Library to the Lift: Solitude
Mar 17 2014
Born and raised on the East Coast (shout out to Connecticut), I used to dream about skiing in Utah; Snowbird, Alta, Park City, Canyons – all were on my radar by the time I was 12. The mere thought of these massive western mountains would make me squeal, and envious of those who got to ski there. After my family made the quintessential ski vacation “out west” during my sophomore year of high school, I had officially made up my mind: moving to Utah would allow me to get the most pitted and slay the maximum amount of righteous, tasty pow pow, whilst fulfilling my scholastic ambitions. Westminster College was the perfect fit, and now, 6 years later, I call Salt Lake City home. A few of my friends from high school were evidently on the same page, also migrating to Salt Lake to study at the U. Last weekend, for the sake of nostalgia and this blog- I asked one of them to join me. He agreed. He also took these pictures.
Among the SLC college crowd, it’s safe to say that the social aspect of skiing carries a bit more weight than usual. After all, we have 7 pretty unique options virtually in our backyard. This makes the, “Where are you getting your pass this year?” conversation ubiquitous throughout the fall, and the final decisions people make are often based on where friends and roommates have chosen to go. Most ski club students opt for places like Snowbird, Alta or Park City. If they settle on Big Cottonwood Canyon, it’s almost always Brighton, which has probably the most devout local following of any mountain in the area and seems to cater to the college crowd. Still, another option lies just a few minutes down the road, with its lack of popularity translating directly to empty lift lines and untouched snow: Utah’s pure, unadultered, hidden gem – Solitude.
Driving down Big Cottonwood Canyon with my friends Moby and Brian after a morning tour a few weeks ago, I brought up the idea of buying a season pass there.
“Yeah, if you wanna ski with 80 year olds all day and not go fast,” they retorted in perfect unison.
I chuckled, and not even because I knew I was going to quote them in this blog (aliases were used).
Admittedly, there was a bit of truth to what Moby and Brian said: we were politely “red flagged” by Ski Patrol after an all-out, summit-to-base, SSX On Tour-style race down the mountain for apparently being “out of control” and “flat-basing”. We also met a nice man on the chair lift who happened to be exactly 80 years old. Still, despite these specific stereotypes being oddly accurate, we had an awesome day. Zero lift lines, blue skies, soft snow – we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves. While there hadn’t been any recent snow, I will say with 100 percent certainty that this is the place to be when it does. Of course, it’s a lot smaller than Little Cottonwood’s resorts, but you won’t find trams full of “I shred harder than everyone else” skiers that track out almost everything in bounds by 9:30 on a mid-week powder day. Honeycomb Canyon gives you a ton of fun, steep options and plenty more with a little extra traversing, and there’s fun tree skiing to be had all over.
I’ve heard it called, “Utah’s best kept secret” in the past, and how it is so aptly named. While newer than most of Utah’s classic resorts like Alta and Brighton, its luxuries are limited. Basically, it’s a bare bones ski area, yet it has a lot more to offer than most people think.
To the out-of-state population, Solitude is a much lesser known ski destination - I myself can attest to that. For most local college kids though, it’s obviously no real secret. However, there is an odd sort of stigma attached to this place that is unwarranted and a bit disappointing. For those of us willing to give it a chance and ignore these preconceived notions, it’s an amazing place to go skiing. But until the rest of Utah realizes that, I’ll happily have it all to myself.