Sunday, April 5, 2009

Snowbasin

Blogs are funny things. It's interesting how you get to know folks without ever actually meeting them just by reading their blog. I've followed the adventures of Daren and Tanner for a while. So when the former mentioned in a post last week that he had two free passes to Snowbasin and asked if there were any takers for the second pass, I left a comment. He kindly followed up to offer me the pass and we made plans to head up together on Saturday.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about skiing with Daren since he normally spends his time on the slopes with Tanner who's as fast on snow as he is on dirt or pavement. Lucky for me Daren's a patient guy and didn't seem to mind when he had to wait as I put myself back together after hitting the deck or stopped to catch my breath mid-way down a run (more on this below). The cat tracks especially gave me trouble due to the flat light in the morning. In the space of a second I'd go from making turns down the hill to slamming into a cat track I couldn't see. This resulted in at least two good falls which I can still feel today thanks to a sore shoulder, wrist and knee.

Another thing that proved challenging for me was the amount of vertical feet we had to ski each run. Snowbasin doesn't really have any lifts that serve just the top half of the mountain (the Porcupine triple chair being the sole exception on Saturday). This forces you to ski from the top (~9,000 feet) to the bottom (~6,500 feet) each run. What's tricky about this is that with the elevation change comes varying snow conditions. For example, at the top you ski soft, light snow that gradually becomes harder (in the morning) or heavy and wet (in the afternoon) as you descend. Conditions were really fun up high (though at times visibilty was limited, especially on the Strawberry side of the resort) and if there was a way to ski just the top half it would have been awesome. On a true powder day this wouldn't be an issue but since it's been a while since the last significant storm it ended up being a bit of a drag, especially later in the day when my legs started to get tired.

We finished the day with 22,700 feet of vertical which ties my previous best for a day of skiing. Most of our time was spent on the John Paul express quad though we also explored the terrain served by the Needles and Strawberry gondolas. We only rode the Mt Allen Tram once, as visibility was sketchy at best that high. However, we found the sweetest snow on our run down from the top and I was given a taste of what the Olympic downhill racers experienced (the one notable exception being that I made turns on my way down the mountain). I read that the men hit 80 mph within 6 seconds of dropping in. Looking over the edge from the top of the tram I can see how that would be possible. Those dudes are seriously crazy!

It should be noted that the facilities at Snowbasin are nothing short of amazing. We had the pleasure of using the bathroom twice and it was an experience rivaled only by the Grand America. Unfortunately my business was simple in nature and i didn't get to enjoy one of the marble tiled rooms where the toilets were located. I did, however, take a quick look inside one of the private roims (i can't bring myself to call it a stall) and regret not taking a picture. Quite impressive. And lest you think all the money was spent on the bathrooms, we shared a gondola with an older lady who told us about her hardwood ski locker that cost her $600/year!

1 comment:

KDAY said...

glad you got some verticle in at Snowbasin. Sorry it wasn't a classic day. My buddy was up there skiing deep pow off of No Name all day. Sounds like it was hit and miss.

Maybe we'll get up together sometime.