Utah sucks, moving to Tahoe
This thread is mainly for those who will be deciding their ski bum location for next year. Hopefully it helps. If you live in UT and don't like what I have to say I don't care. I think it is honest and fair.
I moved to Utah last fall. I got myself an Alta/Bird pass and decided to just ski all season. With 650 inches of snow this year you'd think I'd be happy but I've been itching to get the hell out of here all year and here's why.
First of all I've never ski bummed Tahoe before but I did put in a couple seasons at Mammoth so that's what I have to compare it to.
One of the first things I hated about UT right off the bat before any snow even fell was how damn ugly the place is. LCC and BCC are obviously beautiful but those are just small little canyons. The entire SLC area (and Wasatch Front for that matter) is dry, dirty, brown and boring. On top of that there is mining everywhere. There is mining in downtown SLC (hard to believe uh), there is mining before the entrance of the canyons (talk about being one with nature), and you look across the valley and you see a range of mountains... that have been mined to hell. Then you go to the waters and you see gas drilling and industry all over the place. And every where you look there is a huge fucking church on every hill top saying "wtf is wrong with you, why aren't you part of our cult?". So all and all between the mining, the industry, and the in your face churches it is a very ugly place (if you want Zion, Bryce, Arches, Moab, and Grand Canyon you might as well live 6 hours away in Vegas). This is compared to CA where there are waterfalls, lakes, rivers, streams, canyons, meadows, and wildlife for hundreds of miles. CA means water, life, and green... UT means dirt, brown, and industry.
Then we got the vibe. Look I don't have anything against religious people, I'm sure if you go to a church meeting all the people would be very pleasent nice people, but do you want to hang out with them all day? In California you turn on the TV and the local news will be debating on how many marijuana plants people should be allowed to legally grow... in UT you turn on the TV and the local news is talking about if adults should be allowed to consume alcohol and if so how much and if so when and if so should others be allowed to watch the pouring of that alcohol for fear that they not go to hell too. That is how much of a huge divide in vibe there is. I can tell you it is a very very weird and uncomfortable feeling to turn on the local news and hear them talk about if the state legislatures will be able to get approval from the church elders or the apostles (whoever the fuck they are) in order to pass some resolution. If you want to know about the vibe in UT lookup "Zion curtain", I assure you that you will be shocked as I was. So I have nothing against the people of UT, they all seem very nice to me, but the whole place has a very subdued, boring, bland, and frankly sometimes weird vibe. This is in comparison to CA where everybody gave off such energy and positiveness and happiness. People in CA are happy and energetic and are about life and partying... people in UT just are. So the vibe in UT sucks.
Quality of life sucks in UT. The housing is cheap, plentiful, and nice, the gas is cheap, the jobs are plentiful with very low unemployment, but for some reason the qaulity of life still sucks. What can I say, just an ugly environment, a subdued vibe, in your face religion, and everything closing early makes you forget about how cheap everything is. I have more fun and get a more uplifting feeling in CA walking down the street to the grocery store then I do in UT when I really really try to find a good time.
So those are gripes I had before even the snow fell. Let's get to the skiing.
First of all Alta/Bird (even though I spent %80 of my time at the Bird) have awesome snow and terrain. You probably already know this but they do. They have the best snow of the major resorts and I'd probably say the second best terrain next to Jackson Hole. So surely a place with the best snow and the second best terrain would be awesome for someone like me who thought he was only interested in terrain and snow and nothing else right? Well it rocked at times and many time it didn't. Here's why.
First, although the snow is awesome in UT, the weather SUCKS. I bet you Mammoth would have twice as many sunny days in a 700 inch year then AltaBird would get in a 200 inch year (yes I know those do not exist but theorotically). First of all Nov and Dec were bone chilling cold. Three feet of fresh snow is great and all but when it is -20 at the top of the tram with 60mph wind and 2 feet visible I'd rather it just not be snowing. I dunno, maybe I am not core enough for Alta/Bird but I prefer to be able to see where I ski and be able to feel my extremities as well. It is my understanding the artic conditions at the beginning of this year were a bit unusual but the clouds were not. It is ALWAYS overcast in UT. I had the brighest fucking yellow ski goggles you could find and I still couldn't see most the time because there is never any sun and the canyons are so steep with some many gullies that even when the sun is out and it is noon you are still skiing in heavily shaded terrain. For someone that is used to CA weather where a storm drops 3 feet one day and then it is bluebird the next, UT weather was very depressing for me. Cold and overcast. The cold I could deal with but the overcast just made me fucking suicidal. Hell we even had only like 1 sunny day in the month of June too! It's ridiculous! Seattle gets more sun! The clouds arrive in Oct and they don't leave until the summer. Even if you go 3 weeks with no snow it will still be dark and overcast the whole time. Very depressing. So the weather sucks.
The terrain. Ok AltaBird (although mainly Snowbird) has some awesome expansive terrain. That is if you can get to it and it has snow. For someone used to doing quick laps off chairs in Cali I can tell you all the hiking and traversing took some getting used to. I at first hated it. I swore at all the fucking traversing needed at Alta and all the hiking needed at Snowbird. Then I realized it was just because I was fucking lazy. I realized the traversing was really nothing more then a lateral run that required very little work and that the hiking was a small price to pay. So I got used to it. Then I started to actually appreciate it because it kept some people off the terrain. But ultimately by the end of the season I was back at swearing at all the hiking and traversing realizing that in the time it took me to do 1 run at Alt/Bird I could have done 4 in Cali. But you know what, those gripes were only valid assuming I could get to the terrain. Utards brag about their snowfall and terrain but they don't mention they conspire together to fuck you. So many times the whole freakin mountain would be completely closed due to avy danger except for one pathetic lift. And the thing is unlike in CA where if you get 3 feet you get it all one night, then patrol does morning avy work, then you're skiing everything at opening, in UT they get 3 feet over a period of like a week. Instead of dumps they get consistent snowfall everyday which means patrol will fucking close everything for like a week and then take their time opening shit up (not their fault though as I know there are a thousand avy paths at Alta/Bird). But even if the terrain is open and you are willing to drag your ass to it after you get off the lift you then have to dodge all the rocks. For a resort that averages 500 inches of snow you'd think rocks wouldn't be a problem at LCC right. Bullshit. I was wearing my rocks skis until Feb 1st! Even then you are still going to be tearing them up on the traverses at Alta and the Cirque at the Bird. Hell even with a 200 inch base you'll be lucky if there is ANY snow on the Cirque Traverse. It is quite annoying constantly tearing up your bases on a 200 inch base. So the terrain is constantly closed, when it's open you really got to work to get to it (and everyone else is hot on your heels), and even in a high snow year you are still hitting rocks. This is in comparison to CA where everything is open and covered after the first dump and you can lap up runs all day long nonstop right off the lift.
I may be nit picking here a little bit but also on the snow and terrain the vert is short and the snow for some reason vanishes (I'm not talking about getting tracked out although that happens too). Even though the Bird is a legit 3,100 vert you are basically going to choose a 1,000 foot run (more likely 700 feet off the Cirque) and then make your way back to the lift with the other 2,000. You could do some trasversing and squeeze out another few hundred vert but basically the vert is not long. Now Cali is not exactly known for their vert either but at least their 1,000 to 1,500 runs can be done fall line from top of chair to bottom so you can run laps nonstop like crazy. And what I mean by the snow vanishing in LCC is that even with 650 inches by May there is like none left. I don't get it, Mammoth would get 300 inches, have 50 degree sun everday all winter, and still have good coverage into June. LCC will get 650 inches, have overcast and cold all winter, and then come May things are bare. That is something that just made no sense to me and still confuses me.
Another thing about the skiing I don't like at LCC is the vibe. In Cali skiing is very social. Everyone is skiing under the chairs and hooting and holering, everybody is basking in the sun as they stand in the lift lines, there is music playing everywhere and people throwing snowballs, Cali is FUN! At Alta/Bird things are kind of subdued. It's not very social skiing since everyone is hiking or traversing to their own little part of the mountain, there is no after-skiing place to chill at and relax, it's always overcast which blunts things a bit, it just doesn't have a fun partying vibe on the slopes. May 1st at Snowbird NOBODY was there, and those that were there acted like they almost wished they weren't. At Mammoth May 1st the place was packed! With people singing, dancing, bands playing, snowballs throwing, people hiking, biking, fishing, drinking, pond skimming, the place ROCKS! By April 1st in LCC the place is like fucking dead (deadier then usual). No I didn't go to High Boy but I doubt 1 day would make up for a whole season/spring.
Anyways so that is my take on UT for all those who may be deciding to move there. I don't care for the area and even though the terrain and snow is awesome, for some reason the weather and vibe just killed things for me. I'm looking forward to Tahoe. I tore down Tahoe this winter because it doesn't get the snow consistency of LCC but after living in UT I really don't care about a couple rainy days.