The 2010-11 ski season was definitely one for the record books. Could a twin be in the making?
Last winter, record snow in Utah was a product of a climate condition known as La Nina, a flip-flop of the more well-known El Nino. It brought record snow depths to Utah Mountains - nearly 800 total inches at Snowbird and 4.2 million skiers to in Utah. (The national count was 60.54 million skier visits, an all-time high.)
Weather experts now tell us La Nina will hang around for another winter, and extended predictions call for above normal precipitation in northern Utah. The U.S. Weather Bureau’s long-range forecasts call for above normal precipitation in northern Utah December through March. But, if you choose to believe the Farmer’s Almanac, predictions are that the winter of 2012 will come with average temperatures and below normal precipitation.
Utah mountains have already received their initial covering. On Oct. 5 snow levels reached all the way down to the foothills of Salt Lake City, and yesterday snow blanketed the mountains and the valley. Snowbird has received more than two feet of snow at its top station, and temperatures have dipped low enough for resorts to make snow.
The more prudent skiers and snowboarders have already set tracks for the 2011-12 season. They’ve taken advantage of the locals ski packages at the various resorts and through Ski Utah, looked into the pre-season ski/snowboard sales, checked out the various ski swaps and have given ski/snowboard equipment a quick check.
Haven’t started your ski season prep yet? Here’s a few tips to keep in mind before you hit the slopes.
– The time is right for tuning up and testing ski and snowboard equipment. Skis and boards, as with everything used, wear, especially around the edges. Well tuned equipment responds much better.
– Get physically prepared for the upcoming season. Even a little exercise done correctly can help skiers and snowboarders avoid injuries.
– Make sure equipment for the younger skiers and boarders is properly fitted. There is sometimes a tendency to pass down old equipment that is outdated, too large or too small. There are some great season rental packages available for children . . . and adults.
– Work with an expert when buying equipment. Buying skis, boards, bindings and boots either under or over an individual’s ability can make winter much harder than it need be.
FACTS & FIGURES
14 Utah resorts
138 Ski lifts
22 Terrain parks
3,677 Acres of snowmaking
28,926 Skiable acres 28,926
$31 to $100 Ticket price range
NEW ON THE MOUNTAIN
Of course there was the usual grooming and manicuring of runs and upgrades in food and service fetters, but what else can skiers/snowboarders expect when they visit their favorite resorts this season?
-A new smartphone app will make it possible for skiers to go directly from their vehicle to the lifts at Alta by downloading the Alta Card.
-Beaver Mountain added a new Little Beaver lift.
-Brighton put in half a million dollars into its snowmaking.
-Canyons will offer heli-skiing.
-Deer Valley put in 41 new energy-efficient air-water snowmaking guns.
-Powder Mountain expanded its snowcat-access terrain by 50 percent.
-Snowbird put in a new version for its free IPhone app.
-Solitude will offer free Wi-Fi access throughout its lower village.
Falling snow has made it possible for some resorts to predict opening dates. The likelihood of at least some of the resorts making their target dates is good. All runs and lifts may not be open, but there will be opportunities to ski and snowboard.
Here’s what we know so far:
Alta – Nov. 18
Brian Head – Nov. 19
Brighton – Nov. 10
Canyons – Nov. 25
Deer Valley – Dec. 3
Park City Mountain Resort – Nov. 19
Powder Mountain – Nov. 24
Snowbasin – Nov. 24
Snowbird – Nov. 19
Solitude – Nov. 11
Sundance – Dec. 9
2011-12 LIFT PASS PRICES
(Adult day passes)
Alta – $72
Beaver Mountain – $45
Brian Head – $49
Brighton – $62
Canyons – TBA
Deer Valley – $96/$100
Eagle Point – $45/$50
Park City Mountain Resort – TBA
Powder Mountain – $60
Snowbasin – $72
Snowbird – $78/$72
Solitude – $68
Sundance – $49
Wolf Mountain – $31