2011-2012 Freeskier Resort Guide: Best Powder
Ingrid Backstrom shot by Adam Clark
AS SEEN IN THE NOVEMBER 2011 ISSUE OF FREESKIER.
Yes, parts of Tahoe received a bit more of the goods thanks to last season’s La Niña phenomenon, but when it comes to quality, no one can touch Little Cottonwood Canyon’s renowned fluff. Plus, Snowbird’s reported 783 inches is nothing to sneeze at. For the stuff of legend—crystalline lightness that just begs to be slashed, bombed out and sliced through—you’ll want to be at Alta, Snowbird or both. Luckily they make it easy. For $97 a day you can have both. If you’re skiing with a co-ed crew—i.e. snowboarders—stick to Snowbird, as Alta is one of the last remaining resorts to ban our brethren.
If this season is anything like last season—and forecasters are predicting we may be close—then here’s what you can expect at Alta/Snowbird: the sort of flakes that force a smile wide enough to catch so much snow on your next turn that you choke, but the smile remains even through strained breaths. Feather-light Salt Lake–affected snow that’s easy on the knees, allowing you to shred from bell to bell. Praise be, Great Salt Lake. But fluffy depth is only part of the equation of epicness that is Alta/Snowbird. We’ve all been stuck on flat terrain in deep snow at some point. It’s a sweaty, curse-inducing time, and somehow makes you feel very differently about the sacred white stuff. But at Alta/Snowbird that deep snow is combined with gnar Wasatch terrain—steep, wide-open splendor—and you get North America’s best powder experience.
With all that terrain to shred, Snowbird really does a favor to its patrons with its 125-person tram climbing nearly 3,000 feet in under 10 minutes. With a city of over 2 million people just 30 minutes away, the fight for freshies is always on but the Tram advantage gives you the one-up on the rat race in Little Cottonwood Canyon. On that note, do not let Snowbird’s El Chanate $3 margaritas get the best of you. If there is a lot of fresh snow, and you’re not up for first chair, you will spend the day skiing locals’ tracked-up lines.
Alta’s Peruvian Lodge is synonymous with après, so head there after your perfect day to keep the celebration going. A stay at Snowbird’s Cliff Lodge is well worth the money—if not for the convenience, then for the variety of hot tubs to choose from. The perfect post-powder ritual.