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Skiing and Snowboarding

1976 vs. Now: What do you do with no snow?

Photo by Peter Creveling.

Winter here in Utah is a very exciting time. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and there are plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied. Utah is known for its “Greatest Snow on Earth” for one thing, and all the locals will testify to that greatness. The Wasatch Mountain Range is a world class destination for snow skiing, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area each year. With all that importance placed on our snow, what happens when snow doesn’t come?

Snow is an essential element in the ecosystem. It is a storage system of fresh water that can be utilized during Utah’s typically dry summer months, it regulates the global temperature with its ability to reflect 80 to 90 percent of incoming sunlight, and it also provides insulation that prevents moisture and other gases from escaping into the atmosphere. In short, snow serves many vital purposes that we often take for granted.

Here in Utah, we mostly look at snow as a recreational good, but its importance in other ways cannot be overstated. With the current lack of snow this season, Salt Lake City will most likely be experiencing a drought of varying severity.

Have we always been this concerned about the lack of snow in years past within the Beehive state? The simple answer is yes. In years past, ski resorts have delayed their opening days significantly due to the lack of snowfall, in fact. There are many patterns in history that cause a large fluctuation in weather, such as El Niño and La Niña years, but it seems that there is a general trend: the Earth, on average, is getting warmer each year.

Skiing and pond skimming with Blake, and Kristen at Snowbird on Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Back in 1976, Colorado ski resorts almost didn’t open. In a place like Salt Lake, this is almost unthinkable. Today’s technology has come a long way since the ‘70s, and artificial snowmaking is now an important part to a successful ski season, but there is no way to control the temperature. This day and age, the air temperature must be at or below freezing for snow to be made.

If you look at the snowfall over the past 60 years in Utah, the average is around 470 inches of snow. All the records of large snowfall were set back in the ‘90s or earlier, and the only records set between 2000 and now recognize how little snow we have received.

This may just be the cycle of weather we are experiencing in the new millennium, but I sure hope that end of the cycle is near. It’s scary to think that one day it could no longer snow in Utah. For now, make the most of what snow we have received so far by getting out and going skiing as much as possible. When you ski, also be mindful of the potential snow has for more than just a ski slope and do your best to cut down on carbon emissions to help preserve it in the future. Ski resorts are already beginning to close throughout the world for good. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen within the Wasatch Mountains.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

Cover photo by Kiffer Creveling.

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The Wizard of the Wasatch

Somewhere back in the powdered ladened lines of the Wasatch resides a wizard. Granted he climbs mountains instead of spiraling towers, carries poles instead of a wooden staff, and rides skis instead of dragons, but he’s a wizard nonetheless. His name’s Bob Athey, he has a beard that rivals Gandalf’s, and he’s been flying down fresh powder lines in the remote Wasatch for decades.

The Wasatch Wizard at home on the snow. Photo by Peter Creveling.

Athey started touring in the early ‘70s. He and his then girlfriend went up to the summit of the 10,700 ft Clayton Peak to attempt a graceful descent. “I thought I knew how to ski, and I was all cocky,” Bob said as he was describing that first run. The reality didn’t quite meet their expectations. Rather than hitting swooping turns down untracked lines, they sort of stumbled and fell their way down.

“I had 210 cm cross country skis, double camber, and shoes like that,” he said, gesturing to my hiking boots. Translated from ski jargon, that basically means Bob was woefully ill-equipped for the downhill runs he was trying to make. However, that setup was standard for the time. For whatever reason, touring just wasn’t widespread enough to warrant having its own gear yet.

“I spent several years falling down hills,” Bob recalled, “but the equipment gradually improved.” Soon, Bob was in a pair of nice telemark skis, which were leaps and bounds better than his previous cross country setup. At least the telemarks were intended for downhill slopes. Finally, the equipment was adequate enough to keep up with Athey’s drive. Now, he was really hitting his stride.

By the ‘80s, Athey was bombing downhill as quick as he could. Unfortunately, the economy took a similar trajectory. Unable to get started in a solid career, Athey had to sign up for unemployment. Instead of hanging his head at his bad luck, Bob realized he now had just enough funds and more than enough time, to ski almost everyday. So he did. He called it, “the state ski team.” Since the times were so tough, unemployment got a special extension. It now lasted for 52 weeks. “I was on unemployment for so long they thought I was unemployable.”

The Wasatch Wizard skiing. Photo by Peter Creveling.

For a long time Bob ran his own construction company and would save up enough money to take the winters off for skiing. He started learning more and more about snow science, safely travelling in the backcountry, and touring in general. He submitted reports almost everyday to the Utah Avalanche Center, and did such a good job that a non-profit called Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center raised funds to pay him for it. For fifteen years, until 2007, he was the only paid, full time field observer.

Even with his deep knowledge of the snow, Bob hasn’t been able to come out of every run unscathed. “I’ve triggered many, many, many avalanches.” Bob said. One was especially nasty. It was off Gobbler’s Knob and left Bob with a dislocated shoulder. While the injury was debilitating, the run got named after him, and Bob still has a sense of humor about it. “On their map they call it Bobsled, I call it Bobslid.”

While having a run named after him helped cement his fame, his real notoriety came from a Salt Lake Tribune article. Bob had been on a day hike of Lone Peak one day with an editor of the Tribune. The editor thought Bob was a hilarious character, so he assigned a reporter to go skiing with him and write an article. The reporter, who also worked for the UAC, talked to her coworker there and asked him how this Athey guy had been skiing so much and hadn’t died in an avalanche. The coworker responded with, “It’s magic, he’s a wizard.” When the article came out the title was “The Wizard of the Wasatch” and the name stuck.

Today the Wizard of the Wasatch is as focused on touring as ever. He runs a website and instagram that aim to provide reliable snow reports to anyone needing the information. “It’s ski touring up, skiing down, figuring out what the snow’s doing, avoiding avalanches, skiing deep powder, the whole thing” that interests Bob. “It’s not just the skiing,” he said.

Bob’s interest in snow science, dedication to getting out, and unique character have made him an infamous and beloved figure in Utah’s backcountry community. Although his life has had its hardships, he said that it’s been fun, and that he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon. As long as the wheels on his car are turning and the snow is falling, the Wasatch will continue to host their resident wizard as he carves around its peak’s most remote corners.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Photos by Peter Creveling.

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Learning to Be in the Backcountry

At the beginning of every Avalanche One training class the instructors always ask, “Why are you here?” Almost everyone in the class answers with some version of, “I’m sick of lift lines and I want to ski some gnarly, waist deep powder and not die.” If you feel the same, a PRTS Avalanche Level One training course through the University of Utah will give you the risk assessment tools to ski the greatest snow on earth, keep yourself and others safe while in the backcountry, and earn credits toward your degree.

I caught up with Nick Rushford, who is in his third year of teaching the Avalanche One training course at the U. Explaining why this year has been dangerous for backcountry skiing, he said, “This year has been very Colorado-esque. We have had long periods of high pressure and a small snowpack. What this leads to isn’t bad skiing, but rather people being excited when it snows even when it’s not the conditions to be out there.” He adds, “The reason why we have had multiple avalanche incidents in Utah this year is because people have been putting problems and human factors on the backburner.” Human factors include cognitive biases like groupthink, sunk cost, expert halo, and familiarity. These factors affect our decision making, and not being aware of them can lead to death in the mountains. Human factors are just one of the many variables you need to consider while in the mountains. “I’m excited for people to get out there and learn more about this stuff in-depth,” Rushford said.

Photo by Samira Guirguis.

Not being aware in the backcountry leads to very real consequences. On January 26, 2018, a group of three experienced backcountry skiers went up to Big Cottonwood canyon and unintentionally triggered a 20” by 150’ avalanche. Reports say they had taken a couple of runs down the slope previously before the slope collapsed. One of the party members caught in the avalanche suffered a head injury and was airlifted out of the Wasatch.

If you have no backcountry experience, an Avalanche One course with Avalanche Rescue Training will give you the basic tools you need to be safe in the mountains. In the Avalanche One training course offered through the University of Utah’s PRTS program, you will learn about avalanche risk assessment, mental checklists, and how to perform an avalanche rescue. If you already have taken Avalanche One with Avalanche Rescue Training, Avalanche Two will delve deeper into the snow science behind avalanches and will help further hone your avalanche assessment skills.

Avalanches are predictable, and with the right training you can learn to mitigate risk, prevent injury to other people, earn credits toward your degree, and get as many powder shots as possible. To sign up for an avalanche training course, visit the University of Utah campus information services page, browse the course catalog, click on the PRTS course, and search for the level of avalanche training that is right for you. Stay safe, and happy touring.

d.valiquett@wasatchmag.com

Cover photo by Samira Guirguis. 

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Telemark Skiing: Why You Should Drop a Knee

Telemark skiing is the concatenation of Alpine and Nordic skiing. In Alpine skiing you can only go down the hill (depending on your bindings) and Nordic skiing allows you to travel great distances on flat surfaces. Telemark combines the best of both worlds by not attaching your heel to the ski. When you want to go downhill, you have the option to allow the boot to stay in a relative alpine position and when you want to tour, the boot flexes, allowing for greater movement and flexibility.

Peter Creveling telemark skiing at Snowbird on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Telemark skiing was first introduced back in the 1800s in the region of Norway known as Telemark. It has become more popular due to more advanced technology, increasing the draw to backcountry skiing. One of the original binding mechanisms that attaches the ski boot to the ski was called a “three pin,” a term many skiers may have heard before. There were three metal pins to allow the metal prongs of the binding to secure the boot in place for touring. That has been replaced with touring bindings that use springs and carriages to hold the boot in place on the ski. More modern bindings allow the Telemark ski to have a brake which prevents the ski from sliding down the mountain when the boot is removed from the binding. This is known as an NTN binding and eliminates the unreliable cable system as well as provides a safety mechanism when a skier is in trouble. The NTN bindings are releasable just like traditional alpine bindings.

What is all the hype and craze with Telemark skiing? From my own experience, Telemark skiing is not for the faint-hearted. The sport is excruciatingly difficult because not only do you have to ski down the hill, but in order to make the proper Telemark turn, you need to lunge into position and hold your body weight up on one leg as you do so. You will typically feel a burning sensation in both of your thighs after long runs. Sometimes you feel as though you don’t have any additional leg strength to hold yourself up after making a successful turn. That is normal.

Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Here is the inside scoop as to why you should Telemark ski: Telemark skiing is beautiful. The turns are more graceful as you meander down the mountainside, creating a more drawn out “S” shape. Other skiers on the mountain will watch and comment as you gallantly ski by them. I have had my fair share of skiers comment on the beauty and grace of the Telemark turns, something I have never experienced on alpine skis before. It is a great feeling inside knowing that what you are doing is inspiring to others.

With the new technology that ski companies have been putting into their outdoor equipment, it is unbelievable how amazing the equipment is today. The boots that I had five years ago don’t even compare. The new boots have better liners to keep your feet warm when you are skiing, and the flex at the toe is on par with walking in leather boots. The rigidity and stiffness of the boots allows you to lunge further than you could ever have imagined before. Most importantly, the ski manufacturers are looking out for safety. Traditional Telemark bindings would not disengage in the event of an accident, resulting in a knee injury that typically results in knee surgery. Borrowing a solution from alpine, Telemark boots will now eject from the binding when the specified torque has been reached.

Skiing with Peter and Polly up at Snowbird on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

For those of you who want to get into Telemark skiing, the University of Utah Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) is the perfect place to rent the gear and give it a shot for a weekend. With their excellent student rate prices, it is a no-brainer if you are thinking of escalating your skiing skills. You’ll be surprised after a few days on the slopes at how much stronger your legs will feel, and you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful snow covered great outdoors in a new way.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Changing the Way You Ski & Board

Sometimes it feels like Millenials and the generations that have followed are derided for almost everything they do. Whether or not this derision is always valid, the truth is, post-Baby Boomer generations are causing significant fractures and shifts in the way western societies function. One such fracture and shift is happening now in the ski and snowboard industry, a shift post-baby-boom generation Bryan Dunn and Luke Zirngibl have created the website SnowSearch to acknowledge.

SnowSearch.co’s homepage. Photo courtesy of SnowSearch.

“The U.S. ski industry is in a very interesting spot right now. It has historically, very much from a spending and engagement perspective, been driven by baby boomers who had a very specific set of travel habits. They were very loyal,” explains long-time snowboarder Dunn. “What’s happening with leisure/travel and being echoed in the ski industry is this departure from loyalty — loyalty to brands, loyalty to certain hotels in certain cities, and loyalty to ski resorts.”

According to Dunn, this drop in loyalty is coupled with a “desire to explore,” and to go beyond the few mountains they were raised on by those far more loyal baby boomers.

The ski and boarding industry has noticed this shift in part, which has led to the rise

SnowSearch co-founder Bryan Dunn boarding in Hokkaido, Japan in January of 2017. Photo courtesy of SnowSearch.

of multi-passes. One of the first such passes came from global mountain resort operator Vail Resorts, Inc. Their pass, called the “Epic Pass,” functions quite differently from past single resort options. Dunn says, “Instead of buying access to one mountain, [with the Epic Pass] you bought a season pass to all mountains, and you could go to as many of them as you want as much as you like.” Vail’s Epic Pass has proved incredibly successful. Other multi-resort passes are now available on the market as a result. “If you’re someone who skis more than a few times a year, it suddenly makes sense to buy into one of these multi-passes,” Dunn adds.

SnowSearch co-founder Bryan Dunn boarding off Wyoming’s Teton Pass in September of 2017. Photo courtesy of SnowSearch.

Such desire for exploration inherent in the success of multi-passes shows in Dunn’s own habits, boarding in resorts on four continents. His experience making these trips and going through the frustrations of not only planning which resort to go to, but also where to rent any needed gear, what type of overnight space to stay in, and how to manage transportation from said space to the resort, is what inspired the website.

“We’ve always looked for some unbiased, trusted viewpoint and we’ve found that really difficult to capture. And alongside that, these multi-passes are great, but they only include lift tickets. You’re always going to purchase a hotel or a vacation rental — whether that’s a home rental, Airbnb, something else; sometimes you need gear rental; sometimes you need transportation,” says Dunn. “There’s all these disparate pieces of inventory that you need to purchase when you finally do figure out where you want to go and when, and all these things are all over the place on the web.”

Bryan Dunn and Luke Zirngibl’s RV which they used to drive across country from Boston to Utah. Photo courtesy of SnowSearch.

A business-minded individual himself, it was the combination of Dunn’s project pitching and the more technical-minded Zirngibl’s insights and skills that made SnowSearch, which aims to answer these problems, possible.

SnowSearch.co offers convenience at levels other ski websites have only brushed up against. From the start, the site is bursting with information. Current snowfall amounts for a variety of ski resorts scrolls across the top of the screen. Stories by local skiers and snowboarders, that know the resorts they cover, line the left-hand column. A map featuring nearby resorts lines the right.

The main feature of the site — the ability to simultaneously search for resort passes, gear rentals, and lodging — sits just below the scrolling snowfall information, right next to the SnowSearch logo.

Resort detail on SnowSearch.co. Photo courtesy of SnowSearch.

Type in a resort, choose a date range, select the number of people you’re looking to plan for, checkmark what other components you need to arrange, click “Deals,” and you’re matched with relevant information you would normally have to use multiple tabs for, all ready for you on one site. Dunn and Zirngibl see this as the only logical future for ski and snowboard planning. “We wanted to create one centralized environment where you can both find good trusted information based off what matters to you most, whether that’s where the most snow’s coming, or which resorts are nearby on your pass, or who has the best music, or ski party on the books for the next couple of weeks, and then book whatever you need for that trip,” Dunn says.

He adds, “We believe the industry needs something like this. It’s very sophisticated from an operational perspective, very sophisticated from a back-end tech perspective, but if you look at consumer-facing tech it’s super old-school, which has always worked just well enough,” he says. “As demographics start to shift, we’re confident we can provide a better channel for the industry to reach younger generations, who will represent the majority of spend within a few years. We’re eager to open up our platform to legacy stakeholders with the vision that the more comprehensive our site is from both an information and inventory perspective — as SnowSearch grows into a metasearch for the broader snow sports space — the better we can position the industry as a whole to engage the future consumers of these amazing sports.”

c.koldewyn@wasatchmag.com 

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Review: Beaver Mountain Ski Resort

Two hours from Salt Lake City, just past Utah State University, sits Beaver Mountain Ski Resort. Though of modest size, it has a significant history as the oldest continuously family-owned ski resort in the US. Opened first by Harold and Luella Seeholzer, the resort is run today by Marge Seeholzer, who joined the family when she married Harold’s son, Ted, as well as their daughter Annette West, son Travis, and her husband and his wife.

At a total of 828 acres accessible via 48 different runs, which can be used by skiers and boarders, Beaver Mountain might initially seem easy to overlook for its smaller size when compared to the big players in Utah’s ski resort industry.

The lodge at Beaver Mountain Resort. Photo credit Beaver Mountain Resort.

While it is small, it’s well cared for, and the size gives the resort a friendly intimacy harder to find in other settings. This year of strange snow patterns, Beaver Mountain is an especially good option, having received more snow this season than any other resort in Utah, according to Ski Utah.

Beaver Mountain boasts both groomed and mogul runs. An intermediate skier myself—I’ve skied from the time I was eight years old to now, but never enough each season to improve all that much—the green and blue groomed runs I tried when I visited on Wednesday, Jan. 24 were all enjoyable and doable.

The greens were, as seems common, more like the skiing approximation of a walk in the park, with plenty of time to slow down and enjoy the scenery and less emphasis on having skill. Since the scenery is stunning on these runs, it’s not hard to relax moving at a calmer pace.

After a few greens to warm up, I started to try the blues to challenge my skill at not dying when trying to reach the bottom of steeply angled slopes. Every blue I tried posed enough challenge to keep me careful, but not so difficult that I was constantly terrified of falling hard enough to break something. In the end, I avoided falling at all.

I took some time in between runs to eat in the resort’s lodge where a fresh-cooked meal was available for under $10 and made right in front of me. The gardenburger I ate, after deliberating over their fairly extensive menu, was perfectly cooked and delicious in flavor. I’m already craving another one.

By the end of the day, I had spent just over three hours on the mountain, managed to get five of my slow-fall runs in and wished I could stay just a little longer to get a few more.

Despite its small size and the regrettably long drive, it takes to get there, Beaver Mountain Ski Resort has a lot to offer. Cheap prices are one of those things, with day passes at just $50 for the whole mountain from its operating hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

c.koldewyn@wasatchmag.com

Photo credit Beaver Mountain Resort.

 

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Forecasting the 2017-18 Snow Season

Utah’s ski industry is looking for another year of record-setting revenue and snowfall this year. Last year, Brighton recorded 633” of total snowfall, and at the time of Ski Utah’s press conference, it was on track to match that. Since Utah’s ski industry has a huge impact on Utah’s economy, this is great news.

In 2016, Utah’s ski industry recorded $1.4 billion in revenue and $8.2 billion in tourism and visitor spending statewide, according to the 2016 report from the Utah Tourism Industry Association. That’s $1 billion coming to the state in tax revenue to pave roads, educate kids, and protect national parks. With all the exciting events and changes happening for the 2017-2018 season, skiers, snowboarders, and general Utah citizens alike have a lot to look forward to.

What’s New

Alta, celebrating it’s 80th anniversary, decided to get itself an early anniversary present by installing a new high speed quad lift to replace Cecret and the Supreme lifts. Now riders will be able to access more runs in less time.

At Snowbird, The Creekside Lodge was remodeled and includes new dining options along with a “boosted breakfast” to keep you going all day long. The Creekside Lodge is also a great place to grab a hot chocolate before heading back out to the slopes.

For those who are just learning to ski, Park City has installed a new covered chairlift designed to serve beginner runs.  The area will provide a comfortable and spacious place to learn and relearn how to pizza and French fry.

Upcoming Events

For the 20th year in a row, Deer Valley will be hosting the FIS (International Ski Federation) Alpine Skiing World Cup from Jan. 10-12, 2018. Come see future olympians compete for a spot on the Olympic team for the 2018 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

In the spring, Park City will be hosting the Spring Grüv Celebration which includes concerts and Pond Skimming.

d.valiquett@wasatchmag.com

Header photo courtesy Ski Utah.

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Snowbird Makes Most of One-Star Review

In recent years, the digital review economy has legitimized itself in the consumer world and now acts as a pivotal influence in how companies evaluate and conduct themselves in the public eye. Everyone and their dog is given a voice on the internet, and a negative review could be greatly detrimental to a company, particularly in its early stages. Fortunately for the Wasatch’s local Snowbird Ski Resort, this hasn’t been the case as they’ve brilliantly converted a negative review into positive press just in time for the upcoming ski season.

Snowbird’s first ad in its new One-Star campaign features an ironically hypercritical review by Greg from L.A., who complained that the resort is “Too advanced — I’ve heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!” Rather than taking this scathing review in humility or shame, Snowbird’s advertising team imposed Greg from L.A.’s quote onto a high-definition photograph of a skier carving through thick powder on a steep run, a sublime snow-covered Cottonwood ridge looming in the background.

What Greg from L.A. may not have recognized while composing his critique is that Snowbird prides itself on providing a uniquely advanced, challenging experience on the mountain; many visitors, in fact, find steep chutes and tree wells to be particularly appealing. Juxtaposed against an alluring photograph taken at the resort, this negative review is contorted into praise, and it even serves to challenge prospective visitors to take on the mountain that was too advanced for Greg from L.A.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Dave Amirault, Snowbird’s director of marketing, attributes this bold approach to the contentious and polarizing tone that the public currently resonates with most, reflecting, “What we’ve realized is in print advertising, advertising in general, nobody wins the middle. What we wanted to do is be unique to ourselves and make something that will challenge the reader.” For Amirault, Snowbird’s technicality is foundational to its identity: “If you value great terrain, deep snow, and long runs then Snowbird might be for you.” In direct response to the notorious reviewer, Amirault states that “This person, Greg from Los Angeles, didn’t quite understand what Snowbird is all about. We welcome people from all around the world but be on your ‘A’ game. This is a very unique resort compared to some other places.”This wildly compelling ad serves as the first iteration of the One-Star campaign that promises at least four more treatments of similarly scathing reviews in the near future. This ad and the others to come are projected to appear in Freeskier, Powder, Ski, Transworld Snowboarding, and Ski Utah magazine, in addition to Snowbird’s social media channels.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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Beginners’ guide to skiing and snowboarding

Living in Utah, you should already know that the winter season is a big deal. If you were like me growing up, I never saw the middle school skiing/snowboarding program, Snow Blitz, appealing as a young tween. Wearing layers upon layers of snow attire and falling down a mountainside didn’t sound fun, and the expense was unattainable — until now. Even though I’m interested now, I must warn you, the falling doesn’t stop. Which leads me to the first of many tips when you begin to learn how to ski or snowboard — get used to falling, but before you start falling, you’ll need the gear for it.

Gear

Buying skiing and snowboarding gear right off the bat can be quite the commitment and can start at $600 and easily reach into the thousands.

Luckily, if you’re a student at the University of Utah, you’ll find the cheapest rentals rates in the state at the Student Life Center. Pro tip: you don’t need to be a student to rent from the university, but you can get 20 percent off the already cheap rates if you bring your UID. You can rent a basic skiing and/or snowboarding package, which includes skis/snowboard, bindings, boots, and poles (if skiing). You can also rent a coat and snow pants. The staff is there to help you get fitted, teach you proper gear technique, and you can store all this information for future reference. While the U would be the cheapest and easiest rental place, there are places all over Utah you can rent gear from like Ski N’ See & ARCS, which offers discount lift passes if you rent from them.

What you’ll need:

  • Beanie
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Coat
  • Snow pants/overalls
  • Layers
  • Boots
  • Bindings
  • Skis/snowboard
  • A snowy mountain

Lift Passes

Lift passes are the other expensive part of this hobby. As a beginner, no one wants to dish out $400+fon a season pass, but it can be pricey paying by day. Brighton Ski Resort is a great place to begin. If you can handle the cold, single day evening passes at Brighton are your best bet. While single full day passes allow you to ride from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and start at approximately about $82, night passes start at about $47, allowing you to ride from 4-9 p.m.

Though it can get rather cold and dark, night riding is a great time to learn since there are less people around. While a seasonal night pass to Brighton Ski Resort is only $319-$419, a seasonal day pass can range from $599 to $750. The best part of Brighton is the promotional offers it runs during the season. You can always find promotional deals on night riding like “2 for 1” rides or a discounted night pass if you bring canned goods during their food drive. Find the entire list of promotional deals on night riding and lessons on the Brighton webpage.To do it right, you need lessons.

Lesson

Once you have your gear and a pass, it’s time to hit the slopes.

If you don’t have a patient enough friend, adult lessons will help develop your skills. While you have the option between group lessons or private, you will learn skills and techniques to help ride more of the mountain while having fun with other riders. Keep in mind; resorts, like Alta, are for skiers only, so instructors may not know how to teach you how to snowboard. While lessons can range from $50 to $100+, Brighton offers the cheapest skiing/snowboarding lessons starting at $55 for a night lesson. Remember, safety first. I highly suggest not trying to teach yourself how to ski or snowboard as it can be fairly dangerous without proper skills and technique.

Tips

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else on the slopes.
  • Helmets are cool; wear one.
  • Skiers, don’t cross your tips.
  • Always keep your knees bent, but not too bent.
  • Wear proper winter clothing. Do not wear cotton (it absorbs and holds water, making you colder).
  • Save money on gas by using your pass as a ticket for public transportation.
  • Snowboarders, there are such things as butt pads.
  • Look for promotional deals.
  • Bandanas/masks make a big difference in keeping warm.
  • Your boots should be snug, but still have enough room for when your feet swell.
  • Have fun, but safety first.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Skipping School for Skiing

Ski run at Alta Ski Resort. Photo by Samira Guirguis.

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream/The earth, and every common sight/To me did seem/Appareled in celestial light/The glory and the freshness of a dream.”

These words by William Wordsworth describe the moments I look forward to. Moments when the pull of snow on the mountain tempts me into skiing down runs filled with fresh powder, or moments when I survey the world from the top of a red, rocky cliff I traversed by digging my hands into its cracks and crevices. These moments in nature capture what it truly means to be present, alive, and at the same time, these moments continually force me to fight against the concept of time or obligations like school or work. The need to feel free and to experience living on my own is why I chose to forgo college for the spring semester at the University of Utah and decided to live and work the winter at Alta’s Rustler Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Ski communities harbor the nomadic people of our world — the ones who have not paved a steady path for themselves, choosing to live out of cars or tents, working odd jobs in different states in order to embrace nature through skiing or rock climbing. It’s hard not to pass judgment when the entirety of your life can be packed into a beat-up Toyota, but this was the norm for the employees at Rustler Lodge. While some in society might see these people as vagrants, it was difficult for me not to be enamored by their carefree lifestyle and the exciting stories they told in the evenings in the employee dining room. These were the people I would spend every skiing and working moment with for an entire season.

I loved the feeling of my beacon pressed against my side, cheeks rosy from the cold, nose numb. Each trip like a mini expedition filled with risks and careful decisions; a dumb choice could trigger an avalanche, thus ending a person’s life. But working at Rustler Lodge provided more than endless skiing. I got my first steady paycheck and mastered working in the kitchen of a busy resort restaurant. I learned how to live on my own and negotiate the drama created by tight quarters. When the snow melted, signaling the end of the season and work at Alta, everyone began to pack for their next adventure. Some wanted me to come with them. “School isn’t the only way to get an education,” I recall one guy saying who is currently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep,/And miles to go before I sleep,” words from Robert Frost. I loved my winter in the mountains, and as I sit at my computer typing an article for Wasatch Magazine, it is obvious that I chose to return to the apparent normalcy of schedules and deadlines rather than live a carefree lifestyle in nature. I want to be a journalist, which means I will have a goal that requires me to go to school and master certain skills that will enable me to be a successful reporter. In the future, I know I will experience the world by taking the path less traveled, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have a semester off. Or if you’re scared you might get behind in school, you can always take spring off and go back for the summer semester. We live in a state where we have easy access to world class ski areas that offer live-in positions like Rustler Lodge.

Rustler Lodge, Alta Peruvian, Alta’s Goldminer’s Daughter, Snowbird, Solitude, and Deer Valley is a short list of resorts, which offer a range of jobs from working as ski instructors to cooking in busy restaurants. Take advantage of the fact that we have access to these canyons and make the most of it. November is when you should start applying for these jobs, and the fall colors of Little Cottonwood Canyon make the drive to apply.

s.guiguirs@wasatchmag.com

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