Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

31 03 2023
Ski Santa Fe Lodge – Quite the light show!

I flew down to Albuquerque to visit my friend Tully, who lives there, and also met up with Chris from Portland, ME. We’re all college buddies from Denison University! We spent the week skiing at Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe. The day at Taos turned out very nice, even though there were winter storm warnings with 50+ mph winds. But I didn’t capture enough images! We were having too much fun. There were runs where we were the only people on the slope.

Next was Ski Santa Fe. I was very excited to try one of New Mexico’s less famous ski areas and I was very impressed for a whole host of reasons. First, there is a free shuttle from downtown Santa Fe and they give passengers a $5 token to spend at the resort!

Next, it’s got over 1,700ft vertical and a lot of challenge! The summit is over 12,000ft! So the snow is dry! And on top of that, I had a private lesson for $200. I know that’s a lot, but it’s actually a bargain compared to Mt. Bachelor $399 or Taos $599! I had it scheduled for myself. But “Spooky,” our 76-year old coach, let my friend Chris join in! We were interested in getting the most out of the new carving skis. Also we spoke to a group of instructors at the cafeteria early in the morning, and later in the day, they saw us on the ski slopes and checked in on us! We felt very welcome.

Spooky 1st skied at Suicide Six in Vermont. Then moved to Aspen when he was 8. He also was director of the ski school at Wolf Creek Ski Area in Colorado! We learned a lot. The wind was non existent and the snow was soft. The skies were broody with occasional sun highlighting the snowy trees!


Snow Basin, Utah

31 03 2023
Snow Basin covers the entire range shown here!

After visiting my friend Ed in Park City, where I skied Deer Valley and Alta, I began to make my way back to Oregon, so Snow Basin was next. Snow Basin is about 30 minutes outside Ogden. It is a super easy drive from downtown. I’d been there maybe 8 years before and had fond memories of it. It is even more luxuriously appointed than Deer Valley. The lodges are over the top beautiful with chandeliers, comfortable couches and roaring fireplaces. All for the plebeians just like me. No membership required!

They’ve even raised the bar in the bathroom. They have country club style hand towel dispensers!

The terrain and snow quality is top notch, too. Snow Basin was designed by Alf Engen, who designed the trail system at Alta. His trail design takes advantage of the natural contours of the mountain, instead of just chopping straight trails. So the experience is more flowing and natural. They have two gondolas and a number of chairlifts. Lots of room to spread out.

Snow Basin also has a convenient parking system like Big Sky. No matter where you park, there is always a shuttle coming to whisk you right in front of the lodge. And no reservations nor any payment needed!

Alta, UT – I Made the Pilgrimage

27 02 2023

ALTA. To passionate skiers, that word is almost holy. At a minimum, legendary. Year after year, snowstorm after snowstorm, Alta UT serves up the deepest, driest snow on Planet Earth. There is something about its place geographically. It even receives more snow than its neighbor, Snowbird. One drive up the windy Little Cottonwood Canyon to its end, where Alta sits, and you are in an alpine world completely different from other Utah resorts. The mountains are big, steep, and you can hear the thump thump thump of helicopters lifting riders to greater heights in search of that lifetime run. Also, this place was designed by Alf Engen, who wound the trails down the mountains following natural contours. Unlike many resorts which seem to just chop and slash trails to make a ski area.

It was here, in the 1990s, that my friend Tully and I got to Alta one morning when the canyon opened after it was closed for 24 hours due an avalanche. And the snow kept coming. Once on the slopes, I was simply flabbergasted to be able to ski in snow up to my waist, and sometimes flying right over my shoulders. It is so feather light you can do it. You just have to experience to believe it. You’ve got to have momentum to turn. And to get momentum, you have to point directly downhill. And you don’t actually need to see your skis! Trust. You have to point your skis downhill and trust that the snow will be your brake.

I got to Alta on a Monday in February 2023, and the temperature was seriously cold, maybe 5 degrees, and while the snow wasn’t brand new, it was still that legendary quality! There was plenty of parking. Even at 10:00.

There are some tips I can offer about Alta. The first is to try to ski on a weekday. If you have to go on a weekend, get started up the canyon at 6:30 a.m. Otherwise, catch a Utah public bus. Try to catch it at one of its furthest stops, so you can get a seat on the bus! Either way, experience this place. Then you too can bring home legendary stories!

Deer Valley, Utah

27 02 2023

I skied a couple of days in February at Deer Valley, UT. It’s in Park City, about an hour away from Salt Lake City. My buddy Ed lives steps from the base at Park City Mountain Resort. This year, the region has had one of its coldest and snowiest seasons in 10 years. Residents are constantly digging out!

The walk to my car from Ed’s house. Lots of snow!

One of the convenient aspects of the town is its free bus service. The nearest stop was a 5-minute walk from Ed’s house. And within 15 minutes, I was at the Deer Valley base lodge.

I skied one day by myself. I found lots of powder and some tree runs. One steeper run was in the middle of a pine forest, where I encountered 4 kids, one of which was stuck in a tree well! I helped them out. Later, I ran a super easy peasy stand of aspen trees. The snow was so gentle and soft!

Deer Valley prides itself on grooming, and it’s true they do a good job. I’ve been there a few times, and I kind of had moved it down my list because I like fresh, ungroomed snow. But I learned this time that the trail crew leaves quite a few areas untouched for skiers like me. And, my friend Ed showed me some places at Deer Valley away from where the crowds are. I left with a renewed rating for Deer Valley!

The 2nd day it was fully sunny. No new snow, but plenty of fun and it’s always welcome when there is a sunny day with no wind!

Another thing worth mentioning! There was a World Cup Tour freestyle competition going on. Dual moguls and inverted aerials. I mentioned online that on my 1st day I accidentally blundered into the setup for the moguls run, and ran it. And Hannah Kearney, the Olympic gold medal moguls champion, saw my post and “liked” it! That was super fun!

Skis du Jour were my Line Sakanas. I LOVE these skis! They are great in powder but carve trenches, too! I think they are the most fun skis I have ever owned. If you ever get a chance to try a pair, DO IT!

Catching Up with Buddies at Big Sky Montana

27 01 2023

Big Sky Montana was my third ski resort on this road trip! I met up with Chris Kittredge from Portland, Maine, at the Bozeman airport. We’d be there five days and ski four. Another buddy, Bob Rhea, lives on the mountain and we’d meet up with him, too. We all went to college together.

Big Sky is my favorite ski resort. It’s the largest single mountain ski area in the US. It offers plenty of terrain, including glades, for any skier ability level. We had terrific conditions! No ice, It was soft packed powder and it snowed 2-3″ dry powder every night.

Bob gave us directions to his place, which was at Moonlight Basin. We had no idea what to expect. We drove up, and valets took care of our car and our skis! They delivered the skis to the other side of the building where the trail was. On our side, we were greeted to a fire pit. Inside, welcoming staff, a grand fireplace, bar, restaurant, and comfortable chairs to put our ski boots on. Later, Bob treated us to lunch and drinks! This went on for three days, right on through the NFL playoffs! Wow!

Whilst enjoying the bar, and talking with other skiers and some instructors, I was introduced to a skiing legend!

I met Mr. Lonnie Ball. Lonnie is the first person to jump (or huck) into Corbett’s Couloir at Jackson Hole! What a nice guy. We had a spirited conversation for maybe 10 minutes.

Today, he is a brand ambassador for a ski manufacturer and does photography for the World Cup. Wow!

I have to say, on this segment of my big ski road trip, my cup runneth over!

Skiing at Schweitzer Idaho was Cushy!

18 01 2023
Schweitzer Base Area

Schweitzer is one of my favorite Pacific Northwest ski resorts. It has plenty of long, gladed ski runs. It is close to town. In fact, it was only 24 minutes from my hotel! The town of Sandpoint has a lot of interesting early 20th century architecture, and plenty of unique small businesses including art galleries, eateries, bars, and sporting goods stores. It sits along enormous Lake Pend Oreille, which boasts summer activities. I’ve been there five times, but not in the past 10 years. The summit is 6,400 feet and the base is 4,000 feet, so there is plenty of vertical. I love the gladed tree skiing. Schweitzer is a very family friendly ski resort. I always see lots of kids learning how to ski.

My hotel even had its own ski tuning bench! I took full advantage!

The resort makes an effort to give guests a true outdoor experience. They have fire pits at the base, and at the Outback Lodge by the Stella high speed six-pack lift.

All in all, I like to return to Sandpoint / Schweitzer. I find the area more relaxed and a lot more economical than other large ski areas! It’s about one hour’s drive from Spokane. Check it out.