While Snowbird has a well deserved reputation for presenting advanced and expert skiers some of the most challenging terrain to be found in a stateside resort, it also offers a a basin full of easily accessible high altitude intermediate skiing.
Don't Leave the Kid's Home
I brought my teenage daughter for her first visit to Snowbird and the drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon was one of the few times the Ipod sat idle on the seat. Waterfalls and icefalls (one with ice climbers seeming to hang by their axes) on the sheer granite cliffs brought out some serious "wows" and not a little trepidation. However, when we pulled into Snowbird Center she was back into the anxious personality that skiing a new area always brings out.
If you don't know anybody at Snowbird know then you will before you leave. In the Center parking area I asked a young man in a Snowbird jacket directions to a dropoff and, after surprising me with the fact that it was his first day on the job, he insisted I wait while he double-checked his directions. The directions were fine and it wasn't long before we were on the tram.
Stand in Awe
That's the best way to experience the tram ride, and I mean for adults as well as kids. Eight minute and and 2,900 ft higher we were in picture taking heaven. It took a serious effort to break the spell that 11,000 feet and one of a kind scenery can weave, but I had another little adventure planned before concentrating on serious skiing.
Magic Carpet through the Mountain
The conveyor belt rides at beginner areas, generically called Magic Carpets, are fairly common, but when you put one about 10,500' up a mountainside and then run it through a hole in the mountain you get a unique experience non-skiers may not believe. Exit the tunnel and you are in Mineral Basin, an intermediate skier paradise. You can still find Double Blacks in the Basin but there is solid intermediate skiing that will keep you up and down the two quad lifts for hours if you like.
When it's time to head back down you have your choice of challenging terrain off the High Baldy and Cirque Traverses or take Chip's Run. A cut over Rothman's Way leads into some easy skiing down to the Gadzoom Quad and up to treed areas where good times await off the Gad 2 lift. We easily found our way back to the Center, not getting lost once, and running out on Bass Highway.
I've read that Snowbird was Dick Bass's baby to grow and groom into one of the best resorts available to the world. His lifelong labor of love produced a destination resort, with a service with smile attitude, for U.S. and foreign skiers alike. I didn't get a chance to meet Dick Bass and thank him for this skier's wonderland, but I know that if I were a mountain I'd like to have Dick Bass for a daddy.