Tracks out of town: skiing Snowbird

After several trips through Colorado for skiing this winter, it was time to journey out of state. Sometimes, it's all about timing. So it was Tuesday night, when I got to Snowbird the day after a foot of snow hit the mountain. Luckily, some of the terrain wasn't opened on Tuesday, so fresh tracks were available in Mineral Basin and to the skier's left of the big aerial tramway.

Snowbird is a pretty cool mountain. Start with its geography, located on the upper end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, just 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. Imagine being able to ski Vail in the time it takes to drive to Idaho Springs from downtown Denver.

Snowbird also has a lift ticket that lets you ski Alta on the same pass, and there is a high traverse that is open in the high season that you can ski to get to Alta. Snowbird's base is at 7,760 feet and its summit is at 11,000 feet, providing a nice long vertical drop.

Of course, the big tram is another interesting feature. While a couple of other lifts start from low on the mountain, almost everyone rides the tram to the summit, from which you can access double black chutes, cliff jumps, or really cool groomers of all grades.

Snowbird will be staying open on weekends till May, so if you time it right, you might be able to get some great skiing in. All morning long, we found untracked powder. Of course, by early afternoon, the temps were up in the 40s and the snow lower down was definitely on the slushy side. As long as you stayed up high though, it was pretty sweet.

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Candace Horgan