You Get a Car! You Get a Car!

By SkiMum Paula


Oprah had the world on its feet at the Golden Globes.  The excitement on the morning news shows the following day was infectious.  Even my teenage daughter was howling in a voice an octave lower than her own, “You get a car! You get a car!” while devouring her pancakes.  She was a newborn when the giveaway aired in 2004, but still understands the magic and joy it inspired.  “That must have made the car maker famous,” she continued.  I cocked my head and smiled.  Like other childhood beliefs, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Pontiac (awesome trivia/HQ question, by the way) went bust just a few years later.  Sometimes, the delight is more important than the detail.

What does this have to do with SkiMums?  Well, some would claim that many Wednesday mornings with fellow Mums feel like an episode of Oprah’s eponymous show.  Smart, active women sharing the slopes with other fascinating (and often, very funny) women.  It’s unclear whether it’s a girl power vibe, an adrenaline rush or the feeling of playing hooky, but Mums describe feeling electrified, inspired or just themselves on Wednesdays. “Ski therapy”?  Perhaps.  More likely, Mums are giving themselves a moment to recharge in order to charge ahead.

SkiMums also get FREE stuff.  Sadly, not cars.  The Bird, in particular, does this not because Mums are cheap (although we do love a great deal); it recognizes how important and influential we are.  Mums buy a lot of season passes, lessons, camps, ski team equipment, condos, spa packages, dinners and more.  We post pictures on social media influencing more people all over the world to discover the fun in our backyard.  When some suggested several years ago that Snowbird was too advanced and not as appealing to women, it started providing SkiMums group lessons to make sure we felt confident on the front and back of Hidden Peak.  Mountain School still sends its best women instructors each January to get intermediate-to-advanced SkiMums skiers — and, for the first time, snowboarders — to tackle different aspects of this unique terrain.  The Bird has also invited some daring Mums (read: pretty fast skiers on pretty dark runs) to ski Fresh Tracks, going up the Tram with Ski Patrol at 7:30am to do laps before the public opening.  In the summer, SkiMums have had the best deals on Snowbird’s All-Women Mountain Bike Camp which, we like to believe, they created because of clamoring by the Mums (“Teach us how to ride The Wasatch Crest and Big Mountain Trail!”).

This is what I know is true: SkiMums started as and remains a community, not a club, made up of incredible Wasatch Women who share a passion for the outdoors and want to share that feeling with others.  We laugh and cheer and, often, discover something new.  Such delight will get you much farther than any car.


Top 5 Things to Splurge on at Snowbird

If I found some spare change in the bottom of the dryer, what would I do with it? Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Something ski-related, definitely.  Let’s put aside a shopping spree at Cliff Sports (I do love my Arc’teryx coat and fringed Astis mittens) or opening a great Bordeaux at Aerie. Here are five. Some I’ve done, some are on my Snowbird Bucket List—

  • A day on the Snowcat Skiing for Nature – hands down. At $395 for a half-day adventure, I still think it’s the best bang for the buck anywhere on the mountain. Starting with breakfast at The Forklift (included), Snowbird Ski Patrol prepares you for your side-country outing, straps you with a beacon and takes you up and over into Mineral Basin where you catch your ride. The rest is a blur and the most fun, best skiing ever. I’ve compared it to skiing in a snow globe – quiet, magical. A half-day is plenty. Your legs will be shot. Your memories will last forever.
  • Mountain School Women’s Camp with Mermer Blakeslee. Mountain School does several ski camps designed for women, but this is the one I’ve always wanted to attend (hint, hint). It’s a four-day camp led by professional skier and author, Mermer Blakeslee. She focuses on fear, the type that keeps us from accomplishing things on and off the mountain and fun, the type that brings us back. At $784 for four entire days, it’s cheaper than therapy and much more pleasurable. The time off from work, family, life is the big price but one I know would be worth it.
  • A day with a Backcountry Guide. I once tried buying all the gear necessary for my hubby to backcountry ski (shovel, probe, beacon, avalanche airbag, etc.) and scared myself so badly that I put it all back on the shelves. The avalanche dangers in the backcountry are real, but they are greatly reduced by going with someone who understands the terrain and risks. If you’ve ever skied a powder day, you get the bug and want more, especially if it comes with fresh tracks all the way down. That’s the appeal of backcountry. Prices vary but, for this exercise, I’m not concerned.
  • A weekend stay on the Spa Level of Cliff Lodge. For a modest upgrade, you can enjoy a spacious room and spa access on the top floor of the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. If a day in Mineral Basin wasn’t enough, then adding a massage and then a dip in the roof top hot top will satisfy the pickiest guest. It’s one of the best views at any ski resort, and if the full moon is out, you won’t be the only one to howl. Prices vary depending on room and services.
  • Ok, I have to admit that my Preferred Parking Pass is definitely a splurge that I have come to love. Front row parking at the Bird means I can save my legs for the mountain and almost ski into my car at the end of the day. $249

Snowbird Offers Early Treat to Wasatch Women

DSC02112Snowbird invites Skimums and all Wasatch Women to take a break from the December madness at its first-ever Holiday SkiTreat on Wednesday, December 10th.  Work on your turns during a half-day group lesson with the Mountain School (9-noon).  Then, enjoy lunch, laughter and a chair massage in The Atrium at Cliff Lodge (noon-1). Cliff Sports will introduce you to the most-innovative and stylish gear for women (take pictures for your letter to Santa), and the Cliff Spa will give you a tour of its jaw-stopping rooftop facilities and let you stay for half-price (fyi — it rarely does this).

DSC02284This is a great day to catch up with old ski friends, meet new ones and, as always, enjoy the beauty of the mountain in your own back yard.  For Park City, Provo and Ogden friends, this is a terrific opportunity to come explore Snowbird with Skimums and other gal pals.  The cost is only $40, an absolute deal for lesson, lunch and other goodies.  Reserve with the Mountain School at 801-947-8222.


Live Like a Tourist:

A Relaxing Staycation at Cliff Lodge 

By Skimum Paula

Snowbird_Paula_Family_SkiWhen you have over a half dozen ski resorts in your backyard, it’s tough to leave home.  OK, before you out-of-towners start throwing snowballs, know that one of the problems is that you Californians, Texans and Floridians take up all the seats on most flights!  Honestly, many Utahns choose to stick around during the winter months to play in the snow.  We throw our ski gear in the car, head up to Snowbird for a few hours (no, we don’t ski all day; someone has to pick up the kids from school), and then head back to make dinner and go to a varsity volleyball game.  While it’s fun – a lot of fun – it’s not a vacation.

Snowbird Premium Pass holders who purchased early got a special treat this season – a free night at Cliff Lodge.  Family Pass holders received two nights or two rooms.  So, after cleaning up the Thanksgivmakkah dinner, we piled our gear, PJs and toothbrushes into the car and enjoyed a staycation at the Bird.  It was very, very different and very, very good.

Snowbird_Check-inInstead of swinging into the Gad Valley parking lot, we pulled into the heated entrance of the Cliff Lodge, gave our keys to the valets who unloaded our suitcases, handed them off to the bell captain and then whisked away our ski gear to Lodge’s private locker room.  Our hands were not only warm but empty leaving us to proceed to check-in with ease.

As hubby was getting the room keys, I was chatting with the concierge, who not only told me about mountain conditions but what was going on inside the Lodge – big screen movies, board games to borrow, game room downstairs, heated family pool and hot tub next to Chickadee.  My non-skiing teen stopped moping; my other skiing kids starting planning their après ski activities.  Of course, the Cliff Spa is on the roof (I’ve written about that in a prior post), but I wouldn’t make it there this trip.  I can come up anytime for a stone massage.  Put that snowball down!

After getting settled in our adjoining rooms, we all … relaxedtogether.  The TVs stayed off and everyone just took a few moments to read, text a friend, listen to music, and even talk to each other!  It was surprisingly peaceful though.  No fighting.  No whining.  No, “I’m bored!”  We were entering vacation mode.

By the way, the beds in the rooms are amazing!  Super comfy.  Almost Heavenly.  Great pillows.


We decided to have dinner upstairs at The Aerie Restaurant.  I always forget how much I like The Aerie.  The food and service are terrific.  It’s beautiful with its two-story windows facing the mountain.  Oh, and to please the kids or sports fans, there are a few “TV Tables”, booths with a screen discretely placed behind a curtain.  While I’m not normally a proponent of “tech at the table,” if it keeps the peace and keep everyone at the table longer, then why not?  It’s vacation!  Hubby and I planned to sneak to the Aerie Lounge, an incredibly stylish, adults-only refuge, after the kids went to bed, but we fell asleep early!  J  I guess we’ll just head up during the week some time.  It has a yummy après ski menu as well as a sushi bar and is open to everyone.


The next morning involved more food, of course.  The Atrium Restaurant has a fantastic buffet as well as a la carte items giving you plenty of fuel for a big ski day.  I must admit that the hit was the hot chocolate – rich chocolaty yumminess with a thick mountain of whipped cream on top.  Ridiculously good!

Snowbird_LockersWe hadn’t seen our ski gear since we got out of the car.  They were stowed in the Lodge Locker Room on the first floor.  Big tall private lockers are available to guests free of charge.  The attendants are very … attendant!  They’ll even help you put on your boots.  From there, you ski out the door to Chickadee.  How easy is that?

The skiing was great, but when one kid was done, it didn’t end the day.  He went in to meet the non-skiing sibling, and they had lunch at El Chanate, the Mexican restaurant on the lower level of the Lodge and then hit the game room next door.  They were happy, we were happy.  We met them there, played some video games together and even winning a few (we did grow up with Donkey Kong, after all).


Maybe the best part of the trip was that it only took us 20 minutes to get home.  No airports, security, traffic or potty stops.  While Warren Miller famously said, “The family that skis together, bitches at one another.” I doubt he was talking about those who vacation or staycation at Snowbird.

Top Ten Reasons I love Snowbird

This weekend a few of us were chatting about the upcoming ski season, and a girlfriend mentioned she had never skied Snowbird because it is just too “intimidating.”  I hear you my friend.  At one time, I felt the same way:  “The Bird is for those hard core skiers who use words like ‘pow’ and ‘shred,’ for skiers who hike up mountains with skis on their backs and float effortlessly through the powder . . .  it’s really a resort for skiers on vacation, not locals . . . plus, where in the world do I park if I DO want to ski Snowbird –  there are FOUR different entrances!” These were a few of the thoughts racing through my mind, and I believed Snowbird was just too intimidating for a local Salt Lake girl, so I stuck with the resorts I knew so well.  Comfort zone is a good thing.  Right?

Wrong!  A few years back I discovered Snowbird.  I’ll never forget that afternoon – I was blown away by the pure majesty of those mountains, the killer terrain, and the ease of getting around the resort.  Now, as a Snowbird season pass holder, I have to share WHY I love to ski the Bird . . .

Julie’s Top 10:

Snowbird_Customer_Service10.  Customer Service.  What other ski resort offers to call the shuttle just for you, with the expectation that the driver takes you right to your car.  Indeed, that was one of my first parking lot experiences.  I was headed out of the Snowbird Center with skis on my shoulder, poles in hand, and gearing up for the walk to the car when the shuttle dude asked if I need a ride.  “Um, well, I was just going to walk to my car,” I explained.  He immediately told me, “no, you don’t have to do that, he’s on his way.”  Seconds later I was boarding the shuttle and telling the driver to keep his eyes peeled for the white Sequoia up the hill.  Very nice.  Plus, they also bus your tables at Mid Gad, AND if you need a little help adjusting your bindings, someone is there with a screwdriver and advice.  Nice.

9.  Friendly Lift Operators.  The.Best.Ever.  I love the lift operators and ticket scanner folks at the Bird.  Always friendly, always asking how you’re doing, always happy, and if Jared is working (usually manning the Wilbere lift), you’ll be rewarded with a great joke if you ask.  Bonus!

8.  The Food.  Yep, GREAT food at the Bird.  My favorite spot for lunch is the Mid Gad Restaurant, located right off the slopes on the Gad Valley side of the resort.  Awesome food (oh, those fries), huge portions (girls, share a sandwich and save $$), and unbeatable views from the dining area.  If I’m looking for a little more of a dining experience (while still in ski gear), it’s all about sitting near the fire and enjoying a salad or burger at The Forklift (off the Plaza).

7.  The Cliff Lodge.   If you purchase your season passes pre-season, you’ll receive a FREE night at the Cliff, so take advantage!  Breathtaking views of the mountains, fantastic restaurants, unbelievable rooftop pool & hot tub, as well as a world class spa.  Plus, the Aerie lounge and restaurant on the top floor is the perfect spot for apres or a romantic dinner.  Just perfect after a day on the slopes.

6.  The Plaza.  I love, love, love the plaza.  Grab a table, put up your feet, watch the tram descend from Hidden Peak, and enjoy the people watching.  This is where the community of skiers and boarders come together to relax, mingle, and grab a bite (the Birdfeeder and Tram Pizza are excellent choices for something quick).

5.  Baby Thunder.  The idea of piling into a crowded tram on a powder day sends me into a panic attack.  I did that once, and barely survived.  However, the tram isn’t the only place to head after an overnight dumping of the white stuff.  For claustrophobics like myself, we head to the lesser known and out of the way lift, Baby Thunder (look for it on a trail map).  Yes, it’s a great lift for the little ones, but if you’re searching for some untouched pristine powder in the trees, this is it.  Plus, it’s a great spot to practice your turns in knee-deep powder without the crowds.  LOVE!

4.  Hidden Peak.  Views. Views. Views.  This is where you will get that unforgettable picture with the family or ski buddies.  The 360 degree views at 11,000 ft are unparalleled as you view down into the Salt Lake Valley on the west and into Mineral Basin on the West, with Twin Peaks to the south and Mt. Baldy to the North.  Absolutely gorgeous on a bluebird day, so have that camera phone ready!

3.  Terrain.  You’ve heard it said that Snowbird’s terrain is some of the best in the world.  Truth.  Whatever you are in the mood for, you can find it at the Bird.  Want steeps?  Looking for trees?  Want to take it easy, relax, and cruise groomers?  Looking for out of the way moguls still soft with powder (think Dalton’s Draw)?  Need to traverse to find that perfect line?  Ready to hike for fresh tracks?  It’s all here, one stop shopping, and THAT is what makes this place so special.  Whatever I’m in the mood to ski, I can find it at the Bird and it doesn’t disappoint.

2.  Summer at the Bird.  Did you know Snowbird becomes a full service summer resort once the ski season comes to an end?  Summer is the perfect time to really explore and become familiar with the resort.  Take the tram to Hidden Peak (free with season pass) and hike the spectacular mountain trails while enjoying the views, bring the family to enjoy the summer activities (alpine slide, coaster, ropes course, mountain flyer, etc.), come for a Friday night movie on the plaza, or bring the bikes for some incredible mountain biking.  Watch for summer info in May at!

1.  Mineral Basin.  The first time I came to the end of the tunnel and viewed Mineral Basin I was blown away by its stunning beauty.  It’s simply breathtaking.  There is something magical about skiing in Mineral Basin, it’s truly an elixir for the soul and definitely my favorite part of skiing Snowbird.  Mineral Basin offers skiing for ALL levels and never disappoints.  My most memorable moments skiing the Bird have happened here, so don’t forget to make it into the basin when you ski the Bird.  Pure magic.

Mineral Basin

Mineral Basin, Snowbird, UT

There you have it, my top 10, and ten reasons that will make your ski experience at Snowbird one to remember, not to mention, much less intimidating :).