In a recent run to Park City, the wife and I just had to try The Canyons Resort’s “Orange Bubble Express,” a heated, aptly-named domed chair lift that is considered one of the highlights of a massive investment made in the facility during the off-season.
We had what could be considered a perfect day for such a mode of mountain ascent but I still couldn’t help but feel a tad uncomfortable about being enclosed within a space as small as a chair lift.
I have no fear of heights. And I love the exposure to the elements that a chair lift affords. You can scope runs, spot signs of wildlife and just take in the views. The Orange Bubble Express, for me, takes all of that away. Sure, I could have simply lifted the lid but then, its purpose of design is rendered meaningless.
I admit the heated seats were a nice touch, especially given the frozen swamp that hung in the sky that day. However, I think there’s a reason we don’t see more enclosed chair lifts.
The Canyons remains my favorite of the Park City resorts. It’s size allows you to escape even holiday weekend crowds and the terrain provides extensive variety.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a recreational sweet spot for Salt Lake City. It has some stellar ice and rock climbing, hiking and come winter, serious powder. Landing yesterday found us waist deep in like minded folks from all parts of the country. Faint conversations about the conditions and resorts float past from a few rows back on plane or in the rental car line. The baggage claim is a show and tell of ski and snowboard equipment. Old school. Thrashers. All here to take in the same thing.
It is my hope that Solitude will live up to its name in just about couple of hours. A couple of inches of overnight doesn’t hurt. Plus, it’s a weekday. Things seem to be working in our favor.
Yeah, it'll be fun.
My first run of the season was over New Year’s weekend in West Virginia’s Snowshoe resort. Not a bad place for Southeast corn. Last year, Snowshoe saw more of the white stuff than a number of western resorts. No so this year. The first day of 2011 found the lifts smeared in fog and a 45-degree rain testing the limits of their riders’ DWR finished jackets.
I don’t expect the same come this week in Park City, where I plan to bounce along three of the major bumps that make up this spine of snow covered rock in as many days. Solitude, The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort are all reporting pretty damn nice conditions with more on the way and when we’re there.
I’m not going to make a beeline toward the backcountry stashes, mind you. I’m just not there yet. I plan to work my way into some of the lesser bowls. I hope. It all depends on how hour five of day two decides to treat my quadriceps. Yet, for those skiers and boarders who still find plenty of reason to slash through the frontcountry, is there a better kind of pain?
Photo: Scott Markewitz, The Canyons