"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.