Getting the flavor of...
Utah’s forgotten skier’s playground
Snowbasin, a ski resort in Utah’s Wasatch Range, feels these days like “one of the West’s best-kept secrets,” said Brian Clark in the Los Angeles Times. Snowbasin snared 15 minutes of fame when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, but since then, the 3,000-acre ski area has fallen off the public’s radar, even though it’s just 10 minutes farther from the Salt Lake City airport than hot spots like Deer Valley and Park City. When my son and I visited recently, we enjoyed short lift lines and often skied the mountain nearly alone. After riding a tram to the 9,500-foot summit, we were stunned by the views of Ogden Valley and the Great Salt Lake. Snowbasin encompasses “both challenging and mellow terrain,” with six peaks, numerous bowls, four terrain parks, and 16 miles of cross-country trails. I was determined to check out the Olympic downhill runs, but “I gulped as I sized them up, then decided to find an easier way down.”
Wyoming’s backcountry paradise
Grand Teton National Park “can inspire even the most ardent backcountry skiers,” said Matt Hansen in Powder magazine. “A quintessential symbol of American wilderness,” the park includes eight peaks of 12,000 feet or more, some with popular ski runs accessible only via climbing ropes. But options abound for all climbers, and “on most days all you need is a healthy set of lungs and solid avalanche awareness.” On a recent winter’s day, after a four-plus-hour climb up Prospectors Mountain with two guides from a Jackson-based outfitter, I am surprised to find two other skiers already at the summit. But our threesome is taking a different route down, and “not a single track sits before us.” We surf deep powder through a couloir that falls 2,400 feet through a granite tube, then carve our way to the bottom of a sunny canyon. We laugh and exchange high fives. “This is not ski mountaineering—this is powder skiing that changes your life.”