Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mineral Basin or Bust

Today we went up to the Snowbird Ski Resort to check out the snow conditions. It was cold and we had the bubby so we spent most of our time inside. Right when we walked into the halls Ethan said, "I want to eat here, dad." I asked, "What do you want to eat?" He said, "Cheese pizza," like I should already know. I didn't realize that our scouting trip from last fall had stuck in his head so vividly.

Last year there was a big snow storm on Halloween and most of the resorts opened the first week of November. Our family went up and ate pizza from the little "Pier 49" they have tucked back in a corner and watched the snow fall by the fistful. While we ate pizza and stared at the trees today, Ethan asked, "What does a lion eat?" He asks it to test me. He already knows, so I told him how I watched a documentary about a lion that came across a beached whale and ate the carcass.

There is very little snow on the mountains right now. They are hoping to open November 19. Last year, I had a custom pass to the Solitude resort. It was really nice and uncrowded. You could board right up to the chair, most the time. They have a little village at the foot of the hill where guys play alpine horns and other things to amuse the tourists. The terrain is pretty good. The backside of their mountain is called Honeycomb Canyon, it is picturesque being walled in by giant sweeping rock formations but the terrain is random: big drops come up unexpectedly. I would like to get a pass again but I'm not making as much money this year and my snowboarding will take away from our Christmas money, so we'll see what happens. Maybe Santa will be nice to me.

Brighton resort seems to cater the most to snowboarders. They have the highest and steepest terrain but it seems like you do the same couple of runs all day long. They have good stands of trees to bomb through. Snowbird is my favorite: They have the most terrain. They have a lot of space in their backside, Mineral Basin. They have steep open places or tricky little shoots and lots of room to just cruise. Also, on powder days, you can take the regular runs all morning and then, about lunch time, they finish up their avalanche precautions and open a cat track to another run called "The Road to Provo." You can get fresh tracks all day long.

Sometimes I want to get mad at Eleanor for letting me go snowboarding without her, but instead I have to praise her for watching the kids while I try to have a life. It can move you. Aspen trees look white all year until the snow comes, then suddenly they're yellow. The Limber Pine trees grow clumps of pine cones that look too geometric to be natural. The sky always darkens a little and takes a stark contrast to the glittery snow. Our blue atmosphere looks solid and steely enough to actually freeze, shatter and crash down to earth. I always mean to look up the history of those "Mardi Gras" trees full of beads and panties but forget when I go home. I'm a pretty considerate boarder, too: I only spit into roped off or unskiable areas, I don't throw snowballs from the lift at people I don't know (unless they're kids), and I don't openly laugh at the snowboarders strapping in at the top of the hill when they group up and sit in the posture of that chrome lady from all the mudflaps.

There's supposed to be some snow on the way and I'm looking forward to the discounted "early season" ticket prices at Snowbird so I can go boarding on their rocks. I took Ethan snowboarding last year but he wouldn't get on the lift. I had to carry him up the slope on my back and then run down along side him and catch him again before he went shooting out into the parking lot. It was fun but tiring. I'll post some pictures of our ski year once it gets going.

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