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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snowbird Tips, Tricks, & Little Known Facts

Snowbird......one of my favorites!  I was just there for a last minute powder ski trip, which as you can see from the pictures below, was pretty spectacular.  During the time I was there it snowed over 50".  When it wasn't snowing it was Bluebird, and the glory of the Wasatch was shining bright.


The Tram

If you are a serious skier or snowboarded and you haven't been to Snowbird you are clearly missing out.  It has some of the best snow in the country if not the world and the terrain is awesome, especially once you learn your way around.  The Snowbird Tram is classic and typically the best way to ride the mountain on a powder day.  Nothing like getting 3000ft of vertical on every run!

Looking into Little Cloud/Regulator Johnson


Tips, Tricks, & Little Known Facts
  1. Stay at one of the lodges in Snowbird Village, NOT down in Salt Lake City or over in Park City.  Snowbird is known for its snow and its abundance.  To get to Snowbird you have to drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Because the road is at the base of the canyon it is susceptible to avalanche danger from each side.  The road often closes, so to ensure your best chance at Powder - stay up at the mountain.  Plus who doesn't love a nice swim overlooking the slopes your were just shredding:
The Lodge at Snowbird


2. Go When it Snows.  Snowbird is relatively easy to access out of Salt Lake City, do the last minute booking when you see the storms on their way.  You will be treated to some of the best powder skiing around:





3. Avalanche Danger is the Real Deal Out Here.  With steep slopes and large amount of slopes, avalanche danger is a very real thing.  Make sure to err on the side of caution and DO NOT go into closed areas, there could be fatal consequences.   When I was there during the one night the danger was so high they wouldn't let you leave your lodge and go outside.

4. Snowpack is a Big Deal - Being from the East Coast, I am not a savvy powder hound just yet.  I do however know that the snowpack changes from storm to storm, season to season.  The condition of the snowpack determines how safe it is to ski and snowboard and how much of the mountain will be open.  This year the snowfall total has been way down for much of the continental US, including Snowbird, and it also is very unstable.  The little snow they have gotten has turned to icy layers followed by granular layers.  Any snow on top of this is very susceptible to avalanches (see point #3).  The little known resulting fact is that because of this in years when the snowpack is unstable many area on the mountain remained closed or delayed in opening.  When I was there, Mineral Basin (backside) was closed the entire time as was Road to Provo and Baldy. 

Untouched Mineral Basin


5. General Grits - Tucked in the back of the first floor of the tram center kicks out killer breakfast sandwiches and burritos as well as some great sandwiches (go for the Regulator Johnson).  When you walk into General Grits is looks like a general store, in the back they have the deli where they whip up some killer ski food.

Fuel Up at General Grits

6. Wake Up Early and Get to the Tram Early on Powder Days.  Getting first tram or first lift sets you up for a morning of fresh tracks if you know what you are doing.  Ski hard in the morning and then take a break later if you need.  I know it isn't always easy to get out of bed but trust me, it is well worth the reward of blower powder! 

Wake up Early and Avoid Lines like This





What are your tips from Snowbird or other hot spots? 













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