The Boys

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Utah Ski Trip

February 22 - March 1, 2005


By Bob Gifford

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Bob, Joe, and Shane met at BTV airport and checked their gear around 9am on Tuesday 2/22. We had two hops to Salt Lake City, and it would take us most of the day to get there. We had a layover in Cincinnati of 3 hours. A pretty uneventful trip put us in SLC around 6pm. We picked up our white Ford explorer and headed south to Sandy Utah where the Majestic Rockies Hotel was located. John and Tom Ketcham were already in the area. Tom Drove from Washington state (18 hours!) and John flew up from Austin Texas. We found our hotel and moved into our cabin. I must say that the Majestic Rockies looks pretty grim when you first see it. The rooms are pretty beat. However, we had this whole house out back that was pretty nice. For 65 bucks a night we had 3 beds 3 TVs, a kitchen with hardware and a bathroom. The place was freshly painted and fitted our needs. The price was right at 22 a night/person. We chatted it up a bit on Tuesday night and decided to do Alta on Wednesday.

Wednesday dawned clear it got below freezing down in Sandy at night. Then it would go up into the 50's during the day. No snow around the hotel. Bob cooked up some breakfast and our caravan of two cars headed up little cotton wood canyon for a day on the greatest snow on earth, that's on all the license plates out there. We got to Alta around 10am and promptly lost Tom and John. Joe, Shane and Bob cruised around and got the feel of the place. Alta is really a huge ski area surrounded by a huge amount of skiable terrain with no access. Helicopters and hikers are all over the place carving up the terrain you can't use a lift to reach. We found tons of snow in pretty nice condition. Pretty much all packed powder and no ice like you find in the east. It was very sunny and in the upper 20's. The snow was dry and really nice to ski on. We connected with John and Tom around 1:00pm. We just found them by chance getting off the lift. We skied the rest of the day and then headed back to Sandy. This first day brought the grave realization to Joe and Tom that there old straight DH boards were obsolete. I noticed that Joe and Tom were eyeing my shaped skis.I need to say that both Joe and Tom could handle their skis fine, but they were really working much harder then I was. Shane also had some really old straight skis with some leather super-comp tele boots. Shane is very strong, but I even think he was longing for some modern technology. At one point Shane hurt his ankle avoiding another skier. We were holding our breath wondering if he would only get this first day of fun. Shane skied the rest of the week on an injured ankle. His Doctor would of been proud. After a couple brews in the parking lot, we headed back to the house. We bought a bunch of food on the way at the super market so now we could eat cheap.

Thursday dawned clear again and since we had so much fun we headed to Alta again. Tom decided to demo new gear. He ended up skiing several pairs of skis and had a really big smile indicating he was having fun. We skied harder this day and Joe was tearing it up on his 200cm K2 comps. Shanes ankle was holding up. He had been icing it and wrapped it up good. It was pretty swollen in the am before we heard out. We again skied all over the place at Alta. We lunched at a place halfway up in the collins lift area. We had full on sun all day. I went off solo in the afternoon and skied a couple of the big bowls I had not been in. All and all a great day. We had a steak dinner at the cabin with large amounts of beer. You drink tons and never feel it because it has little alcohol.

Friday was clear once again and we headed back up to Alta for another day. We were getting 42 dollar tickets in town and loving it. A short drive with beer in the car for after and we were set. Our third day was just as nice as our first two. We did hike a bit for some untracked sow in the East Castle area. Today Tom spent 1000 bucks on a whole new ski package. He left his old straight boards in the parking lot and tossed his Lange boots in the trash can. Tom was definitely the most active skier in the group. He was usually the last one to the car with a big grin on his face. Those new shaped skis were a ton of fun and he was loving it. Joe was mastering the old school boards. Shanes Ankle appears to be holding up and getting better. We headed back and went out to a great place. The Mekong Restaurant was awesome. We ate for about 80 bucks with including the tip. Stuffed!

Saturday was our rest day we headed down to Spanish Fork and then into the Unita National forest to take a hike. We went in about 2.5 miles to a remote hot spring. It was pretty cool to see 140 degree water bubbling out of the ground. Shane and Bob soaked for a bit in the stinky pools (sulfur). There were some folks around as well as a couple nice looking girls hanging out. We didn't notice them at all. The hike was on all packed down snow which was pretty slippery. The drive in to the trail head was really cool, 15 miles into nothing, no buildings or anything. The land is really colorful with red rocks, scrub brush and pine trees. There was a river with a few fly fisherman casting too. John/Tom cooked us up a great pork tender loin dinner.

Sunday we headed up Big cotton wood canyon and checked out Brighton ski area. Shane skied nordic and had a blast. Brighton is tiny compared to Alta but it did have nice snow. I found the snow boards which are not allowed at Alta really changed the skiing. There were really no nice bumps at Brighton. The snow boards had planed down everything. You could really see the difference the snowboards make. It was sunny all day again. We got no new snow to this point in out trip. Apparently the Monday before we shoed up it did snow so we were skiing on what locals termed beat conditions. To me they snow was as good as it ever gets in Vermont except for powder days.

Monday it turned cloudy and it rained a little down in Sandy. We headed up to Snowbird for our last day. This area is in little cotton wood canyon just before Alta. Snowbird has over 3000 feet of vertical drop. The whole upper part is wide open bowl skiing. It was snowing lightly and the light was really flat. We found it hard to ski the big bowls in this light because you couldn't see any reference points with no depth of field it was just weird. Snowbird had alot we didn't even see. We did ride the 125 person tram which was a trip. A 6 minute ride to the top. There is no tram terminal, the thing just stops on the top of the mountain. We skied mostly on the little cloud lift which serviced the upper bowl area. I ran into two patrollers from Sugarbush during our lunch break which was cool. I think you need to ski these places several days to get to know them. I need to do a few more days at snowbird to really feel like I know the place. Our last night in Sandy brought us back to the Mekong for another great meal. We went back to the cabin for some more late night TV. We got hooked on the Family Guy show on cable. For some reason it was pretty funny. Shane watched more TV in this week then in the last year. We had to take his remote away to stop him.

Tuesday we packed up our stuff and got ready to leave. Shane left his trusty old Super comps under his bed. It was time for them to go. Joe ripped his bindings off those old K2's and tossed the skis under the porch. Joe tossed his boots inthe trash can too. I returned with all my gear as did John. Tom headed off for his 18 hour return trip home and the rest of us piled into the rental rig for the Airport. We were a little worried that we would get home because the East coast was getting a snow storm. We ended up making it back fine and landed in Burlington around midnight. Joe and Shane got taxis, and Joanne picked me up. We got home around 2am to a nice foot of new snow. I ended up back at work 6 hours later. An excellent trip all in all. Our costs for skiing was 210 bucks (5 days). Our hotel and car rental was 323 each for the cabin dwellers. we spent 384 for air fare. The whole trip including beer was about 1000 bucks. We only put gas in the truck twice so we didn't drive more then 250 miles. I found Sandy Utah to be similar to many many williston roads all lined up for blocks. I would never want to live there. I bet it is screaming hot in the summer.

We had quail running around in our yard and it was quiet once you got used to the traffic noise.The whole Salt lake area is really one large city. High points: Alta!!!! Mekong Restaurant!!! Shaped skis !!! Sun !!! The family guy! Low points: Little dog tied to a tree in our yard. He wanted to eat us. Straight skis, and no guitar to play.

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