Archive for March, 2009

The neverending season?!

Spring PowderJust a week or two ago, I was wondering how brown some of the ski runs might be on April 12, the resort’s scheduled closing day. Temperatures were reaching summertime levels and I thought that my mountain bike would be moved forward in our garage sooner, rather than later. Well, my bike is still in the back of the garage and the snow is once again piling up. I’m actually happy about the change in the winds as I had my best powder day of the season last Thursday, my second best today (see photo) and I’m hoping that tomorrow might top them both (I’m heading up early to catch a ride-along with our snow safety team)!

However wintry it seems now, the seasons will be changing and I’m starting to feel a bit like I’m a high school teacher getting ready for summer break. Because I keep plugging away all through the summer while the majority of my coworkers are getting ready to switch to their off-season jobs. But, in seven short months many of those same people will once again start descending on the resort and we’ll go back to doing it all again. It’s just the neverending season of working at a ski resort!

Photo credit: me, this is one of our IT guys riping down The Shaft this morning.

Social Media Bites

I had the pleasure to have dinner last Thursday with two lovely Park City PR mavens, Krista and Libby, along with the enigmatic Peter Shankman of Help a Reporter Out. Our dinner at Shabu was delicious and stimulating in it’s own right, don’t miss the sweet miso glazed black cod, but the conversation was even more so.

Our chat was a great mix of stories, both personal and professional, some of which I’d get racked over hot coals if I mentioned here! But to me, the key ingredient was the fact that everyone was extremely passionate about what it is that they do and how they do it. It’s refreshing to know that people like Peter, who are leading the charge in social media, are so passionate and do really practice what they preach.

I’ve also had the good fortune to be able to meet and chat (briefly) with Chris Brogan, Frank Eliason and Gary Vaynerchuk and each one was likewise amazingly interesting, intelligent, approachable, helpful and genuine in person. So, I guess that what I’m trying to say in this post is, go ahead and take a bite out of social media, I know that it will treat you well!

Photo Credit: Flowizm (this pic is of the dish Shabu Shabu, not the restaraunt Shabu here in Park City)

Week of Recovery

Nope, I’m not referring to the mini-rally on Wall Street. I’m referring to the fact that I’m ‘recovering’ from helping to put on one of the biggest events of our season, the IDPC (Intelligent Design at Park City). After spending most of Thursday through Saturday away from my desk, I’m just about to caught up, so I thought that I’d post a video showing highlights from the event (it really was quite cool – jumps, to jibs, to superpipe, to quarterpipe):

The Recession Claims a Resort – RIP Tamarack

tamarackI first saw the news on Twitter this past Sunday that Tamarack Resort was finally hitting the end of their financing and having to shut down all operations as of the closing of their lifts today. Now that today has come, I find it very strange to browse through Tamarack’s website and while I see that they have done a good job of noting their closing throughout the site, they still have left all of their site’s content up aside from a couple of PDF links on their home page. I almost of feel like I’m going to an open casket viewing at a funeral…it’s a bit surreal.

Up until now, it has been interesting watching the impact of the current economic issues on the ski resort industry, surprisingly there are resorts that are having a banner year. However, it appears that most of the industry is off by a good chunk and is cutting where possible so that they can withstand what looks to be at least another year of lowered revenues. Personally, I’m fortunate to be working for a company that has it’s finances in control and isn’t burdened with mountains of debt like Tamarack was. Even so, it still hasn’t been smooth sailing as there were a number of people, including a co-worker in my department, let go just over a month ago.

In spite of this, I still think that the winter resort business is in good shape even as our economy bumps along. I know many people that have managed to carve out time and money to take their winter ski or snowboard trip even though it looked like it wouldn’t happen this year. The airfares that were through the roof to start the season have started to come back down. And, truth be told, there’s still nothing like hitting the slopes, whetherit’s an epic powder day or just a quick cruise around the mountain.

In the meantime, RIP Tamarck.

Cat Skiing with Park City Powder Cats

I skied with Park City Powder Cats about four or five years ago. I’ve been meaning to get back out again for some time now and today was finally the day! I was a bit leary as we drove out this morning, partly because it hadn’t snowed much for the past week and also because the day was starting out cloudy without any blue sky poking out anywhere.  However, once we pulled into the cabin in the beautiful Thousand Peaks Ranch, that serves as the base camp for the Park City Powder Cats, I started to get a good vibe – helped along no doubt, by the views of the magnificent bowls that we’d soon be riding!

After a quick safety briefing from lead guide Johnny, some tasty muffins and a last minute shot of coffee, we clambered into our chariot for the day, ably driven by Jacon, along with our two guides Megan and Jason. Dropping into Giant Steps for our ‘warm up’ run, we all could sense that this would turn out to be a great day. The wind had been whipping along the ridge before we dropped in, but once we started making turns we enjoyed a healthy serving of a few inches of fresh Utah powder piled upon a nice and supportable base.

After this first run, our guides seemed to be happy with our riding abilities and we quickly moved into territory that was steeper and deeper. That along with a clearing sky made the day zoom past. By the time we were snacking on a few delicious cookies for desert and heading out to No Name Bowl for our last run, the clouds were again closing in, but with all the blue sky, powder – and some corn that we got to play in all day, it almost seemed a fitting close to have the skies darkening again.

As I sit on my couch relishing the great day, I wanted to jot down a couple of quick tips for anyone thinking of booking a cat skiing trip:

  • If it hasn’t snowed for a few days prior to your trip, don’t worry. There is lots of terrain at snowcat operations. For instance, Park City Powder Cats has over 40,000 acres of terrain in the private ranch that they operate on. Since they only run a maximum of two cats per day with each cat making from 8-12 runs per day, their terrain can offer virgin powder runs for days and sometimes even weeks after a storm!
  • Try to book with a group of friends if you can, because cat skiing is an experience that is best when shared.
  • A day in a snowcat can usually beat a heli day (for a fraction of the cost). You can’t ground a snowcat due to weather – you realize that it’s cloudy when it snows?! The snowcat will often beat you down to the bottom of the run and since it’s only for your group, you can leave packs and other items in the cat for the ride back up. Plus, you can get about as much skiing and riding in with a snowcat as you can with a helicopter because your day usually lasts longer and is more uninterrupted.
  • Snowcat trips are also not just for hardcore skier and riders, if you feel comfortable riding advanced terrain in a variety of conditions, you’ll have an absolutely fantastic time. Remember, there are no crowds on the slopes and no lift lines!

Finally, for some ‘eye candy’, I’ve embedded a slideshow with pix of our trip below:

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