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Skiing:  Snowbird

There is nothing quite like the first time you ride the tram up to the top ofsnowbird001.jpg (28536 bytes) Snowbird. If it is a typical day you will be crammed in with 120 powder crazed souls. The savvy tram rider will try to get close to the opening side of the gate, this allows you first entry and the chance to grab some space at a window. Be prepared for a stupendous ride up with a great view of the Cirque near the top.

Once at the top you have to choose which side of the mountain you wish to ski. A recent addition is the Mineral Basin chair, this lift provides access to the South side of the mountain. Mineral Basin adds 500 acres of snowriding terrain. The Mineral Basin high speed quad takes you up 1429 vertical feet in 4 minutes!

Snowbird can be a very unforgiving mountain and you can get in trouble if you are not careful. Many times inviting looking stashes lead into dead-ends on cliff tops. Be sure where you asnowbird002.jpg (37070 bytes)re going and donít go blindly smoking down unfamiliar terrain. Most skiers will find the ratings for the runs here are sandbagged, the blue runs at Snowbird would be blacks at many other areas. Before you venture on a double black you had better be very confident of your abilities.

That said, the Bird can be a very fun area in which  to test your skills! Expert skiers will find plenty of steep challenging chutes. The Upper Cirque has manysnowbird0003.jpg (56511 bytes) tight lines through the rocks, Great Scott is sickly steep and scary! Once all the obvious powder lines have been taken, you can usually find untracked snow on High Baldy. You have to hike the ridge to get to High Baldy but it is usually worth your effort. This year there should be some good scary lines into Mineral Basin from this ridge. If you are on the Gad 2 lift, Thunder Bowl usually will hold untouched snow for quite a while. This area requires a bit of a traverse but that is why there is good snow!

Intermediates that ride the tram will find Regulator Johnson or the Road To Provo easiest way down. Chips Run can be somewhat intimidating, it is a narrow cat track that winds down the beginning part of the Peruvian Gulch. If you can negotiate the cat track it gets much mellower below.

Beginners can start on the Chickadee lift and move on to Baby Thunder or Mid Gad. Snowbird is mostly geared to the expert skier and does not have much in the way of beginner or intermediate skiing.

Staying at the resort can be a great advantage on powder days, while all the locals are trying to get up canyon you can be out skiing! There are a number of lodges and condos in the Snowbird and Alta vicinity. Check their websites for more information.

A good place to eat lunch is the Fork Lift, it is located on your left as you come down into the tram plaza. They have good food at typical resort prices, you should wait till after the noon rush for faster service.

If you are looking for a place to party the night away there isn't much here. The Canyon Inn is a good place to have a drink, it is located at the mouth of the big cottonwood canyon. Downtown Salt Lake City has a pretty happening scene, there are clubs of all kinds to suit everyone. Contrary to what everyone says you can get a drink in Utah. Although I must admit it is a bit strange here! To get into a club you must be a member, you can get a temporary membership, but they still charge you. More or less the Utah way of making a cover charge. Port of Call is my favorite downtown bar, they have good food and a fun atmosphere.

The ticket prices are $56.00 for a tram pass and $47.00 for a chairs pass. Two children 12 and under are free with each paying adult. You can get discount lift tickets at Gart Sports and Smithís grocery stores in town.

If you come skiing to Utah a trip isnít complete unless you skied the BIRD!

Additional Resources

Snow Report

Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort








Utah Atlas and Gazetteer

Backcountry Skiing Utah

First Tracks: A Century of Skiing in Utah

Hidden Salt Lake City and Beyond: Including Park City, Deer Valley, Alta and Snowbird

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top elev. = 11,000 ft.

base elev. = 7,760 ft.

vertical drop = 3,240 ft.

ave. snowfall = 500 in.


1 aerial tram

3 high speed quads

7 double lifts

2 surface tows



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