September 1, 2016

Ready for a ski trip in Utah?

The snow in Utah is known to be some of the best in the world, and the mountain landscapes offer great diversity in terrain, from backcountry tours through Aspen glades to in-bounds steeps.

Eider riders Tom Runcie and Anton Sponar, both residents of neighboring Colorado, know the area well, so we sent photographer Stef Cande to follow them for a week of exploring all that Utah has to offer. Here’s a selection of stories and images from the week.

 

 

  • Ski Resort
    Solitude Resort
  • Number of Runs
    77
  • SKIABLE ACRES
    1,200+
  • Elevation
    2434m - 3058m
  • SKI AREA
    486 ha
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The site of snow covered pines is one that instantly makes a skier’s heart happy. When we landed in Salt Lake City, it was raining. And not just a little bit…it was raining HARD, with 30mph wind gusts. Not what you want to see when you’ve traveled a long way for a ski trip! We prayed to the snow Gods that as we started our drive up to Big Cottonwood Canyon, it would turn to snow. And that it did.

 

 

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You know that feeling of anticipation, when you wake up on the first day of a ski trip, eager to find how much snow fell overnight? The report said six inches, but we soon found out it was much more than that on Solitude’s higher elevations. Our faces lit up with pure, childlike joy as we made our way towards the chairlifts (catching first chair, no less). Anticipation shifted to adrenaline, as we dropped in on our first run, surprised to find that overnight winds had also worked in our favor, blowing additional snow into the untouched bowls.

 

 

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One of the really cool things about Solitude is just that – the solitude. We spent a full afternoon skiing among the perfectly spaced trees, the mountain seemingly all to ourselves. Circling lap after lap on lines throughout the Honeycomb area, we exchanged laughs, high-fives and ski banter while making mad dashes to the chairlift to do it all again. If you were to ask either of us at this point, we’d attest there’s no place we’d rather be.

 

 

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Winter’s days may be shorter, but as skiers, we still strive to pack a lot of life into them. We decided to break away from the resort early one sunny afternoon, and drove a short distance to a nearby trailhead for an early evening tour. As we booted up and clicked in, that familiar feeling of venturing out into less developed territory set in, made only more magnificent by the light from the setting sun.

 

 

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Here’s the deal…when presented the opportunity to ski with a local, you drop everything, gear up, and commit to skiing wherever and whatever they suggest, no questions asked.

Danielle DiGangi not only lead us to her favorite stashes, boot packs, and short cuts, she kindly invited us to unwind at the end of the day at her friend’s cabin in the woods, which can only be described as a skier’s dream crib.

After a couple days shredding every snow-covered inch of Solitude, we were treated to a behind-the-scenes education on snow safety and mountain operations. Marvin Sumner has been on Solitude’s Ski Patrol for over 20 years. As he outlined the daily exercises he and his team perform to keep the mountain and skiers safe, we were humbled. It’s only because of their dedication that we get to keep enjoying days like this, so to ski patrollers everywhere…THANK YOU!

 

 

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Runcie
About the author
Tom Runcie
I learned how to ski when I was 2 with my parents in Vermont. I skied my whole life, but really fell in love with the sport as a ski patroller in New Hampshire during college. I've lived in Crested Butte for 6 years now, and can't think of anywhere else I'd rather live. The skiing here is fun, technical, and adventurous, and pushes my abilities every day I go out. I love all kinds of skiing, but backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering speak to my soul in a very powerful way. There is no feeling on Earth quite like standing on top of a mountain covered in snow, with no other people anywhere around.
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