Discovering Solitude Mountain Resort

Having grown up in Colorado, I had never fully experienced Utah skiing until last Friday when I explored my first Utah ski resort.

One of the greatest things about Solitude Mountain Resort is the parking. I’m used to parking a mile away and having to carry my snowboard trekking in my uncomfortable boots (because I am too cheap to pay for a locker) for at least 20 minutes just to get to the lift.

I started my day off at the ski rental shop to get a pair of snowboard boots. The staff was friendly and extremely excited to help me out since I was the first rental customer of the season. After a few minutes, I was on my way to the lift and discovered that there were literally NO lines! I had heard there are no long lift lines at Solitude, but I couldn’t believe that there was no wait at all! This is something I am not used to since all of the big resorts I have been to are always crowded. One time I waited in line for 45 minutes just to get up onto the mountain for my first run.

best solitude lift photo

 The mountain felt empty and I was able to get on and off the lift without waiting all day. Aside from falling quite a few times, I flew down the runs loving that I didn’t have to worry about tons of people or long lines.

At lunchtime, I headed over to Honeycomb Grill for probably one of the best lunches I have ever had. First, they brought out a hot chocolate to warm me up. Then, I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with avocado off of the menu. I enjoyed my hot chocolate and the incredible view of the mountain while I waited for my lunch. When it came, I was not disappointed. The flavor was incredible and after a long morning of snowboarding, falling and trying to get off the lift without wiping out, it was nice to be served a delicious meal that kept me full for the rest of the day.

hot chocolate

 At the end of the day, I dropped off my rental gear without any hassle. Then walked to my car less than five minutes away from Solitude’s village. I couldn’t have asked for a better day of snowboarding at Solitude. I am definitely now a fan of Utah ski resorts, and I look forward to coming up next week.

best solitude photo

IT’S TIME TO SKI FOR THE AGES

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.

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Ageless.

Yes, Virginia, there is a sun!

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.

…more

Read the rest here: ginabegin.com

Valentine’s at Solitude……Why Not?

High above the hustle and bustle of the Salt Lake Valley, unassumingly tucked away in The Inn at Solitude, can be found the Solitude Mountain Spa.

Solitude’s spectacular peaks and snow drenched slopes are some of Utah’s finest creations.  This quiet, peaceful and unpretentious resort entices visitors from all over to come and experience the famous Wasatch snow and exciting terrain in a friendly, low-key environment. Solitude, for the most part, is considered a day use area with many visitors coming up from the valley. This is a result of most skiers and boarders who park in the lower lot and give little thought to the quaint Bavaria

nesque village which is situated at the base of the Apex Lift. Many unknowingly pass the village by with little more than a glance at the clock tower as it strikes the passing hours. If you take the time to step onto the cobbled paths which meander through the picturesque village you will find that Solitude has more to offer than just the Moonbeam Lodge and incredible skiing. Restaurants, shops and cozy European lodging will take you back to yesteryear when life was simpler and the pace of every day life was just a little slower.

The Solitude Mountain Spa encompasses this notion of peace and relaxation and although, you will find that this is not a 5 star spa with glitzy amenities abounding, you will discover that it does deliver 5 star quality, service and a friendly, cozy atmosphere without the cost of larger more decadent spas.

Owned by Solitude Mountain Resort and managed by the incredibly knowledgeable and talented Suzanne Hawk the spa offers a fantastic selection of treatments, facials, massages and packages as well as the opportunity to create your own package perfectly suited to you. Suzanne and her staff of experienced estheticians and massage therapists are trained to know exactly how to treat and relieve ski specific soreness and fatigue as well as restoring and pampering the skin with treatments designed for clients who spend their time out of doors in the sun and elements. Whether your idea of relaxation is a 20 minute escape from the kids at lunch or 5 hours of pampering with your favorite friends, The Solitude Mountain Spa has something for everyone.

Only 20 minutes from Salt Lake means that it’s not just the tourists who should take advantage of this little sanctuary nestled modestly in the natural, alpine setting of the Wasatch but, locals as well should take advantage of the opportunity to detox the mind and relax the body in the most perfect of locations. Grab a friend and head up the canyon for a facial and warm, blissful stone massage or just come up for a custom pedicure sure to beat the quick ones found in the city.

With Valentine’s just around the corner, The Solitude Mountain Resort as well as the Spa is the ideal location for a romantic getaway. If you don’t have time for an overnight stay just come up for a massage for two and a romantic dinner at St. Bernards. Solitude is the ultimate surprise for your Valentine and Solitude has made it easy with a custom Valentine’s package designed just for you!

Solitude’s Sweetheart Deal can be found at this link:

http://www.skisolitude.com/trip_planner/solitude_savers.php

For more information on the Solitude Mountain Spa check out www.skisolitude.com. You will be able to find all of the services offered as well as any specials that may be available.

Two Girls and a Guy

We all know Solitude likes to pride itself on being a family destination spot. You know… the place where kids are always smiling and parents beam with self gratification at their wise decision to vacay in the solace of one of the most peaceful resorts on planet earth. We give Soli kudos for their laid back, family friendly environement but, I am here to tell you that you can still rip this mountain to shreds. Well, that is if you have the skills!

Today, just happened to be one of those put up or shut up kind of days. Sometimes, it is nice to leave the kiddies at home and find your own smile in the steeps and fluff. Elsewhere, any powder left from last week’s mammoth storm would surely be skied into oblivion and packed out into a wind crusted slab of knee injury induced crud. However, Solitude once again gifted us with fresh sugary turns and lonely lift lines.

Lonely lifts aren’t so bad though if you have a couple of fellow riders to laugh and shred with. Fellow gal pal and ripper, Jill Adler joined in the fun and Solitude’s very own Nick Como got a little “on the job” work done while figuring out his new HD 170 camcorder  from Drift Innovation and boosting our already self absorbed ego’s. I am proud to say he took some great shots and kept us giggling from Powderhorn to Honeycomb and everywhere in between all while tearing up the hill like any self respecting PR guy should!

November has barely turned into December and already the mountain is a month ahead of schedule as far as snow conditions go and the skiing is unbelievable for such an early start! After Nick’s departure to office land, Jill and I decided to go back and hit a sweet line which he had graciously led us to several hours earlier. Three solitary lines were still there beckoning to us for more. How could it be that not another soul had ventured upon our powder laden line? Could it be possible that hours could pass and fresh, beautiful turns still awaited us in Honeycomb so late in the afternoon?

Solitude offers so much more than meets the unassuming eye. Formidable but beautiful terrain awaits if you choose to seek it out. And if you do, you will be blessed with perfect turns and heart pounding action!

So, although there may be not a single soul in sight just remember that three tracks are always more fun than just one! Thanks for the turns and the laughs you two!

Solitude is Officially OPEN!!!

I got the call from Solitude’s marketing department that opening day had been bumped up to Friday late Thursday night. “Would you be able to come up and write about it” Nick’s voiced echoed through the phone. “Absolutely”, I said. I mean, was it even a question? For a brief second, I wondered if I should send Noah to school and Isaac to the sitter and go solo. Nahhhh….that wouldn’t be fair, I thought. It was opening day, let the boys miss a day. I excitedly woke them and shared the good news.

As many of you know, skiing with kids can be quite a challenge but, of course mine are the exception. I mean, come on, they have been on skis since they could walk and of course every opportunity to be on the hill means at least some (if not all) of the Hodson clan can be found on the slopes. Our two grommits were born to ski!  So, after a summer of wishing it were winter and after a couple of nice snowy storms, Friday morning’s early opening was a day to celebrate!

At 8:30 a.m. sharp, with giddy enthusiasm, we happily piled into the car…..Whoa…not so fast. Did you really think it would be that easy? Solitude’s 9:00 a.m. opening came and went and we were really doing was trying to find thermals that fit, deciding which helmets to wear and trying to locate those brand new ski socks which had somehow disappeared. At 9:20 Noah and Isaac were fighting over newly discovered ski stickers which surfaced at the worst possible moment. Fists were flying, tears were falling…Really? I mean did it really matter who got to stick the Rossignol sticker on their K2 skis or the Bern stickers on their Smith Helmets? By 9:30 the car was finally loaded…with gear that is but, no children in site. The bathroom beckoned, the dog needed to be greeted, the…WHAT THE??? Noah emerged in full gear, boots buckled, coat zipped, helmet on and goggles down. I tried telling him that he was going to fry in the car and that his boots would scratch my leather seats – not to mention that his goggles were going to fog up and that I was about to lose my mind! He shrugged his shoulders, threw a snotty comment my way and hopped in the car like a good little boy…NOT! Instead of buckling up, Noah has grabbed his scooter and headed for the road. Are you kidding me? Isaac finally arrived with his britches falling down past his knees and climbed into the backseat of the Volvo, while Noah, in full ski gettup, whizzed down the street while whistling for all the nosy neighbors to see. I had a passing thought that if he crashed and burned and I didn’t catch it on film, I may be missing out on some serious YouTube exposure. Who am I kidding? Kid on scooter, flying down hill in neon ski outfit crashes into neighbor’s car. Helmet and goggles save mini daredevil’s life. I imagine the whole scenario in my head and then come back to me senses. I am his mother not the producer of MTV’s stupidest kids.  By the time Noah had finished his comedy act it was 9:45 and I should probably have just gone back inside and went back to sleep.

By 10:00 a.m., we had finally turned up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The boys were silently fighting in the back (like I didn’t know what they were doing) and I was practicing relaxation techniques without crashing the car. Breath in, breathe out.

Solitude rolled into site and I hoped that the rest of the day would be cake. Blue skies, sunshine and freshly fallen snow lifted my spirits. We pulled into the upper parking lot to grab our passes and my boys, who were ready to shred, immediately voice their displeasure over the delay. Within 5 minutes the ticket lady was silently voicing her displeasure that she had to deal with my boys. Noah, always the angel sweetly said to me, “mom, aren’t you glad you have a nice butt” as he annoyingly smacked the don’t even think about it zone right in front of her.  He is lucky I didn’t knock him down on his backside. I force a smile at the lady as she rolls her eyes. During this seemingly lack of parental control, Isaac had decided it was his job to discover what was in some of the boxes that were in the ski shop adjacent to the office. Within moments of an impending disaster, he was shooshed out and a metal gate was loudly pulled or rather flung across the entry and locked.  Next came the pass pictures with one child who couldn’t smile and another who couldn’t stop bouncing up and down. After three failed attempts at a photo without an arm for a face, we finally had success and emerged triumphant.

We got back into the car and headed to the lower lot. Isaac who had been dying with excitement to get on his skis must have forgotten over the summer just how much he hated his ski coat and helmet oh, and ski boots and how could I forget those dang ski thermals which rode up his hiney. I mean if the kid would just wear undies he probably wouldn’t have that problem! 10:45 found him crying in the parking lot as everyone stared at the lame mom (yes, me) who was forcing her tiny four year old to toughen up and get on with it! It was a darn good thing Noah was already dressed and ready to go…or was he? “Uh, mom….I think I left my gloves at home” he says in that soft little voice which knows I am about five seconds from blowing like an atomic bomb. Seriously, when the kid comes out with his goggles down and his boots buckled you would ASSUME he would have put on his gloves. Duh.

11:00 a.m. found us in the ski shop buying two pair of gloves because obviously Isaac’s were way too big.  At 11:17 we were FINALLY on a lift. Isaac had temporarily forgotten about his clothing issues, Noah was grateful he was still alive and I was looking forward to a few turns.

Everything was finally right with the world. Oh, who was I kidding? Isaac had temporarily forgotten how to carve a turn, his new skis seemed too long and his emotions were raw. Noah, who is usually the naughty one, was obnoxiously reveling in the fact that he was acting perfect and that it was Isaac who had gone loco.

The first run, after a long hot summer of pools, flip flops and lazy days was not the happy Kodak moment I had expected but, I have to admit by the third run things started to look up. After a late lunch of fries, fries and more fries, Isaac was, at last, happy and ready to rip.

Although, the first day of the season didn’t quite go as planned and this blog may not have been exactly what Solitude had in mind, the day ended remarkably okay….Well, okay enough that I was still alive to write about it.  Noah, started laying out some gorgeous arcs and got to be interviewed by the news. Isaac eventually discovered his skiing legs and inevitably got used to the longer skis (which were his perfect size by the way). His snowplow evolved into the nice, fluid carved turns which he had mastered the previous season and his confidence soared. By the time we had loaded back into the car and headed down the canyon we were all smiling and looking forward to the next day’s return to the slopes. Thankfully, for me, Saturday means DEVO Team and the Coaches can work out any second day kinks while I get to peacefully enjoy my day on the hill!

Happy Ski Season 2010!!!

Are You a Better Biker Than A 7 Year Old?

…probably not this one.  Read on:

With a free invitation and an adventurous seven year old, I excitedly headed up to Solitude for a little mountain biking unaware of the beautiful and diverse terrain that awaited us. I have biked all over the Wasatch but, never considered that Solitude had mountain biking available. Not only are there some GREAT trails but most (The Summit and SolBright trail require some uphill pedaling) are lift accessible on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Behold: The future of Mountain Biking.

We grabbed our tickets and biked up to the Sunrise lift. Hopping off our bikes we sat back on the chair for a gorgeous and peaceful ride up the mountain. Noah was bouncing up and down and yelling in excitement as we passed over the SolBright Trail “I want to do that one he exclaimed.” I pulled out my map and explained to him that it was a “black” trail and we were going to start off on the easier Raptor Road and make our way over to Serenity. This was his first time “really” mountain biking (the dirt trail by our house doesn’t count) and my first time on Solitude’s trails. Well, guess who wiped out first…yup me! “Mom, I am better than you” he yelled, making a couple of day hikers look up and laugh, as he cruised away down the hill.

In case you are wondering I ate it because I had to stop in the middle of a rocky downhill to wait for him to hop off his bike and huff it on foot a few yards. Can I just say, trying to get your balance without momentum while your over the top of your handle bars isn’t the easiest thing! But who’s keeping track anyway? I was expecting a quick ride to the bottom however Solitude has done such a good job building and designing the trails that we had a long and somewhat challenging ride. Noah and I took over an hour getting to the bottom of the resort. A more experienced rider would be able to cruise down faster but at six dollars a lift ride just head back up for another sweet cruise. It is totally worth it…what a deal!

Mountain Bike & Mom....but not in that order.

There are several different trails to choose from and all are very well marked. Serenity is a perfect trail for those of you just getting back on the bike or just starting out but want a little challenge. It is a winding, scenic single track that has just enough ruggedness to keep you on your toes or in my case sliding on my face. We saw plenty of wildlife and even two deer which dashed off into the brush as we neared. If you don’t have equipment, don’t worry, Solitude has everything you need to have a great day on the hill. We are heading back up soon to ride over to Lake Solitude for a picnic and I am sure another AMAZING day up in the mountains, breathing the fresh air and working those quads which are gearing up for upcoming ski season. Again Big Cottonwood Canyon has happily surprised me and makes me long for MORE!

Silver Fork Expansion Application

Solitude Mountain Resort is applying for 182 acres of lift served skiing in Silver Fork Canyon, a reduction from the original proposal of 462 acres. The popular Meadow Chutes and West Bowl are NOT part of the proposed expansion that would include only one new lift, as well as a realignment of the current Honeycomb Return Lift. Solitude currently holds 167 acres in Silver Fork. This addition, consitent with existing watershed protection, represents a mere .0001% of the Wasatch Cache National Forest.

Many Solitude skiers presently use this area of Silver Fork for resort accessed side-country lap style skiing. Safe monitoring of this terrain will benefit these skiers, as well as expected additional Utah recreationists. Utah continues to grow as both a skier destination and in local population – with skier visits increasing by 37% in the past ten years.

This application is consistent with the US Forest Service’s Management Direction, which recognizes the importance of recreation in close proximity to the Wasatch Front, whose population is projected to double by 2030. The USFS encourages private enterprises to developed recreation facilities that contribute to the local economy.

Silver Fork Expansion Map

Silver Fork Expansion Map

What’s your fantasy?

From the first time I saw Fantasy Ridge, towering high above the east face of Solitude Mountain Resort’s Honeycomb Canyon, I knew that I wanted to ski it . . . I just didn’t know if I had the guts.  You see, Fantasy Ridge isn’t your normal ski run.  In fact, it’s not a ski run at all.  There is no lift access.  There is no groomed terrain.  And there is certainly no easy way up or down.  It’s a bootpack, and one of the gnarliest bootpacks you’ll ever encounter . . .

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