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Report from the West, 2020
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Updated 7 days ago
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
22 days ago

Six weeks ago I began what is becoming an annual western winter migration for me.  Drove to Denver in two quiet days and skied in Colorado on Jan 28-31.  Good conditions with notably light late January crowds.   I think it snowed about 5” in parts of the high country the day before I arrived and it snowed about 5” the night before my last ski day.  In between was a mix of sun, clouds and some light snow.  It got a little busier on my last day in Colorado on Friday Jan 31 at Vail, but I missed any epic mob scenes.

I skied two days at Breckenridge, one day at Keystone, and one day at Vail.  

Breck:

I stayed for three nights at an upscale hostel in Breck called The Bivvi for about $80 per night.  This included a nice hot breakfast and easy access to a free bus to the slopes.  I had respectful room mates and slept well there during my stay.

At Keystone I got in a ton of high speed carving and met a friend who grilled a rib-eye for me while we soaked in the hot tub at the slopeside condo he was staying in.  The condos at Keystone are some of the more affordable slopeside lodging in this part of CO.

This is summit of dercum mtn.  Before the trip I purchased some new skis off steepandcheap for $149 (kastle lx 85) and i like them for frontside skiing, they worked good in a few inches of powder too.

The Outback Chair

Under the lights

Vail, Sun Up Bowl

Champagne Glades in Blue Sky Basin.

BSB again

Then I drove westward.  This is a scenic section of I70 near Green River, UT

My wife flew out for $54 to join me and some friends in Las Vegas for Super Bowl Sunday (74 degs).

We tired of Vegas after a few days and continued onto our long term destination in SLC.  We went to the International Ski World Cups at Deer Valley Resort under the lights on 2/8/20 and saw the finals of the head to head dual moguls competition.  Huge crowd in high octane party mode.  Saw some great rippers!!  Women’s winner Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Men’s winner Mikael Kingsbury, both Canadians!  

to be continued…

JimK - DCSki Columnist
22 days ago

Since arriving at my winter destination in SLC on Feb 5, 2020 I’ve logged four days at Park City, nine days at Snowbird, two days at Jackson Hole, and one day at Grand Targhee.  It hasn’t been super snowy in that time, but I have experienced probably four or five powder days in the 6-12” range.

Random shots from recent days at Snowbird:

Middle Cirque

snowbird 4 March 2020 John and Detlef.jpg

Gelande Hill near Little Cloud lift

snowbird mar 2 instructor.jpg

snowbird mar 2 shireen copy.jpg

Dalton’s Draw

snowbird pow 1 mar 20.jpg

Near Bookends area:

snowbird 19 feb 2020.jpg

Thunder Bowl, far lookers right on frontside of mtn:

snowbird 19 feb 2020 thunder.jpg

 

A few from Park City, Feb 2020:

This is in the Red Pines Chutes section of 9990.

park city red pine chutes feb 20.jpg

A friend took this shot of me in the same area of 9990.

park city red pine chutes 9990 jim copy.jpg

Jupiter Bowl:

park city jupiter feb 20.jpg

9990 and Jupiter Peak have some of the most challenging skiing and best snow at PCMR and are rarely crowded.

In late Feb 2020 I went to WY for a few days of skiing at Jackson Hole and one really sweet day at Grand Targhee.  

Here some photos from Jackson Hole, late Feb 2020

Upper Hobacks

pug gang brad hobacks.jpg

Rendezvous Bowl

pug gang brad summit2.jpg

Again, one of my favorite recent photos:

pug gang brad summit.jpg

another friend in Rendezvous Bowl, Cody Peak in background.

pug gang justin 3.jpg

I like these because Corbets can be seen in background

pug gang scott 2.jpg

Long time DCSki friend JohnL

pug gang johnl 2.jpg

 

Offpiste in the Apres Vous area.

pug gang johnl.jpg

pug gang scott.jpg

 

Grand Targhee, I went here for the first time ever on Friday, Feb 28, 30 degs, super sunny, packed powder conditions, wonderful low-key vibe compared to the mega-resorts, ample free parking 100’ from the lodge, light trail traffic.  Awesome experience.  They tell me I was lucky to catch such clear, stellar conditions because it’s often foggy/snowy/low vis.  Not for me:-)

 

pug gang GT tetons.jpg

pug gang GT lodge.jpg

pug gang GT brad.jpg

I was told that the cliff in the lower center of this photo is where Jamie Pierre set a cliff hucking record of 255’ in 2006.

pug gang GT tetons2.jpg

 

662053938_puggangGTtricia.thumb.jpg.98c9c0e69e2b260fb590facd504599e3.jpg

pug gang GT phil edge.jpg

pug gang GT gary jim.jpg

This place gave me a fixation on large tetons🤓

pug gang GT justin best3.jpg

As great as Targhee is on a sunny day, I’m sure I’d lose my mind trying to track up all the open acreage on a powder day with light competition.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
21 days ago

Great pics as always!

You were indeed lucky to get good snow and fantastic views at GT.  I’ve managed to catch a powder storm once there with sunshine.  It’s wonderful!  I prefer GT over JH for both vibe and terrain.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
21 days ago

Go Jim go.  I love it.

21 days ago

Jim you da man .com!

awesome trip, I want to do the drive to Colorado also, this season I am locked into a Killington pass but looking forward next season for some local skiing and I would like to drive out west for couple weeks, I would like to ask you some questions about the drive etc.

 about 30 years ago after skiing some of the best powder ever at Grand Targhee my friend who was driving somehow got us on fresh corduroy when we thought we were leaving the parking lot we ended up on a damn slope, we had to get help from a snow cat to get us out

21 days ago

Vermont wrote:

Jim you da man .com!

awesome trip, I want to do the drive to Colorado also, this season I am locked into a Killington pass but looking forward next season for some local skiing and I would like to drive out west for couple weeks, I would like to ask you some questions about the drive etc.

 about 30 years ago after skiing some of the best powder ever at Grand Targhee my friend who was driving somehow got us on fresh corduroy when we thought we were leaving the parking lot we ended up on a damn slope, we had to get help from a snow cat to get us out

You need to be in one of these> https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/videos/a27900/formula-1-f1-car-in-snow-ski-slope/

20 days ago

Great pics. Keep em coming

JimK - DCSki Columnist
20 days ago

Vermont wrote:

Jim, I would like to ask you some questions about the drive etc.

So I am the madman that drives from Wash DC to the Rockies to ski almost yearly since 2000. Here is why.

I have fun doing it. I will always have great memories of mid-Atlantic skiing. But the mtns are comparatively small. VT can be great skiing if weather permits, but is one full day of driving from me. CO has almost always great ski conditions in midwinter and is just two full days of driving from DC. Over my 50+ years of skiing I’ve probably done more driving trips to New England, but over the last 20 years more to Rockies to ski.

I have done about ten-twelve drives from DC to CO for a week of skiing (drive two, ski five or six, drive two). I’ve done about five or six for destinations further than CO, but for longer than one week.  I have never driven west to ski for less than a 9 day trip (four driving, five skiing), and usually I’ve thrown in another day in the middle of the week for a rest day.

Unlike some folks, I love to do cross country drives. All my life my jobs kept me tied to a desk, but I also always had a decent amount of vacation time. The highway represents adventure. The traffic is generally light and I take southerly routes through MD, WV, KY, IL, MO, KS that are rarely messed up by snowy roads. The anticipation keeps me alert through the flat Midwest, the scenery keeps me alert in the Rockies and beyond. The return drive provides time to rest sore muscles, reflect over good times, and think about the next trip. Usually I’ve had driving partners and take turns driving, making it a breeze. In 1976 I drove solo on my college spring break to CO for the first time. Slept in my car multiple nights. This ski-road stuff is part of my personal ski history.

I am not particularly fond of flying, esp earlier in life. I flew from DC to UT about 8 times in last five years for one-week visits and it was fine, but not without hassles.  Many of my DC to Rockies ski road trips have included one or more family members who I would have financed for air fares if we’d flown, this makes ratio of gas costs for driving vs. airfare costs a little closer.  Some of these driving trips also happened around holiday times when my kids were out of school, but when air fares are the highest.

I am retired now, so when I drive out I stay for months, not days. I drove solo this Jan from DC to Denver in two days without thinking twice about it. Set me up for four nice ski days in CO, then I continued further west. Will return to DC in a few months. Wife will accompany on return trip, which we may break up by visiting friends along the way.

Having said above, I recognize that for most Easterners it makes complete sense timewise and moneywise to fly for ski trips of 3 to 7 days in duration that involve a destination further away than one day of driving. Caveat: in 2003 I took my family of six for a ten day trip to CO by minivan, there was considerable savings on that trip by driving and not paying for six airfares and one week minivan rental. But the long drive was not too fun with four kids between age 9-18.  http://www.dcski.com/articles/281

Probably my most ambitious ski-road trip in recent years was 2018 winter trip from DC to UT to WY to BC to DC, 7000 miles in three weeks. Too much driving, but all went well and included my first ever visits to Revy and Banff areas and was a very memorable trip.

PS:  I have rose colored glasses for anything to do with skiing and that has also impacted my willingness to endure long drives.  Also, DCSki member Denis has been an inspiration for some of my big drives as he’s done a lot of them too, including several solo.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
19 days ago

I’d like to add some thoughts for all adventure skiers, simply put, get out and do it now.  I did and am rewarded to see that Jim is doing it now.  None of us knows how long we have, by that I mean years when we will enjoy adventure skiing.  We are all aging and those years can be taken or compromised.  I am now in the process of losing part or all of 3 of the last four seasons to injury.  First came the right shoulder rotator cuff, the major tendon completely ruptured, 3 more partially torn, next, 2 total knee replacements, now a groin injury suffered 6 weeks ago that seems to be not healing at all; I can barely walk, let alone ski.  I’ll recover from this one too, but the need for recoveries is becoming more frequent and they take longer.  The mental resolve to do serious adventure descents is pretty much gone too.  I still love powder and would hate to become a corduroy only skier.  

I retired 11 years ago while still living in NoVA and went for it.  In the first years I’d get an eastern pass at Stowe or mad River and a western pass.  That would mean 2 each 3-5 week road trips.  It was great and I just couldn’t get enough skiing.  For several years I had my western pass at Alta.  Then I decided that there are too many “powder locusts” in Utah (John L’s term) and went to Montana focusing on less known places with cheap prices, no crowds and uncut powder that lasts for days.  That was in many ways the best road trip.  After that, when my wife decided to retire and we were pretty committed to CA, it became the Sierra and Kirkwood where competition for powder on weekdays is very light.  I did a little bit of solo backcountry in Carson pass but it is bigger and scarier than WV.  From now on it’s going to be pretty much sidecountry reached from lifts, and hidden, low angle, powder stashes the the big boys and girls neglect.  
 

This story is too long already.  The bottom line is, go out there and get it.  And post the stories for me and my cohort.
 

 

Denis - DCSki Supporter
19 days ago

Of course caution in traveling must be considered until we have at least gotten past the acceleration phase of this virus.  By saying, go get it now I do not mean the immediate now. 

18 days ago

Awesome info, stories and pictures! really makes me want to road trip it next season to Colorado and beyond, it’s been a long time…. 

Scott - DCSki Editor
18 days ago

Denis, I appreciated your post — thank you for writing that.  I hope your recovery time hastens.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
18 days ago

Denis might be same species as Yoda.  He is wise and still a youngster in yoda-years.

17 days ago

I love the ski adventure stories and pictures. I made a few trips west several years ago while my son was stationed at Ft. Carson. I enjoyed driving and seeing the country beyond the east coast. I’m retiring in June after 32 years with the post office and plan to make a lot road trips! I’m thinking about getting the Ikon pass and hope to ski at as much as possible. No more not being able to follow the snow or take a snow day locally because I have to go to work!

16 days ago

JimK wrote:

Denis might be same species as Yoda.  He is wise and still a youngster in yoda-years.

Ah - but in Nevada ….

JimK - DCSki Columnist
16 days ago

Encouraging news today.  Snowbird plans to continue ski operations through the spring.  Good thing, because I want to ski out here until May!

Brighton 12 March 20:

Solitude 13 Mar 20:

 

JimK - DCSki Columnist
15 days ago

Wow, what a difference a couple days make.  As most of you know, almost all of North American skiing has shut down, at least for the next week, and many places for good.  Here in Utah it appears that the only larger resorts that are still open as of 3/15/20 are Powder Mtn, Sundance, and Beaver Mtn.  All three of those are smaller “mom and pop” type places for which I don’t have a pass, but if all the others stay closed and they remain open, I may get more familiar with them over the next couple of months.  

We shall see what the future brings.  I hope all of you remain safe and healthy, this is one of the weirder national emergencies I’ve experienced in my 66 years.   After googling national and state parks it looks like those are still open.  My plan B may be to take my wife on a scenic road trip to various parks out here for a few days?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
14 days ago

JimK wrote:

Wow, what a difference a couple days make.  As most of you know, almost all of North American skiing has shut down, at least for the next week, and many places for good.  Here in Utah it appears that the only larger resorts that are still open as of 3/15/20 are Powder Mtn, Sundance, and Beaver Mtn.  All three of those are smaller “mom and pop” type places for which I don’t have a pass, but if all the others stay closed and they remain open, I may get more familiar with them over the next couple of months.  

We shall see what the future brings.  I hope all of you remain safe and healthy, this is one of the weirder national emergencies I’ve experienced in my 66 years.   After googling national and state parks it looks like those are still open.  My plan B may be to take my wife on a scenic road trip to various parks out here for a few days?

Hasn’t been a pandemic of this scale since 1918 when millions died worldwide.  The last flu epidemic that resulted in over 500,000 deaths was in the 1970s.  We are in unknown territory with the connections via planes and the Internet in 2020.  Close to 3000 have already died outside China.  Asian countries that beat back SARS are stablizing while Europe and other continents are just getting organized.

https://www.flattenthecurve.com

Take care!

14 days ago

Crazy times indeed. We are late-season skiers, and we had two trips to Snowshoe and one to Big Sky cancelled. I’m glad that we are all healthy right now, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed. 

Jim, I’m curious about what multi-resort passes and what individual lift tickets you bought. It looks like those resorts are a fun combination of Epic, Ikon and somewhat independent.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
14 days ago

I have a senior season pass to Snowbird and an EpicPass.  My Snowbird pass entitles me to half price tickets at all the Mtn Collective resorts including Jackson Hole.  I used Liftopia for my visit to Grand Targhee.

With all that, I think I am going to go snowshoeing today:-)

12 days ago

JimK wrote:

(snip)

With all that, I think I am going to go snowshoeing today:-)

Snowshoeing sounds like a good choice, JimK!  Enjoy and be safe.  

Woody

JimK - DCSki Columnist
12 days ago

bousquet19 wrote:

JimK wrote:

(snip)

With all that, I think I am going to go snowshoeing today:-)

Snowshoeing sounds like a good choice, JimK!  Enjoy and be safe.  

Woody

Woody, hope you and all the other DCSkiers stay safe too!

Yesterday my wife and I did get out and snowshoed up in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  It was fairly quiet, but we did see a sprinkling of skiers going into the backcountry with skins.

practicing social distancing

Solitude Ski Resort was very quiet

THEN this morning we were woken at 710AM by a 5.7 earthquake here in SLC.  It caused no damage to the neighborhood, but was a darn good 10 second shake and rumble with numerous smaller aftershocks.  I was in Charlottesville, VA for the earthquake in 2011 and this was pretty similar.  Checking further reports there was some minor damage to buildings in downtown SLC including the famous Mormon Temple where the Angel Moroni statue lost its trumpet.  That news gave us a chuckle and we’re not sure what kind of SIGN that is, but we don’t need quakes on top of the virus.  

Denis - DCSki Supporter
11 days ago

If you are looking for an outdoor day trip, I highly recommend American Fork Canyon a few miles south of little cottonwood.  It’s the most beautiful of the Wasatch canyons IMHO.  Backcountry skiers use it for access to Timpanogos.  There is a pretty little lake with good trout fishing.

antelope island to see the buffalo herd is another good day trip.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
7 days ago

Denis wrote:

If you are looking for an outdoor day trip, I highly recommend American Fork Canyon a few miles south of little cottonwood.  It’s the most beautiful of the Wasatch canyons IMHO.  Backcountry skiers use it for access to Timpanogos.  There is a pretty little lake with good trout fishing.

antelope island to see the buffalo herd is another good day trip.

 

  • On Mar 21, 2020 I hiked to a waterfall in Heughs Canyon near Holladay, UT:

heughs sl valley.jpg

WATERFALL heughs.jpg

Upbeat article about Utah hiking during the virus crisis:  https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/03/21/i-feel-like-hiking-is/

 

22 Mar 2020 my wife and I intended to visit Antelope Island State Park. It’s about 50 mins northwest of SLC and is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Lots of great wildlife on view there as Denis mentioned.  But when we got about 5 miles from the island there was a big traffic jam. Tons of people had the same idea. It was a beautiful day for a drive, so we turned around and went to Great Salt Lake State Park. It’s about 15 miles west of SLC off I80. It was much less crowded and we had fun walking along the shoreline of the lake.

great salt lake 22 mar 20.jpg

Good place to practice some social distancing:

great salt lake geese.jpg

 

BTW, Antelope Island is in the background between us in this photo:

great salt lake kathy and jim.jpg

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