By Joel Gratz, Founding Meteorologist Posted 11 years ago December 17, 2012

Utah: Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird, Park City

Day #1: Solitude

We woke up in Salt Lake City on Sunday morning with a 12 inch report at Solitude and 21 inches in the last three days. I had heard from a friend that there are no crowds at Solitude, but I didn't really believe it. A thirty minute drive from Salt Lake City with nearly two feet of fresh snow and there would be nobody there? Yeah, right.

Actually, that was right. Here are a few pictures to take you through this amazing day, which included a very fortunate moment where we got to the summit just as the ropes were dropped on Honeycomb Canyon.

No lift lines at SolitudeNo lift lines at Solitude

Untracked snow. How deep?Untracked snow

25 inches. Where?25 inches

Honeycomb CanyonHoneycomb Canyon

Drew going deepDrew going deep

Drew explodingDrew exploding

Joel in the faceJoel in the face

Joel trying to breatheJoel trying to breathe

Beers at the Silver ForkBeers at the Silver Fork

Day #2: Brighton

After staying at a friend's cabin in Big Cottonwood Canyon, we woke up to another double-digit snow report and drove a few minutes further up the canyon, past Solitude, and into the parking lot of Brighton. I love resorts that have great skiing but a laid-back vibe, and Brighton fits the bill. I didn't manage to take that many pictures because I was having too much fun skiing and chasing friends around the mountain. One quick story: we didn't get first chair and instead probably got 567th chair. Usually this would mean that fresh lines would be tracked out, but not at Brighton. Right off the chairlift we hit a mostly untouched bump run with a foot of fresh snow. That set the tone for the rest of the day as we ducked in and out of trees easily finding untracked lines. There were still a few rocks and downed trees that we had to watch out for, but another foot or two of snow would likely cover those for the rest of the season.

A beautiful, low-key A frame building at the base of Brighton
Brighton's quaint base area 

Day #3: Snowbird

It's always a pleasure to drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon as the resorts along this road - Alta and Snowbird - are famous to anyone that loves powder. We made a quick stop at Alta to say hi to some folks including Connie Marshall (the Director of Marketing and a wondful woman who has been with Alta for a long time), and then headed a few minutes back down the canyon to Snowbird where we were meeting up with some friends. I can't wait to get back to Alta, but today was a Snowbird day. Another fresh batch of snow had fallen the night before and some areas were loaded up with another foot of powder.

The day started with me forecasting (as usual) as my friend's dog Marlow snuggled with me. He's a big dog that thinks he's a lap dog.
Marlow cuddles with me as I make my morning forecast

We hit the opening of Mineral Basin and were rewarded with 14" of fresh.
Over a foot of fresh at Snowbird's mineral basin 

Mark Kogelmann of Soul Ryder Productions finds an airy view above the tram.
Mark Kogelmann of Soul Ryder Productions finds an airy view 

Later in the day, we also hit the opening of the Road to Provo terrain. Fun stuff!
Road to Provo terrain at Snowbird 

Day #4: Park City

It takes about the same amount of time to get to Park City from Salt Lake City even though it's further away. Solitude and Brighton are in Big Cottonwood Canyon and Snowbird and Alta are in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Both of these canyons are accessed from the Salt Like City side of the Wasatch Mountains (the west side). Park City on the other hand is on the east side of the Wasatch Mountains, so you take I-80 east from SLC to get there. The interstate is a quick drive, though, and in about 35 minutes we were nosing into a mostly empty Park City Mountain Resort parking lot, only a few strides away from the lift. I had gotton the vibe that Park City is a great family resort with relaxed terrain, so while I was excited to check this place out and enjoy a more resorty atmosphere, I had low expectations for the skiing. Boy was I wrong. Yes, there is a beautiful base area and the size and family feel of Park City was a big difference from the more basic and skiing-focused feel of the first three resorts that we visited. But I was most surprised by the terrain. Even after a day had gone by since their report of 16" of freshies, our first lift ride up the moutain revealed lots of untracked lines through widely-spaced Aspens and very few people on the mountain. Our legs were shot from three long days of skiing powder, so my friend Drew and I initially wanted to cruise some groomers. We found the grooming and terrain perfect for this and enjoyed arcing turns in the soft corduroy. As former east-coast skiers, Drew and I covet the chance to make GS turns on gripable snow with no ice (a rarity back east), so we warmed up with fast turns and immediately our smile began to grow. Then we played around in the woods finding deep fresh snow, and then moved higher up the mountain to enjoy some steeper pitches and also a hike to Puma Bowl which had just opened. Our last run of the day was the best with fresh tracks down 18" of fluff in Puma, and we headed out of Park City happy happy campers. The resort I would compre it to most would be Vail in that Park City offers something for everyone. Want cruisy groomers? No problem. Want powderlicious tree runs? Got it. Want steeper runs or hike-to terrain? Have that covered. It's rare to find a resort that can make people happy with vastly different terrain, but Park City fits the bill. I can't wait to go back.

Plenty of fresh snow available the day after a storm.Plenty of fresh snow available the day after a storm

Yes, even powder forecasters love to rip groomers (above the clouds)!Yes, even powder forecasters love to rip groomers (above the clouds)!

Over a foot of freshies in the north-facing trees.Over a foot of freshies in the north-facing trees.

Great terrain up high...McConkey's bowl on the left and Jupiter Peak on the right.Great terrain up high...McConkey's bowl on the left and Jupiter Peak on the right.

Not a bad way to end the day in Puma Bowl.Not a bad way to end the day in Puma Bowl.

Fresh tracks in Puma Bowl. We came down a line on looker's right.Fresh tracks in Puma Bowl. We came down a line on looker's right.

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About The Author

Joel Gratz

Founding Meteorologist

Joel Gratz is the Founding Meteorologist of OpenSnow and has lived in Boulder, Colorado since 2003. Before moving to Colorado, he spent his childhood as a (not very fast) ski racer in eastern Pennsylvania.

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