Skiing — Park City, Utah — Day 1: Skiing the Park City Ski Area

Picking up some skis and exploring Park City

February 2015

Ski Hire

The first day of skiing and the usual problem — getting skis.

The Yarrow Resort and Conference Center hotel had given us 20% discount vouchers for Aloha Ski Rentals. So we thought we would use them.

The ski rental shop (two of them) were near the main resort base. This was convenient because we could also pick up the Epic lift passes we had ordered online.

The ski shop was a little disappointing as it was nearly all Head skis, and I don't like Heads. I have found them to be heavy and unresponsive. I managed to get a pair of Volkl skis, which looked a bit old and tired.

The staff in the shop were great — friendly, helpful and efficient. And for once, I took out the ski insurance — something I don’t usually do. But I felt it might be a good idea on this trip as I could see a lot of rocks sticking out of the snow.

On the mountain

I last skied Park City in the mid-1990s, and it is funny how your memory can play tricks. I remembered Park City as being a huge ski area. But, when I looked at it on this trip, it did not appear so big. Since I last skied in Park City, I have skied many other ski areas worldwide. My view of what was a big ski area had changed.

Photo by Author — Park City, Utah
Photo by Author — Park City, Utah

There was no snow in Park City other than on the mountains. Some of the locals I spoke to commented that it had been the worst season for snow in many years. But, on the mountain, it was a different story. Most of the major runs were open, as were the lifts. The piste bashers had done an excellent job.

We had a good day of skiing in the sunshine. Snow conditions were much better than I could have hoped. Yes, there were some brown spots, but there was good coverage. The snow was a mix of ground (worked) loose material on a hard base. As the temperature climbed in the afternoon, it turned to spring slush.

Photo by Author — Skiing Park City, Utah
Photo by Author — Skiing Park City, Utah

The mountain was crowded. Some of the locals said it should have been busier, and they thought that reports of no snow were putting people off.

The mountain hadn't changed much. There were a few new runs and some new lifts. One thing that struck me was some lifts now seemed very old. I remember some lifts feeling old 20 years ago. The place needed some investment and work. It appeared it might get it in the summer with a $50 million expansion package to link Park City to Canyons and upgrade several lifts.

Photo by Author — Summer 2015 upgrade plans for Park City, Utah
Photo by Author — Summer 2015 upgrade plans for Park City, Utah

Skiers and boarders at Park City and lift safety bars

Something odd occurred on our first day. Something I had never encountered before. The boarders and skiers at Park City seemed to dislike lift safety bars. Why? They are there for a reason!

I noticed early in the day that the lift safety bar was not being lowered unless I did something about it. Even more worrying was it being raised too early as we approached the top of the lift. I refused to remove my feet from the footrest on many occasions, as I felt it was far too early to lift the bar.

In the afternoon, I decided to conduct an experiment where I didn't touch the bar. On several occasions, it never got lowered, which completely freaked me out.

The problem at Park City may be that many old lifts had no safety bar. I guess skiers get used to not having the bars?

Considering the U.S. is such a safety-conscious country, it surprised me that the Park City ski area did not insist on safety bars being lowered and used correctly.

Lunch at the Snow Restaurant, Park City, Utah

The weather on the mountain was unbelievably hot and sunny. There was a distinct lack of snow off-piste, but the runs were in excellent condition.

We stopped for lunch at the Snow Hut Restaurant. It was packed. Crazy.

We thought we would be clever and stop for an early lunch. The trouble was that everyone else had the same idea.

Photo by Author — Snow Restaurant, Park City, Utah
Photo by Author — Snow Restaurant, Park City, Utah

Food was typical mountain type food.

Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah

After a great day of skiing, we went out on foot to explore the area around our hotel. We found a great little brewpub about 100 yards (ca. 90 m) from the hotel — Squatters Craft Beers.

When we visited, the place was heaving. We were told there was a 35-minute wait for a table, but we avoided the wait by finding a couple of seats at the bar facing the kitchen.

We had a couple of beers (well, why not?)

Photo by Author - beers at the Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah  — Evolution
Photo by Author - beers at the Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah — Evolution
Photo by Author — beers at the Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah — Chasing Tail
Photo by Author — beers at the Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah — Chasing Tail

The Evolution, and Chasing Tail, were excellent. Well worth trying.

For food, we had a chicken Caesar Salad and Chicken Wings. All very good. And Hanna did a great job looking after us.

Photo by Author — Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah
Photo by Author — Squatters Craft Beers, Park City, Utah

It was fun sitting at the bar facing the kitchen as we got to see how hard the guys worked — it was a master class in teamwork.

Getting the free bus in Park City, Utah

Park City runs a free bus service around town and to the ski areas.

The bus system worked great, and we had no issues finding a stop near our hotel (Yarrow) to town. For the Main Street (the centre of town) you stayed on to the bus station, which was located on the road parallel to Main, about halfway down.

The service was very popular with locals and visitors. It had carried over 2 million passengers in the last year, and it seemed to run frequently and on time.

We discovered that you had to be careful with the buses as there were many routes around town, so you had to check which bus you needed. The timetable was pretty good and gave clear details of the different ways.

The bus stops were a ‘request stop' service, so I had to remember to pull the cord.