Utah Tips for first-timers in Utah/SLC?

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by speedster, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    We're visiting SLC for the week heading into the MLK weekend. Any tips for us first-timers out there? Best ski areas to ski in, best rental shops for good/cheap demos, what skis to bring -- wide, easy flexing skis because there will be lots of soft snow on-piste in Jan or regular carving skis because all groomed trails will be skied in within an hour of the resort opening, etc. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. mdf

    mdf entering the Big Couloir Skier

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    What are you looking for? Challenge, good for learners, relaxed cruisers, perfect grooming, best odds of fresh snow, good food, bad food, cheapest, most luxurious, ski-in-out, short drive, least crowded, etc, etc ...
    Most of us have our favorites and our most-important criteria.

    The big changes in ski area ownership and common passes may make things significantly different this year, so there will also be some guesswork.
     
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  3. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Ooh, great question! We have the Ikon Pass so guess we have four places to choose from -- Alta/Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, and Deer Valley. We're looking for some variety over the week+ that we're there so we'd probably go to 2 if not 3 of them (or stick to 1 if y'all say the others don't even compare to that 1).

    Out of the ones you had mentioned, we're definitely not looking for a challenge. Our goal would be to have fun, and ski in as big a group as possible, so relaxed cruisers would rate pretty high! Our group has a couple of beginners and a few intermediate-experts, but the rest are all solid intermediates (blues and single diamonds on the east coast level). Perfect grooming and best odds of fresh snow would rate pretty high up also, followed by having good trails for the beginners/learners. The other things you mentioned don't matter at all!
     
  4. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Moved to Resort forum.
     
  5. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    ummm yeah all the groomed trails might be well skied but even at the more crowded area off pistes area that are inbounds can hold snow for at least the day of not mulipitle days sometimes.

    Id take a stiff 100mm ski that is longer than what you normally ski on, and rent of if you get a truly deep day. even on really hard days a normal carving ski in a pain in the butt at place at snowbird and stiff long 80-90mm skis is more fun even on the groomers.
     
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  6. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Oh really! That's interesting!
     
  7. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    yeah just avoid snowbird with the beginners and even arguably the "solid intermediates". Alta and Brighton are your best bets for what you seek. Solitude is fun as well and does have eaasier trails. snowbird really does nt have easier trail with Gad zoom and Peruvian depending on the snow can be challenging for most eastern intermediates unless they are being really modest.
     
  8. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Wow, again, thank you! Snowbird was actually at the top of our list!
     
  9. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    yeah I mean if the better skiers want to spend a day at Snowbird, and send the rest to alta it will work, but Snowbird isnt easy and it isnt welcoming, in fact there was a famous thread on Epic where I was one of the few telling these very beginner not to go to the bird and lets just say they had an epically awful time including a trip to the hospital.

    If you are trying to ski even easier blues from any lift other than Wilbere and Baby Thunder you are basically relegated to skiing cat tracks to flats to short and very steep pitches. Big Emma is marked a green and its 28 degree pitch......I have no idea what your home hill is but there is a good chance you dont even have something that steep there. Many of the blues have pitches in the low 30s.....not to mention the bird's grooming is not anything like Deer Valley, heck even next door Alta does a better job.

    for high intermediates to the pro though snowbird has some of the best inbounds off piste skiing in the lower 48. If you know the mountain really well you can still find snow days after a storm if you willing to hike, inbounds.

    this was taken 3 days after a storm and it plain sight from many lift.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Thank you, that is VERY helpful. So, as we'd rather stay in a group, I guess Snowbird is out (unless Alta and Snowbird are actually connected via trails and we can meet up for lunch together without having to get into the car and drive?). Out of Alta and Brighton then, if you had 8 days, how would you split between them? All 8 in Alta or 6 in Alta or 4 each? Also, how does Solitude compare to Alta and Brighton for what we'd be looking for?

    Deer Valley is probably too far for us as we're staying in Cottonwood Heights.
     
  11. Viking9

    Viking9 Getting off the lift Skier

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    You have to go to Deer Valley, don’t ask why, but I bet your group will have a GREAT time.
     
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  12. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Please tell me more! I have a convince a large group to drive over an hour each way to do that! "Because, Internet" isn't going to win the argument for me!
     
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  13. Viking9

    Viking9 Getting off the lift Skier

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    I can’t seem to figure out the quote thing but I believe you mentioned Relaxed Groomers, and there’s lots of them, there’s also great bump runs with just the right pitches for the better skiers to show off a little, or a lot.
    Getting to to take advantage of an upscale resort, an expensive one and it is expensive that features great food and service with a pass is something I think you should take advantage of.
     
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  14. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Thank you very much!
     
  15. scott43

    scott43 Making fresh tracks Skier

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    I'll echo what Josh says about Snowbird. I was mystified at the number of poor skiers trying to pinball their way down the icy cat tracks. I can't imagine they enjoyed their day. Meanwhile, there were wonderful, wide open blacks that were perfect but too intimidating for intermediates to get down. Don't be lured by how "great" Snowbird is..it's great..but for the right skiers.
     
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  16. KingGrump

    KingGrump Most Interesting Man In The World Team Gathermeister

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    What Josh said.
    Snowbird ★☆☆☆☆ campaign.

    What Viking said about your group is probably on point. I would also suggest DV for bulk of the time. The skiing is much better than most people will give them credit for. The on mountain food are some of the best you can find on a ski hill at very reasonable prices.
    A day each at Solitude and Brighton would also give you a good varied taste of the SLC sampler pack.
    The Ikon pass gives you 5/7 days at AltaBird. The so call combined resort. You can ski back and forth through Checkpoint Charlie between the two resorts. You can get to the Checkpoint Charlie from the top of Alta's Sugarloaf chair and The Baldy lift from Snowbird. No bus required.

    Probably the best game plan would be to ski each resort for a day to get a feel for them. Go back to the ones you like.
    Do DV on the anticipated busy day and/or weekends. They have a cap on day passes. Not sure how they are going to handle the cap with the new Ikon pass.
     
  17. bbinder

    bbinder Out on the slopes Skier

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    Deer Valley arguably has the most impeccable grooming of the mountains that are on the Icon pass. It can also be a spectacle to people watch. The service there is supposed to be above and beyond, but that was not my experience the one day I skied there. However, I did have one of the best lunches of my life there for a price that was equivalent to a burger, fries, and drink at nearby Park City.

    All of the mountains on the Icon pass are worth checking out - there is a slight difference in the vibe at each one, and that is sort of fun to see. If you are going to stick to groomers, then I would make the case that any of these mountains may feel a little too familiar after a few days of skiing. If you have not skied in the western US much, the this may not be a concern because the large size of each resort will overcome any feelings of boredom from skiing the same trails over and over. For me, the fun of skiing any of these places is to get off of the groomed and away from the crowds. The caveat is that I know most of these mountains pretty well - whenever I am at a new place, I feel more comfortable exploring the off piste with someone who knows their way around.

    Josh knows Snowbird as well or better as anyone that you will run across, and I definitely take his suggestions seriously. However, I have spent a week at Snowbird with some low intermediates, and everyone had a good time. I believe that the Icon pass gives you an “Alta-bird” ticket, so you can ski from one resort to the other. It is possible to meet for lunch, but not the easiest thing to do. But you can get a taste of each place on the same day.
     
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  18. Uke

    Uke Who am I now Skier

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    The drive to DV will be under 45 mins. Mine is 30-35 mins, I'm close to the mouth of Emigration Canyon.

    Honestly, for the group you describe, DV is the best choice. The least experienced skiers will be able to see most of the resort, the intermediates will be in love and the experts will find all the challenge they want. Keeping the group more or less together is also easier because of the variety of terrain available off most lifts. The food is better, you can leave your skis and poles at the resort over night, service is the best, grooming can't be beat and did I mention that the food is great.

    uke
     
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  19. Vince

    Vince Putting on skis Skier

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    So here is my take. As was mentioned before, Snowbird is a pretty challenging mountain and doesn't offer a whole lot for low end skiers. However, that being said you can dip in and out of Alta and Snowbird (with an alta/bird pass) via mineral basin. The mineral basin baldy chair is good to offer milder runs with pockets of steeper stuff in the middle. The disclaimer though is that mineral basin can be a zoo during/after a powder day, but usually the baldy chair doesn't get too crowded. You do have some options with wilber and baby thunder, the tricky thing about snowbird is that there are a decent amount of easier runs, but they often merge or require you to ski a couple of steeper pitches in the middle. As for Alta there's ton's of good terrain for everyone and there's a good range of terrain difficulty off the lift; however, alta does get the nick name "Another Long Traverse Ahead" for a reason... there's a lot of traversing to get to good terrain. Plus Alta doesn't allow snowboarders (if you have one in your pack).

    Brighton and Solitude are similar to Alta, where they have lots of different options for terrain difficulty. Brighton and Solitude have a bit more of a mellower pace than Snowbird or Alta (especially snowbird) and generally not as many people in a rush to clock more vertical (unless its a powder day ;) ). I like the tree skiing at Brighton, but be careful for some really flat spots under the crest express lift (it has a number of steep fun pockets to start out with and then it flattens out). The great western express is probably my favorite chair at Brighton, lots of good stashes and tree skiing in there. As far as the cottonwood resorts go, Brighton is the only one that actually has a decent park. Granted the saying at Snowbird & Alta is the mountain is the park, but if that is something people in your crew want, Brighton is going to be the place for that (Park City has some great parks though..). Solitude is a little easier to find your way down to the bottom from the top, there aren't a ton of hills, valleys, traverses, and chairs that lead to random spots, the mountain is pretty easy to navigate around. Solitude features an area with the hardest skiing in UT (IMO). If you do the long hike up the Honeycomb canyon area you can get into some really challenging terrain.
     
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  20. Thread Starter
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    speedster

    speedster Putting on skis Skier

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    Thank you all so much for such amazing advice!! So, it's going to be DV>Alta>Solitude>Brighton. We'll do one day in each, then stick with the best of the lot for the rest, and it sounds like it will be DV.

    Now on to the other minor questions:
    1. Do we all need to have >95 mm skis for the greens and blues on DV and Alta? Just took a poll and three people in the group don't have skis wider than 80 mm.
    2. What are the best shops in the area for renting wide skis (price-wise and also availability of good demo skis)?
     

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