Utah Park City trail recommendations for lower intermediate

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by marjoram_sage, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    I'm looking for trail recommendations at PCMR for two upcoming trips( Feb 9 to 11 and Mar 8 to 10). The first trip is a guys trip and we will be staying on the Canyons side near Frostwood Gondola. We would like to ski bell to bell. The second trip is with family and we will be near the Park City base area. I will ski the mornings on my own and ski afternoon with my wife (early beginner) and 4 year old daughter (comfortable on magic carpets and bunny runs). I am planning to stick to terrain near the respective base areas to avoid wasting time in traversing and shuttle buses.

    I was there for a day last year and only skied the beginner area on Canyons side (High Meadow). I didn't go on any blues there last year. This year I have progressed to a lower intermediate level. I was able to ski the easy blues at Beaver Creek and most blues at Northstar. I really enjoyed the Ax handle and Powder Bowl runs at Northstar. Drifter and Castle Peak were a bit challenging.

    I'm looking for recommendations on trails with similar difficulty where I can do a lot of laps and gain confidence. I won't be taking lessons but I will do some drills. I like long trails with consistent grade rather than steep sections and flat traverses. For example I don't like the East ridge & Dutchman combo at Northstar. It would be great to know what areas to go to and how to escape the crowds.PCMR is huge so I it would be good to know where I should go in advance.

    Hoping to get some recommendations from people who know this area well. @Wasatchman @tromano?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. chilehed

    chilehed Tom Skier

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    I've only been to PCMR a few times, and am most familiar with the PC side. Never been to BC or Northstar so I can't compare them.

    Homerun (take Payday lift, then Bonanza) is really long and has a lot of consistent sections, but as the main line to the bottom it can get crowded. Fortunately it's pretty wide.

    Jupiter Access/Thayne's Canyon (take Crescent Express, then Pioneer) is also long and consistent as I recall, and less likely to be crowded, but when you get to the bottom you have to take at least three lifts to get back (King Con/Silverlode/Pioneer would work). It's also very scenic.

    On either of those you can link turns for a very long time.

    Let me know how the lobster rolls are at Freshies. Haven't managed to get there yet, but they're supposed to be like in New England.
     
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  3. Wasatchman

    Wasatchman over the hill Skier

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    For beginner and lower intermediate, the Park City side of the mountain offers more variety than the Canyons side. The greens and blues off the Payday and Bonanza Express lift in particular would be good to start with. Homerun in particular is a nice long green run that is great for beginners such as your wife. If you progress from the blues in that area, the King Con lift has a huge amount of intermediate terrain. In fact, it's the best part of the mountain for intermediates, as they have runs running from lower intermediate to blues all the way up to what an upper intermediate would enjoy. In general, the runs on King Con get progressively harder the closer you get to the two black diamond runs. In other words, start at King Con run and progressively work your way toward Monitor.

    If you want to stay on the Canyons side, then I recommend High Meadow (beginner) and Saddleback (intermediate). On Saddleback, start at Kokopelli and then hit up Snow Dancer once you get sick of Kokopelli. If you're feeling confident on those two runs, then go ahead and hit up the other blues off of Saddleback. After that, your next bet is the blue runs off of Orange Bubble and Sunpeak Express. The hardest blue on the Canyons side is probably the start of Another World on the Tombstone lift. The first part of Another world has a steeper blue pitch and can even get a bit bumped up mid-day if there is new snow. I would generally avoid the Tombstone side as there is not much intermediate terrain, and as I mentioned, the start of Another World is often one of the most challenging blue runs on the Canyons side. Tombstone can also get busy during crowded times as it is a main gateway for people navigating from one side of the mountain to the other.

    Enjoy the trip!
     
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  4. Bobby Jeremy

    Bobby Jeremy At the base lodge Skier

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    Just got done with eight days at PCMR, staying on the Canyons side. Skied with my family, all of whom are lower intermediates, in the afternoons so I got to see a lot of the terrain you are asking about.

    I agree with what Wasatchman wrote and would add one thing. My family loved the trails that wind through the Colony part of the Canyons - Harmony, Serenity, Sanctuary, Escape, etc. - and also the blues off the back of the Dreamcatcher lift - Trance and Reaper.
     
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  5. New2

    New2 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Keep in mind that trail ratings don't necessarily mean everything, but this map from a couple years ago is great because it shows easier blue runs with one square, and more challenging ones with two squares. On the Canyons side, I agree with Wasatchman's recommendations with the caveat that these will likely be the most crowded areas of the mountain, too. The terrain under Flat Iron, Dreamcatcher, Dreamscape, Day Break, and Peak 5 includes a lot of stuff you should enjoy and it'll be less crowded, but they require a bit of work to get to and the lifts there are relatively slow.
     
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  6. tromano

    tromano Goin' the way they're pointed... Skier

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    I can second most of the good recommendations already provided. Canyons side is kind of sprawling and exploring part of the fun. For a lower intermediate wanting to hang out in one area, on the canyons side I can recommend the following lifts:
    • Saddleback
    • Iron Mountain
    • Dreamscape - slow lift, quieter area
    • Day Break - slow lift, quieter area
    • The colony longer runs with lots to explore. (ride both tombstone and peak 5 lifts)
    From the PC base, I agree with @Wasatchman
    • Payday
    • Bonanza
    • King Con - primo intermediate area
    • Thaynes, Pioneer, and McConkeys - a few blue runs off these are worth exploring if you want a change of scenery from aspens to alpine.
     
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  7. Wasatchman

    Wasatchman over the hill Skier

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    Yeah, agree with you and others if there is time, then Dreamscape/Dreamcatcher are worth checking out which I was remiss in leaving out of my last post. Even if nothing else to have lunch at Cloud Dine and soak in the views. But as pointed out, the lifts are slow so not the best to spend lots of time lapping if maximum skiing is the top priority. But agree, worth checking out for sure. The views are a bit better up there as well. I'd still recommend starting day at Saddleback and then heading over to Dreamscape/Dreamcatcher around lunch.

    The only point where I'd disagree a bit with others is Colony runs (Harmony, Serenity, etc.). They are worth a try once or twice for the novelty IMHO, but I do not recommend extensive time on these given the OPs preferences. For one thing, they are not quite the pitch the OP was looking for as they have extensive flatter sections. They are also narrow in parts limiting drill techniques. Most people spend a lot of time simply straightlining these runs so not the best to work on skills. And they tend to dump you at Tombstone lift where crowds can pile up at busy times. Finally, these are not runs you really want to lap given they require a couple of lifts to access. I view these runs as more like roads or access points to get from Dreamscape/Dreamcatcher/Peak 5 side to get back other side of the mountain. Or runs to take if you're just looking to take it easy. If the OP ventures to Dreamscape/Dreamcatcher, he will have to take a run like Harmony to get back anyway, so I wouldn't recommend he goes too out if his way to hit these up IMHO.

    All the suggestions on this thread are good and should be really helpful to the OP. Stuff like this is what makes Pugski such a great resource and online community.
     
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  8. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Thanks for the recommendations and discussions. Pugski has been such a great community. Such discussions really helps make the most of limited ski time. I'd love to go for a drink with you guys if you are around this weekend in Park City.

    The old map from @New2 will be handy. I will go to the slower lifts if there are crowds. I planned a trip on for a weekend before long weekend to avoid the crowds. Let's see if that hypothesis holds. It doesn't hold in California as many people buy black out passes so the weekends around long weekend are just as busy.

    We will take Frostwood to Orange Bubble in the morning and then do laps on Saddleback and follow the plan laid out by @Wasatchman. I think I will also spend the afternoon magic hour (3 to 4) lapping Saddleback as it's open till 4 PM and come down on Kokopelli -> Echo -> Boomer -> Upper look out ridge and then download on Frostwood. I don't get too bored doing the same runs over and over especially when I find a run that is just a bit out of my comfort level. It helps me build confidence with repetition. I lapped the Red Buffalo & Cinch area at Beaver Creek for 10 days straight!

    One last question is which lifts serve a big vertical. Trail maps don't make it easy to figure that out.
     
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  9. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Day 1 of the trip: Lost an hour in the morning for breakfast and hour to pick up skis. I brought my skis but my buddy didn't. He made an advance reservation but The Canoyons rental store was a total s**tshow. They were super unorganized and rude. Anyway, I'm convinced that it makes sense to pay baggage fees instead of wasting morning magic hour in rental line.

    Then the crowds for Red Pine or Orange Bubble were incredibly long.. I felt like I was in Tahoe. I think we must have waited for 45 mins+ to get on Orange Bubble. We found some peace and quiet on Sun Peak where we did a lot of laps. In the afternoon, we went over to Iron Mountain. I really enjoyed the Copper run there. The snow was great. Many runs were starting to get very bumpy in the afternoon and there were a lot of pushed piles. I struggle in those conditions. I only did 18k vertical.

    I'll check the grooming report tomorrow to find runs that were groomed overnight. We will try to get in the Orange Bubble line at 8:30. No sit down breakfast tomorrow. We can't take chances with the crowds. We will mostly stick to Iron Mountain and Dreamscape lifts.

    Given how many people visit this resort, I'm sure VR is collecting a lot of revenue here. But VR doesn't seem to invest in the facilities here. Canyons side did not feel like a premium resort at all. My Beaver Creek experience was positive but the crowds at other VR properties have really convinced me to not ski the VR places next year.
     
  10. New2

    New2 Getting off the lift Skier

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    I haven't visited Beaver Creek, so I don't have the comparison, but I've thought of Canyons Village as well-maintained and reasonably upscale... not as lux as Snowbasin or Sun Valley, but easily within the next tier of premium resorts (along with Telluride, Heavenly, and Deer Valley; more luxurious than others). I've never seen it swamped with 45-minute lines, though, so that might strain it quite a bit. And maybe the "Millennium Mediterranean" look at Canyons leaves you less impressed after seeing it so overdone in Silicon Valley.

    There are a lot of destinations I haven't visited on both passes, but based on my experiences and overall impression, if "premium resort" is an important part of the experience, the Epic resorts are probably as good as it gets (particularly with the addition of Snowbasin and Sun Valley).
     
  11. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    Sunday and Monday turned out to be great for us with 27k and 28k vertical feet respectively. We didn't lose morning time in picking up rentals however we also weren't able to get in line before 9 am. We were tired and slept longer. We waited around 15-20 minutes to go up on Orange bubble. This is the main bottleneck on the mountain. Once we were up on the mountain, it was Utah skiing like we imagined. We could get on the lift after 5-10 chairs. We did a lot of laps on Tombstone in the morning and 3-4 PM; Iron mountain in between.

    Thanks to @Wasatchman's advice, we did Another World when it was freshly groomed. It was fantastic. We went back in the late afternoon and it was very well bumped and difficult to navigate. Our favorite run was Mercury on Iron Mountain. I loved the consistent slope and minimal amount of flat sections. We did most laps on that run. Leadfoot was also fun on Sunday when it was groomed the night before and Copperhead on Monday.

    Monday was a 9" bluebird powder day and we attempted to ski powder on a few runs and failed miserably. Took multiple falls and then gave up on skiing powder and stuck to groomed runs instead.

    I think the fresh snow made it easy for us to ski steeper groomed slopes like Mercury. I felt pumped and super confident until I tried another blue slope (lookout ridge) in the late afternoon. It was groomed the night before but by the afternoon it was uneven, slightly bumped with a lot of pushed piles and I struggled on it. It gave me a reality check that I need to work on improving a lot of skills.

    Your observations are accurate. My reaction was based primarily based on the condition of restrooms. The restrooms were in very poor condition. There was no soap in one, while other one had broken faucets. The floors and walls were quite dirty as well. As you mention, it is probably due to the strain put on the facilities by the crowds. Also, they didn't have active line management like at Northstar.

    You start expecting more out of a place when window ticket prices are $175. I know only a small subset of people on the mountain are paying those prices.

    In conclusion, this PCMR trip turned out to be awesome. The mountain is large enough that after you get away from the base, the crowds spread. It's pretty convenient from SLC, which is a great airport to fly into b/c of direct Southwest flights from SJC. Clearly this convenience is responsible for the crowding. I was also able to redeem free nights at the Waldorf, which was great for skiing Canyons. So even with the cost of flight, it turned out to be cheaper trip over all than going to Tahoe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  12. Wasatchman

    Wasatchman over the hill Skier

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    Glad the trip ended up well. I hear you on the crowds at the base. The crowds on Sunday at the base of the PC side were the worst I've ever seen on a non-holiday. All of the Utah resorts are getting crowded unfortunately. You came at a good time given all the new snowfall though.

    It has been a while since I have spent time on Iron Mountain, so good to hear your perspective that it was your favorite part of the Canyons side.

    On your next visit to the PC side, make sure you check out the King Con lift. I think you'll enjoy the amount of blue terrain off of that lift.
     
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  13. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    On Sunday, I think we got lucky because Quicksilver gondola was closed. Those on the park city side could not come to Iron Mountain easily and we enjoyed the short wait times for lift.
     
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  14. Thread Starter
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    marjoram_sage

    marjoram_sage newly addicted to skiing Skier

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    I had a fabulous 3 days in Park City Mar 8, 9, 10. I posted a couple of pics in this thread
    https://www.pugski.com/threads/park-city-ut-3-12-19.14646/#post-339631

    It was not crowded at all. Wife also really liked the beginner terrain. The first time chair at PC base is one of the best. The Bonanza area does get crowded so in that sense, PC is not as good as Beaver Creek. Once you get beyond beginner stage, there is so much terrain here, you can always find a lift with few people. We will probably be back to PCMR in 2021 to redeem points at slopeside lodging.

    Thanks @Wasatchman for the advice and tour on Sunday.
     
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  15. Wasatchman

    Wasatchman over the hill Skier

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    Thanks as well @marjoram_sage. Let's do it again next year. You are super nice and fun to ski with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019

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