Step it Up. This is the big leagues.

by: UtahRips - Nov 19, 2011

  • Overall Rating 5
  • Family Friendly 2
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 5
  • Terrain Park 3
  • Nightlife 2

    Pros: Expert terrain, excellent snow, big acreage

    Cons: Your own mortal weakness

    Recommended For: Singles, Empty Nesters

    Date Visited: Nov 1, 2011


Full review

If you're into real skiing and boarding; working on our skills, cranking steep turns, trying big air, and coming off the mountain worked over hard, Snowbird is easily one of the top three-to-five ski areas in North America. It's big, bad, rad, bruising, and totally unapologetic about that approach. My advice is to be ready for it, and smarten up, because you need to be aware of cliff areas and potentially rocky traverse lines. In return, you'll feel like the star of your own Warren Miller film...crashes and all.

The snow here is basically equal to renowned Alta, but the slopes are often more wind-sheltered, and there are so many pockets to ski that stashes tend to last longer. There are some really fine, long, intermediate runs (Chips, Regulator Johnson, the main Mineral Basin lines), that'll make you feel like a World Cup GS skier - but there is very little beginner terrain. This is home to some of the best skiers, telemarkers and snowboarders in the U.S., and for good reason. If you're into groomer hardpack and ballroom slopes, this ain't your neighborhood; You'll be happier in Park City.

The best points:
[] 3,200 vertical feet of terrain, and lots of acreage.
[] Low slope traffic except for sunny weekend afternoons.
[] The tram is awesome on stormy weekdays.
[] There are actually some restaurants and nightlife here, but you'll be asleep anyway.
[] The Cliff Lodge is a sweet crib for serious ski families. Nice rooms, big pools, and hot tubs.

The drawbacks:
[] It's a complex mountains, and it takes a while to find your way around to the best shots.
[] The only sidecountry is Tiger Tail-White Pine, available from the Gad II chair, but it's a rough go getting back in-area. Twin Peaks is awesome, but they don't open the steep, narrow ridge access until late spring. If you want completely virgin terrain, quit fooling yourself and go touring.
[] The moguls get pretty chopped up in tight couloirs, in part thanks to the many skiers and boarders who are in over their heads.
[] Mineral Basin, Snowbird's massive backside, faces south. The light there can get really, really flat, like skiing through the inside of a ping pong ball, and it can turn to crud and crust pretty quickly.
[] The Mid Gad restaurant has absurd food prices. Useful only as a refuge to melt the ice out of your mustache.

Tips:
[] Wear a helmet.
[] Bundle up warm and hit the lifts at 9 a.m. Ski hard until 1 p.m., Take your break after the lunch crowd's done, Then grit your teeth and finish out the day. Most people will bail, whupped, by 2:30.
[] Work the various sun exposures for best powder or afternoon warmth. Mineral Basin first thing, then Chips and the Cirque, then Little Cloud/Regulator/South Chutes for afternoon warmth.
[] Bring a light pack with layers, snacks, water and a neck gaiter or facemask. It's often a long way to resupply.
[] Hit the tram plaza or Gadzoom base for food,
[] If you're skiing with friends, bring FRS handheld radios and trail maps. You'll need 'em to regroup.
[] If you're visiting on vacation, bring swim trunks for the hot tubs, and budget for a massage, or two, because you'll need both.
[] If you live in SLC, buy a season pass, because after a couple weeks, nothing else will stack up.

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