You know those bumper stickers that say “London Paris Tokyo”? I think it’s about designer clothes or something. Anyway, I have always dreamed of creating one that says “Chamonix Jackson Solitude” to remind other skiers just how steep and technical it is at Solitude Mountain Resort. While Solitude doesn’t have Cham’s glaciers or Jackson’s 4,000’ of vert, we do have some runs steep enough to get even a pro skier’s adrenaline running.
Located just off the Powderhorn II chairlift, Milk Run is the steepest continuous pitch at Solitude – and perhaps in all of Utah. A few quick turns off the upper flanks of Milk Run give way to a rollover, guarded by numerous limber pines. It’s one of the prettiest sights in all of skiing in my opinion. As the world begins to drop away below your tips, hold on tight and find one of the many lines through a few natural chokes, with plenty of opportunities to air it out, though no cliffs are mandatory.
If you play your cards right, you can hang a right near the bottom and make it to Summit Express chairlift. If you can catch the rope drop on Milk Run on a powder day, it will likely be your best run of the day. On a bluebird pow day, it just might be your top run of the season. The mix of blue skies, sparkly white snow and the orange hue of Solitude’s ancient conifers is a sight to be had.
This is probably my favorite run at Soli! A traverse on the east face of Honeycomb Canyon, past Pinnacle Rock, leads to the Boundary Chutes. One of the longest runs on the mountain, these slide paths are amazing for days after a storm and hold excellent packed powder well into spring.
The wide open terrain and empty slopes let you test your speed limit for dozens of turns down to the floor of Honeycomb Canyon. Fun terrain features offer opportunities to play on the top half (think gullies or whalebacks) and are one of the reasons locals will tell you “the mountain IS our terrain park.”
The journey along the traverse, passing under Fantasy Ridge, is a great way to familiarize yourself with the many shots off of the ridge, too.
The hike UP Fantasy Ridge is not for the faint of heart; never mind the skiing down part. We’ll get to that in a minute. To get up Fantasy Ridge, you’ll want your skis or board fastened to a backpack so both hands are free to grab onto one of three fixed cables, rocks or the steps in front of you. It’s actually so steep you can stand straight up and be able to reach out and touch the bootpack footprints at eye level in front of you. Hold on! Going up with a partner is advisable, especially someone who has done it before. Once you’re on the ridge you can see all of Brighton, into Alta and Snowbird, and all the way down Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Now, for the fun part: getting down. Shot 5 is one of the first options, with a narrow chute about a ski width wide to navigate, just a few turns in. If you can point it through here, a wide apron awaits you below to scrub off some speed. But at this angle, you’ll get moving quick. Thanks gravity! Shot 5 and many other decent options are named for avalanche control routes (Ski Patrol has to literally fire shots into the area for mitigation).
Fantasy Ridge is an expert playground to which the Boundary Chutes traverse offers a front row seat. Farther down the ridge is the CWM Chute, Shot 21 and dozens of other lines depending on your ability and acceptable level of risk. Many of these options end in mandatory airs or straight lines, so know where you’re going before taking the plunge.
Sounds a little bit like Jackson or Cham to you too? Now, let’s see about getting those stickers ordered.