So far, the ski season of 2019/20 in Park City is off to a fantastic start. While November was warm and dry, a huge storm during the Thanksgiving holiday completely changed the start of the season. Three to five feet of snow fell in the Wasatch Mountains and suddenly coverage was great and ski season was on! After a bit of a break, the Park City area saw 10+ inches of snowfall during the weekend of December 7-8th, adding to our already strong base. As it stands, the Wasatch Mountains are sitting at 105% percent of their normal snowpack for this time of year, and with more storms on the way, it’s shaping up to be another great season!
Park City Mountain Resort Conditions
As of January 3rd, 2020, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) has 40 out of 41 lifts open leading to 288 out of 341 trails. To date, PCMR has received 111 inches of snow for a base depth of 38 inches. In total, 5,709 acres are open. Personally, I think it has been a great start to the ski season at Park City Mountain Resort. 9990, the highest lift on the Canyons side, opened December 5th, which is earlier than usual and exemplifies a strong early season base. Nearly a foot of snow fell on the weekend of December 7-8th, which skied incredibly deep and felt like midseason powder skiing.
Deer Valley Conditions
As of January 3rd, 2020, Deer Valley has 21 out of 21 lifts open leading to 98 out of 103 trails. To date, Deer Valley has received 108 inches of snowfall for a base depth of 47 inches. Deer Valley opened on December 7th to a solid base and a wide range of open runs to ski. With all that being said, having the right gear and properly tuned skis will help you make the most of the open terrain. If you need any last-minute ski tunes, Rennstall at Snow Park Lodge in Deer Valley offers a wide range of wold class ski tunes. Especially popular this time of year are the the Basic and Full Tunes, which take care of your bases and edges so your skis can reach their optimal performance level. You can also get a boot to binding test done to ensure your bindings and boots are set up properly.
Our Go-To Early Season Runs
Even with an above average snowpack, it can be tough to know which runs are skiing the best on any given day. Generally speaking, Dutch Hollow (far skier’s left of the 9990 Lift) on the Canyon’s side has been skiing fantastic after our recent storms. It’s steep, deep, and almost all of the roots and rocks are covered; however, it should be noted this run takes some effort to reach and is for experts or intermediates wanting to test their mettle on more advanced terrain. On the Park City side, Shaft Trees, which consists of the area under the Crescent Lift, have been really fun and soft. This area has nicely spaced aspen trees that create that classic Rocky Mountain feeling. At Deer Valley, Orion, which is a double blue, has excellent coverage and even better views. Orion starts at the top of the Empire lift, where you can catch views of Mt. Timpanogos, the Heber Valley, Bonanza Flats, and all of the Park City Valley.
Local Weather Resources
Another great way to get familiar with the conditions in the days and even weeks leading up to your trip is to read the weather report on a resort’s website. Park City Mountain Resort, for example, has a great page with a weather forecast, base depth, and snowfall statistics for the season. Deer Valley Resort has the same. Beyond the information provided by the resort, there are still many ways to get an idea of how the weather and conditions will be during your ski trip.
After making coffee and getting my breakfast together, the first thing I do each morning is read the Utah Opensnow forecast. These discussion-style forecasts were started by Evan Thayer. Throughout the ski season, Evan updates the blog with a discussion on the day’s weather and future weather trends. Because the forecasting is specifically related to the Wasatch, the Utah Daily snow reports are incredibly helpful for translating complicated forecasts into tangible snow amounts. On top of the forecasting, Evan helps plot out when the snow will fall so you can plan your “sick days” accordingly.
While there are many weather websites out there, most diehard skiers and weather nerds prefer weather.gov, which is the government’s official weather reporting service (NOAA). When searching for and reading a weather forecast, knowing what elevation you are reading is incredibly important. You may be disappointed if you’re looking for the weather at the Jupiter Lift area at PCMR, but you’re actually reading the forecast for Main Street. Weather.gov has a detailed map on the right hand side of every forecast, where you can zoom in and click a specific area you would like to see the forecast for. I typically search for Park City then zoom in on the map and click on a high-elevation area where I like to ski. The weather forecast changes dramatically, and you can see the exact elevation for the forecast below the map.
By: Cal Perfal, Content Writer