I grew up and learned to ski in the Northeast – New Hampshire, Maine, Canada and Vermont. My earliest memories of skiing are at Stowe VT. I was fearless on the slopes but terrified of the T-Bar…at the time my only option for getting up to the top of the beginner area. For every run I took, I had about 5 unsuccessful tries to load the T-Bar with my dad. My dad, usually a very patient man, had lost his patience after being hit in the head with the T-Bar multiple times and hoisted me off to another adult to see if they had any better luck. I eventually mastered the T-Bar and grew to love skiing. Skiing the northeast held many challenges for me, not the least of which were hard packed conditions, ice, heavy powder and cold temperatures.
When I first visited Utah in the early 90s it was summer time – I visited Alta and Snowbird, hiking the trails and looking at the ski runs. It was hard to imagine that people actually skied some of the expert terrain. When winter arrived and the snow started to fly, I realized that you cannot compare skiing in the east with skiing in the west.
• The snow quality is consistently better at Alta and Snowbird than anything I had ever experienced. My very best snow day in New England was still not even equal to my worst snow day in Utah.
• I quickly learned that though there is a lot of “extreme” terrain, this is only a small part of the picture. There are days and days worth of beginner and intermediate terrain to explore at Alta and Snowbird alone.
• Snow makes a huge difference – when you start to progress to more challenging terrain, it is a whole lot easier when there is good snow vs. hard-packed or icy conditions.
• Beginners have a special place at both Alta and Snowbird. I have brought both of my young nephews to ski in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Their favorite is Alta. Alta’s Albion, Cecret and Sunnyside chairs bring beginners to their own skiing Shangri-La! They can safely explore the different runs and always end up in place where a hot chocolate awaits.
• Cold….yes, it gets cold in Utah however, it is nothing like the cold I experienced growing up in the northeast. Though you always want to be prepared for winter conditions, the thing many are unaware of is that you don’t want to forget your sunscreen as you are probably more likely to get sunburned than frost bitten.
• Alta and Snowbird are for everyone! I love days when I get on a chair lift only to be seated next to an elderly couple who raised their children skiing at Alta and are now visiting with their grandchildren. Alta is a tradition for many families.