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Ski Utah
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By cjdrover
From Somerville, MA
Jul 3, 2010
Taken at MWV Icefest 2014.

Seeking advice and ideas from either Utah locals or those familiar with skiing the area.

Planning a trip with a buddy this winter to get out of New England. Both of us are competent skiers with experience in backcountry and avalanche terrain (read: Tuckerman Ravine), so backcountry ideas are welcome as well, though I'd like to keep avy situations minimal (more interested in fun for this trip, as opposed to pushing our limits. Catch the drift?).

Anyways, let's cut to the chase. I'm not asking "How can I ski Utah for $200?" - we've got some cash for this trip, but shelling out $1200 each for a week at a resort lodge at Snowbird is, to us, less-than-ideal. The catch is that we are going to have to rely on public transportation/hitching/friendly MP users to get around from Salt Lake, since a car rental is prohibitively expensive for 2 people under 25.

So, any ideas, tips, or beta? What cool Utah skiing trips have you done that made your dollars count? Just fishing for ideas at this point. Thanks in advance!


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Jul 4, 2010

If you get lodgings near the base of either of the cottonwood canyons, getting up there is no problem. There are ski buses that run throughout the day, and hitch-hiking is generally pretty easy. On the more epic days it can be more difficult to get people to stop, though.

The backcountry skiing here is pretty awesome, but crowded. Our forecasting center is top-notch. Access is easy, especially in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and there is a wide range of difficulty (from mellow 20-degree glades to improbable chutes with mandatory hucks).

Solitude and Brighton might be the most bang for your buck. Alta and Snowbird have incredible terrain, but both sport hefty crowds on the best days.

Try to come mid-week, but don't expect that will keep the crowds down, especially if it dumps. In most years, if you are here for a week, there is a very good chance you will see a storm cycle; 10 days and it is almost guaranteed.

February is typically the coldest month, but April is the wettest. These tend to be the best months for the much-lauded Utah powder. The storms in April will produce more snow, but in February it lasts longer.

Lastly, when you get back to Mass., be sure to tell everyone how much the skiing sucks in Utah. Tell them to go to Denver.


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By matt davies
Jul 4, 2010

Bobby Hanson wrote:
Tell them to go to Denver.

The skiing sucks in Denver


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Jul 4, 2010

matt davies wrote:
The skiing sucks in Denver

shh...


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By MikeS
From Boulder, CO
Jul 4, 2010

+ 1 for Big Cottonwood. Little is a zoo. Brighton is probably the most affordable of the areas and offers great terrain and BC access. Solitude is pretty okay too. Cheap rooms with access to public transport are easy to find down in Sandy or other areas at the base of the canyon. Bring your climbing gear if there's high pressure. There's nice sunny rock to be found in LCC.


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By Jason D
Jul 4, 2010

I've been able to fly out there, get a hotel/car for a week and still keep it under $600 a person (for two people). You can get really good deals on lift tickets from liftopia.com or from the local ski shops. Last time out there I went to Snowbird and Brighton and my tickets averaged out to about $50 a day.


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 4, 2010

Research the skibus routes at rideuta.com
you should be able to find a hotel within walkin distance of a bus stop. Many of them have good weekly rates and kitchens for exactly the kind of trip you are planning.
Bobby nailed it with the snow forecast.
The Utah Avalanche Center will be able to give you a good idea of the current conditions.
Have fun and be safe!


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By cjdrover
From Somerville, MA
Jul 4, 2010
Taken at MWV Icefest 2014.

Thanks, everybody. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping for.

Chris


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By Jhernand
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 21, 2010
Mexican Crack in LCC SLC UT

If you want to ride backcountry you can get a single lift at Brighton for $12 and that will take you where you want to go. ride great western and hike out of bounds at the top. What I usually do is snag 2 of those and ride on em as long as I can. Once the last one is gone make a run in the back and call it a day... also check salt lake's craigslist... people sell passes on there all the time. You might score something there. In season REI sells discount tickets for all the resorts... nothing great but with what you save should be enough for a beer after your day out.


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By bognish
From Sandy, UT
Jul 22, 2010

last season the cheapest way to get day tickets was at Costco. 2 Snowbird tickets for $98. You can do cheaper if you by a lot (10 packs) or early season, but for two tickets this was cheaper than any other resort at Canyon Sports or REI. Why pay more to ski Brighton?

There are lots of hotels around 10600 South in Sandy. They are walking distance to Costco, REI or Canyon Sports where you can get discount tickets. You should be able to hook up public transportation from there. Or just get 2 more friends involved. The split the car cost would be about the same as bus fare without the hassle.


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By Yep
Jul 22, 2010

My take from 150+ days skiing LCC and BCC: if you ski LCC, Snowbird is the better of the two mountains terrain-wise. Snowbird is scary and big (in fact, it is much bigger than Nashoba Valley Ski Area;), and the way the lifts (and, terrain) are set-up it was easier for me to find good un-tracked terrain after a storm. The skiing at Alta doesn't suck (by a long shot) and the old-timey ski snobbery is definitely worth experiencing.

To make the most of your lift ticket money:

+2 for bcc. On the bluebird days, after a big storm, I found Big Cottonwood Canyon to be a lot more fun than LCC. That said, I like to get away from people when I am outside.

In Little Cottonwood, on a really snowy day (snowing so hard, our tracks were filled in by the time we got back to the top of the mountain) during the week/some weekends, there was no one on the hill. The crowds were always terrible in LCC on sunny days after ~9+" of snow. It seems like the locals don't seem to get out when it snows 9" or less (an estimate, of course, but you get the idea). I suppose another couple of seasons skiing there would make me see the world this way; it is still hard to conceive of people not skiing "because there is only 9" of snow".

The backcountry is crowded. Never saw a mogul field form, but I was looking. We had someone kick an avalanche down on us in the Alta bc; this is something to be aware of and not a show stopper. It is possible to work around it.


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