Are you a strong skier who mainly sticks to the groomed trails? Perhaps I can tempt you to explore Deer Valley’s trees, where you will find beauty beyond your wildest dreams. I’m serious… in less than 60 seconds you can shift from being surrounded by people to being surrounded by nature.
To help me prove my point, I invited fellow Deer Valley guest blogger, Melissa Marsted, on a tour of Deer Valley’s glades. She is a strong skier who almost never skies in the trees, but Melissa loves a challenge and agreed to come along.
My plan was simple:
● Make it fun
● Let Melissa control the pace
● Be willing to quit or rest at any time
● Offer advice, but only when she welcomed it
Here’s a step-by-step recap of our remarkable day, with maps and photos:
1. Warm up run: We started with a warm-up run from the top of Bald Mountain. Melissa, who loves cruisers, smoked me. That was wonderful, because I discovered she was skiing well and feeling good.
2. Very easy woods: Next stop was Flagstaff Mountain, where we continued our warm-up along skier’s right side of Sidewinder ski run. At no point were we more than 100 yards from the trail, just in case Melissa was uncomfortable. Actually, the opposite happened. Melissa was skiing a bit too fast, and I warned her to slow down. In the woods, you always have to be in control. She got the message.
3. More challenging woods: We went over to the Hidden Treasure ski run, and went skier’s right into the woods next to the ski run (known as D’s Trees). These woods are significantly more challenging than the first group, and much longer. But Hidden Treasure runs along the side all the way down, so it’s still easy to bail out. I offered a few tips, but mostly just skied slowly enough that Melissa could follow me without feeling pressured.
4. The fun begins: This is where the dynamic shifted. Melissa realized that all of her skiing techniques actually worked well in the woods, and she wanted to explore. So we headed over to Ontario Bowl, which is a little bit of a hike off of the Ontario beginner’s ski run. This was a big step, because there is no quick and easy way out of Ontario Bowl.
The pressure took over for a few minutes, and Melissa tightened up. But that didn’t last long. She was having too much fun, because a full five days after the last storm, there was still a ton of relatively untouched snow there.
In the glades, sometimes you have a lot of space between the trees, and other places not so much. To get Melissa in the flow of things, I kept looking for paths that left plenty of room for her next few turns.
5. The big leagues: Melissa started talking about skiing Daly Chutes, which she learned about from a friend. I loved her new found enthusiasm, but the chutes are steep and I wanted to test how she performed on tougher terrain. So first we went over to Lady Morgan Express ski lift and skied the double-black diamond Centennial Trees.
It was a little intimidating for Melissa to face a wall of trees on a steep slope with moguls, but we just slowed down and kept going. She did great, and the run was a superb confidence builder!
6. Food, drink, and rest: We both were hot, tired, and hungry, so we stopped at Empire Lodge for a long-leisurely lunch. It makes no sense to ski the woods when you are tired.
7. Daly Bowl: Melissa started talking again about the Daly chutes; I suggested we start with the slightly more conservative route. The Daly Bowl comes first when you traverse through the woods off Orion ski trail from the Empire Express chairlift. It is usually easier to enter than the chutes, because you have the option of skiing in from lower down on the side.
If you head to the Bowl, watch out for the roller coaster-like bumps that usually develop on the traverse through the woods. The odds are you will be in the shadows and it will be hard to see the terrain ahead. Go slowly!
The bowl is steep; to get a sense of this, check out the tiny humans at the top of this photo:
8. Daly Chutes: Now we were getting serious. We tackled chute 7, making one concession to safety and sanity… we skied around the cornice at the top of the chute and entered from the far side. This chute is steep and challenging, but Melissa was still having fun. The truth is, she felt pretty proud of herself.
The thought crossed my mind that if we tackled the Triangle Trees, way on the far side of the resort, we would have skied a nice cross-section of the best-know glades in a single day. I mentioned this to Melissa, and she was game for one more challenge.
9. The last of our energy: Triangle Trees are on the bottom half of Bald Mountain, between Tycoon and Reward ski runs. We entered at the very top, which was probably a mistake because the woods are pretty thick there. (Next time I will ski a bit further down Tycoon and then turn left into the woods.)
This glade goes on forever, and we had them all to ourselves. When we finally reached the Sultan Connection ski trail, there was no doubt we were done for the day.
Later that day, Melissa texted me to say this was one of her best skiing experiences ever!
Go at your own pace: What Melissa accomplished in one day is extremely rare. She’s an endurance athlete who is currently training for a 55k road race. For your first day in the woods, err on the side of caution, and always have an easy way back to a trail until you are very comfortable skiing the glades. And remember, never ski alone in the woods!
Author profile: Bruce Kasanoff
Bruce Kasanoff is a ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer and Forbes contributor, which basically means he writes a lot, and skis when he’s not writing. Before shifting west, he coached six to eight-year-old skiers in the seasonal program at Stratton Mountain.
Bruce is the author of numerous books including How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk, a little book about doing well by doing good. He conducts regular online workshops about Growing Your Career with Social Media.
Whenever possible, Bruce heads into the woods at Deer Valley, in both summer and
The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort Welcome to our blog! We feature great posts about skiing at Deer Valley from incredible local authors.
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