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Skiing:  Solitude

Until recently Solitude has been one of those funky little known resorts.  With Alta and Snowbird located a canyon away Solitude has never really become well known.  Although, this is a good thingÖ  While the tourists come to Utah to covet the Snowbird and Alta powder Solitude remains underused and overwhelmed with snow.

At Solitude itís not uncommon to find untouched meadows days after a storm.  Compared to its more famous brethren this is a nice change.  As you pull into the parking lot the name ďSolitudeĒ becomes apparent.  If you hit Solitude on a weekday expect to get a parking spot pretty damn close to the lift.  If you already have a pass park down by the Eagle Express, this allows a ski-in/ski-out situation from the car.  Which in turn lends itself well to a car lunch/picnic in the parking lot.  In the springtime grill sightings are common.  Being as this is a small place you can expect a certain fraternization between the carloads of people, donít be surprised to be offered a grilled brat from the car next to you.

Lift tickets can be bought at either the Moonbeam center (lower parking lot) or the Village at Solitude (upper parking lot).  A note on this is in order, day skiers would be well served to park in the lower lot.  The upper lot requires a pretty healthy walk to either Apex, Sunrise or Powderhorn lifts.  The upper lot is much better served for folks staying in the village.

Solitude was once a small resort with limited base facilities.  This changed when Intrawest was consulted to design their base area.  Condos quickly appeared and the base area was transformed into a quaint village.  The effect is completed with the ever popular clock tower.  It seems every ski resort feels compelled to place this little detail prominently.  None the less the rustic look of the buildings do help them achieve the mountain village feeling.

The condos are very tasteful and compared to Little Cottonwood prices very affordable.  I must highly recommend the Inn at Solitude, very nice rooms and an attentive staff.  If you are used to clicking into your skis from your hotel room door forget about it here.  You will face a bit of a hoof to the lifts, nothing epic but worth noting.

There isnít much for aprŤs skiing, but they do have a couple bars.  Youíll not party the night away here, but who wants to do that with fresh powder beckoning in the morning?  The Thirsty Squirrel is the place for an after skiing beer.  A pool table and a well stocked bar are the draws, but donít expect a huge crowd.

The on-mountain dining hasnít changed much, The Last Chance Mining Camp is the most popular eating spot.  This is lodge is located adjacent to the Powderhorn and Sunrise lifts.  Plenty of seating and your typical ski lodge fare are what draw the crowds.  Expect the typical prices and usual varieties of food here.  On non-storm days the Roundhouse is usually the outdoor grilling spot.  Offering grilled burgers, hotdogs, chicken and other goodies this is the place to soak up the sun.  Accessed from either the Moonbeam or Eagle lifts it is probably the more aesthetic place to eat.  Snacks and chili dogs can also be found at the base of the Moonbeam lift.

There is plenty of terrain to satisfy all types of skiers.  The Link and Moonbeam chairs are places to teach the beginning skiers how to master the mountain.  The ski school is located in the Moonbeam Center, be sure and sign up for a lesson.

Solitude offers a wide variety of runs catering to the intermediate skier as well.  The Eagle Express is a fine place to lap groomed corduroy runs.  Sunshine bowl is the usual way down, but this can become a bit icy in the afternoons (if you can call Utah snow icy?).  The Summit lift also has some fine intermediate runs.  Ride the Sunrise lift up and take the signed run down to the Summit lift.  Once atop the Summit lift there are several blue ways down, taste them all.Honeycomb.jpg (58476 bytes)

If you are an advanced skier and are looking for powder Solitude is the place.  The main spot to mine powder stashes would be Honeycomb Canyon.  Honeycomb  provides an almost backcountry feel, no lifts and youíll generally earn your turns.  There are four ways to enter Honeycomb, from the Summit lift, Powderhorn lift, Eagle lift and from the Honeycomb lift itself.  The Honeycomb lift gets you out of the canyon, this lift is fairly new and saves you from a long flat cat-track cruise.  From the Summit lift you can choose which side of Honeycomb to ski, East or West.  From any other entrance you are skiing the Eastern side of the canyon.

From the Summit skiers right is the Eastern side, skiers left is the Western side.  The Western side is pretty apparent from the top of the lift. The entrancehoneycombentrance7.jpg (58571 bytes) to the Eastern side is a bit hidden.  Go skiers right as you get off the lift, ski down about fifteen to twenty yards, youíll see a ridgeline with a small knoll on the left.  Ski up the noticeable track and head along the ridgeline.  Go out as far as you wish and head down, youíre sure to encounter good snow conditions.

Honeycombleft1.jpg (61518 bytes)The left side of Honeycomb involves a bit more of a hike, traverse and sidestep out until you canít take it anymore or you reach good snow.  The further you go the better chances of good snow.

The Powderhorn gate probably provides the easiest vertical and one of the best chances for fresh snow.  Ride the Powderhorn lift up and veer skiers right when getting off the lift.  Youíll see a signed gate, go through and manage your way across the usual exposed rocks.  Be aware during low snow times, (or after being wind blasted) you will receive a bit of base damage at the gate entrance. There are several nice gullies located after traversing skiers left a bit.  These usually hold snow days after storms.

The Eagle gate is accessed from the top of the Eagle quad, get off the lift, ride down Eagle Ridge a bit and youíll see a gate on your left.  Go through the gate and sample some fairly steep lines with an aspen woods ending, tasty.

The Navarrone  gate is located at the top of the Honeycomb lift.  There are several lines available, traverse left a bit and get away from the heavily traveled lift line.

Honeycomb Canyon isnít the only place for some steep fun though, there are plenty of other places.  Probably the steepest terrain Solitude has to offer is located off the Powderhorn lift.  This terrain descends the fall line down to the summit lift.  It can get quite steep and getting cliffed out can be likely.  Be careful if you decide to ski Middle Slope, Parachute or Milk Run.

The Headwall Forest, Evergreens and the Scree Slope are all accessed from the summit lift.  Get off the summit and head down the mountain to skiers right.  Youíll eventually come to a sign pointing the way to the Sol-Bright trail.  Follow this trail out and feel free to cut into the Headwall Forest at any time.  Youíll see tracks leading to the various shots.  For the Evergreens and Scree Slope keep going until you reach the split for the Sol-Bright trail and Corner Chute.  Traverse to skiers right and dive in wherever the snow is fresh.  If you traverse all the way out youíll eventually spill into the Scree Slope.  Because a bit of side-stepping is required this area will keep fresh snow for quite some time.   solitude002.jpg (42108 bytes)solitude001.jpg (32314 bytes)

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources 


Snow Report

Solitude Mountain Report


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Magazines

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Skiing

Freeskier


Books

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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MOUNTAIN STATS

top elev. = 10,035 ft.

base elev. = 7,988 ft.

vertical drop = 2,047 ft.

ave. snowfall = 500 in.

 

1 high speed quad

1 quad chair

2 triple chairs

4 double chairs


 

 


 

 


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