The O’Donnell’s spent the Presidents Holiday break skiing in Utah. We picked the kids up after school on Tuesday the 12th and caught the 5:30pm Delta non-stop flight from Newark to Salt Lake City. Spent the night at the airport Spring Hills Suites. On Wednesday Linda and I spent the day cruising the main trails at Solitude while the kids explored the two side canyons. The infrastructure, layout, and snow were good but the mountain had no pizzazz. Not worth a repeat visit.
At the end of the day we drove to Ogden Valley and checked into our Moose Hollow condo in the Wolf Creek Resort. Powder Mountain is at one end of the valley and Snowbasin at the other end. Unfortunately neither has any real onslope accommodations. Powder Mountain has a couple of overpriced condos and a time share resort which are in need of major upgrades. The Wolf Creek Resort is really the only option. The resort has older economy priced condos to luxury homes with private hot tubs, game rooms and multimedia rooms. We stayed in a mid-priced 3 bedroom, 3 & ½ bath condo with flat screen TVs, washer/dryer, fully equipped kitchen and gas fireplace for $250 a night. Snowbasin is a ½ hour drive from the resort on ‘all weather’ roads. Powder Mountain is a 15 minute drive up a steep canyon road similar to RT 17 over the gap. There is shuttle service to both ski resorts but I found renting an AWD car worth the money. Rented a Chevy Suburban from Enterprise for $465 a week.
This was our fifth trip to the Ogden Valley and in the past we always spent the last day skiing Snowbasin. It is closer to the airport, has impressive day lodges, great food, high tech lifts, & good snow. It is a large mountain with a variety of terrain and worth a visit or two but this year we skied all five days at Powder Mountain.
Powder Mountain is the Mad River Glen of the west. It a rustic layback place and it is huge, 4,700 inbound acres. I paid $55 for adult lift tickets using readily available discounts and $35 for Kat’s Jr. (12 & under) ticket. Lunch consisted of over cooked and overpriced cheese burgers or pizza eaten at communal tables. The pizza was freshly made in a real pizza oven and very good. A huge piece of thin crust pizza (almost a quarter of a pie) cost $4. Best deal on the mountain.
Powder Mountain is a top down resort where you ski down from the lodge/parking lot to the main lifts. The Timberline triple serves a bowl with a variety of terrain including cruisers, steep chutes, low end expert tree shots and some wide open nicely pitched bump runs. I spent several afternoons exploring and enjoying this area. The Paradise fixed quad provides access to truly expert terrain down all four sides of a ridge. I’m talking cliffs, rocks, tight trees, hold on for dear life steep terrain. The Hidden Lake detachable quad serves a huge area which has terrain for all levels of skiers and tastes. At the top of Hidden Lake the Sunrise surface lift provides access to Cobabe Canyon. This is the place to go if you like to explore. It has terrain for everybody and powder can be found long after the rest of the mountain is skied off. The area sees little use because of its limited lift capacity and remoteness. The Sundown double serves a satellite area that is primarily used for night skiing and as a beginners area. But it is worth exploring because of several fun intermediate/low end expert runs.
Now it’s time to talk about the non-lift served areas. ‘Powder Country’ is basically the back side of the resort and can be enter through avalanche gates from the top of the Hidden Lake or Sundown lifts. The terrain from the Hidden Lake lift is mostly steep tree skiing. The Sundown lift provides access to open bowls, snow fields, ridges and gullies. From either you end up on the access road where a shuttle bus takes you back to the base lodge. At the top of the Sundown lift a snow cat takes you up Lighting Ridge for $18 per ride. From the top of Lighting Ridge the options are limited only by how far you are willing to hike or traverse. Powder Country and Lighting Ridge are wonderful but they are for top skiers or those who are very adventuresome.
Utah has snow but it is not an epic year. All the terrain at Power Mountain was open but it was showing wear & it did not snow while we were there. I got beat up in Powder County trying to plow though the mounds of heavy snow & I did not attempt Lighting Ridge this year. But the kids had no trouble with the snow and skied all over the mountain. In fact I hired them a guide for two days so they could explore the more remote peaks. The snow in the trees was great and the popular lines down the open bowels skied well. The cruisers were groomed to perfection and were a delight to ski.
Lift lines were nonexistence. There were always empty chairs on the Paridise & Timberline lifts. By the afternoon there was a short delay at the Hidden Lake quad while people got organized into groups of four. The longest we waited was five minutes at the Cobabe Canyon surface lift.
Late in the week we meet a family from Maine & enjoyed skiing with them. The kids went off to explore the expert stuff while the men skied the more difficult lines just off the cruisers meeting up with the ladies who were enjoy the cruisers.
We drove into Salt Lake City one evening for dinner and to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse. I highly recommend visiting the city one evening. The choir is great and the city is fun to explore. Everyone recommended Carlos and Harley’s Fresh Mex Cantina in the valley but the night we went for dinner there was an hour plus wait so we ate at Harley & Buck’s. It was a bit expensive but I enjoyed my prime rib, Kat likedDo her salmon and Linda said her sea bass was good. Kevin fell asleep eating his burger.
Spent the last night at the airport Spring Hills Suites and caught an 8:30am flight back to Newark on the 19th. Had to change planes in Detroit and were delayed an hour and half because of delays in Newark. Finally arrived back at the house safe and sound at 9pm.