February 5, 2009

Spalluto's (first) Trip to Utah

Our good friend Mike Spalluto was recently asked if he'd be willing to attend a conference in Salt Lake City...during ski season. After wiping the drool from his mouth he enthusiastically agreed and booked a few extra days to ski with us. He also brought Dave Walsh, a family friend who helped teach Mike to ski. They arrived late last Thursday with huge smiles on their faces and ski boots in their carry-ons. Unfortunately, they happened upon Utah during one of the longest winter high-pressure systems in recent memory. But they were up for warm bluebird skiing too.

Day 1: We hit The Canyons. Having performed some design work for lift tickets, their warm-up day was free. In awe of the shear magnitude before them, they let me take the reigns and I guided them straight to the high traverse on 9990. They looked out over the spine with wonder and anticipation, before dropping into the pines. We trekked all the way out to Dreamcatcher and back to Super Condor before ending the day at Silverado Bowl. We knew we were done when Mike literally wrapped himself around a tree and had to be manually ejected from his ski binding.

Day 2: Deer Valley. Taking the executive route, we introduced the boys to America's #1 resort by taking a tour of the 5-star property where Sarah works. We also met up with Matt Albrecht, his wife Leigh and her parents Laird and Freia. Skiing with the groups was not terribly chaotic as they were all great skiers. Again, we covered the entire resort and left exhausted. That night we didn't even bother going out after skiing. We simply rested up to do it again.

Day 3: Snowbasin in Ogden, Utah. North of Salt Lake are two formidable hidden gems. Powder Mountain and Snowbasin represent a very rare contingent of under-skied and under-publicized powder paradises. Our first venture to Snowbasin was a huge eye-opener. About an hour-drive from our house in Heber, this mountain was quiet, lavish, and absolutely epic in terms of terrain. With dramatic, rocky peaks and open bowl skiing everywhere, Snowbasin truly represents western skiing. But what's more is that even though it hadn't snowed in a week, we still found unracked lines and soft steeps begging to be carved. We ended the day with a triumphant run down the 2002 Olympic Men's Downhill course starting area. I can honestly say I had no idea how steep those race courses get, but having taken a separate gondola to the top of this pitch, listening to the operator read us our last rights and then dropping in over a blind lip, I'd say I have a new respect for the guys who shove out from the gates and straightline gnarly lines like that.

Day 4: Alta. I saved Alta for the last day because I knew Mike had been dreaming of skiing there for years. Mike and Dave even rented fat skis for that one day just to get the full experience. We met up with Patty and Gary at Goldminer's Daughter Lodge and before we knew it, we had a crew of people Dave's age willing to show us around. After a warm up through Ballroom we made runs in Fred's Trees, Westward Ho, and Eagle's Nest before hitting the backside and Chartreuse. Finally, in the afternoon Dave said simply "Dude, I'm done." Mike agreed and as we took a hero run down through Ballroom I knew I had done a pretty good job getting them to all the best spots.

Mike eventually went to his conference and will be leaving SLC on the redeye tonight. Hopefully this will become and annual tradition and hopefully next year they'll be able to plan their trip around fresh snow. But for now, they at least have a taste.

You can view more pictures here:

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