Liberal Arts Blog — Skiing IV: The Rockies — Utah (Park City), Colorado (Telluride), Idaho (Sun Valley)
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic: Skiing IV: The Rockies — Utah (Park City), Colorado (Telluride), Idaho (Sun Valley)
I love the stark beauty of winter. The monochrome landscape thrills me, lifts my soul. Cold is another story. I hate it. I hate feeling cold. Especially on a ski lift suspended a death distance above a white shroud eager to envelop me in its frigid grasp. Now that I’ve gotten those feelings out, let’s move on to the topic of the day — skiing in the Rockies with a focus on Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. Any experiences or preferences to share? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
UTAH: Park City, Alta, Deer Valley, Snowbird
1. In north-east-central Utah, Park City is an old mining town with a year round population of less than 8,000 and a reputation for being one of the prettiest towns in America. Another claim to fame is the Sundance Film Festival. Just 32 miles from downtown Salt Lake City, it has two ski resorts that were venues in the 2002 Winter Olympics — Deer Valley (where the first ski trails were laid out by the Work Projects Administration in the winter of 1936) and Park City Mountain (a resort opened in 1963 with federal funding for the economically depressed town).
2. Alta, with a permanent population of less than 400, receives about 500,000 visitors per year. Claims to fame include high levels of snowfall, powder, and being one of only three ski resorts in the United States that prohibit snow boarding. The other two are its neighbor Deer Valley and Mad River Glen in Vermont.
3. Snowbird resort (above) is in an “unincorporated community” and, unlike most other ski resorts, operates largely on private land. In the late 19th century, Little Cottonwood Canyon thrived as the silver mining business boomed. But a series of avalanches destroyed the fledgling community. The Snowbird resort opened in 1971.
COLORADO — Aspen, Vail, Telluride
1. Telluride (above), the farthest of the major resorts from Denver, apparently has the prettiest town, the most photogenic mountains, and the shortest lines. I can’t verify this. Can you?
2. Aspen, named after “the abundance of aspen trees in the area,” has the unusual feature of being home to three institutions of “international importance” — the Aspen Film Festival, the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Center for Physics. It is also known as a “popular retreat for celebrities” (eg. John Denver) and as a hub of “hedonistic excesses (particularly its drug culture.”
3. Vail is “the third largest single mountain ski resort in the US behind Big Sky and Park City, featuring seven bowls and intermediate gladed terrain in Blue Sky Basin.” The resort is named after Vail Pass which gets its name from Charles Vail, a US highway engineer that “routed US highway 6 through Eagle Valley in 1940.” The appeal of Vail: “choice.” Plenty of blue, green, and black (that is intermediate and advanced slopes). Also diversity of orientation: slopes facing North, South, East, and West. The knocks on Vail: huge crowds, no real town, parking sucks, no beginner trails.
IDAHO — Sun Valley, Schweitzer Mountain, Brundage Mountain, Bogus Basin
1. Sun Valley — “of the 150 skiable days at the resort, on average 120 are sunny.” The area has been “a seasonal home to the rich and famous since first being brought to public attention by Ernest Hemingway in the late 1930s.” Sun Valley Resort was developed by the Chairman of Union Pacific Railroad, W. Averell Harriman “primarily to increase ridership on UP passenger trains.” The world’s first chairlifts were installed here in 1936.
2. Schweitzer (German for “Swiss”) is Idaho’s largest ski resort and is apparently famous for its tree skiing. It is named after a Swiss hermit, who lived in the area. “He had been in the Swiss military, and, as part of a crime investigation, his house was searched. It yielded the bodies of numerous local cats that had gone missing. According to local legend, the man enjoyed cat stew; as a result, Mr. Schweitzer was soon hauled off to the asylum and forgotten, but his name remains with the mountain.”
3. Brundage Mountain “is a ski resort for adventurers and explorers. Ideally positioned to catch storms that arrive from the north and the south, the resort is constantly showered with light, fluffy snow. Brundage receives on average an incredible 26 feet of snow each season, so untouched secret snow stashes are easy to find.”
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.