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My Season at Snowbird, UT 2021


JimK
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INTRO

I thought I'd contribute in my own way to the vibrancy of this great website by providing some content, hopefully interesting content.  This will be a summary via photos and text of my time spent in Utah this winter.  The focus will be mostly on skiing, but I'll try to include a few outstanding non-ski topics and photos of interest to travelers.  I may take several days making various posts in this thread to flesh out my approximately 3.5 month stay. 

I'm still in Utah and still skiing, but tomorrow, May 9 is the end of daily ski operations at Snowbird.  For the rest of the season until the last scheduled day on May 31, Snowbird will operate only on Fri-Sat-Sun.   I have almost 40 days of lift served skiing this season, 35 of which have been at Snowbird.  I expect I'll return to my home locations in the east before the end of May.

I'm making up for a late start.  I didn't get my first lift served day until Feb 19, 2021.  This season posed some unique and sometimes wrenching problems.  I'm the guy that tries to post as many mouthwatering ski photos as possible, but this winter was very humbling for me.  I became the guy sitting on the sidelines. 

My usual plan in recent years is to remain in the east for early season, ski locally a few times, and then go west to Utah for an extended stay and more skiing.  As I was planning to do a an early season eastern ski day my wife said "I don't want you skiing until we're both vaccinated."  Ouch.  I watched Dec, Jan and part of Feb go by without skiing.  After some heart to heart talks we decided I'd go west by myself for a few weeks starting in mid-Feb.  The hope was that in a few weeks I'd reunite with my wife in Utah when we could be both be vaccinated. 

Murphy's Law was in effect and Feb 18, the day after I arrived in Utah, I got an email saying that as seniors my wife and I were now eligible for a vax shot in our home county near Wash DC.  I signed my wife up and she got her first dose of Pfizer about a week later.  When in Utah I stay at my son's house in the SLC suburbs.  I began skiing frequently and locals told me I was eligible for the vax in Utah.  I got my first dose of Moderna about ten days after I arrived in Utah at a very quiet grocery store pharmacy.  Only one other older person was there for a shot at the time of my appointment.  Getting the vax really loosens up your outlook on the threat of Covid-19.

Fortunately, things worked out nicely, although it was funny how our lives were built around vax shots for a while there.  I returned to the East for the last two weeks of March and was with my wife for her second dose of Pfizer.  Then we both went to Utah where I got my second dose of Moderna on March 27.  We've been together in Utah since late March. 

Fortunately, neither one of us ever got Covid-19.  But psychologically, the threat of the virus was hard, especially for my wife.  However, since our shared time in Utah beginning in late March we are both feeling like things are returning to normal.  The attitudes in Utah are much calmer than back east about the pandemic.  We are visiting stores frequently and have begun to go to live church services, wearing masks.  We've enjoyed visiting our single son, and one of our daughters also came to visit us in Utah.

UTAH ARRIVAL

I had done four X-C ski days around my home location in the East, but my first lift-served day of the season was Feb 19, 2021 at Snowbird, UT.

First day, still working on the "mask thing"

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I began skiing frequently and one of the best early powder days I experienced was on Feb 28, the day after my first vaccination shot:

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My son, same day:

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These shots were taken in the vicinity of Tiger Tail trees in the Gad Valley.

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I had a secret weapon to help me navigate the season with various covid restrictions.  It's my son, who is not only a great and strong ski partner, but also had mastered the parking reservation system at Snowbird and made it pretty easy for me to ski any time I wanted.

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Leading the way down Middle Cirque on Feb 21:

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 After about a week in Utah I figured out the parking reservation system. Basically, on normal weekdays without significant fresh snow you could get a reservation the night before or even morning of, with no problem. The weekends took more advanced effort, but my son had that covered.  Supposedly next year reservations will not be required, but optional for those who want to pay a fee to guarantee a space.

 

I did not step into the Mid-Gad restaurant all season due to my desire to socially distance and eat and rest in my car.  Normally, it's my go-to lunch stop when at Snowbird.

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The High Bookends can be a fun off-piste area in Mineral Basin at Snowbird, UT;

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I'll continue this thread later.  Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Edited by JimK
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Here are a few more photos of my son from Feb 28 powder day at Snowbird, Red Lens Line and Thunder Bowl areas:

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The Upper Cirque area gets much more accessible when the snow is good:

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And one he took of me:

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A friend took this shot of me on a packed powder day on 26 Feb 2021.

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Also from Feb 26, two friends skiing in Banana Woods off the Gad 2 chair.  Lots of user-friendly woods off the Gad 2 chair at Snowbird.  It's my favorite place during storms or low viz days.

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...to be continued.

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Posted (edited)

Around the 1st of March I got to ski for a few days with a friend who is a physician and hospital official.  It was his first and only chance to ski since the pandemic started.  Taking a bunch of lift rides with him (masked and vaccinated) I came to understand that he'd been through heck the last year.  I really admired his dedication while putting himself and family at great risk and sacrifice.  So glad he had a nice time on his ski vacation and caught good conditions too.  A true health care hero!

Mark Malu trail

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View of Mt. Timpanogos from Mineral Basin.

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Goblin Valley

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Normalcy never felt so good!

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Here's a few of me from the same timeframe.

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I take a lot of ski photos, but it took a friend from Utah to snap one of me unknowingly while I was doing my thing.  This is near the top of Great Scott in the Cirque at Snowbird.

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Showing some love for northeastern skiing, the beard had to go before reuniting with wifey.

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After 3 weeks in Utah I returned to the east to be with my wife for her second vax shot.  then we both went out to Utah in late March and we've been there ever since.  April was really good skiing and just kind of reinforced what we missed out on last year.  Grateful isn't a strong enough word.

Leaving early tomorrow for two days and one night at the Zion National Park.  Snagged one of the cabins adjacent to the Zion Lodge at last minute when somebody cancelled.

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...to be continued.

Edited by JimK
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

I returned to Utah in late March.  This time I brought my wife.  She's a retired skier, but a very important member of the team in more ways than one.  She designed and blueprinted the remodeling of the basement of my son's SLC house into an in-law-suite and served as general contractor for the project.  We're the test case for the shakedown of the made-over basement (new bath, kitchenette, 2nd laundry room, etc.).  About 50% of the basement was unfinished before last year.

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Most of the heavy contractor work took place last summer during the covid lockdown timeframe.  That actually worked out well as the contractors are all now super busy and everything has gone up in price.  When I wasn't skiing this winter, I was doing little finishing stuff around my son's house such as installing baseboard trim, window blinds, appliances/fixtures/knobs, and doing yardwork, misc painting, etc.

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On March 28 I resumed skiing at Snowbird again.  I began using a new pair of skis that were gifted to me, Renoun Endurance 98, 184cm length, 98mm underfoot, from VT I believe.  It took a while for them to grow on me.  I didn't like them in firm conditions, but over the next couple months I eventually learned to enjoy them in powder and soft spring conditions.  They are a little longer than I usually ski and I like that on some of the big open mtn faces in Utah where the tendency is for wider turns and higher speeds. 

Car next to us in this photo had NH plates.  I could go on at length about some interesting chairlift conversations this winter.  Some people are suffering and scraping by.  Others (working remotely) were having the time of their lives.  One guy from Philly was spending a lengthy period skiing in Utah while working remotely and had just spent a lengthy period earlier in winter in Miami Beach working remotely.  Said while in Miami his team never even knew he left Philly!

 

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Good skiing in The Bookends back in Mineral Basin that day.

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April 1st was a nice day and some fun costumes came out including this guy, he was big.  It was around this time that Snowbird stopped requiring parking reservations.  Crowds diminished.  April is really a great time to ski in Utah. It seemed like there was a decent 8-12" storm every week, then nice sunny days in between.  Missed it last year!

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Got an action shot too, this is also back in Mineral Basin, that's summit lodge to upper right:

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4/6/21 was one of those secret powder days. They got about 9-12" with very low crowds.

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Super beautiful day at Brighton 4/7/21, 35 degs, packed and loose powder. I got to ski with a terrific local telemark skier who was very photogenic. Really fit guy, thought he was a dozen years younger than me, but found out only one.

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Western trail, the route back from the Great Western Chair to the rest of the Brighton layout might be The most scenic cat track in Utah.

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to be continued...

Edited by JimK
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Posted (edited)

Most of the ski areas in Utah close around Apr 10-20 so I tried to get to a few of them before then.  

April 9th at Deer Valley was super sunny and warmed to about 45 degs with light crowds. Fun stuff.


Stein's Way, they named the most scenic run after THE man.

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This is up off the Empire Chair
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At one point we saw 4 or 5 similarly dressed young women heading into Stein's Lodge.  I started to say to my buddies, "look at all the neon."  When one of them heard me and yelled out, "the Neon Girls are back!"

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Sampling the local brewski

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Got a kick out of this guy playing electric guitar with portable amp while skiing.  A few weeks later I saw him again at Snowbird.  Would be a good guy to have around at an apreski tailgate party!

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A friend took this shot of me in mid-April.  That pair of Kastle's are the narrowest ski I own at 85mm underfoot (176cm long). I use them for firmer days.  I think they are a lady's ski, but got them new from steepncheap a couple years ago for $149.  My outfit unintentionally almost matched that day😜

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That same day I took my first ride of the season on the Snowbird tram.  This was after two months in Utah.  They ran it at greatly reduced (25 person) capacity all season and it was always a fairly long wait.  Plus, I wasn't that interested before I had my second vax shot.  That day, Apr 13, it was walk-on and there were only about a dozen others on it with me.  After that I started riding it about once a day.

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The next few days it got quite snowy in the Wasatch Mtns, to be continued...

 

Edited by JimK
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Posted (edited)

Jumping through my travel timeline to share a photo from yesterday, 27May2021.  I began the return trip east, this is Canyonlands National Park UT.  All natural light and colors in this photo taken from Grandview trail about 8PM.

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Above photo taken from a trail that follows the edge of cliff on the right side of this photo:

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Edited by JimK
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

Wow, kind of dropped this thread when I got busy with summer activities, but let's see if I can pick it up with some more photo-stoke.

As I mentioned earlier, April 2021 was quite good in UT.  It seemed like decent little storm every week with sunshine in between, and no crowds.

These shots are from Snowbird in mid-April:

A couple of Irish-Americans celebrating a good day at Snowbird with the black stuff

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A couple of great Asian-American friends enjoying springtime cotton candy snow.

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I was fortunate to connect with a variety of friends for many of my ski days.  With the lower crowds of springtime things really started to feel "normal" again.

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View down the Rasta Chutes, with Little Cloud chair in background

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Postcard shot of the tram, they ran it at limited 25 person capacity all winter and I didn't start using it until April

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View looking into The Cirque from its upper section.

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I'll post some more late spring 2021 photos soon.

Edited by JimK
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In late April I finally got a ski day at beautiful Alta ski area.

Collins Face:

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The Ballroom.1756386919_23aprdanielballroom.thumb.jpg.1d8f02eb927021b7413235cf860ac62f.jpg

It was their closing weekend and the crazies came out.

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April went out with a bang with a nice one foot snow storm on Apr 26 and 27.  The morning of the 27th was really good at Snowbird because the sun came out.  I met a friendly stranger while booting up on Bypass Road below the Peruvian side of the mountain.  His name was Craig.  He was about 60 and a really strong local skier.  We hung out together for about 2.5 hours.  He made a good subject for my photos.

Little Cloud Bowl, Snowbird, UT

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Upper Cirque

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Getting  a little air in Dalton's Draw1703431483_apr27craigdalton.thumb.jpg.7e446e78fbb74093f243d9f41c30d82e.jpg

One weekday in early May I rode the tram with a half dozen members of the US Ski Team (Moguls)

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Normally the backside of Snowbird (Mineral Basin) can be crowded on a pretty morning, but not by May.

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Next post:  closing weekend at Snowbird.

Edited by JimK
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  • 2 weeks later...

Got to ski with two of my grown kids on May 1, 2021.  Hadn't seen this particular daughter since before the pandemic:

🥰

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Went hiking with her next day.

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She took a nice photo of my wife and I at Goblin Valley State Park, UT:

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OK, back to skiing.  The weekend of May 14-16, 2021 was the closing weekend of Snowbird's ski season.  This is several weeks earlier than normal.  They almost always make it to Memorial Day and sometimes to the 4th of July.  I think they closed at that time for a couple reasons.  April was good skiing, but temps turned exceptionally warm in May and there was a lot of snow melt particularly on important connecting cat tracks.  Also, it had been a challenging season with all the pandemic factors and there may have been some fatigue on the part of the resort operators.  A lot of special demands were placed on the staff (and guests) and I'm just guessing, but I think they were just relieved to have a reasonably successful season and were ready for an early break.

These photos from May 14-16:

First four are me and friends in The Bookends area of Mineral Basin.

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Some friends heading down Chips Face.  That's the Cliff lodge below on left, bypass road (where I often park) on right.

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A bunch of Elvis's walked by while we were having a beer at the base one day.elvis.thumb.jpg.4cef80c1fad893bfc65e4644170d772e.jpg

My son doing the pond skim.  I tried it too and got a little wet😅720475832_vincepondskimmay15(2).thumb.jpg.a3b48bf0b51469402e6dd14a1218fe2a.jpg

There were four guys up there making repairs/checks on the tram one day at a couple hundred feet off the ground!

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My son and a friend on the last hour of the last day, May 16.  Around one o'clock storm clouds rolled in with thunder, then rain. They halted all lifts shortly thereafter. We were some of the last ones out of Mineral Basin. It was a wonderful ski season at Snowbird, much better than I could of hoped for a few short months before. I so hope the world can get back to normal by next ski season!

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