With the warm before the storm making it feel more like spring skiing today I headed over to Park City Mountain Resort to spin a few laps and check out what's open and what's new for this season.
Looking at the trail map at the top of the Pay Day lift I noticed that the map is divided into various zones with each zone containing a description of the type of skiing for that area. Additionally there were a number of black rated runs on the map that has a "Signature Run" symbol next to it which I had never seen before. The ever friendly mountain host was eager to answer my questions. Here are the two things I learned:
- Mountain Zones - Park City has seven different zones that span the 3300 acres of skiing and riding terrain. Each zone has a certain type of feel and/or terrain. This helps new and visiting skiers to eliminate wasted time looking for that perfect area of the mountain that is fit for them. For example, if you're an intermediate skier and want to ski as many intermediate runs as possible (both those that are immaculately groomed and a few that are challenging with bumps) then the King Con zone is your best ticket. It has the most intermediate terrain of any zone. If you wanted to find a zone that had a little bit of every trail rating then the Silverlode/Banaza zone is your ticket. This zone is accessed by two lifts of the names of this zone.
- Signature Runs - I had never seen a symbol like the signature runs on a trail map and after counting I found that there were 14 of them. But what is a signature run? Once again, the helpful host set me straight. A signature run is a ski run that is rated with a black or advanced rating but which is part of the runs that get groomed on a regular basis, rotating among the other signature runs. What this type of run provides is the challenge of a steep pitch without the additional challenge of varying snow and surface conditions. If you're an intermediate skier looking to step up your game or you just want to rip a black run like you've never done before, don't miss a signature run.
As I was riding the lift with a couple of guys who were sessioning the park one of them pointed out Willy's Run which is on the front side of the mountain in the Ski Team zone. He mentioned that his dad's favorite thing about skiing at Park City is the signature runs and that each day that his dad is up skiing he'll call his son to tell him which signature run is open....and apparently Glory Hole is his favorite.
So take it from a local - when Glory Hole is the groomed signature run it's not to be missed. As for which zone it's in, you'll have to find out for yourself - check out the interactive trail map that shows each zone of skiing or just head on up to Park City and check it out for yourself.
Like other resorts in Utah the terrain is limited from what one may be used to but my gut tells me the storm this weekend will change things. Pay Day lift is open with the Pay Day and Home Run runs available. First time is open along with Three Kings that accesses 3 nice table top jumps which are on the Silver Hollow run. It's not to be missed.
It may not sound like much terrain and certainly isn't anywhere near the 3300 acres of fun that will be had soon but it was very enjoyable and perfect for getting a good ski workout and having fun. Plenty of people I spoke with were stoked at how good the experience was. I'm looking forward to getting back there soon.