Choosing which resort to go to is an easy call – few lift lines, fewer people – we all know why we’re Solitude skiers. But, how do you make the most of your sick err…powder days? Here’s my strategy on typical storm days to maximize vertical, catch a few terrain openings and get more than my fair share of the goods!
Park at Eagle
Park as close as possible to Eagle Express, on the western end of the main lot. It’s an easy step into skis and boards and a quick schuss to the chairlift. From the top of Eagle Express, either ski down to Apex Express, then to Summit Express or Powderhorn. It’s a powder day, so I don’t know about you, but I am going with the lift with “powder” in the name.
If it’s a bigger snowfall day, usually Powderhorn opens before Summit Express anyway, so spin as many laps as possible in Cirque or Concord trees, or Paradise if visibility is good.
Keep your eyes peeled for the gate to Milk Run to drop next, which allows access to some of the steepest terrain on the hill – maybe the entire Wasatch. If you’re riding up the chairlift, that’s the gate to your left. Parachute and Middle Slope take a bit longer to get to, but the tracks are noticeably more sparse around the corner.
If the Black Forest gate into Honeycomb (or the lower Navarone gate towards Eagle Express) opens at the same time as Milk Run, it’s a tough choice to make, but I usually opt for Milk Run since it now ends right at the base of the Summit Express chairlift and frontside laps are more efficient than the Honeycomb shuffle. The Honeycomb gate is on the ridge, just a right turn off the chair, should you choose that route. You may have it all to yourself if everyone else is beelining to Summit. It’s a bit rocky at the start, but that’s not indicative of the skiing once inside Honeycomb. It. Is. All. Pow. DER!
OK, now, we’re ready for Summit Express.
Whether the Honeycomb gates at the Summit are open or not, I point ‘em right towards Headwall Forest instead. Trees, gullies, and continually steeper and deeper with each turn! So much fun and with no two lines alike, this is one of my favorite hot laps on the mountain. Great on low visibility days, this tree protected area collects snow really well and is super efficient to take a few runs on, while keeping an eye on Honeycomb’s opening if patrol is still doing control work.
Once Honeycomb opens, try your best to resist dropping the first untracked line in the canyon you see. Instead try to get at least one or two more runs on the frontside before doing the longer Honeycomb lap, aiming for either Cathedral or Middle Slope. You’ll have to figure out how to get there on your own, though!
The next big decision is east or west face? You can’t go wrong with either option. The east face runs (Black Bess, Voltaire) are nice open bowls and the further areas (Boundary Chutes) are longer, steeper and more narrow. The west facing runs (Buckeye Junior, Black Forest) are trees, ridges and gullies. If you can tell which aspect is skiing better from earlier runs in other areas, let that help make your decision.
Once down to the Honeycomb Return chairlift, your legs are probably screaming for a break. But if you’ve got more in the tank, the area right under the chairlift is a quick add-on for a few more turns. I’ve found myself doing two or three laps on the Honeycomb Return chairlift – there’s plenty of overlooked terrain that’s ample low-hanging fruit on a pow day.
After exploring the nooks and crannies near Honeycomb Return, head back to Powderhorn. Almost everyone is likely still on Summit, so take this opportunity to see if the Black Forest gate has filled back in. Who doesn’t like free refills on a powder day?
Take as many Black Forest → Honeycomb Return → Powderhorn laps as your legs can handle.
For a last run you can mix it up with a Middle Slope back to the bottom, or just take the nearest groomer to the Thirsty Squirrel for some refills of a different sort.