Part I - One man, one month, 367,000 vertical feet
Ski Utah Yeti
on April 15, 2011
My friend Edward set out with fresh legs to pursue his dream of skiing all that Utah could offer. Follow his two part journey as he logged over 367,000 vertical feet of skiing across Utah's 14 resorts.
Ski Utah invited me to write about my January devoted to skiing all eighteen (18) ski areas listed on the web site.
I left the office on January 4 and returned home on February 6 and when I started this adventure I had no idea what the meaning of “all” might be. Start north, work south, and without even trying, the ski geography of Utah falls in place: four great canyon areas: Ogden, Park City/Parley’s, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood, and the trip South. One outlier, Beaver Mountain, proved a challenge, but all meant all.
Aware that I was skiing alone, I put an “In Case of Emergency” card inside my jacket, with a local contact and Anne’s (my wife) cell phone, and off I went. From here I am on my actual journey.
1/4/2011 6:09 AM: Off today. I have had a lot of second guessing myself this past twenty four hours. It is a clear example of how your life is the result of your own decisions. I could have lived forever and never decided to do this. It would have mattered to nobody – but me.
1/7/2011 5:30 AM (mountain time). The travel really gets in the way. Arrive at midnight, find the car, sleep fast. Up and over to Utah Ski and Golf by eight o’clock. They are much better negotiators than I. Arriving at a month’s deal for their Gold package, I was out the door on my way to Wolf Creek. A small mountain, 1000 vertical feet, an ideal start for someone who lives eleven miles from the ocean. Crystal clear, fifteen degree weather, and 14,500 vertical feet in the afternoon. That’s a lot of runs, made possible with lay ‘em flat and let ‘em run terrain and no lines. By the end of the day the good man at the lift dismount and I got to know each other pretty well.
Thursday’s need to place a cell call forced a change from my original Beaver Mountain plan to Snowbasin - a change that saved me from freezing to death! Alternator went out. My electrical system shut down and I rolled into the Phillips 66 in Peterson and met Randy. No alternators in Morgan County, but he figured a recharge of my battery would get me the 22 miles into Ogden.
Today, back on the road to finish my altitude and physical preparation, I took on Homestead and Soldier Hollow, two of four areas listed as Nordic only. Homestead is not ready for prime-time, but Soldier Hollow, is, in the words of a University of Utah coach I met on the track, “a world class facility. “ The finest Classic Track I have ever seen and the skating track next to it perfectly corduroyed. Every kind of trail, short and long, beginner and expert, and the views were exhilarating. Two words to the neophyte (me): Bring plenty of clothes. I soaked through all of my clothes before and after lunch. And when the trail map tells you the trail (“The Hollow”) is four kilometers with some challenging uphill, don’t think about the uphill. By the time you have gone two kilometers uphill you are pretty tired and pretty wet, but think only of what now faces you: down. Muscle fatigue complicates poor technique and cross-country skiing downhill can develop into a catastrophic sport.
1/8/2011 6:35 AM Park City, after taking care of all the chores of moving in, I lay on my bed lacking energy to do anything but let the passive tv wash over me. Long sleep, and now I have a few hours to think before I hit the hill in Deer Valley. Whoa! There is a lot more to this trail map than I remember. I am going to ski every single lift – without skiing any of them twice. 4 h 23 m later I had accomplished all 21 lifts from the Jordanelle gondola on the left way up near Heber to Lady Morgan on the right. This was a bigger area than I remembered, made incredibly fun by runs like Nabob, Stein Erickson, Orion, Ore Cart, Pearl, and Webster. I even took the Burns and Snowflake lifts, made my goal and the shadows were creeping in. A moment of self-recognition was a nice reward; I stopped.
1/9/2011 3:09 AM and looking down the hours to a day of cold and sunshine in Park City. I found a mountain workshop, ski all morning and have a “beyond parallel” experience in the afternoon. Our instructor, a retired federal officer with the EPA, shared with me a fine sensibility for understanding the highest joy on the hill was to ski well and then to ski better. Lucky because the much younger other three members of our workshop held that joy was to blast down, barely on the edge of survival, learn nothing, and do it again. A testament to Steve, he kept us both happy.
1/10/2011 3:45 AM, what was to be a day of rest devoted to improving my skiing turned out to be a day of even more skiing, closing the lifts after four. After the very cold, I headed to a jetted tub and some wonderful High Mountain West Distillery rye. By eight-thirty, I had been asleep for an hour and went to bed. I had not been to The Canyons since its incarnation as Park West. What I found was not what I remembered. Fun from the “Cabriolet” that takes you up to the first gondola to the “Orange “Bubble” right through to 9990. I could see the boarders were obviously having fun and they didn’t bother me. The Canyons was so massive, it took three or four runs to ski out every lift and two days to ski everything. 1/11/2011 5:53 AM Exhaustion never improves your skiing and today I planned to ski all black runs. From a chair lift that carries you to the very top, hence 9990, you can ski all black and double black diamond runs. With a big sign across the superstructure of its entrance: “There is No Easy Way Down,” if they said there were black diamond runs, I believe them, but by my fourth run, I couldn’t find any. I swear all I was skiing were double black.
1/12/2011 6:13 AM. A day off downhill, but not to be a restful day. I plan to take skating lessons at White Pine Touring. Learning to skate cross-country ski had me out there for almost two hours in the morning, where I was taught much and learned struggle and sweat. More practice in the afternoon, I never got off the school hill. For a true cross country skier, I suspect it is little more than a practice track, but all I did was practice, maybe that colors the conclusion.
1/13/2011 5:39 AM What can you say about Solitude? Sweet, small, steep…and confusing. I spent the whole day lost. In fairness, when you get down to the bottom of the hill, you get on the lift and go up. When you get up to the top of the lift, you get off and point your tips downward. Down is where you go. So, how lost can you be?
1/17/2011 6:36 AM On the road to the four areas south
Stay tuned. . . . the remainder of Edward's adventures will be posted next Wednesday.