Utah ski resorts boast some of the best accessibility of any group of resorts in the world. With seven resorts within a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport, you can take off from Boston in the early morning and be skiing by early afternoon. To showcase this ease of access and proximity of all the resorts, Ski Utah provides the Ski Utah Interconnect Adventure Tour. This tour combines resort skiing with guided backcountry experiences between each mountain. The result is an adventure-packed day on a whirlwind tour of some of the best terrain and snow in the world.
Interconnect Tour Background
The Ski Utah Interconnect tour is a guided tour that connects up to six Wasatch Front ski resorts in a single day. Because of the advanced nature of the skiing, backcountry travel requirements and the general flow of the tour, it is only reccomended for advanced skiers.
The six-area tour (reviewed here) starts at Deer Valley, traverses to Park City Mountain Resort, drops into Big Cottonwood Canyon to Solitude Resort and then on to Brighton Resort. From there, we take a traverse through the Twin Lakes Pass area to Alta Ski Area, then end at Snowbird. The six area tour runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The four-area tour encompasses Snowbird Resort, Alta Ski Area, Solitude Resort and Brighton Resort and offers a hearty dose of steep backcountry descents. This tour is offered on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
A mere $150 is all you need to play–that includes breakfast, lunch, all necessary backcountry gear and two expert guides to ensure a safe experience.
Ski Utah Interconnect Tour Experience
I was able to catch up with Ski Utah Director of Communcations, Nathan Rafferty, for a great tour after a sizeable amount of snow. Unfortunately, the new snow wasn’t Utah’s finest–it was wet and heavy, thus triggering massive avalanches in previous days. I showed up at Deer Valley and met our posse for the day over a nice breakfast at Snow Park Lodge. After an overview of backcountry safety and general procedures, we hit the lifts for a few turns on the pristine courduroy of Deer Valley.
Park City Mountain was equally groomed to perfection, but it was there that we would drop into our first backcountry run (I could hardly wait). We took the “Backdoor” and dropped into Big Cottonwood Canyon. The conditions were wind scoured and variable at the top, but consistent sugar in the middle for about 10 better than expected turns.
As we meandered our way back towards Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, we skied through a handful of glades that gave up their secret powder stashes–surprisingly good snow quality for the current conditions. We were all stoked to get some great pictures in the sun and enjoy being in the solitude of the Wasatch backcountry.
Our experienced guides, Deb Lovci and Mark Menlove, were very knowledgeable and careful–especially given the avalanche fatality of a backcountry traveler on the previous day in nearby Twin Lakes Pass (more below).
We escaped the skiable terrain and began our long descent on a road towards Solitude Resort. After a few sketchy turns and a quick duck into the trees, we were standing across from Solitude, ready to cross the road (the most dangerous part of the tour) and hit the slopes.
Solitude Resort offers some of the best, well, solitude in the Salt Lake City area. Offering great terrain and an array of lifts, Solitude Resort is one of the lesser-known resorts in the area. Uncrowded runs and zero lift lines greeted us on this particular Saturday in December–an unbelievable sight as compared to most Utah resorts on Saturday.
We were briefed on the avalanche conditions on the traverse over Twin Lakes Pass and onto Grizzly Gulch and Alta Ski Area–it didn’t look good. From the looks of things and the word from Solitude Snow Safety, our tour would end at Solitude. We took some time to examine the avalanche from the day before just below Twin Lakes Pass (right where we would head). We talked about avalanche safety and the reasons for this avalanche.
Each one of us could’ve been in that man’s position on that powder-filled day. They were experienced, but weary after a long day in the backcountry. One fatal mistake is all it takes. If you’re venturing into the backcountry, be sure to check with the local avalanche service (http://www.avalanche.org) and always be on the safe side. Most of all use common sense and ski with people you trust and who are educated in avalanche safety and preparedness. It’s better to shy away from something and live to see another day than to die doing something you didn’t feel good about.
We took a few laps on the frontside, then ducked into the just-opened traverse into Honeycomb Canyon chutes. After traversing 10 minutes to the end of the ridge, we were greeted with 1000 feet of consistent sugar down steep, narrow chutes in the trees. We were all stoked to be making such sweet turns and content with being “stranded” at Solitude.
The Bottom Line
After spending a day on the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour, it makes me appreciate how awesome it is to have so many world-class resorts so close together. Nowhere else in the States can you have an experience like this. Though our tour was stopped short, I wasn’t complaining making turns at Solitude Resort. And, it’s always best to stay on the safe side when venturing in the backcountry. We had a great time on the Tour and are confident you’ll be stoked with the quality of guides, quality of terrain and the quality of this one-of-a-kind experience skiing up to six of Utah’s finest ski resorts all in one day!
For more information, visit SkiUtah.com.