Sunday, February 28, 2010

Math Lesson - Running in Ski Boots - 17,920 Vertical Feet

Today we only did a half day of skiing at Deer Vally. I must say once again that the accessiblity at Deer Valley is pheonomenal. We got on the first lift at 12:20 and got to the base of the mountain at 3:55 for a grant total of three hours and thirty five minutes on the mountain. Figure in our 30 minute "brownie" break and 95 minutes waiting for and on lifts, we only actually skied for about an hour and a half. But, in that hour and a half I skied 17,920 vertical feet. To continue our math lesson, that comes out to almost 12,000 vertical feet an hour. I skied more today in a half day than I did on other full days. That's pretty impressive if you ask me.

We opted not to have lunch on the mountain since we only skied a half day, so instead we went to Cushing's Cabin at the top of Flagstaff Mountain. It's a small eatery stocked with baked good and coffee all day. For lunch they make sure to have chilli on hand, something usefull to know if we don't wan't to head to one of the bigger eateries.

Me and Shane outside Cushing's Cabin

Like I said before, we got to the base of the mountain at 3:55, which coincidentally is only three minutes before the bus leaves! It's either three minutes or 33 minutes. We decided NOT to wait for 33 minutes and rushed instead of slothed. Mom and Shane carried the skis and left the poles for me while I scurried down the stairs to the locker room to get mine and Mom's cat-tracks then back up the stairs to get the poles and dash across oncoming traffic to get to the bus stop. But you know what, I made it! I suggest never running in ski boots, it's quite difficult.

All in all it was a good day. We didn't work too hard (hence the half day) because we are going to Snowbird tomorrow, which is going to be quite an adventure. Until then...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snowboardless Wonderousness - 21,390 Vertical Feet

I failed to include in yesterday's post what happened AFTER The Canyons. Please backtrack with me a little bit.

Last night the three of us went out to dinner in Old Town Park City at Cafe Terigo. Mom had eaten here before on previous trips to Park City and liked it so much she wanted to share the experience with me and Shane. The 22 year old restaurant resides in a brick building right on Main Street. The menu boats both French and Italian cuisine. I consider Cafe Terigo a fine dining establishment without the fuss. Families are welcome here, as is casual dress. I enjoyed the artichoke appetizer and the lamb chop entree, Mom had the Utah trout which she thought was delicious, and Shane had the chicken fettuccine which was good enough to doggy bag. When my glass of wine came with dinner, I immediately appreciated the big full glasses of wine I get back in New York. Silly Utah drinking laws.

Skiing in Deer Valley today was the polar opposite of The Canyons yesterday. As you all know by now, I am a big fan of Deer Valley. The comfort level is fantastic. Every chair lift has a foot rest, there are multiple tissue boxes on every lift line, the food is amazing, the accessibility is superb, just to name a few. It is safe to say that Shane's first experience of Deer Valley was a good one, and luckily for him there were no fires in any lodges.

After skiing both Deer Valley and Park City many times in the past few weeks, I have discovered what I like about skiing each of them. Deer Valley always grooms runs rated green circle, blue square, and double blue square. There is usually one single black diamond (not including Stein's Way which is always groomed) that is groomed (today there were two, Evergreen and Oriental Express). At Deer Valley I can either ski an easy cruising run or a difficult bump run, but not much in-between since blacks are rarely groomed and blues are rarely left ungroomed. I can't get a steep cruiser or a not steep bump run.

At Park City, the grooming report every day is wildly different. There are groomed runs, day old groomed runs, not groomed since last century runs; blue, double blue, black, Park City doesn't discriminate with it's grooming process which means I can get a less steep bump run and a steep cruiser, which I rarely get at Deer Valley. I can also ski less steep groomers and steep bump runs at Park City in addition to Deer Valley. The variety in types of runs at Park City can't be beat. But, the snowboardless wonderousness (sorry snowboarder friends, I still love you) of Deer Valley is unparalleled. In fact, there are only three snowboardless mountains in the entire USA; Deer Valley, Alta (also in Utah's Wasatch Mountains), and Mad River Glen in Vermont. The lack of snowboarders makes the snow less scraped and the noise level lower. And let me defend myself here and say that I have nothing against snowboarders in general, just the bad ones who don't know how to turn and scrape off all the snow who are also oblivious to the people around them (and yes, there are skiers like this too).

Today's 21,390 vertical feet was the perfect amount to ski. I wasn't so exhausted that I was not functional upon returning to the condo, yet I definitely felt worked out. When I returned to the condo I spent a seriously long time in the hot tub, then took a bubble bath, then a shower. My skin seriously misses hydration. It could be that time in the trip where I start to miss things back home (humidity, for example). My plane leaves in 6 days and I am going to enjoy my time in Utah all 6 of those days.

Tomorrow it's back to Deer Valley to stay away from the Park City weekend crowd. Until then...

Me, Mom, Shane at the top of Bald Mountain on Stein's Way

The Canyons Fail - 13,354 Vertical Feet

I arrived at The Canyons with a positive outlook, and I promise that I tried to keep that positivism up, but it was truly a feat.

My first impression was good. I thought the Cabriolet ride from the bus stop to the Gondola and base was cute. I even managed to find an $8 off coupon to use towards the lift tickets. The base area was charming like most ski areas are. The walk to the Gondola from the Cabriolet was a cinch. The gondola ride was pleasant and the Red Pine Lodge area was bustling and full of energy. Then we skied down our first run, Chicane, and it all went downhill (literally) from there.

Instead of going into everything we did today, which will bore you because I was bored doing it, I will tell you the pros and cons of The Canyons.


Comfort: None of the lifts have a footrest, and some of them are very long! Maybe I'm spoiled, but I enjoy having a footrest, and while I understand they can't be on every lift, at least the newer lifts should have one. Also, there are no tissues at the lift lines. Nonsensical! Spoiled? Maybe, but I think tissues in a ski area are common sense. Also, the bus stop is after Park City Mountain resort so when you get on at the end of the day, there is no sitting room and you have to stand in your ski boots holding your skis/poles/gear. How frustrating is that?

Food: Dining gets a below average rating for ski resort fare. The food was likely the worst ski area food I can ever recall eating.

Accessibility: There isn't any! Getting around The Canyons is a nightmare. I probably spent more time on cat-tracks than on actual trails today. The Canyons is a big place, and whoever designed the area certainly did not take into consideration how to get around. We even found ourselves side stepping up hills just to move around the mountain. Not cool my friends, not cool. It's also hard to ski the left and right sides of the mountain in the same day. Because it was so hard to get around, we didn't actually do much skiing today, even though our vertical feet skied comes out to be 13,354vf. I think most of that was on cat-tracks though. The only good run we found was a black diamond called G-Force.

Courtesy: Snowboarders and skiers alike were exceptionally rude at this mountain. The trails are narrow here but yielding to downhill skiers (a rule in the Ski Patrol Responsibility Code) wasn't given much consideration by others on the mountain. I was consistently cut off without so much as an "on your left/right".

Not only that, but when my mom was cut off by a skier, she pulled over to the side and stopped. So did the other woman, though I'm not sure for what reasons. I was stopped on the side of the trail where the woman was and my mom was on the other side. I asked my mom if she was ready to go and she said she was waiting for the other woman to go because my mom felt she was slower and didn't want a faster skier coming up behind her. Then, the man who was with the woman says to my mom, "Do you have a problem?" Seriously, dude. Our problem is your attitude acting like you own the mountain and are better than everyone else.

Another "totally awesome dude" was behind my mom at Towin, literally a tow rope that you hold on to to take up up a small hill, and got agitated when my mom needed assistance from the operator because of her less than perfect left shoulder. He could have walked faster up the hill than waiting for my mom to get help, but instead he chose to give an attitude reflecting "If you have a bad shoulder then what are you doing here." What a douche-y dude.

In my opinion, the people who usually ski at The Canyons are NOT the tourists. The tourists come for the day and never go back, because they either a) can't figure out the mountain b) get hit by a rude rider c) get food poisoning. The people at The Canyons are the locals claiming their territory. They don't want the visitors there, and they act like it. Well let me tell you something locals, we tourists are bringing you money so you better be nice. If tourists don't ski your mountain because we don't like it, your mountain will close because it won't have any money. So, there.


Watching the insane hiker skiers go up for fresh tracks.

The view from the top of Sun Peak Express.

The waffles at the Bruges Waffle house. It was SO completely delectably delicious that it might have been worth the $176 lift tickets and the $4 for the actual waffle. Ok, maybe not, but it was absolutey the best part of the day. We even opted to eat waffles rather than going down a trail.

All in all, The Canyons was a TOTAL FAIL and I am so glad that we didn't buy more of the discount tickets when we got off the airport. Today made me really appreciate how awesome other mountains are and how privileged I have been in my ski vacations over my life.

Tomorrow we're off to Deer Valley, THANK GOODNESS! Shane will get his first taste of the Deer Valley, the complete opposite of The Canyons. I'm sure in his eyes it will look that much sweeter after a day at The Canyons. He said the best part of his day was going down the Cabriolet back to the bus stop. Until then...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wacky Weather and Playful Powder - 14,692 Vertical Feet

The weather today was like an indecisive woman in a shoe store.

First the weather was snowy with zero visibility (I want the Christian Louboutin sparkly platform peep toe stilettos).
Then the weather was sunny and clear (I want the Lilly Pulitzer sandal wedges).
Then the weather was cloudy with flat light (I want the silver Tory Burch flats).
Then the weather was sunny and clear again (I want the Lilly Pulitzer sandals but in red).

Seriously weather, make up your mind! Now I know how men feel when accompanying women on shoe shopping excursions, though I don't know many men who would willingly participate in such an activity.

Mom, who was feeling much better today after her convenient sick day yesterday, and I arrived at the mountain at around noon (whoops) after Shane had already been there for 3 hours. He woke up early to attend the Power Clinic to get in some fresh powder tracks. Oh, did I mention it snowed about 10 inches last night?! Yes, there was powder all over the mountain, and it was glorious. Unfortunately, my late arrival to the mountain didn't enable me to make any serious fresh tracks for myself.

Let me tell you what I forgot about powder. It. Is. Heavy! Snow flakes are so light and fluffy when they are falling to the Earth from the sky, but when they all accumulate on the ground, they get quite weighty. Factor in skis and snowboards mushing the snow up down and all around and it's a regular mess. But a good, hot mess!

I pushed through and glided over the best powder I can ever remember skiing in my life. OK, except that time when I was 13 and in ski school in Vail and we went powder hunting through the trees. However, I'm not counting that because I can't remember if it was trail powder of just tree powder. Regardless, today was a powder day!

Being in the powder made me act like a child. Seriously. I found myself skiing up on the banks of catwalks in order to get some fresh pow and even going out of my way onto flat land to see my skis buried inches under the snow. I even made "snow cookies" in the powder... Mom rolled her eyes at that one. Snow cookies are the pieces of snow that are formed when the powder is broken. I also am a fan of making sand cookies in hard sand. Yes, I know, I'm weird. Powder makes me playful, what can I say?

Because of my late start, the powder slowing me down (yes, it does that), and Mom missing a turn off long before Shane and I noticed (whoops), I only skied 14,692 vertical feet today. I'm happy with that though. I can feel my knees burning at this moment from all the "driving" they did today.

Tomorrow we are going to The Canyons, a new mountain to all of us. It's a massive mountain so Mom has already been studying the map trying to figure out the best places to ski. Suggestions? Until then...

Shane's lovely helmet hair at lunch made ma laugh out loud.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Up and Down - 18,885 Vertical Feet

If yesterday was perfect than today was far from it weather wise.

Shane and I skied just the two of us today because Mom is sick (get well soon, Mom). We skied very "up and down" as I like to call it. Going up the lift, deciding where we'll go next while on the lift, getting off the lift, skiing down, rinse and repeat. This was the way it HAD to be today because it was so "snowy and blowy" as my mom likes to say. This is Mom's least favorite kind of weather, so a good day for her to be sick if she had to be sick at all. It was snowing a very wet snow and the wind was howling making chair lift rides excruciatingly uncomfortable. It wasn't that cold temperature wise (27F at the base), but factor in the wind chill and lack of sunshine, it felt super brr brr chilly.

Shane and I went "up and down" from 10:00am to 2:30pm (with an hour for lunch) and skied a total of 18,885 vertical feet. We ended early in hopes that Mom would feel better when we got back to the condo and we all would go out to dinner in Old Town Park City, not to mention my right foot was terribly cold. Unfortunately, Mom wasn't feeling any better so we stayed in and ate left over mac and cheese (it's even amazing reheated!) for dinner while my foot warmed up and while Mom watched some more of her defensive driving video. I'm quite certain it put her to sleep at some point.

I hope Mom is better by tomorrow because there is supposedly going to be up to 16 inches of powder tomorrow. The pagan in me is praying to the snow gods and the get well soon gods for powder and a healthy Mom. Tomorrow we are heading back to Park City for the last time this week. Until then...

PS - I booked my tickets to St. Louis today, so look forward to St. Louis travel entries in late March and early April! Happy birthday to Kyle at Cole Sport. There are no pictures or videos in this post because it was too chilly to unmitten my digits. Do you forgive me?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Goal Accomplished - Blue Slip Bowl - Quintuple Day - 19,642 Vertical Feet

Perfect packed powder. ✓
Bright and shiny sunshine. ✓
Windless wonder. ✓
Terrifically warm temperature. ✓
Big beautiful bluebird sky. ✓

A quintuple day. Five elements of skiing (snow, sun, wind temperature, aesthetics), all perfect. There are other kinds of perfect days as well, but this is my favorite kind. My mom's favorite is powder conditions. To each his or her own.

Shane, Mom, and I all skied together today for the first time this season. Lucky Shane got to experience the GPS that is Tamara. Usually in our family, Shane is the directions and map guy, but since he hasn't been here for the first two weeks, that role fell upon me, and it turns out I am actually pretty good at it and I actually kind of like it... For the ski slopes, not for the roads (give me GPS any day when I'm in a car).

There were a few runs we did today that were new to me and Mom; a black diamond (BD)off Pioneer called Sampson (did not like), a BD off Silverlode called Newport (liked better than Sampson, but did not love), a BD off Motherlode called Double Jack (loved), a BD off King Con called Combustion (loved, mostly because it meant we didn't have to take blue Hot Spot), and finally off of Pioneer a BD called Pioneer accessed by DOUBLE BD Blue Slip Bowl!

Yes, my faithful readers, I have accomplished my second goal, skiing Blue Slip Bowl to get to the lovely Pioneer trail. And not only did I accomplish this goal, I killed it. I skied Blue Slip Bowl THREE times today I loved it so much. It was utter perfection; groomed, steep, empty, and in the sunshine! Two weeks ago this run seemed daunting. Today it was nothing but fun. I find it absolutely amazing how much stronger my legs have gotten. The first few days a blue and double blue runs were hard on my legs, now I am breezing through black diamonds and even getting excited for double black diamonds. Look at me go!

Shane and me skiing Blue Slip Bowl

Mom skiing Blue Slip Bowl, isn't she gorgeous?

Shane certainly got a workout on his first day with all the black diamond runs, but he can handle it. However, for the first time in family skiing history, Mom and I wore Shane out! He was yawning at the end of the day and even opted not to go up the Payday lift one last time with me before getting off the mountain. I was shocked! This means that I skied more vertical feet than he did for the first time; me at 19,642 vertical feet and Shane at 18,364vf. Although, I have to hand it to him. He hasn't been skiing for two weeks straight like Mom and I, and he flew in yesterday. I remember how exhausted I was the day after I flew in, I didn't even ski the next day. GO, SHANE!

Tomorrow it's back to Park City. Let's see if Shane can keep up with me tomorrow. Until then...

Also, you can read my brother's blog, The Rabbit Hole, for his perspective of his stay in Utah.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I have Goggle Tan - Shane Arrives and Meets Albert

Today was a day off because my brother, Shane was arriving from New York. But before I get to him...

This morning, me legs were still uber tired from all the skiing I did yesterday with Dan and Pasha. It pained me just to walk up the stairs, prompting me to stay in one place (mainly my bed) for extended periods of time. Other than feeling sore, I noticed another physical difference; I have goggle tan!

Goggle tan is one of the dreaded consequences of tearing it up mountain style for too long. It's when the bottom, exposed part of one's face gets tan, and the top, unexposed part of one's face stays pale. It's like Winter and Summer on your face at the same time. Oh, bother. Dan had mentioned to me yesterday that I had goggle tan. I reassured him it was wind burn. Today, he proved me wrong. Thanks, Dan!

But, goggle tan or no goggle tan, life must go on. My brother arrived early in the afternoon. I greeted him at the garage door and got a huge hug. Shane proceeded to unpack things and stash them in "my" closet, as he's staying in the loft where there isn't one. He's lucky I haven't gone shopping at TJ Maxx yet. Then he proceeded to have a huge snack of cheese, salami, and crackers. He didn't get to finish them though because I realized the bus was coming in five minutes and we needed to head to Cole Sport at Park City Mountain to get his ski and boot rentals.

We scurried out of the condo and made the bus by one minute. When we got to Cole Sport, I'm pretty sure Kyle and Vic didn't recognize me since I wasn't in all my ski gear. It even felt weird for me to be in there in normal clothes, with my hair down, and mascara on! Kyle helped Shane get his boots and skis set up in a flash and we were back at the bus stop just a minute before the bus came. We headed to Fresh Market (the old Albertsons) to pick up the greatest frozen turkey meatballs on the planet since they aren't carried at Smith's. Because I'm now a master at the bus schedule, we only waited two minutes for the bus at Fresh Market before heading back to the condo. When we got back to the condo we had to run more errands, poor Shane, he was so exhausted. I introduced Shane to Albert the Shopping Cart and they bonded while we went to Smith's to pick up the rest of our groceries. It was quite a romantic scene.

Finally, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Mom's famous macaroni and cheese (I'm sure some of you reading are drooling right now). It would have been a great way to end the night, but then Mom started freaking out about how Shane would get down the stairs in the middle of the night. Where are the nightlights!? She is too funny. We moved some nightlights around so Shane could see the bottom of the stairs, problem solved.

Tomorrow it's off to Park City for the first day of all three of us skiing together since last year in Jackson Hole. Maybe, just maybe, this time Mom and I will be able to keep up with Shane. Until then...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fires and Friends - 25,170 Vertical Feet

So much happened today!

Mom and I woke up early enough to get on an 8:45am bus. Yes, believe it. Knowing that fresh snow was headed our way, we decided that getting up early today would be a wise decision, especially since tomorrow is a day off and we can sleep late. When we were going up the chairlift after our second run, the time was 10:15am. I said, "Mom, it's the time we are usually getting on the bus and we've already skied two runs!" The lift operator thought that was funny.

Since it had snowed (the whole reason we were up and at 'em early), we were ready to make fresh tracks in some powder! Skiing the same resort two days in a row is a great way to do this. Why? Because we know what was groomed yesterday and was wasn't groomed today! Groomers have less powder, even though the snow is still great, and day old groomers are still usually smooth AND have fresh powder, a winning combination.

Getting to the mountain earlier than usual meant that we were hungrier earlier than usual, and a good thing too. We got to Silver Lake Lodge at 11:30 for lunch. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we both got too much food, but we likely wouldn't have been able to finish it anyway. At the end of our meal, we were warming our feet by the fire to get toasty toes, I was still bootless, and the fire alarm went off! We had to evacuate the building! I grabbed my mittens and neck warmer from the fireside, put on my boots as quickly as possible, and grabbed my jacket and helmet as I ran out the door. Some idiots had pushed out their chairs in front of the door making it so no one could get out, so of course, the lifeguard in me removed the chairs on my way out. We exited the building from the second floor and entered into a flurry of white flakes; it was snowing again!

Knowing that my friend Daniel (who I met on my recent Birthright Israel trip who lives in San Fransisco) and his brother Pasha were coming to Utah, I had coordinated with him to meet up and ski together. Today, their last day here in Utah, they came to Deer Valley to ski with me. We met up after Mom and I evacuated the burning lodge (the fire department came and everything is fine) to ski the afternoon together. I've never skied with friends before, in all my years of skiing, let alone two very strong guys! They kept me working all afternoon. Because I've spent so much time at Deer Valley, I am a regular mountain guide. I know what's been groomed, where the "good" runs are, what time the lifts close, and how to get around in general. Dan and Pasha had it good, because they didn't even need to think about where they were going, they just asked me what was next. Dan said, "Fantastic day. Thanks for automated, real time, voice navigated, turn by turn ski instruction. You rock." Now that's a compliment if I've ever heard one. Maybe I should become a Deer Valley Mountain Host...

Me and Dan on top of Flagstaff, his favorite.

After skiing 25,170 vertical feet today, 14,490vf with Dan and Pasha, I decided to have my first Apres Ski experience of my life. The three of us went to the EBS Lounge in Snow Park Lodge to have a drink. We were surprised to find that the lounge has live music for apres ski! Utah has a funny law about drinking, in that you have to order food in conjunction with alcohol. There is also a maximum amount of 1.5oz of alcohol in a cocktail and 5oz of wine in a glass; it's all written right there on the menu. Regardless, I had a deliciously delicious Hot Buttered Rum. It warmed me all the way down to my freezing cold toes. I think it also helped thaw out the icicle in my hair.

The guys loved Deer Valley and were so glad to have had the chance to ski there on their short trip to Utah. Quoting Pasha, "Skiing in skiers only resort in Utah is like clubbing with hot people only, nobody is in your way sitting on their ass, love it!" I'm glad you both had such a great time! I had a blast as well.

When I got back to the condo, I hopped right into the hot tub. All that skiing really took it out of me. Then, while I was watching the Olympics I started falling asleep on the couch in front of the fire, but woke up when I realized I had to write this blog. And look how much I wrote! Much better than the last time I skied this much.

Tomorrow my brother gets here! I am so excited to see him. Fly safe, Shane! Until then...

Toasty Toes - 12,070 Vertical Feet

One of the most uncomfortable things that can happen to a skier is getting cold feet. No, I don't mean getting nervous about going down a difficult run (although I'm sure that could happen). I mean physically cold feet. Mom and I had the unfortanate experience of cold feet today.

It was cold today, brrrr. We dried out boots out last night and this morning and put them on before dashing out the door to catch the bus to Deer Valley. While we were on the bus, not yet half-way to Deer Valley, Mom mentions that her feet are cold. My feet were feeling cold as well, but I know better than to bring up cold extremities around my mom. For some reason she gets colder hearing me talk about being cold. When I said that my feet were cold too, we knew something wasn't right.

We headed to our super secret bench at Snow Park Lodge to take off our cat-tracks, tighten up our boots, and put on all our gear before heading up the lift. I took my foot out of my boot, felt around inside with my hand, and determined that my boot was still wet from the day before! Cue the "ew, Tamara, your feet are sweaty" comments. Mom's boot, unfortunately, was wet as well. There is a Cole Sport in Deer Valley at the Silver Lake Lodge, up a lift ride from Snow Park Lodge, so we decided to head up there and have the boot technicians heat our boots up for us.

At Cole Sport, Mike took our boots and placed them on his handy dandy boot heater for 5 minutes each. While we were talking to him, we discovered that his wife's good friend lives in our town! We don't know her, but it was fun to talk about the places he had been and agree that Beacon is the best restaurant in the world.

When Mike gave us back our boots, putting them back on was like heaven, and that is hard to say about ski boots. They were so warm and toasty! We thanked him and headed back outside, where it was now snowing!

The snow was falling fast and in huge fluffy flakes. Perfect snow. Luckily, it continued to snow all throughout the day. Even though our noses, thumbs, and toes got cold, we relished in the falling flakes. The snow conditions were getting better and better by the minute. The lift operators even had to start sweeping snow off of the chairs becuase it was accumulating so fast!

After our delicious lunch at Silver Lake Lodge where we also warmed up our toes by the fire, Mom and I practiced what we learned from our lesson yesterday; "little toe to the snow" and "slither". We did a couple of a bump runs and let our little toes guide us through the new fallen powder. All 12,070 vertical feet we skied today were in glorious conditions. I hope that the conditions tomorrow are even better! After the glorious grooming at Deer Valley and the powder on top of it... I almost can't contain myself. Until then...

Mom and I on Northside Express in the snow!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Memory Lane - Be Cool, Go to Ski School! - 9,182 Vertical Feet

One of my favorite memories from going on ski vacations as a child was attending ski school. I LOVED ski school.

Let's take a trip down Memory Lane...

I remember being a three year old "snow puppy" and riding the chair lift in Aspen Highlands to the bunny slope. At the end of the lift was a Big Bird from Sesame Street cutout reminding the snow puppies to keep their tips up and to get off the lift safely. I also remember falling asleep on the same chairlift and awakening when my little legs hit the wand that tells you you've gone too far. I also remember being lifted out of the chair by a lift operator after waking up. Honestly, these are some of the first memories I have from my life.

I remember having an instructor named Carol Carroll (seriously, her married name, not sure if I'm spelling it right) who loved sucking on Atomic Fireball candy in the gondola. She also taught me a riddle that I still stump people with today. "Whoever makes it, sells it. Whoever buys it, doesn't use it for himself. Whoever uses it, doesn't know he's using it. What is it?"

I loved ski school so much that I attended ski school at every mountain we visited (Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Vail, and Steamboat) until I was 14. Unfortunately, we all got too busy to go on family ski vacations after that.

Last year when Mom, Shane (my brother), and I went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we took a half day private lesson with Sloane. Mom, being the ultimate mom, had worked out with Sloane, little to Shane's and my knowledge, that Mom would ditch the class at the end and Sloane would take my brother and me to the Hobacks. The Hobacks are an area of Jackson that are completely filled with moguls, trees, double fall lines, and general awesomeness. Shane and I had been working toward skiing the Hobacks our entire time in Jackson. We had such a blast with Sloane. I don't ever remember skiing such difficult terrain for so long in my life. It was hard, but it was so worth it. My brother and I tore it up, and we'll both remember it forever.

This video is a snippet of my skiing the ginormous moguls in the Hobacks. The "I told you so" at the end was directed towards certain individuals who did not believe I could ski bumps.

Today, Mom and I went to ski school! We had originally thought of attending the morning power clinic, but when we learned that it started at 8:45am, we quickly ruled that out. Mom and I are usually putzing around in our long underwear eating breakfast at that time. There is no way we would ever make it to a lesson that early in the morning. We opted to participate in the skiers workshop instead. Skiers workshop is for adult skiers who are a level five or above. At the meeting area, three instructors asked us questions about our ability and what we wanted from the lesson. Then, the 13 people who showed up skied down a short run and the instructors split us up into three groups. The "still learning" skiers, the "I know everything but I want to perfect it" skiers, and the "I don't want to learn anything I just want to tear it up" skiers. Mom and I were in the group who wanted to perfect, of course.

The reason I wanted to take a lesson was so that I could improve my technique on steeper groomers and to learn how to better ski some bumps! Our instructor, Clark, showed me exactly how to do both of those things. Score. The main focus on groomers is "little toe to the snow". Let me explain, or try to (I'm not as good explaining ski technique as Clark is). When you ski, your skis are parallel to each other (or at least they should be). When you go into your turn, your skis stay parallel. You achieve the turn by shifting your weight. The way to shift your weight is by guiding your downhill little toe down the mountain ("little toe to the snow"). When you do this, the other foot will follow, and you will have a beautiful, round, speed controlled turn. It worked for me at least! I'm already a convert.

For the bumps, Clark was also able to explain how to ski them without losing control and getting jostled around. First, DO NOT EDGE! This was so counteractive to the way I think about skiing that it blew my mind. Don't edge? Seriously? OK, Clark, if you say so. Instead of edging, "slither" down the run, meaning don't edge and keep your skis flat. By not edging you will have more control over the speed and direction of your skis. To begin your "slither", pick a bump, ski to the top of it, pivot your skis, and then "little toe to the snow" and let your skis "slither" to the next bump. Get on top of the bump and repeat. Think about the bumps one at a time, and not about the entire run; then you won't get overwhelmed by all the bumps looming ahead of you. If you encounter a bump you don't like, slide down it and move on the next one. Don't put up with bumps you don't like, because you don't have to. It's not like you're competing for a gold medal in the Olympics!

n.b. When Clark first began the class he spoke about how to ski safely. And guess how he ended the class? How to ski safely. My kind of guy. However, that didn't prevent an out of control arrogrant snowboarder with no manners or mountain courtesy from crashing into and knocking my mom down at the end of the day. Le sigh. Unfortunately, you can't control others on the mountain, only yourself.

Even though we only skied 9,182 vertical feet, I feel muscle soreness that I haven't felt before in 11 days of skiing, probably from Clark's techinical tinkering. Now equipped with my new techniques for groomers and bumps, I feel confident that I can really tear up the mountain with Shane when he arrives in three days. I can't wait! Tomorrow Mom and I are going to Deer Valley to practive our newly aquired ski knowledge. Until then...

Friday, February 19, 2010

15,037 Vertical Feet - Be An Optimist

Everything seemed to be going not so right today. I got up late. I locked Mom's neck warmer in the one time use locker. I got half-way to the lift with my skis and mine and Mom's poles before realizing that I still had my cat-tracks on. I had problems with my right boot ALL day. Mid-Mountain Restaurant was sold out of what I wanted to eat for lunch. Whole Foods "forgot" the order Mom called in this morning and it wasn't ready when I went to pick it up. The chili powder we used in the turkey chili Mom made tonight was actually spicy chili powder. I'm afraid to walk up the stairs after I write this.

But, since I'm an optimist...

I got to the mountain on time, even though I slept late. The one time use lockers do open (duh) so I was able to get Mom's neck warmer out. Vic at Cole Sport gave us a token to re-close it again. I am perfectly capable of walking back to Cole Sport to take off my cat-tracks. After ending the day early and skiing "only" 15,037 vertical feet because of my boot problems, the technicians at Cole Sport were able to tinker with the boot and show me how to properly put it on and buckle it up. I'll be testing it out tomorrow. I got a really good meatball sub for lunch instead of the roast turkey that I originally wanted. Whole Foods was able to get it together and re-make the order in less than 10 minutes and provided good conversation while I waited. The turkey chili spiciness was easily calmed down by sour cream and whole wheat spaghetti, and it still tasted delicious. And I haven't fallen on the stairs... yet.

I'm glad to be here in Park City embracing my inner ski bum. The little things can't ruin the experience that I am having. Some days don't run as smoothly as I'd like them to, but I have to remember to look on the bright side. As my mom likes to say, "If it wasn't for the optimist, the pessimist wouldn't know how happy he wasn't".

Tomorrow I will have been in Utah for two weeks. Half of my ski adventure will be over. But since I'm an optimist, I still have two weeks left to ski!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day Off - Uber Girly

Skiing is a workout, so rest days are needed. I know that when my brother comes for 10 days, there is little to no chance I will be getting a break. He's going to want to take advantage of every second he can on the mountain. I'm tired already just thinking about it.

During my day off today, I enjoyed doing the simplest of things that I don't do when I am going to be spending the day skiing. First, I slept late. That was utter perfection. After a long morning shower, I put on real clothes, as opposed to long johns and ski gear. I wore my hair down which felt great after having it in a braid all the time under my helmet. I wore my beloved Uggs instead of ski boots. That might have been the best part of the day (toe freedom!). Finally, I put on mascara, which made me feel uber girly. For some reason wearing goggles that make me look like a bug doesn't make me feel girly.

Mom and I explored Redstone this afternoon. We went to the Post Office and got some postcard stamps, did a huge grocery shop at Smith's, and then headed to a nail salon to get manicures. Oh, what a pleasure that was! My hands, especially my cuticles, were getting so dry from the low humidity content of the air here. The nail technician cut my cuticles perfectly so there are no snaggled edges that I could bite off (nail biting is a terrible habit of mine). But, the best part about the manicure was getting a parafin wax dip for my hands! It's included in the manicure here (it's not back East) becuase everyone's hands get so dry. It felt awesome and looked funky. My mom joked that with the wax on her hands they looked younger! Silly Mom.

After experiencing the waxy goodness on our hands, Mom and I decided that the next time we go we will get manicures AND pedicures. I'm sure we'll be glad to have our feet pampered after all the time they spend in ski boots.

Tomorrow it's back to skiing in Park City. Now that I've had a day of rest, I'm confident I'll be able to get up to 20,000 vertical feet again. Until then...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

16,284 Vertical Feet - Skier Safety - Mardi Gras and the Bra Tree

Skiing is a sport. It's supposed to be fun. But, it's also a dangerous sport. A skier can injure themselves, or others on the mountain. There are all kinds of obstacles when skiing; trees, rocks, sticky snow, chair lift posts, other skiers... the list goes on. Here are a few tips to help you be a safer skier or snowboarder.

1. Read the Skier Responsibility Code. At any mountain resort, if a ski patroller witnesses a skier or rider violating the code, that person will lose lift privileges. No questions asked.

2. Wear a helmet. It's just the smart thing to do. I do not care if it's not fashionable. There are so many brands and styles for helmets that anyone can find a helmet to suit his or her style.

3. Stay withing boundaries posted by ski patrol. Boundaries are often marked off with ropes or poles. They're made pretty obvious so you can't miss them. Ski patrol blocks off unsafe terrain because of avalanche susceptibility, lack of snow cover, or any reason they deem unsafe. Respect the ski patrol and do not ski out of bounds.

4. Know how to contact ski patrol when on the mountain. At Park City, ski patrol is contacted by going to one of their bases directly (usually located near lifts) or through a lift attendant or other mountain employee. At the end of the day, ski patrol sweeps the mountain searching for anyone who is stuck on the mountain for whatever reason. If you are able, and no one can help you, simply dial 911 from your cell phone (because I know you're all skiing with you cell phones). Be aware of where you are skiing to best inform 911 operators if you should need to contact them, which I hope you don't.

5. Take a lesson. Ski instructors are trained to teach not only skiing skills, but mountain safety. They teach necessary skills such as how to get on and off a chair lift (not as easy as it looks) and how to control your equipment.

6. Finally, one of my BIGGEST pet peeves... Do NOT wear headphones blaring music while skiing or riding! Yeah, it's cool to hear your favorite tunes while cruising down an awesome groomer. But, it's not safe. Seriously, it's not. Shocking, considering you can now buy a helmet that has built in earphones, or ski jackets that have places for your headphones to feed through. Tsk tsk ski gear manufacturers. If you're listening to music, you can't hear when a fast skier is coming up behind you, which means you might go into their path and have a collision. Not cool. Save the music for on the lift or while waiting for the shuttle.

Remember, just because you consider yourself a good skier does not mean you are invincible. People of all ages and abilities can get hurt on the mountain. My mom, while she was a ski instructor in Aspen, dislocated her shoulder. Why? She was skiing while tired, lost control, and fell. She's since gotten a pin in her shoulder. I know a snowboarder who fell in a terrain park and cut a HUGE gash in his leg that should have gotten stitches. He didn't get them, tsk tsk. He simply put a band-aid on it and kept riding (typical snowboarder). When I was younger and in ski school, I was flying down the NASTAR race (hoping for a gold) and I fell and hurt my knee. I got taken to ski patrol headquarters in a toboggan. My mom found out by seeing her name on the information board at the ski lift! I'm sure she proceeded to freak out. My brother, saw the whole thing happen from a chair lift he was on.

What has prompted this entry about safely, you are probably wondering. Well, two things happened today that were examples of NOT skiing safely.

1. Mom and I were skiing a gorgeous black diamond run called Crescent. Mom always skis ahead of me so I can follow her on black diamonds because then I can help her up if she falls. My mom, an extremely safe skier, was skiing to the side as she usually does so she can only get passed on one side because she is aware that she is slower than many skiers. It is always good to be aware of your ability. I was above her and on the opposite side of the run when I heard the sound of a fast skier coming down. I don't have eyes in the back of my head, so I couldn't see the skier, and I stopped. I looked at my mom, who apparently also heard him and slowed down as well. The skier passed my mom on the inside going WAY too fast. Now remember, Mom is skiing on the side so passing on her inside is like passing on the side of the road with the solid white line while driving. NOT SAFE. He missed pummelling her by a foot, maybe. If my mom had been wearing headphones, she wouldn't have heard the skier and would not have slowed down, and he surely would have hit her, or to avoid hitting her would have gone completely off the trail into the trees.

I saw the whole thing happen, and was completely appalled. This guy, who probably thought he was being super macho by skiing super fast down a black diamond, almost crashed into my little mom. He didn't stop to apologize, he just kept going at the same speed. If he were skiing safely, he would have realized there was a skier in front of him and moved to a different part of the run, or he would have simply slowed down. Because he did neither of these, I doubt if he even was a "good" skier. He was probably out of control and violating the Skier Responsibility Code. All I have to say is, "What a schmuck!"

2. Mom and I were riding up the Pioneer lift, under which is a double fall line run filled with moguls and trees. The bottom part is really nice, but to get to it is a total nightmare. One of my goals is to get to the bottom half of Pioneer run by way of Blue Slip Bowl (not the area under the lift), so named because it's a HUGEly steep run. As we're approaching the top of the lift my mom points up and says, "Look, there's skiers coming down the run." We like to watch skiers do the crazy things we won't do. It's good lift entertainment. As we got closer, we realized the skiers were two very small children (about 6 and 8 from what we judged) with their dad.

The children were sitting down trying to untangle their skis, sliding down the mountain, and very very unhappy. We could hear them whimpering from up in the lift! This dad was obviously irresponsible and unsafe. You can't enter this run without seeing how advanced it is. Mom and I, feeling bad for these children all the way at the top of this advanced run went to the ski patrollers at the top of he lift (they have a base there) and told them about the kids and their dad, because we were worried about them getting down without getting hurt. The ski patrollers had just come off the lift themselves and had seen it all. Do you know what they said to us? "They're fine, they'll make it down." Which is probably true, BUT these kids were not happy, and they will probably never want to go skiing again, which is a shame because skiing is so much fun.

As a former lifeguard, I was completely shocked by the response of these two ski patrollers. The main job of a lifeguard is to PREVENT accidents before they happen. I would think the same would hold true for a ski patroller. I often see them waving down fast skiers who are approaching "slow zones". I thought the ski patrollers would at least go down to where they were skiing and stay with them while they got to the bottom of the run, just to make sure nothing happened to them. Because, honestly, I haven't seen a single person going down that run any time I ride Pioneer lift. This means that dad was going to have a hard time getting someone to go to ski patrol for him if one of his kids got hurt.

On a lighter note, today is Fat Tuesday which literally translates into Mardi Gras! In honor of Mardi Gras, ski areas often go all out and celebrate with beads and mini parades. I remember when I was younger I always wanted the most and the biggest beads. I kept them for a long time hanging on the side of my bed. But, the best way to use Mardi Gras beads in a ski area, is to throw them on a tree! This tree is also often the "bra tree". I've been looking for a good one hear in Utah that can compare to the awesome ones I've seen in Vail and Aspen Highlands. I haven't found one that's quite as good, but this one is the closest I could find. I've been eyeing it for weeks, seeing if it will "grow" and today, it looked better than ever with all it's new Mardi Gras beads! I couldn't resist sharing with you.

Because we got to a late start today (noon!) and we were not used to Park City after being in Deer Valley for three days, we didn't ski that much and spent a lot of time on lifts or looking for where we were going. We skied only 16,284 vertical feet. After two over 20,000 vertical feet days, I'm OK with that.

Tomorrow is our "scheduled" day off. Mom and I are going to explore Redstone with our shopping cart, Albert. Until then...

For more information about ski safety visit the National Ski Patrol website at:

Monday, February 15, 2010

25,430 Vertical Feet - Condo Tour

I. Am. Tired. Exhausted. Pooped. Can I go to sleep now, please?

Today, I blew yesterday away and skied 25,430 vertical feet. Am I insane? Possibly. I calculated that I rode up a chairlift 23 times, skied over 18 different trails (many multiple times), and fell asleep on the bus ride home twice. Today is the "do or die" day. I can stop now, and be happy, but if I keep going and push through the tired and the pain, I will become a better skier, and that is the ultimate goal. I impressed myself today; I skied more vertical feet, but skied slower because I was working on my technique. I almost fear the day I get to 30,000 vertical feet.

Because I'm so tired/exhausted/pooped and don't really have the energy, eye, or finger strength to keep typing, I am going to leave you with a video I took a couple of days ago. It's a walk through virtual tour of our condo. I really love our condo, and now you can see why.

Tomorrow it's over to Park City. I wonder what it will be like after 3 consecutive days at Deer Valley. Until then...

Goal Accomplished! 23,250 Vertical Feet

Thank you George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two of the USA's greatest leaders, for having birthdays so close together thus causing the creation of President's Day, a national holiday in the middle of prime ski season. Do you know what that means? Lift lines, for the entire long weekend.

Yesterday wasn't as bad as today, probably because some people were still traveling, and tomorrow probably won't be as bad as today because some people will be traveling back home. But today... I'm officially proclaiming my spoiled-ness. I haven't had to wait more than 30 seconds on a lift line before today. I'm estimating that I waited for about an hour on lift lines today. But, that is the reality of skiing, you can't go down unless you go up, and there's not as many choices for up as there are for down. Darn Newton and his law of gravity!

Needless to say, I am glad Mom had the brilliant idea of skiing at Deer Valley this entire long weekend as opposed to Park City. Deer Valley has a limit to how many tickets they sell on any given day. Knowing this, we got on the "early" bus at 9:15am and were at the mountain by 10:00am. We were lucky we got to the mountain "early" because Deer Valley reached capacity today. After taking off our boot protecting cat tracks and waiting on two lift lines to get up to the top of Bald Mountain, it was 10:30 by the time we started our first run, Tycoon to the Sultan Express lift. After we came back up the lift we decided to go down Stein's Way, a black diamond (!), the top of which is along the ridge of Bald Mountain. All I can say is, what a view! It took my breath away. See for yourself.

Mom and I even successfully got another Mother/Daughter combo to take a picture of us along the ridge with the gorgeous view in the background!

Mom and I decided that on this beautiful sunny day (we've been getting a lot of those) we would head over to Lady Morgan and sample the groomed run of the day, Magnet, another black diamond (look at us go!). After Lady Morgan we ventured to Empire, Flagstaff, and finally Bald Eagle Mountain to get us back to the lodge. We hit five out of six of Deer Valley's peaks today! We were moving all over the mountain, and it all flowed seamlessly.

Because we started our day earlier than we have been, and because I skied until 4:20 (Mom stopped earlier), I was able to ski enough that I reached my goal of 20,000 vertical feet in a day! 23,250ft to be exact! Getting up early was totally worth it. For the record, my legs/ankles/back are tired! To celebrate my accomplishment, Mom and I relaxed for 30 minutes in the hot tub overlooking the nature preserve at our condo. What a great way to end Valentine's Day, with my original Valentine, my mom.

Tomorrow it's back to Deer Valley to steer clear of the Park City crowds. Until then...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Icicles! - 18,730 Vertical Feet

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by icicles. Not the tiny little ones you sometimes see, but the humongous ones that make you feel like you're in a winter wonderland.

Today, Mom and I stumbled across the most amazing icicles. We decided to head over to Little Baldy Peak in Deer Valley to try a double blue called Jordanelle to take us to the gondola. While the run was a total dud (another glorified catwalk), the view from the gondola was pretty nice. Deer Valley has lots of luxury private homes all over the mountain, and you can see a bunch of them from the gondola. But, unless you're parking at the gondola, there is really no reason to take it. The runs worth skiing on Little Baldy Peak are accessible from the Deer Crest chair lift, and you can see the luxury homes in other parts of the mountain.

Some of the houses.

Once we headed out of the catwalks of Little Baldy Peak, we headed over to Bald Mountain and skied down 5 times. After lunch at the Silver Lake Lodge, we skied down Flagstaff Mountain 5 times. When we got to the base at the end of the day, we decided to go up Carpenter again to take us to our last run; Big Stick, a great double blue with perfect long bumps and soft snow. Today's total vertical feet was 18,730ft. I'm still trying to make it to 20,000ft, so I guess I'll have to wake up earlier (I thought this was a vacation). Until then...

Me and Mom riding the gondola.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Old Town Park City and Meet the Owners

Mom and I decided to take the day off from skiing today so that we could meet the owners of the condo we are renting from who were in town for the day. This was Mom's first experience meeting someone she met online (, and it was fun to watch her excitement! Mom and E had exchanged e-mails and talked on the phone for close to 8 months before this meeting, so they "knew" each other pretty well (well, at least E knew Mom needed quiet to sleep and Mom knew that E didn't want party animals in her condo). When E and R got here it was like we had all known each other for years! Mom, was her usual chatty self (which you can either love or hate). We talked about how we were enjoying the condo and how cozy it is, their upcoming wedding and E's dress, and even about my blog! We also showed them how Mom had alphabetized their spice rack (yes, she really did). Turns out E and R are reading my blog (Hi!) and are enjoying it, which makes me very happy. Here's a photo of them in the condo before they left.

After E and R left, Mom and I headed into Old Town Park City. We rode the express brown/#8 bus from the condo straight into the town, which is absolutely charming. The main street is dotted with boutiques selling high end clothing, Native American art and jewelry, souvenir shops with post cards and magnets and t-shirts galore, and tons of restaurants ranging from family and budget friendly to expensive date night places.

Mom and I popped into many of the shops where we snagged some postcards to send to friends back home. In one shop we found a great hat for Mom. I really don't like the hat she's been wearing for years (fashion snob?) and she enlisted me to find her a new hat that wasn't itchy and that met my fashion standards. Well, I found her an adorable hand knit wool hat with a fleece lining so she can be warm AND fashionable. She loved it so much she wore it out of the store! Mission accomplished.

We decided to have dinner in town before we headed back to the condo to watch the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. We chose Main Street Pizza and Noodle, a wallet and family friendly "Italian" restaurant. We were seated by a hostess, ordered and paid at a counter (12% tip is included), drinks were self serve, and then the food was brought to us. I'd never been in a restaurant with this setup, but it seemed to work. And I must say, that for a family restaurant, it wasn't noisy at all. After our meal of a 10" pizza and two house salads (maybe even TOO much food for the two of us) we got back on the express bus to get back to the condo.

Taking a day off was very relaxing. It was nice to wear regular shoes and have my hair down! Tomorrow we're going to Deer Valley because Park City will be crowded for the long weekend. Until then...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pow Pow - 18,822 Vertical Feet

Today Park City got some powder, otherwise known as pow-pow. Powder is created by one thing, and one thing only; SNOW.

The snow started sometime between 5am and when I woke up at 8am. How do I know this? The grooming report, which is printed at 5am, reported that there was zero inches of new snow, and when I woke up at 8am, it was because the parking area outside my balcony was being very loudly plowed (Good morning, Tamara). Plowing = snow. Snow = powder. Powder = fun!

When we got on the mountain at 11, the snow was coming down lightly at the base. We headed up Payday, then Bonanza, and skied through a beautiful tree glade to McConkey's, where the snow was coming down much harder now. I couldn't resist commenting on the beauty of the snowflakes every time they landed on me while we were going up the lift. "Look at how perfectly shaped this one is!" "This one is so big!" etc. etc. etc. I love snowflakes, and I always have. But, I only like snow if I can ski in it, that is a fact.

Gliding through powder is such a thrill. The first time I did it today, my toes started to tingle from excitement. However, there are a few tricks for skiers to know when skiing powder. Powder can be deceiving. It can hide bumps, so if you don't like skiing bumps, make sure the trail you're heading down was groomed before the snow fell. After the trail has been skied a few times, you will notice that the snow will collect in drifts. The easiest place to turn on the trail is in the drift, because you will float right through the snow for an easy turn and you won't have to edge as hard as if you had turned not in the drift. If you're heading down a catwalk, make sure that you stay on the packed powder and not in the loose powder, especially if the catwalk is completely flat and has no downhill incline. You will get stuck in the powder, and then you'll have to work harder to get across the catwalk. In my opinion, powder is the easiest terrain to ski because of the turning ease, and because it's just plain fun.

Tomorrow Mom and I taking a ski day off after 4 days of straight skiing, and today's 18,822 vertical feet. Tomorrow it is supposed to snow all day, and even more on Saturday, so by the time we hit the slopes on Saturday we should have beautiful powder and packed powder. I can't wait.

Until then...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Park City - Sunny Side Up - 17,637 Vertical Feet

Let's play a word association game.

Skiing makes me think of snow. Snow makes me think of cold. Cold makes me think of being warm.

But how do I stay warm on the mountain? Of course I can dress warmly with layers and insulating fabrics. I can use hand warmers. I can even get a heating system for my ski boots. Then there's the all natural way of staying warm. The sun.

I tend to get cold when skiing, even with layers and hand warmers. As you can see from the photo, I am pretty bundled up. Skiing in the sun is the best way to stay warm. Here in the West there isn't much humidity, so the air is really dry. Dry air + shade = cold. Of course, skiing is exercise so one is bound to get her body warm that way. But, downhill skiing is an interesting kind of exercise in that one must ride chair lifts in order to practice the sport. The chair lifts are the coldest part of skiing. For this reason, Mom and I decided to figure out what part of the mountain was sunny side up at any given part of the day.

Today we figured out that the best place to ski in the morning is off of McConkey's lift all the way to skiers right. The trails off of this lift are amongst beautiful tree glades which make for great tree skiing, if that's your thing. We skied a great double blue called Tycoon. We also skied a dud of a run, a blue called Georgeanna. I found it to be basically a glorified catwalk. Although, the top of the trail that is right off of the lift (and you have to take it to get to any of the other runs to skiers right of McConkey's) has GORGEOUS views, especially on a beautiful day like today.

After lunch we determined that King Con, the same area we skied the second day, had the best sun in the afternoon. However, this afternoon got a bit cloudy so we couldn't perfectly judge the sunniest part of the mountain. We will have to check again tomorrow.

17,637 vertical feet later, my legs and core are feeling stronger. I am skiing faster and with better form. More videos of my skiing coming soon.

Until then...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The "Deer Valley Difference"- 16,130 vertical feet

I got my first taste of Deer Valley today, and it was sweet. Deer Valley Mountain Resort is like no other mountain resort that I have ever been to. Certain elements make Deer Valley unlike any other in Utah, the Wasatch Range, the USA, and maybe even the world.

First, Deer Valley has an excellent grooming standard. All green, blue, and double blue trails are groomed every night totaling about 1/2 of the mountain. But, the snow is not just rolled over by a CAT to be made into "corduroy" (so named because of the appearance of groomed snow), it is chopped up deeper than the surface and then groomed over to be made into what Mom aptly calls, "velvet corduroy". I didn't get to the mountain early enough to experience a freshly groomed trail, but I can attest to the fact that the snow was still great at the end of the day, something that is not necessarily that easy to find.

Second, Deer Valley has the most incredibly accessible mountain. Deer Valley is privately owned (as opposed to being leased from the US Forest Service). It's owner and creator Edgar Stern sought to create a luxury ski resort. I think he certainly succeeded. The aforementioned snow grooming and the mountain accessibility certainly make Deer Valley a pleasant place to ski, and a place that affluent skiers would be more likely to spend money because of the numerous services provided. On most mountains you will find yourself taking the "catwalk" to get across the mountain to other lifts and sections of the mountain. Deer Valley does no such thing! There are lifts to get to other lifts! I never once today found myself on a catwalk shuffling over to the other side of the mountain. With it's six mountain peaks, one would think traveling between the six would be a difficult task. Deer Valley makes it so easy to get from mountain to mountain that one can ski the entire mountain in a day! I skied four mountains today, Bald Mountain (elevation 9,400ft), Bald Eagle Mountain (elevation 8,400ft), Flagstaff Mountain (elevation 9,100ft), and Empire (elevation 9,570). Granted on some mountains I only skied one run, but the sheer fact that I was able to access four mountain peaks is quite impressive, especially considering I was only at Deer Valley for 5 hours.

Third, the food at Deer Valley is top notch. Since Deer Valley is catering (pun intended) to a more affluent crowd that is more accustomed to the finer things in life, Deer Valley has to make sure it's food is "good enough to eat". Mom and I dined at the Empire Canyon Grill at the bottom of the Ruby and Empire Express lifts. We each had chili, con carne for me and turkey for her. It was served in real flatware (not paper or plastic) and with real silverware. The cornbread with paprika sprinkled on top served on the side was to die for. It hit the spot after skiing out on the cold side of the mountain. We dined by the fire on the second story loft which was also a great place to warm our gloves. Also, the bathrooms were the nicest public bathrooms I have used in a long time. The hardware was gold... colored, not real gold obviously (or was it?). There was also a coat rack and shelf conveniently located at the entrance to the restroom so I was able to hang up my coat and leave my mittens outside of the stall, because no one wants their mitten to fall into a toilet bowl.

Fourth, the customer service at Deer Valley is outstanding. The customer service was actually the first thing I noticed. At every large scale map located on the mountain (usually at the tops of lifts) a "Mountain Host" was present to help skiers negotiate the mountain. We asked multiple mountain hosts questions like, "Where is the sunniest trail? Which double blue do you recommend? and How do we get to X lift?" They always had the answer, and were so pleasant upon answering. We were never steered in the wrong direction. The lift attendants were so friendly, always saying "Good morning/afternoon" and asking us how our day was going. When we had questions they answered enthusiastically. The servers and bussers at the Empire Canyon Grill were also very friendly and courteous. But, my favorite customer service experience was when we were leaving Empire Canyon Grill to head up the Ruby Express lift, which is very flat terrain to ski across, especially while trying to dodge skiers coming downhill from three directions. A gentleman wearing the signature Deer Valley green jacket was asking my mom how she liked her skis (Volkl Aura's) while she was putting them on outside, so they were chatting for a bit. Then he asked us where we were going and we told him to the Ruby Express lift. Then, he grabbed hold of our poles and gave us a tow across the flat terrain and whipped us into the lift line. It was so fun, and a perfect example of the amazing customer service at Deer Valley.

Mom said I would love Deer Valley, and I did. I fully intend to go back there on a day when I am not so tired (third day leg muscle soreness was kicking in) so that I can go earlier to experience the "velvet corduroy" and because I can ski so much of the mountain due to the accessibility. Today I skied 16,130 vertical feet, which is over 4,000 feet than I skied yesterday. Deer Valley definitely exceeded my expectations for a ski resort, but I know better than to expect it from all ski resorts, and because of that I will look forward to my days at Deer Valley with eagerness.

This video was taken at the top of Empire Express, the mountain peak all the way to skiers left.

This video was taken at the top of Bald Mountain where the Sultan, Wasatch, and Sterling Express lifts converge. Weren't we blessed with the most gorgeous day?!

This final video, is me "interviewing" Mom about our lunch. She is so cute.

Monday, February 8, 2010

11,775 vertical feet - King Con Blue Zone

Mom introduced me to her favorite part of Park City Mountain, the trails off of the King Con lift. Well, I must really be like my mom because I enjoyed it so much that we rode up the lift 7 times. Yes, really. The picture to the right is of me at the top of the King Con lift.

Because it was Mom's first real day skiing, and only my second, we decided to take it easy again. We skied only blue groomers all day, and that was fine with me. A blue run is considered an intermediate run. They range from inclines from 25 degrees to 40 degrees. Blues are popular amongst most skiers because beginners can usually handle them when groomed and intermediates can hone their skills while experts can have a fun cruiser. For the record, I find blues to be fun cruisers, and thus consider myself an expert. I have been skiing since the age of two and my mom was a ski instructor...
At the top of each lift there is a list of all the trails off that lift. Next to the name of each trail it says whether the trail is closed, open, or groomed. I found this to be a useful tool, until I also discovered that you can just pick up a map of the groomed trails for the day. Of course, this is quite a waste of paper, but it's a great tool for planning your day on the mountain. Today's vertical feet total was 11,775ft, with 8,400ft being off the King Con lift. I figure I have 24 more days of skiing to explore the rest of the mountain.
Today, I will leave you with two videos. The first is a panoramic at the top of the King Con lift.


The second video is of moi skiing down the trail called Shamus off the King Con lift. Shamus is a blue trail, and was groomed today. Shamus has an incline of approximately 35-40 degrees and is about 900ft long, though you will only see me ski about 500ft of it. My mom recorded it and you can hear her sweet commentary in the background.

I am going to be taking videos of my skiing throughout the trip so that I can analyze my ski style on different types of trails and watch for improvement.

Tomorrow, Mom and I are planning on skiing Deer Valley; a snowboard free, completely groomed, fancy schmancy resort that I hear has the best food of any ski mountain anywhere. I wonder if I will fit in there...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 1 - 11,737 vertical feet - The Bunny Slope

"Take it easy" is my motto for the first day on the slopes, and that is exactly what I did today by sticking to the "bunny" slopes.

I headed to Park City Mountain Resort on the pink/#7 bus from the stop just outside my door. I boarded the bus at 10:15 and was at the mountain in about 15 minutes. The bus system here is very efficient, organized, and an overall pleasant experience. Not having a car is not going to be a problem.

When I got off the bus I immediately noticed that there is a small ice skating rink in the middle of the sidewalk! There were kids with their parents skating around having a great time. But, I didn't come all the way to Park City to ice skate! I came here to ski. Cole Sport is located right up the stairs when you get off the bus, you can't miss it. I headed in and the technician got my skis and boots from the back, ready to be used for the first time. I took off my Sorels and put them in a dollar locker, put on my new Dalbello custom ski boots, and headed to the chair lift with my Volkl skis, ready for the first chair lift ride and run of the day, month, and trip.

The six seater Payday chairlift was my choice for my first lift because the trails off of it are mostly green and blue, with some double blue and black. As I looked up the mountain I thought "this place isn't that big" but as I rode up the chairlift I realized I was very, very wrong. Apparently, from the base of the mountain you can only see 20% of the mountain. It is in fact a VERY big mountain. The 2010 Alpine Western Regionals (a racing qualifier) was skiing on Payday trail (a blue), which was the trail I was planning on going do, but it was closed because of the Regionals.

Instead I took an easy green trail all the way back down to the base and rode Payday lift up and skied down two more times. It was a great warm up, and I was ready for something more difficult, but Mom was ready to meet for lunch at the top of the Bonanza lift.

The Bonanza lift starts just at the top of the Payday lift, so it was very easy for me to go up and meet her. Now that I was going up even higher on the mountain, I could see that it was REALLY big. I could see some trails but had no idea what the names were, but I'm sure in time I'll figure that out. I met Mom for lunch at Summit House which had outdoor seating! You would think it would be too cold to dine outside on a ski mountain, but there are heat lamps and wind barriers in and surrounding the seating area. What a brilliant idea. Mom and I, however, dined inside near the roaring fire. The food was pretty basic mountain food, nothing special in the grill, pizza, soup, salad, and sandwich departments. But, I didn't come to Park City to eat, I came here to ski!

After lunch Mom and I skied down to the Silverload chair lift and rode that up then skied back over to Payday. I rode up and skied down Payday 4 more times and I could have skied it into the night. Payday chair lift is open until 7:30 and the runs off of it are lighted at night. I've never been night skiing so I definitely have to experience that before I leave.

Mom left me before I rode Payday those 4 more times. She was done for the day because she was cold (brrrr). She went back to Cole Sport to look for some warmer pants while I was on the "bunny" slope. It is important to dress appropriately for winter sports, because it's cold but you're sweating. Wicking fabrics are good for base layers (Hot Chillies, Smartwool, etc), and insulating second layers are important as well. I have third layers and vests for on top of really cold days, and extra thick bottoms as well. My outer layers are both Spyder (my favorite brand) and are made with Thinsulte which is great for cold weather. I wasn't cold today but I wasn't toasty either. Having hand warmers inside of my mittens helped a lot as well. I am a firm believer in hand warmers. It's a good the thing the Bed Bath and Beyond by the condo sells them in packs of 10!

Each time I went down from Payday I took different trails each time. I skied Dividend (a bumpy blue), Widowmaker (a non bumpy but steep black), and Treasure Hollow (my favorite of the day - a blue cruiser). I ended my day at 3:30 after 4 hours of sking with a grand total vertical feet of 11,737ft, mostly on the "bunny" slopes.

I measure my vertical feet by adding together the vertical distance of the chair lifts I ride. So, if the base of a lift is at an elevation of 2,000ft and the top of the same lift is at an elevation of 3,000, the vertical feet is 1,000 feet, even if the actual length of the lift is 1,500ft. This also means that my vertical feet is not the same as my distance skied. In order to calculate that, I would likely need a GPS system, which I am just not going to splurge for (donations please?).

All in all, today was a great first day. I experienced the comfort of having my own boots and skis (what? no shin bang or numb toes and easy turning!). I figure if I ski a week every year for five years, the skis pay for themselves. Now that I have my "ski legs" I am confident that I will have a great month of skiing ahead of me.

Welcome to Park City, Utah

I have been in Park City, Utah, one of the best ski resorts in the country, for 33 hours and have yet to ride a chair life or ski a slope. My mom, Judy and I are here for 28 days (well, 26 more days) because... because we decided to spoil ourselves a little (OK a lot) bit. That's not entirely true. My mom decided to spoil herself, and I am getting spoiled by default.

We rented a condo in Redstone that we found on Vacation Rentals by Owner. We got a great deal on a two bedroom (each with a private balcony), three bathroom, floor through kitchen/dining/living area with gas fireplace, laundry room, garage, office alcove, in a two story condo. Oh, and did I mention it's an end unit with a private outdoor hot tub overlooking a wildlife preserve? Yes, we hit the jackpot.

Yesterday was kind of a blurry whirlwind because of all the running around. Between waking up early, flying, running errands, and getting (sort of) settled, we barely had time to stop and smell the roses, er... snow. Our wonderful City Cab driver took us to Canyon Sports where we were able to purchase discount lift tickets for Deer Valley and Snowbird. Costco was next where we picked up 5-pack discount tickets for Park City and 2-pack discount tickets for The Canyons. The Park City 5-packs have the highest discount, but the small discount on the other mountain lift tickets are worth purchasing. We figured we should ski most of the resorts in the area since they are all easily accessible, except for Snowbird which has the best powder in the USA.

The condo in Redstone is in the perfect location. Since we're car-less, it is important to stay somewhere with shops within walking distance and on a shuttle route. In Redstone there is a Smith's grocery store, Whole Foods Market, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Petco, TJ Maxx (I'm in heaven), Starbucks, Chase bank, post office, movie theater, and a variety of restaurants. The shuttle bus stop is literally 300 feet from our door. Everything we need is here.

Today was our first full day in the city, and there was lots to do. After waking up and lolly gaging for a good 4 hours, we walked the 2 minuted to the bus stop, hopped on the pink line shuttle, and headed into Park City. The first stop was Cole Sports where we had purchased Volkl skis over the phone with the great help of Ryan, who luckily was also in the store today. Ryan and Brett fitted Judy and I for boots. We both have the same shaped foot, narrow heel compared to a wide toe. What can I say? Like mother like daughter. We laughed when they brought out the same brand of boot, Dalbell0, only a harder more aggressive boot for me and a more cushy flexible boot for my "elderly" mother. Having never been fitted for boots before in my life, the experience was one to be remembered. My favorite part was when my custom insoles were made. They literally take a mold of your foot and then heat up your insoles and shape them between the mold and your foot. I found it very fun.


At Cole Sports I also picked up some brand new socks, which Brett claims are the best ski socks on the market, XXX socks, which at $45 are actually on the less expensive side for good technical skiing socks. I also snagged some Hot Chillys warmwear (aka long johns) for $45 each. Judy and I also got matching Sorel boots to wear when walking around in the wet and snow to keep our feet toasty and dry and to make sure we don't slip and hurt ourselves, because then we wouldn't be able to ski and that would defeat the whole purpose of our trip. Fabulous Brett told us that our skis would be mounted with their bindings overnight and brought to the base of the mountain so that we could pick them up in the morning before we headed out for our first run. Thanks, Brett (and Ryan - who lucky duck is going to Jackson Hole for a few days so we didn't get to say goodbye). Cole Sports is the premier ski gear shop in Park City. They carry only the best of everything and the customer service was top notch. And with four locations in Park City and Deer Valley, with one shop specializing in snowboard gear, there is no reason to go to any other ski shop.

After our pleasant experience at Cole Sports we returned to the condo and walked over to Smith's grocery store with a Whole Foods Market shopping cart that we jacked yesterday and stored in our garage (we promise we'll return it before we go back to NY). We stocked up on food and water but there were a few things we were unable to purchase; matzo ball soup mix (Jewish) and rice crackers (Asian). We were directed to the "international" food aisle, which actually made us laugh because Kraft Mac and Cheese was in this aisle as well as ramen noodles. I will stop there, and let you figure out the rest.

Now, after having eaten and fully unpacked, I am sitting in my cozy room planning my day for tomorrow. I'm going to take it easy, because I haven't skied in a year and it would be terrible if I injured myself on the first day. Wish me luck for tomorrow which will be my first time skiing in my own skis and boots, and my first time skiing in Park City. I can't wait.