You Are Invited to Lunch at Seven Summits

By Skimum Paula

I slipped off my boots and into warm fuzzy slippers.

Snowbird 7 Seven SummitsNo, I wasn’t back at home after a long day skiing.  I was still at Snowbird at the entrance of the mysterious Seven Summits Club, the exclusive enclave for the area’s corporate and skiing elite.  Annual memberships to Seven Summits start in the 5-figures, but its dining room is open to the public for a buffet lunch on Fridays-Sundays from 11am-2pm.  I think this might be the best-kept secret on the mountain. And I’m sharing it with you.

Snowbird 7 Seven Summits Hot Cider

I would’ve been happy with just the fuzzy slippers, but then my Hubby and I were escorted past the stylish leather sofas and chairs to a table with real linens and silver.  A nearby patron took one look and exclaimed, “This is so civilized!”  Water glasses were filled, drink orders were taken.  At the suggestion of our server, Hubby and I both opted for the hot cider, which arrived with a cinnamon stick and spices on the side.  A great start.

Next, we headed to the buffet, a well-executed assortment of soups, salads, breads, cheeses, salamis, sushi, hot entrees, sides and a roasted beef tenderloin sliced to order by the chef.   I’ll leave the food reviews to others more qualified, but everything we tried (and we tried and tried) was very good to delicious.  To finish, we sampled various sweets from the dessert tray including, a fabulous chocolate mousse (not too rich), a coconut dream bar (one of my favorites), and a piece of the self-proclaimed “best peanut brittle in the world.”  I couldn’t argue that statement.  Yummy!

Snowbird 7 Seven Summits Buffet     Snowbird 7 Seven Summits Peanut Brittle

We ate.  We relaxed.  We talked.  All the ingredients to a great meal.  Compared to other buffets, this was a relative bargain.  Adults are $30, children (7-12) are $17, and children 6 and under eat free.  Yes, the fuzzy slippers are complimentary and come in all sizes.

Snowbird 7 Seven SummitsSeven Summits is located underneath the bridge adjacent to the Plaza.  To get there from the Plaza, take the stairs between the Tram and the Ticket Office down to level 2.  Then, take a hard left.  Go through the outside doors, and turn left again.  It’s at the end of the walkway where you can warm up, relax and pamper those toes.

Skimum Secrets: Easier Way Down

By Skimum Richelle

With some of the tallest peaks and deepest powder, Snowbird is known for offering some of the best skiing in North America – making it a veritable Mecca for hard-core skiers and snowboarders. This hard-core, bad-boy image can, frankly, be a bit intimidating for those of us with (let’s call it) a more humble skiing skill-set.  Insiders know, however, that Snowbird has some of the West’s most varied terrain making it easy to find your comfort zone and, more importantly, find some unexpected fun.

Ski Trail Sign - Easy

Myth:  Snowbird is only for advanced skiers
Yes, Snowbird has a lot of advanced terrain and many runs have those ominous, black diamond or even double black diamond warning signs…but there are also miles and miles of green and blue runs to enjoy.  So, while “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” you can still sparkle on some of these:

From Gadzoom Lift

  • Lunch Run, Big Emma (good warm-up runs)

From Mineral Basin Express and Badly Express Lifts

  • Lupine Loop (winding groomed trail on back side; great green run)
  • Powder Paradise
  • Baldy Express Lift (any trail; wide open runs, fun even when ungroomed)

From Peruvian Express Lift

  • Chip’s Run, then switch to Rothman Way or Who Dunnit (usually-groomed, wide blues)

From Gad 2 Lift (new)

  • Bananas (nice long, winding run; often groomed)

Better yet, just come ski with the Skimums and we will show you the best the mountain has to offer!

Gadzoom

Download Snowbird Trail Map (PDF)
Download Mineral Basin Trail Map (PDF)

Why You Should Be In Utah During Sundance

By Skimum Paula

Sundance Film Festival Ski Snowbird UtahYes, this is ski-related!  In fact, it might be one of the best ski tips posted (today).

One of the best things about Utah – after skiing and hiking and five national parks – is the Sundance Film Festival.  Held over 10 days in late January each year, the entire region is flooded with filmmakers, stars and movie lovers hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big thing … or Bradley Cooper.  While most of the hoopla is focused on Park City, other venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance get their share of the spotlight and gridlock. The Festival is a lot of fun, but it can be a bit chaotic.  Just try making a dinner reservation!

Sundance Film Festival Ski Snowbird Utah

What you might not know is that this is usually the best time to ski.  While everyone is packed into theatres all along the Wasatch Front and Back, the lifts are empty!  I suppose, Mr. Cooper and his entourage don’t ski.  While the paparazzi may snap the Kardashians on the slopes of Colorado (yes, they did, and it wasn’t pretty), they are notably absent from Mineral Basin, Empire Peak and McConkey’s Bowl.

And, if you haven’t noticed, the snow is amazing right now, the sun is shining, and we’re not freezing our popcorn off!

So, if you’re a local (or want to live like one), hit the slopes of Snowbird during the Sundance Film Festival, or use your free passes for Deer Valley, Alta and Park City that came with your Premium Pass.  You might even get to ride the lift with Bradley or Brad or Leonardo after all.

Keeping A Promise To My Son

By Skimum Kathy

Promise_1Today I kept a very special promise.  The promise was one I had made to my 19 year old son who is currently serving an LDS Mission in McAllen, Texas.  His birthday was last week and we had planned as long as I can remember to spend his entire 19th birthday skiing.  In Sam’s mind he would finally have escaped the grip of school work by 19 and be able to focus on “the finer things in life” like fresh powder and “vertical feet”.

Sam was born just into the New Year during a gentle, quiet snow storm.  He always loved winter and could play in the snow for hours as a toddler.  Skiing was second nature to him.  He would work all summer to earn money for his season’s pass.  He glided down the mountain with ease and a happy “whoop or holler” to let you know the joy he felt with each turn.

When I returned to skiing after a long mid-life hiatus, Sam was my biggest supporter.  I would send him photos from the snow covered Wasatch mountains and he would text back a smile and encourage me to “take a run for him”.  If Sam had to be in class he wanted someone to “whoop and holler” down the mountain on his behalf.  Sam knew that the “ski gals” as he affectionately called them made me laugh, and that careening down the side of a mountain provided unspeakable joy even to a middle aged carpool specialist like me.

Midway through his senior year of high school, Sam decided the time to serve a mission had come.  He wanted to keep a promise he had made to himself to give two years of his life in service.  When his call came to the Southern tip of Texas, Sam was excited to learn Spanish and live in “the great state” of Texas.

Promise_2On July 16th he flew over his beloved Wasatch mountain range headed south.  He gave all of us assignments to work on while he was gone.  He made me to promise to keep skiing.  “Keep skiing with your friends mom”.  “I need you to do that for me.”

So today I kept my promise.  I “whooped and hollered” through fresh powder for Sam.  I hope he could hear me in Texas.

Finding Great Bargains On Ski Apparel

…In the Salt Lake Area

By Skimum Valerie

In my home, there is almost nothing worse than paying full price for your ski apparel.  Luckily, we live in a great place that offers myriad opportunities to find great bargains.  Be sure to check out these stores and save on your next purchase:

Columbia_logos

Columbia Sportswear Outlet Stores
Columbia offers some great deals through their two outlet stores (Park City and Traverse Mountain).  Better yet, Columbia also owns Mountain Hard Wear and Sorel (boots) and sells selected items in their Columbia stores.  The Park City location tends to offer a better selection of Mountain Hard Wear products.  Don’t miss the discount racks! Visit Tanger Outlets’ website for coupons.

Patagonia Outlet Salt Lake City
This is a true Patagonia outlet store and, therefore, they primarily offer left over or closeout  items to sell.  They will not likely have a full line of products and will not carry all sizes, but they typically offer their products at 30% below retail price. For even better deals, check them out in March, April and May when they start getting their winter season products in.  Also visit their Facebook page for special sale dates.

KSL.com Classifieds
I have found a number of great deals while trolling the KSL Classifieds.  KSL is also a great resource for used ski equipment.

Other Online Sources:

eBay
If you know exactly what you are looking for, it’s often tough to find better deals than on eBay.  It is usually my first (and last) online shopping site.

ZB Sports
Although, ZB Sports no longer has a store in Park City, their online store offers great pricing on Arc’Teryx, Canada Goose and Spyder brand products.  I purchased one of my jackets last year from ZB.  After weeks of shopping around, they offered the best price.  If they are not the lowest, they promise to price match.  Plus, with every purchase you make, ZBsports.com will donate to local, national and worldwide charities…which charities is based on your voting, so be sure to let your voice be heard.

Did we miss a great place for bargains?  Please let us know!  Post your suggestions below.

Follow The Sun!

WHERE TO SKI AT SNOWBIRD ON A COLD DAY?

As you put your car in park you glance up at the outside temperature gauge on your instrument panel. 9 degrees…Brrrrrrrr!  For a brief moment you have visions of your nice warm bed, a cup of hot chai, and a few recorded episodes of Scandal waiting for you back at home. 

But the snow looks so good…it’s sunny…I can do this!

Mineral Basin - Snowbird, Utah

On cold mornings like this, trail choice can make all the difference at the Bird. If it is a sunny morning, my suggestion is to get to over the mountain into Mineral Basin as soon as you can.

Here in Utah, the winter sun hangs low in the southern sky for much of the season. Many of the north-facing slopes don’t get any direct sun until late morning. That can mean cold and icy conditions. Stay in the sun of Mineral Basin until the rest of the mountain warms up a bit. 

What lifts do I take?
The tram is the fastest way to sun and fun. From Gad Valley (Entry 1 parking), take Gadzoom and then switch to Little Cloud to get to the ridge line.  Peruvian Express with a quick trip through the tunnel will also get you to warmer slopes.

See you on the sunny side!

Click here to Download Snowbird trail maps.

That Other Little Voice in My Head

Ski Helmet Audio Review

By Skimum Valerie

Why Audio?
While part of the appeal of skiing is disconnecting from the rest of the world, I still need to ski with my phone in my pocket in case one my kids, clients or hubby needs…something. These days having a good audio system is almost an essential part of my skiing gear.  Good audio allows me to listen to tunes, answer/talk on my phone and hear incoming text messages. Depending on the system, you may even be able to control different aspects of your phone with voice commands. Most importantly, it allows me to keep my hands in my gloves (where they should be).

After trying nearly every type of audio toy on the market, here’s what I’ve learned–

Bronze – Ear Buds
OK, this is the worst way to get audio into your helmet.  For one, in my opinion, it is not safe.  The ear buds, while offering great audio fidelity, act essentially as ear plugs – blocking other sounds around you.  You need to be able to hear others skiing/riding around you.  Sure, you can only put one bud in your ear, but who wants to listen to music in mono? The cords also tend to get in the way.  Just say “no” to ear buds.

Silver – Corded In-Helmet Speakers
I next used a Skullcandy audio system.  They make a kit specifically designed for my Smith helmet.  It worked pretty well for me.  It came with a cord with a built-in clip enclosing a microphone and volume knob and function button.  I was able to clip it onto my goggles strap on the side of my helmet to keep it out of the way.  This system was a game changer for me.  While plugged into my phone, I was able start and stop my Snow Patrol playlist, answer calls (except from my mother-in-law, strangely) and adjust volume, all from the simple corded clip/remote.  No more digging through your pockets trying find your phone…or worse yet, fumbling with your phone on the lift – risking a 30 foot drop into a snow bank.

Downside?  The cord.  The cord can get in the way or can snag on clothing, equipment, etc.  Over time they can also wear and develop annoying shorts in one ear…or stop working completely.  Once, I even had my cord torn in half when a tree limb grabbed it while traversing Mt. Baldy.  The Skullcandy drop-in corded system is about $50 retail, but I’ve seen it for as low as $39 at Backcountry.com.

Gold – Bluetooth Audio
Now…imagine all of the benefits of the corded in-helmet systems, with none of the downsides.  Completely wireless! I now have the Skullcandy Bluetooth Audio package.  The Bluetooth unit fits on the outside of your left ear pad and has three buttons, which control all power, volume/mute and device functions.  You can even jump forward to the next song in your playlist with these buttons.  The unit is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery.  It is charged via a standard micro USB cable.

With my Bluetooth audio system, I have turned Snowbird into my second office!  I regularly take business calls while on the mountain (although, occasionally I have to explain why I’m breathing so hard).

Where Can I Buy One?
The Bluetooth does come at a price, about $180 retail.  However, after adding up the cost of multiple ear buds (some very good ones) blown in a season and the factoring in the increased “productivity” and overall enjoyment, I found it worth the price.  Before you take the plunge, be sure to shop around.  I’ve seen prices anywhere from $120-$200 for a new setup.  I’ve, also, had good luck buying them on eBay for me and my family.  Rock on!

Another Holiday Survival Guide

By Skimum Paula

Menora

The kids are home for the holidays two weeks.  By Day 2, I’m ready to send them back!

Christmas_Tree

As most women know, the holidays are seldom restful.  Presents, trees, foods, parties, sing-a-longs, trips, and in-laws can lead to a wee bit of stress around the yuletide log or menorah, and when our finely-decorated home becomes a mountain of wrapping paper filled with Cheetos-laden lava, then just watch out, because mama is gonna blow!

If that isn’t your house, then YOU should be writing a blog! 

Red_Velvelt_CakeThe holidays are stressful, and our hubbies, boyfriends and kids will often tell us to, “Chill,” and that we don’t need to do so much.  However, if we don’t make the marshmallow sweet potato soufflé that is on the Thanksgiving table every year, then the first words after grace will be, “But we always have it.”  And when my teen son sweetly asked me at the last minute to make the Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake Layer Cake on the cover of Southern Living magazine, of course, I said, “Yes, darling.” (Reminder – hide or cancel that magazine)

Most gals I know are great multi-taskers.  Most are also terrible delegators – myself included.  I’m making a promise to myself this holiday season to do more and delegate more.  Sound oxymoronic?  It might be, but this is the plan.

I will carve out a half-hour each day (doesn’t matter when) to be alone.  Like my beloved iPad, I need to recharge my battery, too.  So, when I wake up, I will either hide under the covers for 30 minutes or pick a time during that day to lock the door, drive off and stare at the mountains, ski a few runs on my own, read a book, whatever, but I will put it on my iPhone calendar with an alarm and do it.  The idea is the same one Skimums talk about all the time – when we give a little to ourselves, we can give more to others.

Roasted_TurkeySecond, I’m going to delegate more.  My kids like to cook.  So, they will be assigned (in a way that makes them think they volunteered, of course) to make a meal.  I don’t care if we have popcorn for dinner, because, as we all know, they won’t complain if they cook it.  Actually, in the past, I’ve ALWAYS been surprised at the seriousness they’ve displayed when doing this.  I must be a better cook than they tell me I am.

These are not silver bullets because, in the end, we’ll still do more and stress more than usual, but maybe we’ll be a little more self-aware and self-assuring.  We are our own worst critics.  Know that these are “problems” brought out of our desire to give to others, a good thing.  Chocolate is a good thing, too.  We just don’t want it to weigh us down.  Happy Holidays!  Cheers!

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.

Snowbird_Sushi

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.

Snowbird_Paula_Family_Dinner

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).

Snowbird_Arcade

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.

DROP THE KIDS! HIT THE LIFTS!

By Skimum Paula

Skimums_Chairlift

Nice thought, huh?  Looking out the window, the snow-capped mountains are calling.  World-class ski resorts are only minutes away.  The laundry can wait!  Every year, people in Texas, California and New York spend months of planning and thousands of dollars to bring their families for a few precious days to the winter playground in our own backyard.  Yes, Utahns are spoiled, but do we really take advantage of it? Do we give ourselves permission to enjoy this natural wonder, this beautiful terrain and this incredibly fun activity? 

Work, housework, volunteer work.  Women, especially moms, can come up with any number of things they have to do (usually for others) but, if we’re being honest, we seldom make time for ourselves.  Skimums at Snowbird is designed to do just that.  Last season, several Salt Lake moms contacted the Bird describing how they ski there together weekly and wondering whether they could get some free hot chocolate.  After successfully becoming a destination ski and summer resort, the good folks at Snowbird (who also live here) realized that this was a pretty interesting group of gals made up of parents, professionals, natives, and transplants.  It was a group they wanted to know, understand and cater to better.  Skimums was born.

Skimums is a free weekly meetup group at Snowbird for intermediate/advanced women skiers (lift ticket not included).  Beginning this season on Wednesday, December 4th at 9:30am at the Gadzoom lift, Skimums provides women the opportunity to meet and ski and laugh out loud at the Bird with other gals.  Stay for a few hours or all day.  There is no schedule or agenda.  Like the best endeavors, they collectively decide and go.  It is just a lot more fun to ski with others, and skiing with other women is (admit it, admit it) more enjoyable than snowplowing with cold, whiny kids or getting that ever-so-helpful advice from a spouse.  To paraphrase filmmaker Warren Miller, the family that skis together, spends half the time yelling at each other!

And guess what, Skimums seem to come home in a really good mood.  No one can explain it – exercise, camaraderie, lack of oxygen, lack of teen angst, who knows!  They just do, and their families noticed.  Hubbies started encouraging their wives to go, another spontaneously bought his wife new skis for Valentine’s Day, and one son made his mom promise to ski with the ‘Mums while he was away on his mission.  True stories!  Come to find out, families were ok with a few unfolded tees and mismatched socks.  There are some pretty funny stories on the Skimums.com blog about these and other random ski items  The bottom line is that when women give a little to themselves, they’re able to give more to others.

If you haven’t skied since parabolic skis were introduced, then don’t despair.  It’s actually a lot easier (and warmer) with the newer gear, and Snowbird is working on a “Returner’s Permit” to get these gals back on the slopes.  In conjunction with SkiUtah’s Learn to Ski program (for first-time skiers) in January, these programs offer incredible deals on lift tickets, equipment and lessons.  Snowbird is also providing Skimums a series of four group lessons starting the end of January – for free.  These were hugely popular last year and got the gals seeking out powder the rest of the season.  Watch the blog for details.  So, break out those oh-so-flattering ski pants and plan to see your friends (the ones dashing out of the carpool line) on the slopes!