Park City Adventures: Main Street offers many interesting sights

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

Take a stroll down Park City’s historic Main Street and you can’t miss Loosey the Moose all dressed up in her finest, the intriguing wind sculptures, the wonderful Park City Museum, and the chairlift where you can take a ride up to Park City Mountain Resort.

The Park City Museum is housed in the former city hall and territorial jail built in 1885. It tells the story of the city’s silver mining heritage and its transition to a ski resort.

Visitors can climb into an old mining cage and feel what it was like to be transported miles underground and explore the life of a miner. The many exhibits, historical artifacts, interactive displays and running documentaries will keep you busy for a good hour or two.

One fascinating tidbit was how two miners started the area’s first ski resort. But to get to the hill, skiers had to ride a mining car three miles underground, then step into a mining cage to ascend 1,800 feet to the surface. The trip took an hour.

It was snowing the day we wandered around town, so we couldn’t take in more than a quick glimpse of the many sculptures and outdoor artworks along Main Street.

We spotted the well-dressed and primped Loosey, a bear on a bench in case a visitor wanted to snuggle for a photo and a very realistic looking Native-American ready to let fly with an arrow.

There were also many intricately patterned metal windmills, the work of world-renown artist Lyman Whitaker, who for 30 years has been “gracefully capturing the spirit of the wind through his kinetic art.”

There are a dozen or more art galleries along Main Street, showcasing a variety of work from local and nationally known artists. Several have an emphasis on Western art and feature painted and sculpted bison, horses and bears, and canvases of pastures, wranglers and beautiful alpine autumns.

But there are also the wild and wacky, the delicate glassworks and the Hollywood icons.

Disabled youth, adults learn to ski at Pico Mountain in Vermont

Vasu & MGreer at PicoBy Marlene Greer

Vasu Sojitra sped down the hill with abandon. He skied backward with ease. He maneuvered through the trees and even managed a helicopter turn or two.

The teenager, pictured above with the author, learned to ski on his one leg nine years ago through Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. He skis on one fat ski using specialized poles with skids. And as happens with most people who learn to ski when they are young, Vasu seems fearless.

We took a day off from skiing Killington and headed over to nearby Pico Mountain, a 10-minute shuttle ride from the Killington Grand Hotel. There we met Vasu, an intern for Vermont Adaptive.

Vermont Adaptive has its headquarters in the newly completed Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge at Pico. Its programs serve nearly 1,300 children, youth and adults with disabilities. Vasu is one of 400 interns and volunteers who assist in teaching those with disabilities how to ski using specialized equipment. He’s also one of the program’s many successes. Keeping up with him was a challenge.

Pico is a much smaller mountain than Killington – only 468 skiable acres with 57 trails and seven lifts. But its abundance of intermediate terrain, short gladed trails, and wide, green groomers make it a great place for a day of casual skiing and an ideal hill for Vermont Adaptive students to experience the thrills of skiing.

But there was nothing casual about skiing with Vasu. He joined us in an afternoon exploration of the mountain and tore down everything he encountered. A couple of times we took the easy route and met up with him at the bottom of the hill.

We asked the New England native what he loved most about the sport.

“Backcountry skiing,” he said without hesitation. “It’s the best.” This brought up another question of how he manages the uphill in the backcountry. He explained how he attaches small snowshoes to the feet of his poles, giving him the ability to walk in the snow.

It seems nothing will keep a skier from doing what he loves.

Canyons Resort is great for intermediate and advanced skiers in Park City, Utah

By Correspondent Marlene Greer

The Canyons is immense and glorious for intermediate and advanced skiers, with so much variety of terrain to choose from, it’s not to be done in one day. At least not for me and my group of nine.

But there’s not much at Canyons for beginners. Just 10 percent of the trails are marked green, and those trails cover little of the ski area’s vast territory.

The Canyons, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, is four miles from downtown Park City and 32 miles from the Salt Lake City Airport. Several shuttle services offer transportation from the airport to the resort and to Park City for a reasonable price. Free public buses from Park City run all day between Park City and Canyons.

If you like to ski groomers and opt to try Canyons on your own without a guide, pick up the daily grooming report at the base lodge. It’s invaluable.

Great guide leads us to best spots in Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Our mountain guide gave us great tips to ski better. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

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.

Skiing 18.5 miles at the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Scenic view from top of the Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Correspondent Marlene Greer 

“You’ve done 16,100 vertical feet and 31.7 miles,” reported Ed Kane during a mountain tour of Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.

He had one of those $400 fancy oversized wristwatch gizmos that tracked his every ski move and recorded it for posterity. Plus for backup, he had a $1.29 app on his phone that did the same thing.

I’m not sure which one worked better. And since he and I skied on the same tour with the same guide, his end-of-the-day vertical was my vertical and his miles were my miles.

“Wow, 31 miles! I can’t believe we did that much skiing,” I replied. “We’ve covered so much of the mountain and didn’t even see it all. Thirty-one miles, that’s a marathon! And I don’t feel tired at all!”

I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I skied 31 miles in a day, and how much I enjoyed my excellent Canyons experience. Ed found my excitement a bit humorous and smiled as I went on and on.

Then came the bubble-burster.

“Ah… half of that was on a lift, though,” Ed informed me.

“So you mean I only went 15 miles?” I asked, thinking it didn’t sound nearly as impressive as the 31 miles I was already planning to post on Facebook.

“No. You did 18.5 miles,” he said with what might have been a hint of laughter.

If I had known Ed for more than the six hours we spent traversing the Canyons’ numerous slopes, I would have given him The Look. You know the one — the “Don’t get technical with me” look we reserve for those we know intimately.

Still, 18.5 miles didn’t sound too shabby. I could go with that. It was my first time skiing at Canyons.

Killington Resort, VT: Tree skiing with extreme skier Dan Egan

By Marlene Greer

Premier extreme skier Dan Egan holds all-terrain ski camps at Killington Resort a couple times each season. Don’t know the name? He’s the star – along with his brother John – of a dozen Warren Miller films that turned extreme skiing into a lucrative industry.

He was just a boy then, ripping up everything he could find, Dan Eganwhen Miller discovered him. These days, Egan produces his own sports films, covers world-wide skiing events (including the Sochi Olympics), and teaches ski clinics all over the world.

Today he’s at Killington explaining his teaching techniques before taking a group of skiers and riders to discover the joys of tree skiing at the Vermont resort.

His camps, he said, are about “total body skiing.”

“I can get you skiing better fast,” he explained. “I look at the alignment of your body over your feet and give you a set of drills and skills, and the only difference between beginning and advanced is the pitch we do (the drills and skills) on.”

At Killington, he said, skiers and riders can go boundary to boundary in the woods. But you need to know where those woods come out before heading in, he cautions.

In his tree skiing camp, Egan aspires to change the way his students see the hill. One skier, after a day of following Egan through the woods, said of the experience: “I was definitely out of my comfort zone, which is a good thing.”

Egan’s best tree skiing tips: “Better to kick them then kiss them.” And, “keep your feet below your head.”

Sound advice.

 

Killington Resort, VT: Skiers enjoy the view from the top

IMG_2912Story and Photo by Marlene Greer

The anticipated late winter storm which was expected to drop several inches of snow today at Killington, Vermont, instead veered further east, with the edges only skirting the state. The resort received maybe an inch of snow in the early morning.

This, of course, is on top of two feet of snowfall in the last two weeks and a foot the two weeks before that. Snowmaking at Killington stopped more than a month ago, said Michael Joseph, communications manager for the resort.

Though the snow came late to Killington, it’s now “full on winter – wall to wall,” Joseph said, indicating all runs and lifts at the resort are open.

It seems skiers on the east coast are accustomed to skiing on man-made snow and are finding the real snow a treat. Dave, a 69-year-old self-described Vermont farm boy and lifelong skier, called conditions at Killington this year, “the best it gets.” At least on the east coast, anyway, he added.

With the storm bypassing Killington and the state of Vermont, it turned out to be a second glorious day of skiing, with some clouds and sun, temperatures in the 20s and – most importantly – beautiful packed powder.

Killington is quite large, covering four mountains with 212 trails spread across 1,977 acres. Today we journeyed to the resort’s highest peak – Killington Peak – at 4,241 feet. I know it doesn’t sound like much to us west coast skiers accustomed to 10,000- and 11,000-foot peaks, but here it’s spectacular. Standing at the edge of the mountain, you can see 360 degrees. Skiers can take in the panoramic view of the Green, White and Adirondack mountains. A friendly skier and Vermont native pointed out Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in the distance and the nearby ski resorts of Okemo, Stratton and Pico.

And you don’t have to be an expert skier to reach the top. All levels of ski terrain come off the peak. Now that’s a treat.

 

Killington Resort, VT: Best ski conditions of the season

IMG_2871

Story and Photo by Marlene Greer

When I woke up this morning at Killington Grand Hotel in Vermont, outside it was 1 degree below zero. The unseasonably cold weather gripping the nation for most of this winter has not yet released its grip on the northeast. Another storm is headed this way on Tuesday with a chance of yet more snow.

Fortunately by the time I hit the slopes at Killington Resort in the afternoon,  it warmed up nicely and was beautiful and sunny if a bit windy at times.

And the ski conditions were not at all what I expected.

This is the first time I’ve skied anywhere in the East Coast, and I couldn’t have picked a better place. Killington was at its peak.

“Today is the best skiing of the season,” said Mike, a Killington mountain host stationed at the top of a chairlift where we stopped to get some advice on the best way to ski back to where we started earlier in the day.

Other skiers agreed.

“This is our fourth trip this year, and this is the best skiing we’ve had,” said Evelyn, a teacher from Massachusetts skiing Killington with her husband.

Sometimes we West Coast skiers can be a bit of a ski snob when it comes to East Coast skiing. “It’s always icy.” “It’s hard snow.” “All you do is chatter down the hill.” “They’re all small hills.” I’ve heard it all.

But Killington has surprised me. It’s none of the above – at least for today.

 

Deer Valley Ski Resort plans major mountain addition in Park City, Utah

 

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Skiing in the clouds at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, is growing. President and General Manager Bob Wheaton announced recently the resort’s plan to add 1,000 acres of ski terrain with five or six new lifts.

The new ski area will be located on the resort’s east side below the Sultan Express and Mayflower lift on Bald Mountain. With this addition, Deer Valley will offer more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. A new lodge, dining area and possibly lodging will be built in the new base area.

Deer Valley has wanted to expand for some time, Wheaton said. On peak days the resort’s dining areas struggle to handle all the skiers. The expansion, he said, will alleviate much of the dining congestion and offer skiers another access point to the resort.

The anticipated start date for the project is 2017. The project is expected to be complete in five years and cost an estimated $50 million.

Also on the horizon is a new gondola from historic downtown Park City to Deer Valley. Another major ski resort, Park City resort already operates the Town Lift from one end of Main Street. Deer Valley wants its own gondola.

The gondola will run from Main Street to Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Silver Lake Lodge area at 8,100 feet. The ride should take 15 minutes.

A decision has not yet been made whether the gondola will be free or if there will be a small fee. The gondola project will begin within two years and cost $10 to $12 million, Wheaton said.

All of this is great news for skiers and visitors to Park City. With a town gondola to Deer Valley Resort and a town lift to Park City Resort, skiers can skip the public buses and go direct from downtown to two of the area’s ski resorts.

Big and easy, that’s Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Inside the beautiful lodge at Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It’s easy to get to Deer Valley. It’s a 45-minute ride from the Salt Lake City Airport, and many transportation companies offer service from the airport to Deer Valley for a reasonable price.

There are many lodging opportunities at Deer Valley — all are on the expensive side. My stepdaughter and I stayed in a one-bedroom unit at The Lodges, a luxurious complex with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, near Snow Park Lodge, Deer Valley’s main base lodge.

A free shuttle runs all day from The Lodges to Deer Valley and takes less than five minutes. Another plus at The Lodges is the free, on-call car service to anywhere we wanted to go in the town of Park City.

Skiers can also stay in Park City and take the free local public buses to Deer Valley that run all day and pick up at several locations.

On our second day of skiing at Deer Valley, the snowfall was heavy and wet, the kind of ski day that leaves your jacket and gloves soaked.

But that didn’t keep us from discovering and enjoying more of the resort’s beautiful blues and blue-greens, Deer Valley’s in-between groomers that challenge beginners and give intermediate skiers an easy final run at the end of the day.

Beautiful and easy. That’s Deer Valley.