Making a mother-daughter trip to Deer Valley Ski Resort in Park City, Utah

Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)
Bear House adds whimsy to ski trails at Deer Valley Ski Resort. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

It was snowing for the first time in three weeks when my stepdaughter and I arrived at Deer Valley Resort in early February: Six inches of soft powder over groomed hardpack and just under freezing. Ideal conditions.

We were standing midmountain looking at the trail map trying to decide where to head to for some easy intermediate terrain. We had tried Bald Mountain earlier and found it too chopped up. It also has a 9,400-foot summit, so we were looking for something a bit easier on our first day on skis this season.
A mountain host gave us some great advice.

“Head to Flagstaff Mountain. There are some beauuuutiful blues off the back side,” the friendly Aussie said with the enthusiasm of a skier on a powder day. Everything was an exclamation!

“Take Hawkeye first. It’s excellent! Groomed with a nice pitch,” he advised. “Then try Sidewinder; it’s a bit steeper, but still nice. They are all just beautiful runs!”

This was our first trip to Deer Valley, and we found many “beautiful blues” in the next two days of skiing. We particularly liked Little Baldy Peak. The runs were groomed, nearly deserted (even on a Saturday) and there were no lift lines. We felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Deer Valley, one of the three major ski resorts in Park City, Utah, covers five mountain peaks and 2,026 acres. All levels of terrain can be accessed on all peaks with the exception of the resort’s highest — Empire Peak at 9,500 feet — which offers intermediate and expert terrain only.

Most of the lifts have high-speed quads, giving skiers more time on the slopes. The resort is surrounded by private property, so you’ll see large homes on the side of many runs.

Look for the Raccoon House and the Bear House off Last Chance Trail. Both have whimsical critters of all sizes hanging from the roof, sitting on the deck, peeking in windows and hiding in trees.

Park City Mountain Resort plans Snowasis family carnival

Snowasis, Park City Mountain Resort’s family-themed spring carnival, returns with an expanded nine-day schedule in 2014. Running March 22-30, Snowasis celebrates PCMR’s standing as one of North America’s top-ranked family winter destinations, including #2 ranking among all North American resorts for family programs by the readers of SKI Magazine.

A program of on-snow games, live performers, s’mores roasting, scavenger hunts, an avalanche dog meet ‘n greet and more was too big for a single week, leading to an expanded schedule in 2014. All Snowasis events are free and open to the public.

A complete Snowasis schedule follows below. Also viewable online at: http://www.parkcitymountain.com/snowasis

Park City ski resort offers a Women’s Ski and Snowboard Camp

Park City ski resort offers a Women’s Ski and Snowboard Camp

What: Watch your skills blossom, and build lasting friendships, with our three-day women’s ski and snowboard camps! Ski or ride with a coach who understands the specifics of women’s movements and technique, and develop your skills as you spend three straight days on the mountain together. You’ll also create lasting friendships with the other women in your camp by spending all three days – including a breakfast on Day #1 and an après function on the last day – with the same group! Separate camps for skiing and snowboarding are offered.

When: Feb. 28-March 2 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day)

Who: Adult ages 21 and up

Level 5 skiers (parallel turns on gentle blue terrain) and up

Green terrain riders, level 3 (comfortable making turns on green terrain) and up

Costs: $510 with lift ticket; $325 without lift ticket

Skier impressed with Ski Butlers customer service in Park City, Utah

Ski Butlers is celebrating its 10th season this winter. Founded in Park City, Utah in 2004, Ski Butlers has grown to 10 locations serving more than 35 North American ski resorts.

“From our first shop, which was a single car garage in Park City, to expanding into another 9 locations, the journey and experiences with our team members and customers have been unforgettable,” said President  Bryn Carey.

Sheila Chapman recently  had a chance to check out Ski Butler. She tells us about her experience with Ski Butlers:

Ordering online was easy. Ski Butlers keeps it simple because it doesn’t have to be complicated. They met our group in the lobby with all our rentals.

I received 158 Rossignol Experience skis. I thought they might be a bit small and Sarah, the technician, explained if I didn’t like them, I could exchange them with a simple call and Ski Butlers would meet me where ever I was – a resort, the hotel, etc.

Turns out I was offered demo skis by the Rossignol rep on 170 Soul 7’s. After a day of skiing on the Soul 7’s, I called Ski Butler from Canyons Resort to exchange for longer skis and they were happy to meet me to exchange the skis.

We decided on the hotel since I was on my way back there already. I gave them my room number and with minutes of me arriving they knocked on the door. After adjusting my new skis, the 170 Savry 7’s to my boot, I signed a piece of paper for the exchange and they were gone (not before leaving me complimentary hand warmers – little touches go a long way).

Painless and I was happy. Happy with the longer skis and simple exchange with no hassle to me.

The next day, the Savry 7’s skied great! I did not. I ended up injuring my calf muscle (my own fault, just fall and don’t fight it).

The Deer Valley Ski Patrol called the convenient Ski Butler number sticker on the skis and had the skis picked up at Deer Valley. Again no hassle for me, I already had enough to deal with.

The best part was they asked me to call them when it was convenient for me to sign an incident form since I was wearing their skis. I had forgotten to call until later in the day, they didn’t harass me with calls, they just patiently waited for me to call them back.

I was on hobbling on crutches on my way across the neighboring grocery store parking lot when I remembered I needed to call Ski Butlers. They said they would come to me and I asked them to give me a little time since I was on my first big journey on crutches.

The man on the other end was so gracious. He immediately said he would be there in minutes to drive me to the grocery store.

Call me an idiot or a woman of the 21st century (you know the type of woman, I am woman hear me roar… across this parking lot on crutches) but I declined and had him meet me again at my hotel room to sign the papers.

I was quite impressed with Ski Butlers in Park City, Utah. Simple customer service goes a long way. It seems so easy. Common sense customer service, which we all know isn’t common at all.

That’s the key to Ski Butlers success and growth, “customer service,” said Carey.

“Ski Butlers was founded on customer service and today strives on customer service. Taking the hassle out of renting skis, hiring exceptional team members, and offering the highest level of equipment, all for an affordable price, is a different model than most ski rental shops,” Carey explained.

Ski Butlers is the only ski shop in the nation to offer the same equipment and service at all 10 locations.

“Customers can expect the same exceptional service, with new Rossignol equipment, at all locations,” Carey said. “Customers can also save their info online so new reservations take only a few moments. These are the benefit you don’t see from other ski shops.”

Park City adventure: Deer Valley offers elegant ski experience

By Richard Irwin

Deer Valley ski resort is elegance personified. You get that message when you find a new Cadillac sitting outside the lodge.

As if the beautiful log lodge wasn’t enough. And old chairlifts served as porch swings on the verandah.

I found it hard to hit the slopes, when I checked out the plush interior with its club setting. The leather chairs and stone fireplaces reminded me more of a plush country club, than a typical ski resort.

But that’s just the impression that Deer Valley is trying to make. It caters to the well-heeled such as an Orange County couple who were married here 17 years ago, and had returned for Valentine’s Day.

Even the “cafeteria” looked amazing, with a live carving station and natural food bar.

The resort had just hosted the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January. U.S. aerial and moguls teams answered questions, while Columbia l unveiled the 2014 Olympic uniforms for the U.S., Canadian and Russian freestyle ski teams.

The rest is history, with the U.S. freestyle winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the Sochi Olympics.

While I’m not Olympic material, I thought it would be interesting to ride the same mountain that our champions had practiced on . So I forced myself back outside to catch my first run of the day.

Choices, choices: Deer Valley can lift more than 50,000 skiers an hour with its gondola and a dozen high-speed quads. Add in the other chairlifts and you get a total of 21 lifts. Heck, I wouldn’t even be able to get to every lift in one day.

With a base elevation of 6,500 feet and a summit height of 9,500, this gives skiers 3,000 vertical feet to play with. I say “skiers” because snowboarders aren’t welcome at Deer Valley.

We worked our way around the mountain, enjoying the well-groomed runs. Beautiful homes lined many of the trails, forcing us to stop every once in a while to oogle celebrities’ homes.

Bald, Flagstaff and Empire mountains all top off above 9,000 feet, so good luck if you’re coming from sea level like I was. Give yourself a day to acclimate and you should be alright.

Deer Valley averages 300 inches of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” blanketing its six mountains – Little Baldy Peak, Bald Eagle, Bald, Flagstaff, Empire and Lady Morgan.

Skiers of all abilities will enjoy a wide range of trails. We stayed on the blue trails and away from the black ones because we didn’t want to land up black and blue at the end of the day.

Mother Nature cooperated with temps in the 30s under partly cloudy skies. On  many runs, we were the only skiers in sight and we never had to wait in line at the lifts.

A friend from La Verne decided to take a ski lesson. She was impressed by the quality of instruction and shared many of the instructor’s tips with me in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, we were sad to leave, but glad we had come. Headed home, we congratulated the Orange County couple and wished them another memorable Valentine’s Day.

Park City adventure: Park City ski resort offers little bit of everything

By  Staff Writer Richard Irwin 

At Park City ski resort, we had a little bit of everything — wind, snow, fog — but we still had a great time exploring this getaway nestled up against the city with the same name.

You can actually catch a chairlift from town, which must inspire a lot of residents to call in sick on a powder day. Actually, the bosses probably plan on it.

We joined in the fun at the lovely ski plaza at the base of the mountain. It looks very new with shops, restaurants and services on the first floor and lodging on several floors above. We gathered at the golden eagle statue for a group shop before heading up.

Park City Mountain offers 3,300 acres of skiing. There’s also nine — count ‘em, nine — bowls with 750 acres. That’s a lot of territory to cover with the fine, dry Utah snow, but coverage was excellent when we arrived.

We decided to warm up on Homerun, which turns out to be the longest trail measuring 3 and a half miles. Quite the warm up.

Park City actually has 114 trails, with more than half listed as intermediate, while 31 percent are advanced.

The snow was fine as we schussed under cloudy skies. At times, a pale white sun would barely pierce the cloudy veil, lending a cold, bleak light.

Once again, it was ski down, jump on another empty chairlift and shoot back up to the top. Park City has 16 lifts, including four high-speed 6-packs and three high-speed quads.

The total uphill capacity is 31,000 skiers an hour, which should be tested this Presidents Day weekend with every hotel room booked solid.

But we beat the rush and could ski as much as we wanted. We were often alone on our section of the mountain.

A light snow started and would continue off and on for the rest of the day. Not a heavy Sierra snow, but the light, dry snow that Utah is famous for. Its flakes were just big enough to sting your face if you took off your facemask.

Shooting by a terrain park we saw several boarders trying their luck on the jumps. Park City has three parks, including Eagle superpipe and Merrill minipipe.

Caught some high winds at the summit, but it was fine once you got into the valleys. It turned out to be another great day in our Park City adventure.

Next stop: Deer Valley ski resort

Park City adventure: Sun and fun at Canyons ski resort

By Staff Writer Richard Irwin

Canyons is a huge ski resort on the edge of Park City, Utah. The resort made the top 10 ranking in Ski magazine’s reader resort awards for 2014.

And SnoWonder would have to agree after a great day of skiing on our first stop of our Park City adventure. We couldn’t wait for the lifts to open at 9 a.m. on a slightly overcast morning.

Jumping on the Red Pine Gondola, we were soon halfway up the mountain. After that, it was all down hill, as we shred the groomed runs. The highest peak is the Ninety-Nine 90, which is appropriately 9,990 feet above sea level.

We had a fun day working our way up and down the mountain with the sun finally breaking through for a gorgeous day. The trails were well groomed, letting carve long curves in the snowy surface.

Canyons offers everything from high speed 6-packs to simple double chairlifts. We never found a line at the lifts, allowing us to jump on as soon as we hit bottom.

The slopes were also wide open this week before Presidents Day. Often we were the only skiers in sight.

The resort even breaks down the runs more than most ski resorts. Canyons designates double greens for advanced beginners, as well as double greens for advanced intermediate. This helps take the guesswork out of picking a trail.

We especially liked The Aspens with its nice mix of intermediate and advanced ski runs. We steered clear of Condor Woods with more than a dozen double black diamond trails. Yes, these are for experts only.

We were pretty beat by 3 p.m. on the first day of our Park City adventure. That was fine because the lifts close at 4 p.m.

It was a great start to our tour of the ski resorts in this section of Utah. We’ll have a feature story with more details when we get back to Los Angeles.

Join us tomorrow when we explore Park City ski resort.

SnoWonder visits Park City, Utah, for a week of skiing and snowboarding

Join SnoWonder reporter Rich Irwin as he explores the wonderful ski resorts at Park City, Utah. Rich will visit a different ski resort every day and give us the latest news on these great ski destinations.

Park City is less than an hour away from Salt Lake City Airport, which has many nonstop flights from LAX. Skiers can be in Utah in an little over an hour, then on the slopes an hour after that.

You don’t even need to rent a car since Park City has a massive public transit system that will get around town in a hurry. So leave the car at home, jump on an airport shuttle to Park City and use the free buses.

The resorts got a good dump of snow shortly before we arrived, so we expect some great skiing. More snow is on the way, so we’ll let you know about conditions as they develop.

We’ll even check out some apre ski sites as well as the many restaurants that fill this old mining town.