Today was one of the best powder days OF MY LIFE!! Though visibility was poor, the amount of powder definitely made up for it.
The forecast called for snow, and snow it did. The Snowbird website reported 4 inches, but it felt like a lot more.
Half day Tram & Chair (12:30 – 4:00) = $68
Full day Tram & Chair = $78
Full day Chair Only = $72
After we purchased our tickets, we headed straight to the Tram, which is basically a huge, standing only, gondola. It fits about 125 people and takes 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain (Hidden Peak). If you don’t care to have direct access to the top, save $6 and purchase a Chair Only ticket.
At the top, we strapped in and could not see SHIT. Since it was white out conditions, we decided to ride the “easy” blue run down. Well, this blue run from the top (Chip’s Run) is relatively narrow and flat; it reminded me of Heavenly’s Skyline trail. I ride regular so I tend to freak out when my back faces the edge of the mountain. It didn’t help things AT ALL that I couldn’t even see where the edge was!
We rode a few runs on the Peruvian Gulch side, taking the Tram up every time. Another advantage of the Tram is not having to battle cold and wind during a snowstorm.
For lunch, we at Forklift, which is a serviced restaurant on the top level of the Snowbird Center. Henry ordered the Pastrami Burger ($13.75) and I had the Halibut Fish & Chips ($15.75). I thought fish & chips came standard with fries because… oh, I don’t know… the name?… but apparently at Forklift, the Halibut Fish & Chips comes with a choice of fries, cottage cheese OR side salad. UM OK. I ended up paying extra for a side salad ($5.50) because I got confused. The food was expensive but good. There are two other options if you are at the Snowbird Center and want to save a few bucks: Birdfeeder (outdoor grill) is right next to Forklift and Rendezvous (cafeteria) is located one floor down.
After lunch, we explored the Gad Valley side. At first it seemed like a bad idea since the top area was pretty icy with only a thin layer of powder. But we traveled a bit further down and found paradise. Every trail was covered with powder. I felt like I was gliding on clouds the entire time. And the tree runs in this area rivaled those at Vail! We didn’t want to leave the area so we kept riding down to the same lift (Gad 2).
The next day, we were blessed with partly cloudy skies. Since the storm prevented us from riding the backside (Mineral Basin) and the upper bowls of Gad Valley, we spent Day 4 in these areas.
Mineral Basin can be accessed from Hidden Peak via Chip’s Run/Lupine Loop and Path to Paradise. The name Path to Paradise should be renamed to Going Through Hell to Get to Paradise because it was another narrow trail where my back faced the edge mountain. OK, it wasn’t that bad, I’m just chicken shit. 😦
If riding Path to Paradise to Mineral Basin, you can actually drop in mostly anywhere on the trail, but we tried and found that some areas near the top were icy so we stuck with groomed runs: Junior’s Powder Paradise, White Diamond and Silver Dipper.
Two lifts service Mineral Basin (see left in picture above): Mineral Basin Express, which takes you back to Hidden Peak, and Baldy Express, which skiers can take to access the adjoining skier-only mountain, Alta.
We took a quick lunch break at Rendezvous, the cafeteria on the second floor of the Snowbird Center, and then took the Tram back up to Gad Valley.
Remember what I said about narrow trails? So I had NO problems with Road to Provo since my back was not facing the edge. GEEEEEEZ. What’s my problem?? 😦
Anyway, as with other areas, you can drop in pretty much anywhere, but we followed Road to Provo to Mark Malu Fork. And…… Wow. Just WOW.
Sorry, Mineral Basin, I’mma let you finish, but Gad Valley has the bestest runs of all time. Riding the upper bowls of Gad Valley was like riding down from the Summit of Peak 8 (Breck) without having to hike up and almost die from exhaustion. Win-win.
(to be continued…)