Seeking Solitude

Solitude Resort Trail map

Aptly named?

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.

Here’s to resort towns, direct flights and El Nina.

The Canyons in Park City, UT

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

Snow is on the way … but until then

iPLayoutside image from 2009 Motown Throwdown in Morgantown, WV

Okay, so it’s man-made corn blanketing stairwells and plywood ramps, but hey, it still gives you a reason to board. From Morgantown, WV to Seattle, pre-season celebrations of snow are underway from now until the real stuff arrives. So if you can get away from the pumpkin carving long enough, maybe this year you will be able to get the board out before December.