By Correspondent Marlene Greer
When I’m not familiar with a ski area and I’m by myself, I like to sign up for a guided mountain tour. Canyons offers one daily at 10:30 a.m.
For me, a guided tour is a good way to get around and get to know the mountain without landing on a mogul minefield or finding myself looking over an abyss, thinking, “What am I doing here?”
Mountain guides know which runs are groomed and which runs are suitable that particular day for their group. I find the tours enjoyable and informative. Plus, I get to meet people from all over the world.
Our group of nine was a joyful band of good skiers who wanted to take it easy. No big bowls, no trees and definitely no moguls. Just nice, easy cruisers with good pitch and maybe some powder on the side.
We were a group of West Coasters — California, Oregon and Washington. Seems we were all fleeing the dry conditions in the West for the more favorable Utah snow.
Fortunately, we were graced with a fresh dusting of it — 6 inches of snow fell the day and night before, leaving a blush of powder over hard-packed groomed.
We wanted to see as much of the area as possible — boundary to boundary, as one skier in our group put it. A hardy task given the ski resort covers nine peaks and five bowls with 4,000 skiable acres and counts itself among the largest ski areas in the nation.
Roger Seaborn, our affable Australian tour guide, however, was unflappable. He took our request seriously. This was no tour for slackers.
With 182 trails to choose from, we got busy. With Roger leading the way, we managed to find one or two of the best blues, groomed double blues, and a bit of powder off each lift, skiing nearly end to end and top to bottom throughout the resort.
For those in the group who wanted a challenge here and there, Roger would stop on a run and point out another way down and we would all meet up at the bottom.
One place we skipped was the double-black terrain off the resort’s notorious Ninety-Nine 90 Express (so called because it rises to the resort’s highest elevation at 9,990 feet). This is expert-only terrain. Roger told us a couple of out-of-bounds skiers had triggered an avalanche on a bowl just outside the resort’s boundary only two days before.
Roger is also a certified instructor. Though it wasn’t part of the program, he offered ski tips to anyone in the group open to suggestions and improvement, which was all of us.
“Marlene, it’s your turn. Get in behind me,” he called out just as we were making our way off the Orange Bubble Express and down yet another nice groomer. “I want you to follow my tracks.”
Easier requested then accomplished. Roger was trying to get me to work on more rounded — and more graceful — turns. Others in the group he instructed to bend more at the knees, roll the ankles and lean more forward. I think the instructor in him just couldn’t help himself.
If he saw one of us doing something, he first asked permission in a nice way if you minded a little instruction — then proceeded to offer his advice, which we greatly appreciated.