Snow Basin ’11

Utah tales: Snow Basin review ’11: Ogden & More
(Day 3 of 7 part series: Utahan Tales a 5/5 frolic in Utah:  ’11-12 ski season)

Snow Basin! Haven’t heard? Remember the Winter Olympics of  ‘2002? Redo the main run of this event: the Men’s and Women’s Downhill of “O/’02” (pronounced, “O-O2”), and you’re at Snow Basin. A short lift will drop you at the starting gate of the men’s course, but don’t go there unless you’re an expert who loves the steeps! The Snowbasin story begins in 1940. 1985 marks a notable upgrade and modernization phase.

I was there at Snow Basin on the 3rd day of the circle route I call “Utahan Tales”  because I convinced my two buddies Jeff and Bob (who are not die-hard wanderers, or “taste every/any” skiers) to “Try it! You’ll like it”. We left early that morning to make the trot twixt Provo and Ogden.

Day three of five: motoring north of Salt Lake City, we venture into a cluster of three areas east of Ogden, Utah. Promontory Point is close by, the town where the golden spike anchored and completed the Transcontinental railroad.

And the three amigos were off to experience more of the Wasatch Powder.  It was becoming a bit of a chore motivating Jeff and Bob to wander bout UT tasting the variety and trills of the Beehive state. I won them over with tales of après life at the infamous Shooting Star Saloon. (But that’s another story. Ya just gotta get there!) (After a full day of skiing)

Snow Basin review

Snowbasin has vertical;! I’m rounding it up to 3K. Well actually it’s 2,950 feet. But close enough. There are five peak areas where the lifts deposit skiers and riders. Snow coverage is small concern in Utah, but just for insurance, snow makers cover over 50% of the mountain. Oh yea, and there is a tubing hill here also.

Snow basin has diverse terrain to suit any skier or rider. And its a huge area: 2,800, 7% percent is classified as beginner. So by doing the math, that makes about 85 acres pleasing of terrain for super seniors and “first dayers”.   44% is designated green for the intermediates: 2,000 skiable acres is amore than the full size of the average ski area. That leaves 49% percent as advanced runs of which 33% is expert only or double black diamonds!

There are, with three terrain parks to augment its broad bowls, abundant trees and finely manicured groomers. The  12 lifts are modern and high speed. The Needles Express Gondola whisks and warms skiers to a peak that makes non-stop, peak to base, marathon run (or suicide) runs. Or be a bit more practical and branch out to reach and enjoy the vast majority of the numerous other runs.

Snowbasin, a Sun Valley Resort, is high in overall in service, mountain food and lifts. The  three lodges at Snow Basin are exquisite: full log structures with broad open ceilings, carpeted floors and fine appointments.  A broad deck stretches south to capture the warm rays of ample Utahan sunlight. And the base area offers a variety of food , shops and activities. But then again it’s not different that most Utah ski resorts, just a bit more upscale and far less crowded.

Snow Basin is a class act, a “hoity-toity” if you’ll allow. The area is owned and operated by Sinclair Corp, the huge refining company associated with Sinclair gas and convenience centers. They are the same guys as in “Sun Valley”. And Snow basin is an equally “class act”, just not as large (yet) or as well known. But it’s worth the trip and the price.

Our Experience at Snow Basin:

It was a pleasant ride, traveling north on the freeway with the Wasatch range rising abruptly to the left seemingly leading us north. But the growing, ever expanding Salt Lake basin, was showing sign of a busy commuter hour that would likely clog this road a few minutes following.

The night was crisp and as we left the lower elevations and crept up the narrow Logan Canyon. The trees were coated with a remarkably eerie and hauntingly beautiful crystal frost. But the thin ice coating did slow our drive, No problem. No hurry. And we did a have “roadies” to slip as we drank in the morning charm.

The spacious gondola that stretches along one rib of the far left Strawberry area whisks along at a good pace and it insulated us well on this our chilly start. We shared the cab with a local family of four. The parents and young kids all were season pass holders who knew the large area well and loved every inch of it. They taught us well on that brief trip to the top.

Bob and Jeff enjoyed the skiing, but the beautiful base lodge with it’s spacious sun deck and comfortable water hole was just too alluring on a sunlit day. They left me early to ski my way alone until the lifts closed.  And ski I did!

I met an interesting guy at the upper mountain lodge. He was a retired financial guy from the City – NYC of course. Having at one point in my life, or might I say in one of my careers, I was well educated and trained in the Wall Street stuff. And this gentleman actually had a few years on me.

But more interesting than that stuff, every season he and his wife came out for the winter and ski to his heart’s content. They had determined it in their best interest to merely negotiate a long term rate at an Ogden hotel for the entire season. NICE! Sure it was a small studio, but think of it: no taxes, no maintenance. no concerns. immediate service, daily cleaning, and maid service, and need I mention, daily breakfasts without out any preparation or cleanup and only an a right turn before exiting to ski the day away. And his wife was in full agreement. Can any winter plans be better? Happy wife, happy life!

Well, I skied down with him, or should I better say, I followed him down assured I wouldn’t loose my way in the expansive terrain. I did tie up with Jeff and Bob who were every relaxed and delighted with their extended break. They were sitting close to the life-sized standing stage bronze moose statue. It is an exquisite piece of art that’s gotta be worth a few bucks, but representative of the though, plans and money that has been invested in this fine facility; this entire resort.

Only Bob:

Now crass as it is, I have to accuse Bob of something. Bear with me on this one. We’re seated at the rear end of this impressive Moose, who representing North America’s largest mammal. Yes, the moose is larger that the Kodiak bears of Alaska! And this is accurate model of the manhood as well as the moose species. Well note too that bronze as a metal will oxidize over time and dull to a dark brown. Dull that is unless it is regularly polished or touched as people pass by. Yes, the male genitalia was a bit brighter!

OK, Bob, “Who goosed the moose?” No response, just a silly smirk. I didn’t inspect his fingers. Or was it Jeff? No! I know Bob. And all this without any metal polish. Ya gotta just accept it and move on.

Moving on:

Yes it is an costly lift ticket, but it is truly fair value experience considering all the mountain and facilities. It’s easily accessible from Salt Lake City and provides a little luxury along with the adventure. It’s an experience assures a good day.

Returning to Provo, was an adventure too. But tomorrow, it is the Canyons ski resort. Come, SkiWithMe!

[Link to next day in this trip] [Link to 1st day of this trip: Solitude ’11] Link to prior day of this trip]

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Skier, rider (of sorts), wanderer, teacher, coach, blogger (wannabe), perpetual child, ...