Fresh snow transforms Utah’s slopes

6th February 2012, by Dave Watts

Daily Mail Ski magazine reader Sara Steward enjoying the tree skiing in Deer Valley on Saturday

Daily Mail Ski magazine reader Sara Steward enjoying the tree skiing in Deer Valley on Saturday

On Wednesday night, 45 Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard magazine readers arrived in Park City to be greeted by both myself and the start of Utah’s first snowfall for ten days or so. Perfect timing. By the morning around two inches of snow had fallen – not much, but enough to transform the quality of the skiing both on and off the groomed trails.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday we skied Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude and Deer Valley respectively. At Park City visibility was poor with fog and low cloud making life difficult but the new snow more than made up for that. Friday at Solitude saw bluebird clear skies and probably the best day of my week-long Utah trip. The fresh snow that had fallen here was distinctly lighter than that in Park City (as it often is due to the extra altitude and location nearer to Salt Lake) and both the groomed and ungroomed terrain was delightful – with excellent skiing among the trees under the Summit chair especially.  Solitude is largely ignored by UK tour operators and not big enough to contemplate for a full week’s stay but well worth a day trip if you are staying in nearby Park City (around 40 minutes away). It is also linked to the Brighton ski area just a bit further up the canyon.

Saturday was my last day in Utah and a freestyle world cup competition was being held at Deer Valley with spectacular views of aerialists and mogul skiers strutting their stuff. It was another bluebird day and around 20 DMSS readers and I took the free three hour long black diamond terrain tours that are laid on twice daily at Deer Valley (free tours are common in US resorts and a great idea but are normally confined to blue runs). Our guide took us down some of the steepest runs, bowls and trees in the area and we had a great time. There was still some powder to be had but the snow was not as light or abundant as in Solitude and many of the runs were heavily mogulled.

I’m writing this on the plane on the way home after skiing six Utah resorts in as many days. It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile trip but the snow was not up to the usual Utah standards – on my previous two visits it had virtually never stopped snowing and the powder was knee deep throughout my stays. This year promises to be one of the worst for years in Utah (and more sunshine is forecast for the next few days) while the Alps is having one of its best ever snow years – a very unusual situation.

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