I've spent the bulk of my three decades skiing Utah. In fact, I never actually skied beyond the borders of Utah until the ripe old age of 19.
I didn't know how good we had it here in the Beehive State until I found myself on foreign snow for the first time, training in the rain with my university alpine race team in the Pacific Northwest. As we bashed gates, the wet began to seep through my non-GoreTex outerwear and I implored in growing horror, "When do we go inside?" The coach just smiled and handed me a trash bag. Like the rain seeping into my baselayers, it slowly dawned on me that I was far from Utah's sunny and hallowed slopes...
In my job as Director of Freeride for the International Freeskiers & Snowboards Association, IFSA. I often have to travel afield to support our Freeride skiing and snowboarding events. I've visited Kirkwood, RED Mountain, Smugglers' Notch, Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, and more. However, I always come home with a flutter in my belly, eager to return to the mountains that shaped me and my career in the ski industry. Nothing beats Utah.
Having skied here most of my life, it's easy to fall into a routine, so for 2020 I'm setting aside some goals to help me uncover new adventures and novel sensations in my beloved home state. Join me or consider making a few of your own ski or shred goals to broaden your horizon this season.
HIKE JUPITER PEAK
Park City Mountain contains the greatest amount of terrain in Utah and it's probably the mountain I know the least, thanks to its 17 sprawling peaks. It's so big! I've long heard tales of powder to be plundered off Jupiter Peak and in McConkey's Bowl. To get the goods I’ll have to do a little bit of hiking but the reward will be endless turns down the steep, exposed terrain off Jupiter peak and in Jupiter bowl. I'd like to bag a few laps and properly explore this unfamiliar terrain. I'm also told some of the best mountainside dining can be found at the resort's Cloud Dine restaurant. I'll be checking out those views and downing a celebratory adult beverage.
VISIT ALL 15 SKI UTAH RESORTS
Now this is a lofty goal, I've failed to achieve it running on two seasons now. But this year, I'm committed. By plotting a long weekend up north I can hit Beaver Mountain, Cherry Peak, Powder Mountain, Nordic Valley, and Snowbasin. One of those can also be easily packaged into a day trip when the storms veer north. Park City and Deer Valley are a cinch, less than 30 minutes from my home in Salt Lake City. I also cannot wait to check out Utah's newest resort and recreation facility, near Summit Park, Woodward Park City.
I regularly haunt Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, so I can knock out Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird in my sleep. Sundance makes for a fantastic day trip (or a romantic weekend away) and I love traveling via the "back way" through Midway, Utah. The sight of Mount Timpanogos from this angle is stunning!
Then, lastly, I hope to repeat last year's adventure of chasing a 'Powder Friday' down south to ski deeeeeeeeeeep snow at Eagle Point. Then I'll round it all out by circling down to enjoy the beautiful red rock scenes of Brian Head.
To all our Passport Program skiers and shredders in 5th and 6th grade, I hope you join me in this goal!
RIDE THE ALLEN PEAK TRAM
When I visit Snowbasin, I'm committed to riding the legendary Allen Peak Tram, which whisked Olympians in 2002 to the top of the Men's Downhill Course. This tram, as well as a similar one at Big Sky, are the only two jib-back trams in the United States. This means an electric motor at the bottom of the tramway is used to effectively pull one cabin down, using that cabin's weight to pull the other cabin uphill. Snowbasin's tram holds up to 15 people and takes guests to the top of Allen Peak where guests can see five states on a clear day – Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada! Locals lovingly call it the 'beer can'.
DEER VALLEY SEAFOOD BUFFET
It would be a shame to restrict all my 2020 goals to just skiing, am I right? Long have I admired the images from Deer Valley's famous seafood buffet. I think this will make a pretty stellar birthday gift to my fish-loving partner. In the Snow Park Lodge, Deer Valley Resort serves up a vast selection of delicious seafood, shellfish, a poke bar, and homemade desserts. With an eye toward sustainability, Deer Valley ensures only responsibly harvested seafood takes center stage.
HIKE FANTASY RIDGE
The backcountry terrain beyond Solitude's gates contains classic Wasatch lines, exposure, and exceptional skiing. When conditions are right, the hike off Fantasy Ridge at Solitude can deliver lines of a lifetime. Luke, a Ski Utah employee, has established his own goal to use a backcountry gate at every single resort to access backcountry turns. I think I'll keep my eye on the weather forecast and give Luke a call when conditions are prime. For a peep at how the Solitude Ski Patrol manages this gnarly terrain, see the video below!
USE PUBLIC TRANSIT & CARPOOL WITH THE R.I.D.E. APP
With an increase in UTA Ski Bus service and expansion of the R.I.D.E. carpooling app beyond Snowbird to Brighton, Solitude, and Alta, I am also going to commit to carpooling and riding the bus whenever possible. I know we could all probably do a bit better to address congestion, parking problems, and air quality, so I have downloaded the R.I.D.E. app and I am ready to rock (and also carpool and ride the bus). For our complete guide to riding the Ski Bus or using the R.I.D.E. carpooling app, click here.
PAINT THE MOUNTAINS
With my freelance work, I'm always hustlin' and my work life can often become complicated and overwhelming. In the winter, when every free moment is spent skiing, I have a hard time slowing down and enjoying the moment as I worry or fret about all the tasks waiting for me back at my home office (a.k.a. dining table). This winter, I would like to dedicate more time to creative pursuits and I am committing to painting at least one mountain per month. I've invested in some watercolor and acrylic paints and all I need now is to carve out some time to paint!
And there you have it, my goals for the 2019-2020 winter season. What are you hoping to accomplish? What goal have you permitted to languish the last few seasons? Pop it in the comments below so you'll be held accountable and let's get it done!