Skiing as many runs as possible, in one day!

The weather was superb on the day I was going to find out how many of Deer Valley Resort’s runs I could ski in about seven hours. Usually, I’m not a morning skier; while I generally get up around 6 a.m. every day, I first spend time reading the news, doing some chores, going on my morning run and after a late breakfast, I always find a few more things to do. My morning goes by too fast and it’s already lunch time. This Monday was an exception to my otherwise slow-morning routine and my afternoon skiing.

While I was a bit apprehensive the day before, but I got up early and by 8:40 a.m., I was standing in the Snow Park parking lot, outfitted and ready to go. At 8:45 a.m. I was in the lift line waiting for Carpenter Express to open and by 8:58 a.m. I was already boarding the chairlift ready for my long ski day.

The weather was overcast but quite cool, the snow felt great on Little Stick, my first run; soon, I found myself on Deer Hollow, headed to the base of Mountaineer Express chairlift. My next big run was Jordanelle where I “flew” as I was among the first few skiers on a perfectly manicured run. I sampled the rest of the trails served by Mountaineer, doing a few “firsts” on runs like Keetley, Crescent and Dynamic.

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Upon completing Little Stick and visiting Wide West, I was back riding the Carpenter chairlift. It was just 10:05 a.m. and I had 12 runs in the bag! From the top of Bald Eagle Mountain, I got to the Sultan Express and collected a large number of runs, both on groomed and bumpy trails, including Grizzly and Ruins of Pompei. Reminding me that fine corduroy and rough-and-tumble bumps were still a way to separate the men from the boys!

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After another run on a groomer and a fast lap on Reward, I made it to the Wasatch Express chairlift at 11:59 a.m. I had already skied 25 different runs! After challenging myself with the tough moguls on Rattler, I relaxed on what are arguably the best, most popular and most enjoyable groomed runs of Deer Valley: Wizard, Legal Tender, Nabob, Keno and Birdseye. At the same time, I committed what should fairly be called a “Deer Valley Sacrilege” by eating my lunch on the Wasatch Express.

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It was almost 1 p.m. when I boarded Quincy Express, on my way to Empire and Lady Morgan Mountains. There, I would mix some great cruisers like Orion or Magnet with the bumps that carpet Empire Bowl, on runs like Domingo and Solace as well as Argus or Hillside, off Lady Morgan. I also managed to pay a visit to one fun run that originates from the right of the bridge on Bandana, and plunges into what’s known by most young skiers as “Bucky’s Backyard,” the perfect interlude made of giant rolling bumps with peaks and valleys that never fail to capture all the attention of the most jaded skier!

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At 2:21 p.m., I rode Ruby Express one last time to rejoin Flagstaff Mountain and its collection of fine groomed runs, beginning with Hawkeye, my 50th run of the day. Then it was time to hit these wonderful, pleasant runs that are Lucky Star, Lost Boulder, Sidewinder and Blue Bell. I paid a quick visit to the Silver Strike Express chairlift and after a few more runs off of the Red Cloud and Quincy chairlifts, I found myself riding the Crown Point lift. It was 3:45 p.m. and I could already claim 62 different runs!

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Flying under the road bridge on Kimberly is something I love and consider to be a quintessential Deer Valley experience. I skied down Navigator and caught another ride on Carpenter Express. Descending Big Stick felt like a flash and enabled me to catch another ride up Carpenter just after 4 p.m. that gave me access to a swift, Solid Muldoon, and then, just in the nick of time, I grabbed the very last Carpenter chair of the day that brought my total of different runs skied to 67 out of some 100 possible. In the meantime, I had accumulated 62,100 vertical feet!

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When I took my skis off at Snow Park, I was so excited that I did not even feel tired. Moreover, that night, after dinner, my wife and I went for a 2 mile walk; I guess I just needed to unwind a bit!

My Favorites Part 2 – Ski Runs

It’s hard to talk about my favorite spots on the mountain because there are so many. It comes down to the specific day’s conditions. Each area has its advantages depending on if it is sunny, snowing, flat light or powder! I usually assess the weather and whoever I am skiing with and then I decide my skiing route from there.

If it is a bluebird day and the new snow has been skied out (hard to find lately considering we have so much snow) Bald Mountain is the spot, hands down. I usually start out on Nabob and then ski all the groomers. These runs are the best for strong steep intermediates. After Nabob I usually go to Keno, then Legal Tender, Wizard, Tycoon and Reward (if it is groomed). When all these runs are groomed it is the closest thing to the feeling of being in a world cup race. I call this “Ego Snow”.

When I ski Bald Eagle Mountain, I love to ski Big Stick. This run is a classic GS trail. Starts off rolling, drops into a great steep section then at the bottom you better hold on because you’re going to have tired legs when you hit the compression. Another fun run is Solid Muldoon. This follows the Carpenter Express lift line so you must be ready to show off your best skiing. A must do is Success to Last Chance. This route will take you past some of the private homes of Bald Eagle.  Many of these homes are elaborately decorated and have earned nicknames such as “the bear house”, the “raccoon roost” and the “tree house”.  

On Deer Crest, I would say Jordanelle ski run is my favorite. It’s a mile long with a vista you must see to believe. Usually when I have friends visiting this was their favorite run to rip down. I think it helps bring back the memory of their downhill days!

When it’s snowing with flat light, I try to ski in the trees for some depth perception. Sometimes that can’t be done depending on the group I am with. If it’s snowing and flat light the best area to ski is off the Northside Express chairlift. This is our most popular area because there is something for any member of the family or ability level.

OK…now to the big stuff! After a storm or if it’s snowing and accumulating a lot during the day I usually ski off piste all day. I love it when people say there are only groomers at Deer Valley. I have had two groups mentioned this to me and that’s the easiest way to find out that I love a challenge. Usually, after I prove them wrong, they are asking me to stop by 2 p.m.!

So, when the snow has fallen (or still falling) here are the best powder lines:

I usually rush right over to Empire.  However, if the snow safety is not yet completed I start in Mayflower and work my way to Empire.

 Let’s start at Empire – My first hit is the Lady Morgan Bowl fall line. Most of the time this is so good it requires another run. For my third run, I head to the Daly Chutes! I lap Daily Chute a couple times and then to Chutes 7-10 before hitting the X-Files (Don’t know how to find the elusive X-Files? See the previous blog post from JF Lanvers).

Challenger Chute

Once I have thoroughly covered Empire I push on to Ontario Bowl. I either hike in from Ontario ski run or take the traverse from Hidden Treasure.  Ontario Bowl always has a funny way of pulling the “YEE HAWS!!” out of me. The same as Lady Morgan Bowl, Ontario also requires a few passes. Sometimes I have found myself Ontario Bowl all day and only forced to leave when my legs say quit.

I find that most skiers follow this same route and head to Empire first after a big storm.  So by the time you get back to Bald Mountain and hit Mayflower Bowl, Triangle Trees, Sultan Trees and Sunset Trees there are still many great lines!

Then there are my favorite spots for skiing with the kids. They usually take the lead and it’s directly to Bucky’s Backyard and jump and Ruby’s Roost. They would stay here all day if I let them. These runs are off of Bandana and are very bumpy and rolly and of course, that is why they like them. Another favorite for kids is Oompa Loompa Land, this is an opened glade and makes the children feel as if they are skiing some big terrain.

Stefan Skiing Powder

The above is just my opinion in how to ski Deer Valley. I don’t really have a favorite spot because the entire mountain makes me happy! But I hope you have fun exploring my suggestion ski patterns on any given day.

See you on the slopes. More snow to come on Sunday and Monday, says the weatherman — stay tuned!

The Equipment Quandary

It all started in September; I have been wracking my brain ever since trying to figure out which ski I should get for this snow season. Now, I seem to be running out of time as I still have not figured out which set of boards I should pick. I’m not talking about any specific brand or model; I’m simply wondering about which ski design might best fill my needs for the winter of 2010-2011 and the seasons beyond.

I used to be an early adopter, but have long left that trait to younger and much more adventurous folks. I will only adopt a radically new concept if I have heard and read enough good reviews about it and if the product in question does offer a significant step forward over its predecessors. So here I am, ready to flip a coin between a pair of wide skis with traditional camber and the new, so-called “tip and tail rocker” and also – I need to flip another coin – one of these “full rockers.” Now, I am torn, laminated, exhausted by this camber discussion. Oh boy, do I miss the time when the argument was limited to a sidecut, an underfoot width or whether a ski should have a cap construction or look like a vintage 1970 design!

My problem, I know it, is that I’m one of many skiers that still delude themselves in believing there’s a ski that can do it all; you know, the jack of all trades and master of none. That’s right, I’d like a ski that behaves superbly on groomers, can surprise me positively in 10 inches of new snow and is guaranteed to impress my buddies when we’re flying over bottomless powder. This is enough to paralyze any skier and freeze him in place until the snow melts, spring returns and I don’t want that. Of course, my budget as well as the only space left in the ski rack inside my garage just allows for one single new pair of boards for this winter. I need some form of catalyst or act of God to force me to moving forward, making a choice, doing something…

One of the challenges is also my set of beliefs. Being an “old dog,” I still think that the longer the skis the smoother the experience, more like riding in a Lincoln Continental versus driving a Mini Cooper. This is another limiting element, because while I still can live with a traditional ski up to 186 cm in length, a “rocker” ski would define a much longer board that wouldn’t fit inside my streamlined, cool looking Thule ski box. As unbelievable as this may sounds, the size of my ski box is probably what will settle the battle, make me forgo my craving for innovation and instead force me to carry-on a few more seasons with tradition. I didn’t even have to lose my sanity, my temper or my camber over this. Yeah, I’ll go with a traditional wide ski and 90 mm width underfoot. I’ll console myself by keeping looking forward to some brand new and revolutionary gear some other ski season…