The lifts started spinning and skiers and boarders were making laps this morning at Solitude Resort. It wasn’t the typical opening day froth-fest; as we are all painfully aware, this ski season hasn’t exactly started with a bang. In spite of the harsh hand dealt to the Wasatch by Ullr, the employees up at Soli did a commendable job to get three lifts and four runs open for everyone to enjoy. This was the first time I’ve dug an edge into snow this year, and I was pleased to find that even early in the morning the snow felt soft and the turns were smooth.
The Link, Moonbeam Express and Apex lifts are now running, and they are servicing Fleet Street, Same Street, Easy Street and Little Dollie runs. The best turns of the day could be found off the top of Apex Lift on Fleet Street, and throughout the majority of Same Street on the lower mountain. While there isn’t much vertical available, people were having a blast buttering on the smooth snow, and sending it as best they could off of (very) small side hits. The silver lining of a lackluster snow season is that not many folks were chomping at the bit to get out there, so there was plenty of room on the trails for big, swooping carves and you could breeze right through the lift lines. Hot laps all day, baby!
It felt great to get out and make some turns today, but I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the lack of snow. It’s been a few weeks since I have been up in the higher elevations of the Cottonwoods, but things don’t look much different. The south-facing ridge of Big Cottonwood Canyon looks bare to the forest floor, while north-facing aspects (like Solitude Resort) have about a 5-10 inch base in shaded spots, and a dusting where the sun shines. Not the weather report we are all hoping for, but again, I’m very impressed by how hard the staff must have worked to get four good runs ready for this weekend. And let’s be honest: a “so-so” early season ski day is still better than a non-ski day.
With a little love from the mountain gods, our luck will soon change. There is snow in the forecast, and every inch will make a big difference in opening more terrain. There’s no reason to sit around and shake your fist; let out that angst with some high-speed turns. And hey, if you get your fill of sliding downhill, the bars at the base lodge are open, too! For me, the best part about living in Utah is ski season, and there’s no doubt that we are back in business for 2017-18. We will have more dispatches coming from Solitude and all the other resorts as the season progresses, so check back as the snow piles up.