Monday, February 25, 2013

Solitude - The Fun Continues

I'm ba-ack!  Time for part two of my Utah adventure.

After two days at Alta, Kim and I were ready for more.  Time to check out another Salt Lake City ski area.  But which one?

Although I really wanted to ski Snowbird, it looked very crowded and full of snowboarders (since they weren't allowed at next-door Alta).  And someone on the lift told us all the snowboarders also like to go to Brighton.  But one young man recommended we try Solitude.  He said after Alta it was his favorite resort in the SLC area.

Size matters!  Click on any photo to enjoy a larger version.

Back on the slopes!

So our decision was made.  Solitude here we come!  But first, we had to dry all our gear, wet from two straight days of skiing.  How does one dry out wet boots and gloves when staying in a motel?  Well, you improvise a little.  We slid an end table in front of our room heater, and propped our boots on top.  Worked like a charm.

But first we gotta dry our gear

That evening the clouds opened up and zillions of white flakes fell from the sky.  It dumped snow all night.  In the morning we woke to five inches of sparkly fluff on the ground.  Kim and I were giddy - powder day!

Kim at Solitude

Solitude Mountain Resort is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It's the next canyon over from Alta/Snowbird.  Although such smaller than Alta, it looked to have some nice terrain.  Still very close to town, our bus whisked us to Solitude's Moonbeam base in no time.

The beautiful scenery from Solitude's slopes

What a beautiful place!  Although it lacked the steep, craggy mountains of Alta, Solitude was surrounded by wide, gentle mountains covered in aspens.  The canyon here was wider and the views more open.  The slopes were meticulously groomed, the Moonbeam Lodge gorgeous.  On top of everything, the slopes were covered with a thick blanket of new-fallen snow.

Lots of nice aspen trees

The day was frigid.  I didn't check the temperature because I was afraid to know how cold.  But we'd traveled here to ski, so Kim and I bundled up in our warmest layers and donned face masks.  Feeling like Michelin Men, my ski-buddy and I hit the lifts.

After a couple "warm-up" (ha-ha) runs, I suggested we hop on the Powderhorn II Lift.  It appeared to reach the top of an adjacent ridge where the skiing looked good.  Well, I've never been on such a slow chair in my life!  It plodded along at a snail's pace, an excruciatingly long ride in the bitter cold.  Both Kim and I's feet, hands and faces became numb.  Upon finally reaching the terminus and exiting, Kim adamantly declared she was not riding that lift again.    

Kim shows off her fat powder skis

I was sorry Kim felt that way, because off the ridge was some fun steeps covered with soft, fluffy pow.  I had a great run down to the bottom, then we headed to the Eagle Express Lift to check out things in its neighborhood.

Kim and I had discussed demo'ing some fat powder skis while in Utah.  But meager snowfall the prior two days hadn't quite warranted spending the bucks.  However, with today's ample white stuff, we hit Solitude's ski shop first thing, and were each outfitted with some wide boards.  It was great fun to blast through the new snow on some fatties.

Skiing down from the summit

Kim and I traveled all over Solitude's slopes, checking things out.  For a Sunday in February, we were amazed to find hardly any lift lines.  The place was full of families, which gave it a nice, relaxed atmosphere. 

Good friends and good times

For most of the morning, we explored the trails off the Eagle Express lift.  Lots of nice runs, but you had to be careful - some trails were full of huge moguls (almost Dolly Parton size!).  I made the mistake more than once turning into a run that was nothing but bump alley.  I don't mind skiing moguls, but Kim is not a fan.  Since I value her friendship, I quickly learned to look downslope first.

Solitude panorama (click to enlarge)

After a mid-morning warm up (our feet were freezing!) and more trips up Eagle Express, Kim and I decided to check out the other side of the resort.  We skied over to the Sunrise Lift and caught it en route to the Summit Chair.  The Summit chair was an old two-person buttwhapper lift, and loading was an adventure in itself.  But once on the very top, we took in the marvelous views.  Big Cottonwood Canyon spread out before us.  I hungrily looked down Honeycomb Canyon, but the steep, treed slopes weren't Kim's cup of tea.  So we made a couple of nice runs down the summit's front side.

Photographic proof that Kim skied the trees!

By then it was nearing 2:00 and our tummies were grumbling.  Time to ski down to the base lodge for some chow!  I soon discovered there was only one way down, via a run named "Deer Trail."  Following the other skiers, I didn't realize this trail flattens out dramatically (even going slightly uphill for a short distance).  I ran out of momentum, and ended up skating and poling a long ways.  Poor Kim was already tired, and I could almost hear her behind me muttering the "b" word.

Me and the tree get close

But we got down safely, and found a beautiful slopeside lodge with great food.  Our tummies happy once again, for our final hour I decided we should take some runs off of the Apex Lift.  But by now the nice fluffy powder had all been skied off, revealing old, icy snow underneath.  Not a fan of ice, I decided to check out a pretty aspen glade between the trails.  Although chewed up, the snow was still soft.  And the forest had ample gaps between trees.  A good place for the beginning tree skier.  It was so much fun, I even convinced Kim to give it a try.  And she liked it.  (See Kim, tree skiing is a blast!)

Love this sign!

By 3:30, we were cold and tired.  Three days of skiing in a row had taken its toll.  But I was so proud of Kim - she hung in there like a trooper!  Since we had some time to kill before the bus arrived, Kim and I hit the watering hole at the Moonbeam Lodge.  The bar had some signs on the wall advertising local beers.  I've seen many microbrews with creative names, but "Yard Sale Lager" is now my very favorite!  (And for those of you who don't ski, "yard sale" is slang for a wipeout so epic it scatters gear all over the slope.)

The perfect way to end a day of skiing!

I enjoyed my day at Solitude.  Although a smaller resort, it had a nice variety of runs, beautiful new lodges, friendly people, and small crowds.  (All they need to do is work on those slow, buttwhapper lifts!)

Cheers to three fabulous ski days in Utah!  But the fun wasn't over quite yet.  Although Kim and I were scheduled to fly home the next day, our flight didn't leave 'till evening.  That gave us most of the day to do something.  Time to see the sights in Salt Lake City!   

I'll tell you all about it in my next blog post......  :)


  1. I am smiling right now because you included my most beloved tree in this post...aspens! Next trip to visit my daughter, I know where I want to go :-)
    Eagerly awaiting more photos from gorgeous Utah!
    Blessings, Aimee
    PS: Congrats Kim on your conquering of the trees!

  2. Another fun day - how good did you sleep at night? :-)

  3. Nice pictures- looks like the fun really did continue.

  4. Don't be so quick to judge snowboarders; we're not all bad. The issue is teenage and 20-something boys. They're just as reckless on skis.

  5. That looks awesome - beautiful photos. You make me want to start skiing again, but I simply can't find boots that fit my feet any more.

  6. What beautiful photos! Those trees are so pretty!

  7. Linda, I feel so bad. When you told me you were coming here I wanted to e-mail you and say that I would love for you to either come visit of hook up and meet somewhere. Never got around to it and now it's too late. Darn! Would have loved to have visited with you and Kim! Love the Aspens and so happy that you enjoyed your stay. As you know, I have not hit the slopes in over 30 years. I can not imagine how tired you must have been after three days. Glad you got some fresh powder! Thanks for sharing with SYC.


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.