11 resorts in a day

And not a bad run in the entire bunch

Published: Thursday, Jan. 27 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

Skiing at Brighton are Mike Grass, left, Ray Grass, Nathan Rafferty and Lee Benson.

Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

OK, is there anywhere in this world, where the snow flies, where it's possible to set tracks on the slopes of 11 ski resorts in a single day?

Last week, I set out with four comrades on skis to prove that, yes, it can be done right here in Utah.

We rode one tram, two gondolas, one six-person high-speed, three high-speed quads, one triple and four double chairlifts to make 12 runs at 11 areas, ski 19,226 vertical feet and discuss plans to ski 12 . . . or maybe all 13.

It went like this: Sundance, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons, Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird, Alta, Snowbasin, Nordic Valley and Powder Mountain . . . number of miles traveled was 220.

The only Utah resorts not skied were Beaver Mountain, east of Logan, and Brian Head, east of Cedar City.

The day started with the reflective view of a sunrise on Mount Timpanogos seen from Ray's lift at Sundance at 7:56 a.m. and ended with a mountaintop view of a huge orange sun sandwiched between illuminated red clouds from the 8,600-foot Sundown Ridge at Powder Mountain at 5:37 p.m.

The amount of time needed to drive, ride the lifts (and never the shortest lifts), ski down, load and unload equipment and drive to all 11 was nine hours, 41 minutes.

It was intended from the beginning to be more of an adventure than a ski day, just to see if it could be done. One run planned at each resort, top to bottom, eat on the run, brief breaks were possible, and more driving time than slope time.

What we found was that it is possible, here in Utah, to ski 10 truly world-class ski areas and one area, Nordic Valley, with all the down-home charm of a county fair, in a day.

Now that it has been done, the question is: Is there anywhere else in the world where skiers can engage that many different resorts of such quality during daylight hours?

Looking back, the time line could have been even shorter. The group of five skiers — I was joined by Lee Benson, columnist, and Ravell Call, photographer for the Deseret Morning News; Nathan Rafferty, director of communications for Ski Utah; Mike Grass, my son and a former staffer of Ski Utah — left Snowbird an hour ahead of the timetable, took two runs at Snowbasin instead of one, and stopped on occasion to look at the views, a bald eagle, a young moose on a Deer Valley run and a flock of forest grouse that flew within a few feet of our party atop Powder Mountain.

Consensus among the group is that with a few less turns and less lollygagging around, all 11 could have been skied in regular operational daylight hours — roughly 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is Nordic Valley's day-pass closing time. As it turned out, the only resort we skied on a nighttime pass was the last — Powder Mountain.

The seed for this adventure was planted when I read a story in the Denver Post over Thanksgiving by a fellow ski writer who skied eight resorts in roughly 10 hours, hitting two before lifts opened.

Accessibility and, of course, snow, have long been among Utah's greatest attractions for skiers and snowboarders.

There are six areas offered on the one-day Ski Utah Interconnect. From downtown Salt Lake City there are seven resorts within roughly 30 minutes and four more within less than an hour.

I suggested several possible options, including the Interconnect plus one — The Canyons — to Rafferty and eight with the Interconnect, plus Sundance and The Canyons. The Interconnect starts at Deer Valley and includes Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton, Alta and Snowbird.

He suggested the 11 resorts and plotted a projected time line.

"It was," he said without hesitation, "very doable."

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