On February twenty-fifth we went to Snowbasin Ski Resort. This would be my first trip to Snowbasin. I was super excited to go skiing. When I found out I would be visiting Utah in February I immediately knew I wanted to go skiing. My father used to live in Colorado. He thoroughly enjoyed skiing. Nothing quite compares to skiing out west, from what he has told me. If I hadn’t gone skiing while I was out here he wouldn’t have let me live it down. I wouldn’t have let myself live it down either. As it turns out we picked a really good ski resort to go to. Snowbasin hosted some of the alpine skiing events during the two thousand and two Winter Olympics. I fell in love with the place as soon as we arrived. The only thing I really had to compare it to was the one time I had been snowboarding in West Virginia. I don’t think there really is any comparison between the two. We took a shuttle from a hotel in downtown Ogden so we could enjoy the sights on our way up. To get to Snowbasin we drove through the Ogden Canyon. We followed a creek that eventually turned in to a frozen reservoir. There were little mountain homes scattered along side it. As we were driving through the canyon we were gaining altitude. Once we emerged from the canyon we continued to climb in to the mountains. The big sloping hills of the mountain valley gave way to steep hillsides covered in evergreens and snow. When we started getting close I had my eyes peeled for ski slopes and chairlifts. I finally saw a chairlift way up on the mountainside. After going through a couple more turns we were there. I immediately loved the vibe. The weather conditions were not ideal, but that didn’t seem to be keeping people away. It certainly wasn’t going to keep me away. It was cold, of course, and really windy. Come to find out it was so windy they had to start the day with only two of their nine chairlifts running. The sound of skis and snowboards being blown over filled the air as we walked inside to check in. We had reservations for what they call “Learn N’ Earn”. It was thirty nine dollars for rental equipment, lesson, and a lift ticket for their Little Cat lift. It was a really good deal. The lodge was exactly what I had imagined. It was a huge log structure. When you open the doors you are greeted by a fireplace with couches and chairs in front of it. It had high log supported ceilings. There was wood panelling and dark rich carpets everywhere. It was laid out in somewhat of a circle with banquet and meeting rooms branching off. We found our way to the reservation desk to retrieve our rental vouchers and lift tickets. Towards the center of the lodge there was a cafeteria style kitchen. They had all kinds of delicious looking breakfast foods. On the other side of the cafeteria was a large dining room equipped with another fireplace. There were floor to ceiling windows providing views of the slopes. After retrieving our rental vouchers and lift tickets we went to the other lodge type building to pick up our rental equipment. I had originally planned on snowboarding, but since I would have been the only one from our group in the snowboarding class I decided to ski instead. I also thought it would be cool to ski since that is what my father enjoyed when he was living out west. Plus I had never done it before and figured I would add another first to my trip inventory. It didn’t take too long to get our equipment. With skis and poles in tow we headed to ski school.
Snowbasin’s ski school is just beside the building we rented our equipment in. It is an open, pretty much flat area surrounded by a wooden fence. On top of each fence post there is a sign with a different skiing or snowboarding technique on it. They use these to organize groups of learners based on skill level. Running down the center of of the ski school area is what they call the magic carpet. It is basically a conveyor belt to take the inexperienced up to the top of the slope, which is all of three to four vertical feet. Once we had been sorted in to our groups our lesson started. We began by going around and introducing ourselves. Then we started with the basics. We learned how to put on our skis. Then we learned proper stance. Soon we were learning how to control our speed and stop by positioning our skis in a wedge shape.
We practiced slowing ourselves and stopping over and over. We needed to know how to do this before they took us to the big bunny slope. After thorough practice and a couple of ski school drop outs we headed to the big kid chairlift.
After learning how to board and depart the chairlift we headed to the top of the bunny hill. At first it is a little intimidating. It is also a little humbling to see four year old children zipping down the slope with ease. We continued to practice our gliding wedge and wedge stop on a much larger scale. There were a couple of mishaps along the way. Followed by a couple more ski school drop outs. I ended up with a forty-five minute private lesson because everyone else in the group resigned. By the end of the lesson I was able to do wedge turns and wedge to parallel turns. If that makes no sense to you, let me put it in to perspective. I was able to go down the hill with some semblance of normalcy and near the skill level of a four year old.
Once the lesson was over I met up with the other members of the group for lunch. The base of the resort is at an elevation of six thousand four hundred and fifty feet. They have a lodge near the top of the mountain at eight thousand four hundred feet. To get there you take a gondola. That is where we went for lunch. It was about a thirty minute ride to the top. As we rode up we were able to see more of the resort. The resort covers three thousand acres so in reality we probably only saw a small portion of it. We also had awesome panoramic views of the mountains and valley in the distance.
At the end of our gondola ride we were greeted by Needles Lodge. It is nestled just next to Needles Point. We realized once we got to the top that the mountains we had been staring at the whole time we had been there were now the mountains we were on top of. There are three towers on the top of Mount Ogden that I had been looking at for weeks from the call center. Now we were on the opposite side of that same mountain and within a few hundred feet of those towers. It was pretty cool. The lodge was similar to those at the base of the mountain, but with its own personality. The most striking thing about the lodge is the size of the logs they used to build it. For the most part the lodge is a big open dining area with a fire place in the center. The log beams supporting the roof are at least four feet in diameter. It looked like they had used redwood trees to build it. We enjoyed a nice lunch right by the window overlooking the mountains and resort below. I finished eating pretty quickly and was anxious to get back down to the bottom and continue skiing. So I headed back down on the gondola with another member of the group. It is kind of weird to ride the gondola back down. Most people don’t do that, they ski down. It was a little reminder of my still developing skills. I spent the rest of the day skiing down the bunny hill, directly in to the lift line, and repeating the process. I forced myself to stop with just enough time to return the rental equipment, make a quick lap through the gift shop, and catch the shuttle. On the ride home I started realize just how exhausted I was. It was well worth it though. Skiing in Utah was everything I had hoped it would be.