by Paul Maraschiello


Snowbird is one of the toughest ski areas I have ever visited. I've never seen so many double black diamond runs in my life! They don't even have one green run from the top of the mountain and many of the blue runs would be black diamonds at any other ski area. Snowbird is a real skier's ( and snowboarder's) mountain. There were very few trails that my assistant was comfortable skiing. All of a sudden she was skiing really tough trails that were beyond her comfort zone. Luckily, because of all the mileage she had gotten on trips for the Ski Bum News and the many hours of free ski seasons I had given her, she was able to survive.

I expected Snowbird to have a lot of deep powder that day but it had been skied off and packed down in many places. I was demoing a pair of fatboys made by Head and did not care for them. Because we were not skiing a lot of really deep powder that day, I found these skis were not as good as the Volkl G4's I had been skiing previously. They were just OK on the groomed snow and were too short for me. I usually ski a 185 or 190 ski and these were 173s.

We rode up the Aerial Tram to the top of Hidden Peak and warmed up on Chip's Run. We picked up Rothman Way and skied to the Gadzoom Detachable Quad. We skied over to the Little Cloud lift and took that to the top. We took a look at Mineral Basin but it looked a little too intimidating, so we decided to take Road To Provi and skied down Mark Malu Fork. We rode the same chair back to the top and came down through the soft bumps on Regulator Johnson and then took another run down the groomed part of that slope.

We explored trails like Bassackwards, Election and Lunch Run. We skied over to Harper's Ferry and enjoyed that short steep trail. We even took a run down Harper's Ferry East and played in the bumps. We had a nice lunch at the base lodge and then went back up the Wilbere Lift and skied over to the Mid-Gad Lift, skiing those trails that were in good shape and within my assistant's comfort zone. We went back to the Little Cloud Lift and took a few more runs down the trails it services.

The base lodge at Snowbird is a rambling group of buildings built into the side of the mountain that contains a number of shops and restaurants, along with the administrative offices. I wish I had more time to spend looking around that complex, it looked interesting.

At the end of the day we were tired and drove down the mountain to our accommodations in the valley. We crashed early and got an early start the next day.

When we arrived, we parked in the preferred parking lot, right at the base lodge. The parking attendant parked the car and it was worth the $10 to be so close to the base lodge. We picked up our skis (they have a free ski check) and were back on the slopes in short order. When we got off the list, were thought about skiing Mineral Basin but decided to ski some of the trails that we had skied the day before. We spent the morning skiing the trails off the Little Cloud Lift and those serviced by the Mid-Gad Quad. At lunch we met some of the locals and had a delightful time in the Mid-gad Lodge. We tried a couple of bottles of Polygamy Ale (their motto is "You can't just drink one") and liked the brew.

After lunch, we again found ourselves looking at Mineral Basin and decided that it didn't look that tough. I went down Lone Star and took Bench Traverse to Silver Dipper and my assistant took a green run to the bottom of the Mineral Basin chair. I gave her a run-down on the trail I had skied as we rode up the chair. She decided to try the trail I had skied, so we both came down that trail. The slopes were steep but the bumps were small and even the lower-level intermediate I was skiing with was able to handle them. We then skied Blue By You and then went over to the Baldy Express and skied the easier trails off that chair.

It was getting late, so we packed it in and headed back to our condo.

My feeling about Snowbird is that it is not really a good ski area for beginners and lower-level intermediates but is a kick-ass ski area for experts. They allow snowboarders and most of the terrain is incredible steep. There are some easy trails but most of the mountain is expert terrain. We never made it to the "beginner" area serviced by the Baby Thunder Lift, so I can't really comment on the three or four green trails that this lift services at the bottom of the mountain. For the most part, this is a mountain for advanced intermediates, experts and ski gods. It's a big mountain and has a lot of really difficult slopes. This is a fun mountain and is more fun the better skier you are.

There are 2,500 skiable acres, 10 chair lifts and an aerial tram. They boast 85 trails and most of them are tough. There is a 2,900 ft. vertical with green trails off seven of the lifts. The average snowfall is 500" and the ski season is usually 200 days long. The longest run is Chips Run (2.5 miles).

If you think you're hot, try your skill at Snowbird. You might pick up some humility. I know that my assistant's ego took a little beating at this world-class mountain. I felt pretty good when I think about the steeps that I skied at Snowbird.