SLUG Hits the Slopes at Snowbasin Resort

Posted March 8, 2011 in
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 In Utah, a majority of the population sleeps in or heads to church on Sundays. I decided to rise early and head to my own place of worship.  However, instead of one steeple, I stood amongst a dozen snow-clad spires and gazed towards the heavens.  As the tiny, white, angels fell from the sky, I knew it was going to be a great day.  My usual cathedrals reside in Little Cottonwood Canyon, but today I joined the congregation at Snowbasin for a morning of soul shredding.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with soul shredding, let me preach the gospel.  The average American leads a life cluttered with schedules and deadlines, rushing from point to point in an effort to get ahead.  Rarely do they remove themselves from the turmoil and try to capture the big picture.  To realize what a small, relatively insignificant piece of the universe they are takes a moment, and few understand the simple revelation that comes from making one pure powder turn.  Finding this flash of internal joy is not difficult, in fact, one can look just outside their back door and choose a multitude of places with which to find enlightenment.  On this particular Sunday, Snowbasin was the place to be.


Snuggled up in the bosom of the Wasatch is the glorious retreat of Snowbasin.  Regarded by locals for decades as one of the last powder Zions, this resort encompasses a variety of epic terrain and immaculate infrastructure.  Located less than thirty miles from SLC proper and just minutes from Ogden, Snowbasin offers every caliber of rider something special.  Arriving at their doorstep, I found a parking spot straight away and even caught the free shuttle to the lifts.  Seeing the line for the gondola, which was only about 50 people, I decided to take a seat on the John Paul Express instead.  While the folks loaded their cabins for a nice, dry flight to the top, I snagged first chair as the snow blew across my face.  Out in the elements is where I like to be, and being whisked over the untracked terrain filled my heart with excitement.  As I unloaded at nearly 9,000 feet, I cranked the tunes and proceeded to gorge myself on the plentiful powder below.  Turn after turn I felt almost elevated as I cruised through the pristine glades of Aspen and Fir.  Alone in my descent, I laughed out loud as the snow billowed up around me.  This is the essence of soul shredding.


For the next several hours I enjoyed the steep gullies and excellent tree lines of Snow King’s and Ellison’s runs.  Searching for a little more vertical, I decided to take the Mt. Allen Aerial Tram to the top.  Loaded inside the tiny, window-lined cabin, we were shuttled to the ridgeline and the start of the Grizzly Downhill.  In 2002, this slope served as the proving grounds for athletes as they competed for gold in the Winter Olympics.  The view from the top of the tram is equally as amazing as the slopes below.  Making turns off the ridge, I imagined myself as an Olympian, striving to make my country proud.


Reaching the bottom, I was a bit saturated and slightly famished, so I stepped inside Earl’s Lodge for a short intermission.  The interior of the lodge is lavishly appointed and the gold chandeliers hanging from the timber-accented ceilings were worth more than my car.  I enjoyed a warm bowl of soup from their cafeteria and was surprised at how much food I received for only five dollars.  After a filling lunch, I took time to visit their world famous restroom facilities.  The marble counters and private stalls make any dirtbag ski bum feel like a king. 


For my next foray onto the slopes, I ventured towards the Needles Express Gondola and enjoyed the spacious eight-passenger cabin.  As I stretched out, I spoke with some visitors from Austria that were commenting on the great snow and excellent lift systems at the resort.  “I am not scared of an avalanche wiping out the bar here,” commented one of the men, referring to a rather humorous situation he found himself in at his home mountain.  Within minutes, we were standing in the shadow of the breathtaking Needles Cirque, eyeing epic lines that would have to wait for more stable conditions.  Since I couldn’t go up, I decided to head down to the Strawberry Express Gondola and peruse the selection of wide-open terrain it had to offer.  I was surprised to find no line at the bottom and was treated to my very own cabin.  A short ride gazing upon acres of untracked kept me mesmerized all the way to the top.  With an unlimited selection of delicious slopes, I chose Elk Ridge.  Unfortunately, the gates to Sister’s Bowl were closed due to the avalanche hazard.  No matter, I found knee-deep powder all the way down the sign line.  By my third lap on Strawberry, my legs were burning and I decided to head back towards the car.  Along the way, I was treated to more samplings of low-angle powder skiing in the trees.  Arriving at the parking lot, I kicked off my boots and reflected on the day, soul fulfilled.  Anytime you and the crew are looking for a place to relax and enjoy a day of soul shredding, head up to Snowbasin.  Be sure to check out their website,, for a full calendar of exciting events and more info on the mountain.