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Ski resort of the week: Sundance — Same great Utah snow, fewer crowds

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 9:33 p.m. MDT

Skiers and snowboarders enjoy the snow and the sun on a beautiful day at Sundance. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News) Skiers and snowboarders enjoy the snow and the sun on a beautiful day at Sundance. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News)
History: It was back in 1901 that the family of S. Paul Stewart purchased the land where the ski resort is now located. They paid a whopping $2.50 per acre. Long before there were skiers sliding on the slopes, it was sheep that casually grazed under the cliffs of Mount Timpanogos. Skiing started around 1946 when Raymond Stewart installed a rope tow and began calling the ski area Timp Haven. One of the problems, he quickly found, was that the location of the tow required skiers to hike about a half a mile in order to hook a ride. The next season he lowered the tow to an area near the parking lot. Timp Haven became unique in the ski industry because it closed on Sunday. Said Stewart, nicknamed "Speed," six days was enough. Stewart himself didn't ski. He said he didn't have time, but his children did.
The first run cut on the mountainside was short and finished by crossing North Fork Creek via a bridge of cut logs covered with straw. In 1951, a used lift purchased from Park City was installed.
A couple of snowboarders ride the lift back up the mountain while enjoying the weather at Sundance. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News) A couple of snowboarders ride the lift back up the mountain while enjoying the weather at Sundance. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News)
In 1957, skiing legend Junior Bounous, now director of skiing at Snowbird, came back to Utah, bought into the ski area and started a ski school. That was also the year Timp Haven created a tubing hill and skating rink. The owners purchased 600 tubes and rented them out for 50 cents a day.
By 1960, there were two lifts and three tows in operation — one modern chairlift, a pomalift, two T-bars and a rope tow.
In 1963, Robert Redford built a home near the resort and took up an interest in getting into the ski business. He purchased the resort in 1968. The name was to come from a movie part he'd been offered — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. At first, Redford objected to the name, claiming it was too pretentious.
Upon taking over the resort, Redford carved out new ski runs, added more parking and built a lodge.
A snowboarder comes to a stop at the bottom of a run. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News) A snowboarder comes to a stop at the bottom of a run. (Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News)

What you know: The resort has long been known for its scenic beauty, backed up against the backdrop of the 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos. The layout of the lifts makes it easy for a skier to pick his or her terrain. Ray's lift takes skiers to a full range of intermediate and beginner terrain, where Arrowhead and Flathead access some great expert and intermediate skiing. The trend is for skiers to line up at the base to take Ray's, and then spread out as the day progresses. At the base is the Foundry Grill, which is a three-meal-a-day restaurant. Inside the lodge is a collection of old photos and Native American art and western memorabilia from Redford's private collection.

What you need to know: Because of the single lift at the base, a high-speed quad, it is best to show up early and get up on the mountain before most of the crowd hits. Then, as they start to move up the mountain, head back to the start for some good cruising runs on the lower slopes. There is a wide range of runs available on the mountain for skiers and snowboarders — beginning to expert. Along with alpine skiing, Sundance also offers the backcountry experience on groomed trails for the cross country skier. There are 26 kilometers of trails that are groomed daily for skating and classic skiing. There's also an area for snowshoers — 10 kilometers of dedicated trails winding through the woods.

Ski school: Sundance's team of PSIA-certified ski and snowboard instructors is experienced in teaching all levels of adults and children. Choose from one-on-one coaching, group lessons or early-bird lessons. Private coaching starts at $110 for two hours of instruction. There's also adult group instruction. Groups are arranged according to ability and age. There is a Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard program that includes a half-day beginner group lesson and a full-day pass. New for 2004-05 are the Performance Ski Labs, inspired by the experiential approach of Sundance filmmakers. Under the personal direction of Sundance director of skiing Jerry Warren, participants will have an opportunity to strengthen their skiing performance through three days of seminars, on-snow clinics and daily video analysis.

Review: Sundance offers the opportunity to ski on Utah's world-famous snow on an excellent assortment of runs — without the crowds or pricey passes. Sundance was named by the editors of Ski magazine as one of the best lesser-known areas in the country.


Sundance facts

Number of lifts: 4 — 1 quad, 2 triple and 1 rope tow
Vertical drop: 2,150 feet
Skiable acres: 450
Terrain: 20 percent beginner, 40 percent intermediate, 40 percent expert.
Top elevation: 8,250 feet
Number of runs: 42
Snowboarding: Yes

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