected skis gathering dust in closets, there’s bound to be treasure out there for the one who searches in the right places. To this minority, I applaud. While the snow snobs keep sighing over lack of snow, your skis, dripping from melted snow in the back of your truck, have just enjoyed a day of secret stashes. This is the story of how I found mine:
I was running on about two hours of sleep after baking all night for a Sugared Magnolia order when I was asked to go skiing at Solitude Mountain Resort. I didn’t think I would have the energy needed to keep up with my own skis, let alone those of my friends. But, already missing the cold mountain air I had been in this past weekend, I complied and hoped for the best.
Since I was ice climbing in Colorado during the last snow storm, it completely escaped my mind that a new layer of white had fallen on the Utah mountains and patches of it still hung around off trail- my favorite area anyway. I was expecting more icy conditions upon my return to Solitude, but was surprised by how soft even the base layer was. No, these were not pristine conditions that begged for my powder skis, but my trusty rock skis could maneuver between the occasional exposed hard spot and the soft snow that was plentiful off-piste. And when I was funneled back to the trail from my wanderings in the ungroomed, I found no occasion for keeping a wary eye- the runs were clear of obstacles so I was free to make the wide, arcing turns that are the beauty of groomers.
Now, dear reader, you get a bonus for joining me on my search for snow. I’m about to divulge what another skier should never share. If you want the good stuff…
(Want it? Read more at ginabegin.com)
Thu 29 Dec 2011
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Thu 29 Dec 2011
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.
Wed 21 Dec 2011
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.
Read the rest here: ginabegin.com
Mon 19 Dec 2011
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!!!
Sat 10 Dec 2011
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.