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October 25, 2011

Brian Head Trip Last Weekend

Just got back from Brian Head this weekend. Bad news is that Bump and Grind went out of business. Sky was one of the good guys in Brian Head, but eventually, you gotta earn a living and Bump and Grind just was not getting it done.

Spent some time at the Grand Lodge, where the food prices are still way too high, but it has a great and much needed atmosphere. Local Businesses are hit or miss. Waiting to see if this winter, skier visits will rise to the 140k level.

The weather was beautiful, though you can really see and feel the change of seasons coming. Leaves were almost all gone and a little bit of snow was still left from the storm a week and a half ago.

Couple big trips planned for the season, but the best will be when Hayden comes up for a week and teaches private lessons for Tera, Jess, and the kids. 22 year old ski instructor who is in college and no longer instructing. Skied with him last season and he has a remarkable way with teaching and I offered to put him up and pay him what his day job does plus cover costs. Hell of a deal. And I get private lessons for everyone. Tera has decided to give skiing another shot this season. If Hayden can get her competent and to enjoy it, it is worth any cost.

Side note--I also get Hayden to ski with me in the afternoon after the lessons are done. And to hang out in the evenings and talk football and enjoy life. That is the best part.

Anyway, couple posts upcoming for the season. I am getting back into my groove. Feeling a little better. And planning for the upcoming season.

Posted by Justin at 07:00 PM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2011

Brian Head Preparing for the Upcoming Season

I got a note from the good folks at Brian Head Resort about their annual season pass sales where they bring the sale to you. Usually they have special deals just for that day, especially during their pass sales in Vegas. Not sure if this year will be the same story.

In their Press Release, they had a blip about Childhood Obesity. Got me thinking about how great the sport has been for my own kids and what the real impact of our love of skiing has been on them growing up.

It is not about the health aspects of the sport for us. It is about bonding and escaping the grind of the city. The smog. The crowds. The noisy chaotic lifestyle.

A day skiing is simple. It offers peace. You put away your blackberry. You have the snow that absorbs the noise of the world. And for me personally, it is my break from the reality of my life.

For my kids, it is a break from school and rules and classrooms and teachers. It is a chance to challenge themselves and to exhaust their bodies and senses.

Buy your season pass for Brian Head. In St. George, you can do it all this weekend at Findlay Subaru. I am excited to have another season on the mountain and excited that Brian Head is such a family friendly mountain. If you want to enjoy a family experience, skiing is my personal favorite. It is expensive as hell if you don't prepare in advance. But with a season pass and your own gear or even a season rental, it is pretty reasonable.

Posted by Justin at 11:15 PM

April 07, 2011

PreSeason Brian Head Pass Sale

Brian Head is having their annual pre-season pass sale:

Brian Head Resort 2011 - 2012 Pre-season Pass Deals

Free skiing and Snowboarding for the rest of the year, with purchase of 2011-2012 season pass

With each 2011-2012 season pass purchase you can ride free for the rest of this season. What a deal...that's over a month of free shreddin. Not only that, but right now season passes are at the lowest price they will be for the entire season. There is no better Brian Head deal!

2011-2012 Season Pass Prices
Until June 2nd

Buddy Pass 2 adult passes purchased together
$739

Adult 26-61 years
$429


Young Adult 18-25 years (out of High School)
$339

K-12 Student Kindergarten-12th Grade - Must Show ID
$199

Family Plan K-12 Student
$159

Valid with purchase of regularly priced Adult pass or Buddy Pass to make a family package. Must be a dependent child (i.e., you must claim them on your tax return).

Sr. Silver 62-69 years Must Show ID
$199

Sr. Gold 70 + years Must Show ID
$129

Freedom/Corporate Fully Transferable
$769

Iron & Garfield County K-12 Student
$129
Must show current student ID or enrollment papers - NO EXCEPTIONS

Iron & Garfield County Student Rental
$89

Adult Rental Package
$199

Child/Sr. Rental Package
$129

Prices Subject to Change: Passes are non-refundable, and except for the Freedom/Corporate pass, non-transferable

Get your passes now. I made the mistake last year and won't again. Cost me a couple hundred extra bucks.

Posted by Justin at 12:21 PM

March 05, 2011

Brian Head Mardi Gras

Just got this from the PR folks at Brian Head:

Brian Head Resort Presents Mardi Gras 2011

Who: Fun-loving skiers and snowboarders

When: Saturday March 12, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (See below for exact times of various activities)

Where: Brian Head Resort, 329 South Highway 143, Brian Head, UT 84719 (BrianHead.com / (866) 930-1010)
What: Brian Head Resort Mardi Gras 2011

Ski/Board Poker Run 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.- Registration starts at 9 a.m., 3rd floor of Giant Steps Lodge. Show down at 3:30 p.m., 3rd floor of Giant Steps Lodge. Winner receives 2011/2012 Season Pass. No cost.

Just Jumps Jam 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. - Registration starts at 9 a.m., 3rd floor of Giant Steps Lodge. Two 20 minutes sessions starting at 12:30 p.m. in the Progressive Park, first two jumps on medium side. Great prizes from Tyrant Snowboards, Skull Candy and Smith Optics.

Mardi Gras Costume Downhill Parade - Meet at the bottom of Chair 2 at noon or catch up with the parade when they come by the top of Chair 3 about 20 minutes later. All participants will receive a bounce back coupon for a cheap mid-week lift ticket.

Mardi Gras Music, Limbo, Dance and Costume Contest - Behind Giant Steps Lodge 11 a.m. Winner of each contest will receive free lift ticket.

Beads will be given away throughout the resort all day

Discounts in Brian Head Resort food and retail outlets for those wearing a costume, mask or beads

No additional cost to participate in any events

I will be at BH on Sunday, but sadly, I am going to be in Vegas for a concert on Saturday night. Sounds like a blast though.

Posted by Justin at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)

February 03, 2011

No Snow for a Month Then Snow Superbowl Weekend

The Weather makes me angry. I have surgery next week for my sinuses and all I wanted was an epic January. I guess if I want snow I need to live in downtown NYC.

Brian Head got a little over a foot this week and Sunrise got almost two. I am debating taking Friday off and going to Sunrise. I miss Lupe, her Volkswagen moguls, and a lift right above you to mock your struggles. For some reason, that is always the first run I want to take each day. No warm up. No get your ski legs under you. Just let's head to the top and do Lupe real quick.

Sorry for not blogging more, but the damned weather has been so lacking of snow for the Southwest that there is little sense driving to go skiing.

Feb is starting better already. I HOPE!

Posted by Justin at 01:33 PM

December 23, 2010

Powder Karma

So we drove all night to Brian Head after I got off work so we could get here for the EPIC storm system that dumped over 5' in the last four days.

Unfortunately, I am working this week and my boss is on PTO so I am covering the work hotpager. Given my work ethic and love for my job, there is no way that I would sluff off from my duties to ski on a mega-powder day...

So I take an early, long lunch starting at 11 and hope to get a half a dozen laps in during my normal break. First run I drop into Engens and it is sickness. Hammer down, I am 3/4 of the way down the face and I hit a snowboarder's rut, my ski digs, my binding comes open, and I face plant yardsale style.

Except no ski. White skis on a powder day are probably a bad idea. I hike a full 30 yards up the steepest part of Brian Head poking my pole into the snow like I am doing an avalanche training session. Nada.

45 minutes, Jake, Jer, and Jacko lap me and finally a guy looks 50 yards down the hill at the bottom and sees what looks like a ski. He heads down and sure enough, I wasted every bit of energy and stamina I had saved up climbing and digging and postholing and working... my ski left without me.

Moral of the story--I paid the price for my lack of work ethic. Thankfully when I came back, it was exactly as dead as expected over the Christmas week and I didn't get fired. YET!

Brian Head is not the steepest and best mountain in the world, but on a day like today, after a hot tub session, there is not much better. Runs on Engens and Devo's were spectacular. Snow is heavy and wet so tomorrow will be like concrete, but today was worth the drive last night.

Posted by Justin at 05:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 04, 2010

Two Weeks In at Brian Head

This season is turning out quite nice already. I got my first day in on Thanksgiving and while I would not call one lift being open "epic" by any stretch, it was not WROD either. Matter of fact, the following day, BH was 60% open and today for the first time, all 8 lifts are running.

The base is excellent meaning that by Christmas, the resort should be exceptional if they can just manage a couple more storms.

My daughter spent another day in Kids Camp on Friday and she always enjoys the heck out of it. She did not want to come back to Phx. Sadly, I had to work and could not go out and we had to leave the next day so the couple runs I took will have to tide me over another week until I can break free and head north.

I believe BH had 80" in November which is outstanding.

Posted by Justin at 02:41 PM

November 17, 2010

Brian Head to Open Saturday

Stoked. Not much else to say. White ribbon of death of course, but still, it is skiing in Southern Utah. I am debating heading up after the Brophy-Mountain Pointe game.

Posted by Justin at 11:48 AM

March 16, 2010

6' in Last Week at Brian Head

Title kind of says it all. Ginger, Jackson, and my dad are at the condo this week, but sadly I am working in PHX.

Today was epic. First full day of bluebird after a sick three foot storm on Sunday. I need to quit my job.

Posted by Justin at 12:50 AM

January 25, 2010

Perhaps the Best Ski Day Ever at Brian Head

I hate making a pronouncement like that but in the last week BH has gotten over 4' of snow and Saturday we cut first tracks on Dunes and by first tracks I mean we took at least four laps down The Plunge before anyone else even tried.

Saturday was 15 degrees, sunny without a cloud, and almost zero wind. Plus four feet of fresh.

And even at that, we were done around noon because we had seen and done all there was to see and do. Roulette. Check. Face of Giant Steps and Engens. Check. Several laps on Dunes. Check. Hit all the usual powder stashes. Skied all the places we love to ski.

Here is how bad it was--after a perfect ski day, we were so thoroughly bored with Brian Head (5 years of 20 days will do that to you) that we spent Sunday SNOWBOARDING. First time for me, Jake and Jackson. Dude, I am sore. I really don't like falling on my face, but falling on my ass and worrying about broken wrists is worse. I am sore. Tired. Have a headache. Jake broke his goggles he fell so hard. And in general I suck ass at it. Jake and Jackson are much better than I am.

I hate to speak ill of a bluebird powder day, but I am just growing so bored of skiing the same terrain over and over. That said, Jarrett has been in lessons every trip this year and because he is an advanced intermediate and there are very few of them here, he gets either a private lesson or a lesson with 1-2 other kids at worst. He is really coming along.

Which brings me to another point. Jake talking trash. He tells me how bad I suck and how much better he is than me at the top of Engens. I say, tell you what, let's race to the bottom and see. Knee to waist deep pow, steepest place on the mountain (not saying much). I blew him away. So then he says, "Well I meant best form, not fastest." OK, we head down to the next big drop and we try again so I can see his form. He ate it about halfway down, total faceplant yardsale.

It helps having my brand new Nordica Zeros. I am not going to lie. Good gear helps a ton. Skiing the pow was effortless and there is no way to keep up with me when my skis are 20mm wider tip-waist-tail than his. But I ain't telling him that. I will keep my superiority as long as I can afford newer better gear which will be pretty much forever given his grades this year. He is a much better skier than student and that ain't saying much.

Jackson on the other hand just quietly goes about shredding.

Posted by Justin at 05:31 PM | Comments (1)

January 18, 2010

Promotions from Brian Head

Just got an email from the promotions folks at Brian Head:

Brian Head, UT â Several new lodging/skiing/boarding packages and multiple promotions offering 50%-off adult lift tickets have been introduced at Southern Utahâ s Brian Head Resort, the best-kept skiing and snowboarding secret in the Southwestern States and one of Americaâ s "Top Family Getaways," according to the Family Travel Forum.

Just opened in December 2009, The Grand Lodge at Brian Head is offering its Ski Packages starting at $189 per night based on double occupancy ($94.50 per-person). The package is valid Sunday thru Thursday and includes accommodations for two in a Resort Queen or a Resort King room, two Brian Head Resort adult lift tickets per night stayed and two appetizers per day at The Lift Lounge & Patio. The package is offered through 4/11/10. For these and many other events and packages, visit www.grandlodgebrianhead.com or call (435) 677-9000. Enhanced with the most modern of amenities, the new, 100-room Grand Lodge at Brian Head pays homage to the majestic beauty of the southern Utah landscape with stone, timber and log walls, rough-hewn wood, wood beam ceilings, stone fireplaces and bronze metal and granite accented furnishings. Guests can enjoy an indoor pool with cascading waterfall, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a fitness center and the Red Leaf Spa. The Lodge is pet-friendly, offers complimentary parking and all rooms are non-smoking.

Long-time Brian Head lodging favorite, Cedar Breaks Lodge and Spa is offering a Stay 3 Ski Free package, a three-night package with check-in on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. It includes accommodations in a newly remodeled King or Junior Villa and four all area lift tickets for just $114 per night based on double occupancy ($57 per-person) â for a total, three-night-package price of $340. Last night to check in with this package is 4/6/10. More information is at www.cedarbreakslodge.com or 1-888-AT-CEDAR. Cedar Breaks Lodge has been serving Brian Head visitors for over 13 years, and its accommodations include 118 comfortable Villas with seven different floor plans perfect for couples and families up to eight people, underground parking, 24/7 front desk, (two) restaurants, a cocktail lounge, indoor pool with a spacious deck, steam room, dry sauna, (two) fireside hot tubs, gift shop and the Cedar Breaks Spa. At Cedar Breaks Lodge guests will find all the amenities and service second to none that will make their next visit to Brian Head memorable and enjoyable.

Each package requires a deposit with a 72 hour (prior to the arrival date) cancellation policy, does not include tax or gratuities, and is subject to availability.

Brian Head is offering steep discounts: A $39 package for first-time-beginner skiers or snowboarders 13 years-old or older. It includes a 2-hour morning lesson or 2-hour afternoon lesson, a lift ticket and rental equipment. This offer is good January 22, 23 and 24, 2010. The ski area is also offering 50%-off adults lift tickets Monday through Friday during non-holiday periods for those presenting a police, fire or military ID at the ticket window, for everyone purchasing 8 gallons or more of fuel at KB Express or Terrible Herbst locations in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah (www.terribleherbst.com), and for all Snow Jam Preferred Card holders (www.brianhead.com/special_offers). Those purchasing a Dixie Direct Book and presenting their Dixie Direct membership card (www.dixiedirectcard.com) at the ticket window will receive a "Buy one Get one FREE" Brian Head Resort lift ticket. (Holiday periods: 1/16-1/18; 2/13-2/15)

Check the place out. I love Brian Head and it is a great place to learn or just enjoy a few days on the snow. Not steep and deep, but with the current storm coming, it is still incredible skiing.

Posted by Justin at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

December 27, 2009

Brian Head Ski School

Took a while to update the site with details of the latest trip because I was working the whole time I was in Utah this trip and got out three days but it was for an hour here hour there. This trip reminded me what I love about Brian Head.

Jarrett was still really struggling trying to get out of his wedge. If we got on anything steeper than a green, he went right back into it and it makes life horrible to try and teach because I lack patience and in general did not have the time to spend an entire day on the slopes anyway this trip.

We took him to the Kids Camp at Brian Head in part against his wishes. He wants to ski with Jake, Jackson, and me who are all level 9 skiers and he is a level 4ish though after three days in ski school he is probably approaching level 6. So needless to say his 15 year old uncle and 13 year old brother don't really want to ski with a level 4 eight year old.

The Kids Camp is so awesome. Because he is beyond learn to ski, he got a class with two kids on two of the days and was the only kid with the instructor on the third day. Drastic improvements in three days. They covered the entire mountain including the main Giant Steps area. Good meal. Great lessons.

Net is that Brian Head may lack steeps, but the snow is usually good, the staff is great, the town is friendly, the prices are right, and it is an absolutely outstanding mountain to learn to ski at.

Wednesday was a very good day with a foot of fresh, but the upper mountain was closed so we only snuck in about an hour and a half during my lunch. Before that... not so much. But the resort is 100% open and there is good snow cover. Now it is just timing the big storms.

Posted by Justin at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2009

Snow Storm on its Way Tonight

A decent sized storm is expected across UT tonight and tomorrow and hopefully it will add some fresh to Brian Head before we leave on Wed night.

Went out yesterday and it was corduroy and a pretty pleasant day all things considered. Good weather. Not crowded at all. Didn't ski the whole day, but took a few runs with Jarrett.

I am stuck working at the condo with the new job, but sent Jake and Jackson off and took Jarrett to ski school for the day. He is still wedge turning and needs some help. Only two kids in his class which should get him some quality time.

The fireplace and living room are done. Brought my old Sony stereo up and some speakers. Got a Bluray player. Getting settled in nicely.

I will post the results of the storm. In the meantime, hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.

Posted by Justin at 03:23 PM

November 29, 2009

Unexpected Storm Dumps 12" at Brian Head

Not that it opened any new terrain, but the 12" will certainly help. Totally unexpected storm. Started snowing about 2PM as we were coming off the mountain and never let up.

Today is straight up bluebird, but the scary part is it is a foot of powder over plenty of rocks. I didn't hit any rocks on the man-made packed areas but skiing blues and greens on man-made snow is only fun for a little bit unless you are 5.

Nonetheless, a few more storms like this and the resort will be ready to rock for Christmas.

Bad news for Utah folks down here is the resort is closing all but two lifts on weekdays until Christmas. Can't blame them because yesterday was absolutely dead for a holiday weekend on a Saturday. I hope things pick up. Damned economy.

Posted by Justin at 10:48 AM

November 28, 2009

New Snow at Brian Head

It is snowing at Brian Head today. Second day of the season only consisted of a couple runs with Jake and Jarrett because it was such flat light due to the snow, it was cold, and it was basically ice with a dusting over it. Combine that with only a few green runs open and it is a recipe for disaster. But it was good to get my legs under me.

Lindsey spend the day in ski school again and had a blast. She is hooked on skiing and Brian Head is a great place to do it. Full day kids program is normally $95, but with a season pass it is $68. Because she is 5 and under, she gets a free season pass. Net is that it saves me $27 a day and the program is great.

Condo is almost done. They still need to finish the mantle over the fireplace, but for the first time the living room is finished. Busted out the Murphy's Oil and cleaned the entire place.

All in all, a very good weekend. Tera got to relax because Lindsey was gone in ski school all day. Jake and Jarrett have been pretty mellow. Heading home tomorrow AM.

Only real negative--the heater core in the suburban is hosed and we cannot park underground because of the yakima topper on top. It is cold as hell.

Posted by Justin at 07:07 PM

March 17, 2009

Saving Abel to Perform at Brian Head

For those that like Hard Rock (and I do):

In collaboration with Area 107.9 and Miller Beer, Brian Head would like to announce “Chill on the Hill”, which will be taking place March 20-22nd. The Area 107.9 “Chill on the Hill” party will be joined by Virgin Records band, “Saving Abel” and rising bands “Otherwise” & “Taddy Porter”. They will be performing live on Saturday March 21st in front of the Giant Steps Lodge.

Saving Abel is on tour with Nickelback right now and sing the songs "Addicted" and "18 Days", both of which are pretty kick ass.

Anyway, I just got back yesterday from Brian Head and am heading up a week from today for a wedding, so no go for me. Jake is bummed.

BTW, check Sirius's Octane for more hard rock. =) I cannot imagine life driving back and forth to Brian Head without Octane and Faction. Those that have Sirius know what I mean.

Posted by Justin at 08:14 PM

February 18, 2009

Brian Head Weekend

I think I have officially run the course at Brian Head. I hate to say it, but we spent three days this weekend and I only skied one, despite pretty good snow. Problem is severalfold:

  • Wind
  • Lack of diverse terrain
  • Lack of advanced terrain
  • Lack of trees leading to all of the above
  • Slow lifts
  • Four years of skiing the same stuff just doesn't get it anymore

I am always waiting for the perfect powder day and thus far this season, we have not gotten it. It is either so windblown that the snow is in Colorado by the time we can ski, it is so windy they close the lifts, or the storm that was supposed to be coming never materializes. I hate to complain, but I think it is time to sell the condo (though with the market the way it is, I might have to short sell it) and move on to whiter pastures on the other side of the fence.

The skiing was great if you are not a spoiled semi-local homeowner. =) We skied Devo's Pitch for the first real time since it is either closed or hard to get to most of the time and it was awesome. If there were more areas like that and they were longer and larger, I might never get bored. Of course we skied some Pow on Dunes and did a run down Roulette and a one down Engens.

Actually, we didn't even clean the place and didn't do any real work. We just sat and chilled and enjoyed the place and the long weekend. It was surprisingly slow for a holiday weekend, but that may be because the the renters were a church group and not a bunch of drunken punks.

Oh, and we got the new puppy neutered while we were gone. I will post pics of the dog when I get some new ones. Little Weimer pup that is high strung and head strong.

Posted by Justin at 03:19 PM | Comments (5)

December 28, 2008

Outstanding Conditions at Brian Head (and My Ride of Shame)

First, the conditions at Brian Head are outstanding. 100% Open and they just opened Dunes yesterday afternoon, unfortunately after Jarrett and I had finished skiing for the day. Jake, Jackson, and my dad were still out and hit powder run after powder run on Dunes while I was packing up gear and getting Jarrett back to the condo.

That brings us to the ride of shame. First run of the day we went up Giant Steps. The weather was extremely cold and the lift operator's station at the top of the lift was covered in ice where they could barely see. On top of that, the operator must not have been paying much attention. Jarrett and I went to get off the lift and he wrecked and cut me off, so it was either fall on top of him and hope I didn't blow out a knee or stay on the lift and wait for them to stop it. They didn't stop the lift when he wrecked, so it was back down the hill.

Concerned ski patrol and lift folks at the bottom. "Are you OK?" I felt like the guy that you always hate that gets on the lift to the top of the mountain, breaks a femur at the unloading zone of the lift and leaves you stranded, hanging in mid-lift for an hour. I was that guy. Thankfully Dad, Jake and Jackson were two lifts back and skied down with Jarrett or I don't know what he would have done.

Jarrett started the day out right for me and ended it early costing me powder runs on Dunes. Today I stayed at the condo with him for the day since he didn't want to go out. But you pick and choose your moments and honestly, it is worth missed runs and missed days to spend time with the kids. We went shopping at Walmart for Jake's birthday and we ate Sonic.

Dad said the conditions were unbelievable today too. Fast snow and still great coverage. Brian Head is ready to roll for the rest of the season and everything is open and running.

Posted by Justin at 07:28 PM

December 26, 2008

Two Feet at Brian Head

Brian Head got dumped on last night with over two feet. Wind is dying down and the temps are warming up tomorrow. Perfect day coming up.

We are here for until New Years. See you all on the hill.

Posted by Justin at 08:39 PM

December 15, 2008

Chair 2 at Brian Head Now Open

Brian Head opened Chair 2 today:

Chair 2 is now open! Chairs 3, 5 and 6 are also open today, as well as a great terrain park with 10 features off of Chair 3. The lift ticket price today is $25 for everyone.

Four of the 8 lifts are open, though it only amounts to a handful of runs. Brian Head could receive as much as 2-3' of snow over the next few days which will open a bunch more terrain. The resort received 7" of snow yesterday so this could be the first real large snowstorm of the season. And the rain is moving northeast from LA/Vegas as we speak.

Posted by Justin at 10:26 AM

November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving at Brian Head

Brian Head received almost a foot and a half of snow while we were there between Tues and Saturday, but it was still the White Ribbon of Death. That being said, the skiing was great on very limited terrain. Nice and fresh. Good coverage.

My wife is a saint. When asked to go to the condo for Thanksgiving, she said no way in hell. I started to plead my case and she didn't hesitate in saying, "That doesn't mean you can't take the boys and go, I just don't want to."

I made turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and some gravy and it was a little bit difficult to cook at 10k feet. We normally stick to simple stuff like spaghetti or frozen pizza, but it turned out OK.

Hoping for some more snow and for cold temps. They were making snow on Heavenly Daze trying to get things open on Giant Steps from top to bottom.

Posted by Justin at 02:17 PM

November 03, 2008

Season Pass Purchase

Just bought my season passes. One adult plus three kids--$986. Not a bad deal. I wanted to get a buddy pass for a friend which would have only been an extra $220, but could not make the ski pass sale in Vegas.

I am praying for snow.

Posted by Justin at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2008

Trip to Brian Head

I just got back from Brian Head and it was beautiful. First snowfall of the season was this last weekend and it dumped 6" on the mountain. Leaves are still changing colors so you have bright orange leaves with snow on the ground. I love the change of seasons.

I know I have been slow blogging lately, but had some work issues to deal with. I am finally done with the work situation and am taking a leave of absence from my job to focus on school again. I am going back for a Masters Degree and doing some work consulting on the side.

Anyway, expect more updates and more blogging.

Posted by Justin at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2008

Owner Trees Dies, Village and Quad Among Other Things are in Limbo

Brian Head Resort owner Jim Trees passed away last week:

Brian Head, UT - The primary owner, President and CEO of Utah's Brian Head ski resort, Jim Trees, died suddenly on Monday, June 2 of cardiac arrest while on his daily walk in Tiburton, Calif. He was 69.

Since purchasing Brian Head Resort in 1992, Trees implemented many new improvements at the ski area including the installation of an extensive snowmaking system, a vehicle maintenance facility, and most recently two new chairlifts and a skier bridge to connect the formerly two separate mountains, Giant Steps and Navajo. He was the driving force behind master planning and entitling the resort's future expansion into an adjacent 1,700 acre parcel of land, as well as working to secure entitlements for a future new skier village at the base of the current Giant Steps base area...

Prior to moving to Utah, he was the founder, Chairman and CEO of Fischer, Francis, Trees and Watts, Inc., an SEC-registered large investment management firm in New York City. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. in International Finance. Trees relocated in 1997 with his two children from his Utah ranch to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Condolences to the family. Trees owned the place for 16 years and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what is next.

One thing that we know isn't next is the skier village and the giant steps high speed quad that has been running on the cable access channel in a continuous loop everyday.

Posted by Justin at 10:53 PM

June 08, 2008

Brian Head Skier Visits Update

A little behind the times, but I found this spreadsheet from the Forest Service on skier visits for some various resorts. Net is that in 2006-2007, Brian Head got 134,000 skier days which was down slightly from the year before and down 10,000 from 2004-05. I was told that this year, despite the new interconnect, things were more or less unchanged. I am waiting on the Utah annual report to come out to update my skier visits page.

Also, word is that the new skier village that was proposed is dead. The real estate market is incredibly slow. And there are five major new condo projects in Brian Head right now.

Posted by Justin at 05:26 PM | Comments (3)

April 27, 2008

Brian Head Still Has Plenty of Snow

I was at Brian Head this last week and it is amazing that on the 24th of April, the resort could easily remain open.

I spent two nights in Brian Head on my trip to Wyoming, one up and one back. I took my grandfather's body to Lovell for his burial service and spoke at another funeral. We did two funerals since we have so many family and friends that could not make the Wickenburg services. It was a little odd to haul him 1500 miles in the back of my truck, but if you knew him, you would understand how much he would enjoy the mere thought of me and my two uncles hauling him back home.

I spent the last three years hoping to take him to my place in Brian Head. The back of the truck in the parking garage was as close to my condo as he got, but I got his old ass up there.

I am slowly settling in to the groove of things again. Sorry for the slow blogging, but it takes a while to recover.

Posted by Justin at 05:38 PM

April 01, 2008

Opening Day, NBA Playoffs, and the End of the 2007-08 Ski Season

A little time to reflect on the last ski season. This year, I skied Beaver Creek for the first time, skied Wolf Creek for the first time in three years, and got my usual days in at Brian Head. I got in about half as many days this season as last--12 versus 25--but enjoyed it far more.

Couple great memories for me. First was
Jarrett skiing his first black diamond
. He isn't even in the same ballpark as Jake, but that is a function of being 7 versus 11. But he discovered a love for skiing this season and now looks forward to it. I am excited about this year and looking forward to going from having two skiing boys to having three kids that rip it up when Lindsey gets a couple years older.

Second was Jake and me going to Wolf Creek with Tim, Erich, and JP. It has been far too long since I took at trip to Wolf Creek and this trip magnified how Jake has improved from our last trip three years ago when he was a Wolf Pup. When we hiked Alberta Peak and he left me behind, I had a new sense of humility and some pride that all the time and money that I have spent on gear and passes and gas and hotels and condos has paid off. We have something that both boys enjoy and that helps us bond.

Finally, there was my trip to Beaver Creek. I have rarely enjoyed a ski day that much.

I am going to try to get one more weekend in before the season is over.

Posted by Justin at 02:46 PM

March 23, 2008

End of the Season Party at Brian Head

The end is near and Brian Head is already getting ready for the end of season party:

End of Season Party on the Snow!
Saturday, April 12th

Lift Tickets 50% Off!
Bounce Back Sunday for the same price
(Must show lift ticket from Saturday)

Come celebrate the last weekend of the 2007-08 Winter Season! Lots of activities and competitions with cool prizes, outdoor barbecue, discounts on food and blowout prices on retail merchandise! Activities begin at 11 a.m. and include:

  • Pond Skimming
  • Mountain Bike Race
  • Rubber Ducky Race
  • Rail Jam
  • On-Snow Putting Green
  • And Lots More!

Sign-ups begin at 9 a.m. on the 3rd floor of the Giant Steps Lodge.

I am gonna give pond skimming a try this season. I gotta do it and if Jackson goes, I am gonna convince him and Jake to do it too.

Posted by Justin at 12:06 PM

March 17, 2008

21" Last Night at Brian Head

Brian Head got 21" last night which puts the resort over the 300" mark for the year. I got the e-mail powder alert at 8AM as I was heading to chemo. The list of places I would rather be than the VA Hospital is pretty long, but Brian Head is the top of the list.

Things will mellow for me after Easter hopefully and I am going to try to get in one more good weekend.

Posted by Justin at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

21" Last Night at Brian Head

Brian Head got 21" last night which puts the resort over the 300" mark for the year. I got the e-mail powder alert at 8AM as I was heading to chemo. The list of places I would rather be than the VA Hospital is pretty long, but Brian Head is the top of the list.

Things will mellow for me after Easter hopefully and I am going to try to get in one more good weekend.

Posted by Justin at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2008

The La Nina that Wasn't

On November 4th, I posted about this season's La Nina and the predicted effects on the Southwest:

"La Niña has been closer to above-normal North and below-normal South trends," Pringle said with regard to snow conditions.

Snowfall in the San Juans could be average or a bit below normal. The National Weather Service predicts La Niña's effect on New Mexico and Arizona to be much more apparent, with less precipitation and higher than average temperatures.

In a word--NO. Not so much. Turns out that Wolf Creek in the San Juans is already sitting at very close to 500" and there are still almost two months left in the season. Sunrise and Snowbowl both opened before Christmas and Snowbowl has already received 200"+ for the season.

I am left to ponder the fact that despite almost 100 years of studying El Nino, the folks that make climate predictions have still been unable to predict weather paterns with any accuracy. Last year was an El Nino year, but despite predictions for record snowfall in the Southwest, we got far below average snowfall, so much so that Arizona Snowbowl barely opened for two weeks. This year is a La Nina year and snowfall is above average at three of the four southwest resorts that I ski (Wolf Creek, Brian Head, Sunrise and Snowbowl).

But we do have a looming climate crisis. It is not rising ocean levels, but rather food shortages and starvation:

The United Nations is stepping in to try to rescue Tajikistan from a social catastrophe brought on by severe winter weather. But even if an emergency UN appeal for assistance generates a robust international response, it is questionable whether Tajikistan will be able to avoid entering a downward spiral, featuring pestilence and widespread hunger...

China’s inflation accelerated in January to 7.1 percent - its rate highest in more than a decade - amid snowstorms that fueled a spike in food costs, according to data reported Tuesday...

But economists have raised their inflation forecasts for the first half of 2008 after freak snowstorms battered China’s south, killing millions of farm animals and wrecking crops.

Chinese leaders are especially worried about the political impact of rapidly rising food costs, which hit the country’s poor majority hard.

The winter even included snow in Baghdad for the first time in a century:

Snow fell on Baghdad on Friday for the first time in memory, and delighted residents declared it an omen of peace.

“It is the first time we’ve seen snow in Baghdad,” said 60-year-old Hassan Zahar. “We’ve seen sleet before, but never snow. I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished,” he said.

It has been an odd year. One that has been wetter than expected in the southwest, which we badly need. Somehow, I don't think that the Chinese, when confronted with calls for them to cut greenhouse gasses to combat global warming and when faced with a massive famine crisis because of an abnormally cold winter, will be inclined to take steps to be more environmentally friendly. And I don't think that the myriad of articles promising the demise of skiing are particullarly grounded in fact. Scares like this in particullar:

PARK CITY, UTAH (AP) — Another winter storm headed to Utah could bring two feet of snow and frigid temperatures to the Wasatch mountains. But don't let that fool you.

Utah's trademark Greatest Snow on Earth could be a memory by 2075, say a pair of Colorado climatologists, who warn that global warming could shrink the ski season to a mere two months a year.

Some interesting reading on the subject can be found at Warren Miller's New West Blog. He is skeptical of the global warming hysteria so prevalent in the ski industry too. What if we are wrong about the long term predictions for global warming? 2008's snowfall in Asia provides a disturbing prediction of what global cooling or a new mini-iceage will look like.


Posted by Justin at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2008

Jarrett's First Black Diamond

I took Jake and Jarrett out on Saturday at Brian Head. Jarrett is skiing Jake's old K2's which are probably about 10 cm too big at 125. We are working on parallel turns, but he is still in the wedge / snowplow / pizza stage.

It was really incredible for me to take him out this last time. I have had six years of Jake skiing with me almost every trip. To the point where I don't even enjoy going out unless he is with me. We talk trash to each other and make fun of ourselves and other skiers. We both really learned together because when I got started again in 2002, I hadn't skied in 9 years and wasn't that good even then. It brought back a bunch of memories of Jake and I going up to Sunrise so many times. There was probably a foot or so of powder that we took Jarret down and it reminded me of Jake and me skiing Phoenician at Sunrise on our first real powder day together. Both of us postholing down after about the fourth wreck in the first 50 yards.

Jarrett's experience wasn't a lot different than Jake's. I remember Jake crying and saying "I can't. I can't. I want to go home. I just want to go home. I hate skiing." Jarrett had perhaps the hardest wreck I have seen in a while, right onto his shoulder. After he got over the initial shock and back to the chair, I told him that we have to take the chair back up because The Plunge is on Dunes and it requires a lift ride to the top to ski back to the base. By the time we got to the top, I had convinced him to take another run, this time on a blue. And we finished the day skiing groomers with a little bit of packed pow for another half a dozen runs. He got back up and kept going. And went home and told mom how much fun he had.

After we took Jarrett back to the condo at about 2:00, Jake and I skied the rest of the day. We were laughing about Jake and all the stuff we had done when we sucked. =) I spent most of the trip back to Phoenix daydreaming and thinking back about Jake learning and where he is now. And I kept thinking about what it is going to be like when Jake is 15 and Jarrett is 11. When we are hiking and skiing Wolf Creek and Alberta Peak or the Knife Ridge. And thinking about how exciting it will be when Jarrett is able to keep up on a powder day. Then when he really starts getting it. Making parallel turns and using his poles.

And then I got thinking about all my complaints about Brian Head and how Jake and I have graduated beyond what it offers. But how it is perfect for Jarrett. And why I ski. Is it just about a rush and me and pow and steeps? Or is it about having Jake there by my side, riding the lifts, talking, connecting, and bonding? We learned together and we keep learning together. And for the first time, Tera and Lindsey stayed for 3 days and it was enjoyable. Lindsey stayed out of stuff, hung out, slept in a bed instead of the playpen, and didn't want to come home. And it won't be too long before she is skiing groomers at Brian Head for the first time.

Posted by Justin at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)

February 16, 2008

Still Sick with Sinus Infection

I have been slow blogging the last week as the sinus infection has had me feeling like crap. Dizzy. Headaches. Tired. It just sucks.

I am at the condo this weekend and going to put on the skis for a couple hours. Jake said the conditions were great yesterday as the most recent storm dropped a foot on Thursday and today is bluebird and 40.

I got the edges on both my skis and Jake's skis done as well as a good waxing. They were both due. Hoping good conditions hold and that the resort isn't overrun with weekenders here for President's Day. Busiest weekend of the year.

Posted by Justin at 10:47 AM

January 25, 2008

Brian Head and Wolf Creek Both Receive 10" Last Night

Title says it all. Both resorts received nice snowfall totals from the latest storm, with more to come.

Here is where they differ:

  • Wolf Creek total snowfall for 2007-08: 300"
  • Brian Head total snowfall for 2007-08: 145"

I still cannot get over how great the skiing was at Wolf Creek two weeks ago. This storm has some good snowfall potential for both resorts, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that Brian Head gets some more snow before my trip north after the Super Bowl.

Posted by Justin at 11:17 AM

January 02, 2008

Record Breaking December for Snow at Brian Head

From the Brian Head website:

Brian Head Resort received 99 inches of snow during the month of December, which breaks a 15-year record! And weather reports are predicting a BIG storm coming in this weekend. All 65 runs are now open.

I can tell you that conditions are not "ideal" in that coverage is not complete in some of my favorite areas and remains with early season obstacles, but compared to last New Year's Day, Brian Head is way ahead of the race. Problem with things isn't December's 99" of snow, it is October and November not building a good base.

Expect things to be much better this weekend after the next storm hits. I might be going to Sunrise for the first time in three years to get in some weekend skiing if the storms materialize.

Posted by Justin at 09:11 PM

December 29, 2007

Photos of the Brian Head Trip

The new photos are up in the gallery of the trip. I will be adding more later, but these are what we have for now.

Here is Jake poaching some pow off of the Navajo Bridge today.

Jake skiing powder

And here is Jackson doing the same.

Jackson skiing powder

Posted by Justin at 03:55 PM

A Little Night Poaching

Poach v. - to ride a closed run, a closer area, or to ski without a valid ticket.

Texas Ski Pants n. - wearing blue jeans while skiing

Kodak Courage n. - To do stupid sh** simply because there is a camera pointed at you

I have been whining because I am getting bored taking green runs at Brian Head. Well, I figured out how to entertain myself. Topless night poaching during a snowstorm in Texas ski pants. Video quality sucks because it is completely dark. But commentary is great. Not great conditions, but we have a location that you can drop into from the car and pickup down below. I didn't get to ski Loveland Pass and do the whole hitchiking thing while in Colorado last week, so this was at least worth doing.

Posted by Justin at 02:50 PM

December 28, 2007

Brian Head Snow Update

I skied yesterday and today at Brian Head with an entire condo full of friends and family. I mean mad house. We packed 9 people into the condo and it was overflowing. We are lucky we didn't get busted for all the noise we made during the first half of the ASU-Texas game which was in part some serious profanity aimed at Rudy Carpenter. You gotta get rid of the ball. Nah, probably more at the offensive line for missing blocks and the defensive ends and outside linebackers that kept losing contain. Unless you missed it, 52-34. But enough about the second whoopin' in three games by a national powerhouse...

We have two first time snowboarders with us and another two guys that have maybe five or six days on the slopes under them. Great news for all of them is that Flint and Cameron wear size 12 and 13 boots and it happens that I have two boards and boots that fit them. Carson fits into my size 12 Nordicas that my dad usually uses and is skiing my K2's and Atomics. We have been switching off during the day. That leaves only Tim that has to rent and he got a smoking deal at Georg's, which is an awesome place to rent gear. $22 per day. And the skis are nice Atomics that appear to be only a year or two old.

The snow the first day was sketchy at best. Windblown and icy. We tried out the new Interconnect and I have some issues. There are some serious flat spots, some even uphill, that you have to get through and there isn't enough vertical to build speed to get across them. My chest is sore from using my poles over and over. The worst is between Navajo and the new chair 1. We headed over to Bump and Grind, grabbed some lunch, and took a run or two in the PM. An entire day of maybe 8 runs. It was cold, but nothing compared to Thursday.

Yesterday redefined cold for me. Standing temp was zero with a 20 mph wind. Wind Chill approached 20 below. My nice Burton gloves (and while I am not a Jake Burton fan, their gloves and some of their other gear are so well designed that I gotta use them) that couldn't keep my hands warm, even with warmers in them. I called it a day when my fingers stopped hurting and went numb because given my blogging and job, having fingers is a real plus. I have a fat pair of polypro thermals that Outersports.com hooked me up with in April. They are the warmest thermals I have ever used and well worth the price. They run under $20 for the black heavy weight ones that I have and they are well worth the investment. Unfortunately, they are in Phoenix because I decided to bring them home and wash them last trip. Note to self, never wash ski gear... wait, that probably wasn't the moral to the story. Blame Tera... nope, still not the point. Perhaps I should be a little more careful about packing. At least I brought the towels back from the house. Upside was almost a foot of fresh, which kept me fighting the cold and taking runs.

Cameron and Flint were in ski school, but the line for lessons was so long that they missed the cutoff for the AM lessons and were stuck in the lodge for half the day. Jarrett spent his second straight day in ski school and Amelia, his instructor, was absolutely awesome. I am figuring early 20's and an SUU student, but I didn't ask. She got him two days in a row and had a class of two kids in Level 3. Note to readers, TIP YOUR SKI INSTRUCTORS WELL. $10 is decent. You are gonna drop that on lunch and it at least buys the instructor their lunch and gas for coming up to their $7 an hour job.

Speaking of instructors, Carson and Timmy got Justin as their personal instructor. Private lessons baby. Timmy is tearing it up. Carson is really starting to get it. A little bit of a struggle with his right hand turns and a little struggle to stay carving on steeper stuff. I took them down Wild Ride that has about a 100 foot vertical drop that is the steepest thing on the mountain (which is sad in and of itself). That didn't end so well for them, but I gotta take them places that are more difficult every once in a while. After they fell four or five times, they both ass slid down. I took a different approach. Since it was a powder day, I got a good start, and dove face first with skis up and front slid down. Powder conditions rock.

It brings back fond memories of when I was at that stage and Jake was about where Jarrett is now. It has been 5 solid years of 20+ days and I am finally completely bored of Brian Head. Don't get me wrong, on a powder day, I would ski a corn field with a rope tow made out of a pickup truck, but unless the snow is great, the only reason to go out is to coach friends and hang out.

So here is the summary--it was cold. 10" of fresh, but at the top, it is almost completely gone from the wind and icy as can be. I stayed away from Giant Steps because of the cold and wind, but Roulette was decent once you got past the top where there was minimal coverage. Navajo was great and this is the first real time I have skied over there. I did some postholing when I tried to ski through the trees and hit some flats. The Interconnect makes life easier when changing mountains, but if you snowboard and don't like stepping out and walking/kicking, the shuttle still runs between mountains and isn't a bad idea. Chair 1 was on wind hold for a while yesterday (and that may be a recurrent theme) so the Interconnect wasn't an option until around noon. The condo realistically sleeps 6-7, 9 is pushing it. All around, a day that is memorable only because of the cold, not because of the skiing.

Posted by Justin at 07:37 AM

December 20, 2007

Running the Numbers

I use Beaver Creek as an example, but in reality I am referring to any major megaresort--you know, the ones that the ski magazines drool about. This is more an illustration of the pros and cons of major destination skiing at a high end resort (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Park City, Whistler, etc.) versus skiing at a smaller resort in the Rockies that costs half as much but also offers less. I am going to run down the resorts that I have skied and compare and contrast them:

Colorado - Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek, Loveland, and A-Basin
Arizona - Snowbowl, Sunrise
Montana - Red Lodge, Big Sky
Utah - Alta, Brian Head

What you find is that once you find a place that you really like, you tend to go there until you find a better deal, get bored, etc. So I am an Alta guy because I just like it so well because of the price, location, skiers only policy, snow quality, and experience that I never drive to the other resorts in the area. Now, I am probably going to have a tough time ever going to Vail because Beaver Creek is so awesome and I have yet to even scratch the surface of all that is there. I am not sure how to compare Beaver Creek to Vail to Keystone to Breck when you couldn't touch all the mountain on any of them in a week or solid skiing.

I am assuming that for folks with the Colorado Pass, they choose their resort based on snowfall numbers, location, or just plain familiarity. So since I haven't skied all the resorts, I leave it open for more comments and info. This is somewhat generic, but there are just too many resorts to know everything about. For the most part though, the mega resorts are that way for a reason--they have a lot to offer and all compare very favorably to the next tier or resorts.

In my mind, there are three categories of ski resorts. Megaresorts. Midsize resorts (and this is a broad category). And places that just plain blow. First, let's talk about the mega resorts. You are going to get a well developed base area, great restaurants, touristy bars, lots of high end shops, and a few high end hotels. Expect lots of folks that are crazy rich and have really nice stuff. Expect people in $1000 jackets riding $2000 worth of gear on groomers who look crazy pimped sipping lattes at the base area. Folks from the East Coast can't get this kind of snow or experience so expect most folks are destination skiers or locals that get really good pass deals or work at the resort. Lots of folks from Europe, etc. Just a different kind of guest. But folks don't come for just the base area. The mountains are massive, but you gotta have the skills to relly enjoy it. And the money to spend because it ain't cheap. EVEN WHEN YOU GET A GREAT DEAL.

The next category is the smaller Rocky Mountain resorts and most East coast resorts. Places like Wolf Creek or Bridger Bowl or Brian Head. Usually these resorts are smaller mountains and do not offer the same level of amenities as the big guys. Not as much vertical. Off the beaten path. Poor airport access. No development rights. Less snowfall. But far lower prices. So then it is a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice. All of these resorts are missing something and it is up to you to decide what you are willing to sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice shopping, dining, amenities, and nightlife but not snow. I would rather ski powder at a small resort that offers nothing (i.e. Wolf Creek) than ski crap snow at a more developed resort.

I won't get into the third category of places that just plain suck, but they are out there. Usually they have a couple old doubles that some other resort took out 20 years ago.

Beaver Creek was the first place that I didn't have to worry about a sacrifice. I look at the things that I usually am willing to give up. First, I give up base area amenities. I like to stay in town where I can afford it anyway. Then I give up nightlife. Then I give up some of the massive areas and vertical. What I usually don't give up is snow.

I can't get over the $92 price tag. So now it really highlights how good the Colorado Pass is. Season pass at Key, Breck, A-basin, and then the free days at Vail and Beaver Creek. I am just hating that I don't live in Colorado. The Beav and the Colorado resorts are so affordable for locals due to VRI's passes. I can't help but sing their praises. If you want to ski these resorts, you just have to look for deals and I am able to ski Vail and the Beav for the same price as Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)

December 11, 2007

Starting the Season and My Neck is Killing Me

The snowstorm that was supposed to dump 2-3' on Brian Head never got completely on track. Turned out to be right around 1'. That said, it helped a ton. BH is about 20% open, not counting the new terrain that cannot open due to the bridge delay. Heard from one of the ski patrol that there is a problem with one of the lift towers on Chair 2 or else Giant Steps would be open providing top to bottom skiing. They are waiting on a part.

I had two things happen that I am not super pleased about. I cut over from Blackfoot towards the Giant Steps run that had not been groomed and had some nice soft pow. Had to take a lower line than I wanted and just raked across a rock and a stump. Nasty gashes. Early season conditions don't like brand new skis. But it didn't get to the core, so a little wax should help.

The second bad thing happened on the last run of the last day. We were coming down and getting ready to grab a bite and roll home. I have a brand new set of K2 Silencer twin tips and was screwing around skiing switch. Almost down the hill. Bam, caught an edge and went down on a man made groomer, backwards. Slammed the back of my head into the slope. And to make things worse, I wasn't wearing my helmet for the first time in forever. Had on a hat instead. I literally saw stars and everything went quiet. My head is killing me and my neck is aching.

The worst falls are never on steeps (unless you are jumping off cliffs or skiing above your ability). They are on groomed greens when you catch an edge. Falling on steeper terrain means that you are hitting the ground at enough of an angle that it is a glancing blow. This was brick wall stuff.

I haven't blogged it so far, but I was 280lbs by the end of last season. I am a naturally big guy at around 6'2" or 6'3". But 280 is just huge. I decided at the end of last season that I was gonna lost 50 lbs over the summer. I started the ski season at 225lbs this year. Last Thursday, I bought new ski pants and a new jacket since none of my old gear fits me. And last season, my K2 Silencer 168's couldn't hold me at all. Way too small. Not anymore. My entire body feels different and I am a whole different skier. I went from XXL pants and jacket to wearing an XL jacket and size LARGE PANTS. And both of these are too loose.

Posted by Justin at 04:32 PM | Comments (1)

December 06, 2007

Grand Opening of New Lifts at Brian Head

Got an e-mail invitation from Brian Head Resort. Not sure if I am supposed to post it, but I am anyway. The resort is throwing a party in celebration of the new lifts and runs. You must RSVP for the party, but I think all of the other events are open to one and all.

Brian Head Resort would like to cordially invite you to join us as we celebrate the inauguration of the much anticipated expansion of our ski area. We’ve connected our Giant Steps and Navajo Mountains with two new chair lifts and a beautiful new skier bridge over the highway. Oh yes, we’ve also added nearly 35% more terrain to play on! Please join us in our celebration, and Come Ski What’s New.

EVENT SCHEDULE
ALL EVENTS HELD AT THE BASE OF OUR NEW SKIER BRIDGE.
(Please remember to wear winter clothing.)

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14

1:00 P.M. Catered lunch.

2:00 P.M. Inauguration ceremony – Grand Opening of the new chair lifts and skier bridge.

5:00 P.M. Special holiday event at SUMMIT, Brian Head's newest master planned community.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15

9:30 A.M-4:00 P.M. LIFT TICKETS 50% OFF when you bring four cans of food to benefit "Iron County Care and Share".

12:00 P.M. Free BBQ for the public at the base of the new Wildflower chair lift. Music and ongoing fun activities including a visit by Santa, snowman building contest, a special display by Land Rover of Las Vegas, and a snowboard "rail jam".

3:30 P.M. Apres ski begins. Live music and refreshments.

5:15 P.M. Torchlight parade followed by a fireworks extravaganza.


Posted by Justin at 12:01 PM

December 04, 2007

Brian Head Expecting Big Storm This Weekend

Note that the link will update over time, but as of now the National Weather Service is predicting snow all weekend:

Thursday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy and windy, with a low around 27. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday: Periods of snow. High near 27. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Friday Night: Periods of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 20.

Saturday: Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 26.

Saturday Night: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 16.

We are taking our first ski trip of the year this weekend to grab my gear for the trip to Denver and to finish some minor work at the condo.

Posted by Justin at 06:26 AM

December 02, 2007

Brian Head Storm Total is 25"

Brian Head rec'd a total of 25" from this current storm. Not enough to do more than cover the smaller rocks, but every little bit counts. This will compact and start forming our base. I am estimating that another 36" or so and at least half of the resort will be opened with groomed terrain. This just augments the snowmaking and allows them to open terrain much faster.

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, and that is why I don't ski near the edges of the White Ribbon of Death.

Posted by Justin at 08:00 PM | Comments (1)

December 01, 2007

Brian Head gets First Real Snow

The first real storm of the year strikes Brian Head:

Brian Head Resort is now open for the 2007-08 season, and Mother Nature has given us 17" of fresh powder overnight! Current base depth is 15", and we're expecting more snow today. Chair 3 is running today with 3 runs open, and a terrain park with some boxes and rails. Lift tickets this weekend are $15 for adults, children and seniors, and children under the age of 5 ski free with a ticketed adult.

The WROD might only last a few days. Let's hope this storm drops another 20" on the resort before it moves on. Build that base baby.

And hopefully this does not delay the bridge.

Posted by Justin at 06:47 AM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2007

Brian Head Video Contest - Part II

I kinda busted Brian Head's chops a couple weeks ago.

So they drop me a shout out and update the rules:

Here are a few changes to the rules for the contest:

First, if you have background music in your video, it will need to be removed before submitting the video unless you can provide written permission by the musician(s) to broadcast their music over the Internet royalty-free.

Second, if your video is posted to YouTube or another website, you can e-mail a link to webmaster@brianhead.com along with your contact info (thanks to Justin at www.ski-blog.com for the idea!). We will, however need a copy of the original video on CD or DVD in one of the formats listed below if you are one of the winners.

This is way cool.

What is not cool is using YouTube for CNN debates. I won't even comment on what happened at the debates, because others have done it already.

YouTube--cool for video contests, not cool for legitimate political debates.

Posted by Justin at 01:55 PM

Brian Head Interconnect Update

Brian Head's latest newsletter is out with updates on the Interconnect:

Chairlifts 1 and 8 are completely finished.

Great progress is being made on the Skier Bridge. The steel beams are in place for the center section and the decking is going into place. The supports for the outside sections will be finished this week and the steel will be put into place soon after. Despite the obvious drawback of not having much natural snow up to now, it's really helping to speed up the construction of the bridge.

We are planning an Interconnect Project launch in December. The date hasn't been determined yet, but when it is, it will be announced on brianhead.com and an announcement sent out to Brian Head Connection subscribers.

I spoke to someone close to the resort and our conversation was basically this--if Brian Head failed to deliver the bridge and interconnect this season, they would completely lose face with the town, the folks from NV, the local homeowners, and the taxpayers that built the bridge. That is why they have pushed and pushed to get it done. The lifts are in and load tested. The bridge is the hold up. The resort has less control over the bridge than anything else, so it isn't like there is a lot that can be done. We are now about two weeks overdue for completion, but given that we are still in White Ribbon time, it is less of an issue.

My concern has always been that I was almost bit by the folks at the Lofts at Brian Head that have failed to deliver as promised. There are a half a dozen other proposed condo or housing projects that are shelved due to lack of interest or lack of ability to come up with the money. I want credible results before I start jumping up and down and throwing $1M of taxpayer money at a project.

And all of this brings me back to the new proposed upgrades to the base area. Now, the resort has delivered on something major to upgrade the place. It isn't a bunch of 30 year old triple chairs anymore. And next year, they are planning to update Giant Steps with a High Speed Quad. They have some street cred that they can deliver on their plans. That makes me more inclined to trust their ability to improve the resort and invest in improvements that benefit the town, the homeowners, and the day trippers that come up.

And I am praying for the Pioneer Cabins lift to go in and open some more challenging terrain.

Posted by Justin at 01:42 PM

BRIAN HEAD TO OPEN DEC 1

AMEN:

Brian Head Resort announced today the opening day for its 2007/2008 winter season. The Resort will open this Saturday, December 1st with limited terrain on its Blackfoot chairlift (also known as Chairlift #3) located at the base of the Giant Steps ski area. The Resort hopes to have a freestyle terrain park featuring rails and boxes available if not this weekend, as soon as possible. The Giant Steps day lodge will also open with full services, including equipment rentals, retail, food and beverage, and ski and snowboard lessons.

“We are excited that we’re finally able to open this weekend and offer some skiing and snowboarding for our guests”, said Henry Hornberger, the Resort’s General Manager. “We know our guests have been patiently waiting, and with the recent colder temperatures, we’ve been able to make enough snow to open for the season." " We will continue with our snowmaking efforts, and open additional lifts and terrain as conditions permit."

Brian Head Resort is Utah’s best-kept secret, but not for long. Nestled within the Grand Circle of National Parks, this Alpine destination provides unparalleled scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities. Located just 14 miles from Interstate 15 at exit 75, Brian Head is a convenient getaway for families from the Southwestern desert region. Fantastic snow conditions, uncrowded trails, and affordable lodging make the Resort the ideal ski retreat. In the summer, the mild climate and pristine mountain terrain offers the perfect haven from the heat. Brian Head Resort is undergoing a far-reaching renaissance that includes new infrastructure, new amenities, new terrain, and new housing opportunities. It is the perfect place to escape and get in on the ground floor of a whole new Resort experience.

White Ribbon o' Death. But it is skiing. A little late, but it is a La Nina year. There is supposed to be a storm brewing, but it looks like it is moving to the east and going to dump on CO while skipping Utah.

Posted by Justin at 01:36 PM

November 21, 2007

Brian Head Polka Dots Turning to Ribbon

It looks like the White Polka Dots of Death as off-piste dubs them are turning into a ribbon at Brian Head.

The Kraft Family has a great timelapse webcam setup that gets most of the Giant Steps mountain. You can really see the progress on the main BH webcam and on Kraft Fam.

Still several good snowmaking days or a good storm away, but they are making snow as weather permits. Looks like there may be a good storm brewing over the next week that will at least turn the mountain white. I am hopeful that skiing will be open BY CHRISTMAS. I am trying to be optomistic, but we have had zip for early snowfall.

Posted by Justin at 10:52 AM

November 20, 2007

New Goings on at Brian Head

It is happening. There is an interconnect. Bridge is going to be done shortly. Lifts are already in and being load tested.

The resort is requesting town approval to build the new village at the Giant Steps base area. The MDP already has two more lifts approved that will create extensive new advanced terrain.

It is an interesting dillema that the town and the resort are in. There is a contingent of folks in Brian Head that would almost prefer that the resort go away ala Elk Meadows. Because most homeowners are Vegas residents, locals that live in Brian Head are the only ones that have a vote and a say in what the town does. And the resort is in the process of trying to improve, constantly dealing with the forces that like things the way they are.

I am still trying to get the Master Development Plan. I have some generic details from Ski area citizen.com, but this is a group dedicated to STOPPING NEW IMPROVEMENTS.

Here is what I know:

  • Brian Head lacks extensive Advanced and Expert terrain
  • Brian Head makes up for that lack of terrain by providing a great family atmosphere
  • Brian Head has plenty of uphill capacity to serve their current customer base
  • Brian Head is the closest "real" resort to Las Vegas and is the only Utah resort within a day's driving distance of Phoenix
  • Brian Head is undergoing a huge new expansion push of new condos
  • The resort just completed the Interconnect which increases skiable terrain by 50% and provides probably 50% more uphill capacity

So this begs the question--why is the resort increasing uphill capacity by 50% and adding terrain? It isn't like there is a problem with not enough skiable terrain or lift capacity, except maybe on holiday weekends and when lift closures happen. Why are developers building condos? Why put in an expensive base area?

We are seeing that some real "flakes" are trying to develop condo projects at Brian Head. The Lofts made promises they cannot keep and are over a year behind schedule. Maybe a year and a half behind. Have barely moved dirt on the second phase that was supposed to already be done. The real estate bubble and lots of other factors are probably going to hinder a project whose condos start at a half a million bucks at a resort that has no real rental market.

And I assumed that a resort that had not made a single improvement in 30 years wasn't committed to building the Interconnect or installing the new lifts. That the town was going to build them a bridge to nowhere. That all of this amounts to a gift to the resort with no benefit back to the town. But my lifts are done and my bridge is in and there is a bunch of new snowmaking.

I am so stoked to eat my words. I want to eat my words about skier visits and market share increasing, but it is too early to tell and this is a La Nina year and that probably means lack of snow is going to derail a lot of the early traffic. I am not sure what all the expansion is going to do from here, but this is a good sign for a sleepy resort in a sleepy town.

The resort is a great place to teach your kids. It is a great place to go and relax. I hope someday it will be a great place for advanced skiers, will have a booming condo market, and will be more than a daytrip resort for Vegas folks. Apparently that is what the resort hopes too, and what the developers hope. I am not sure it is what a bunch of the locals that vote and run the town want, but the only thing I can do is register to vote in Brian Head and cast a ballot.

Posted by Justin at 05:11 PM

Brian Head Skier Village (h/t Scott Byrd)

I remember the A-Team from the 1980s. "I love it when a plan comes together." Well, it looks like Brian Head has a master plan and they are trying to get it to come together.

Scott Byrd at Brian Head Insiders Blog reports on the new plans being laid for the skier village at Brian Head (all pictures courtesy of Scott):

The Brian Head Ski Resort seeks approval from the Brian Head Town Planning Commission to develop a new 500,000 square foot development consisting of commercial, residential and just plain old prime recreation and luxury resort property. This development is known as the Brian Head Skier Village and seeks to be the focal point of Brian Head. Although its economic benefits for the town are something almost nobody can dispute, locals are torn, finding it difficult to accept the proposed development, making the Skier Village a controversial discussion.

The Skier Village will bring potentially 270 additional condos that will be sold as a condo/hotel project. An additional 60,000 square feet commercial space will represent the central focus or “hub” for retail shops, ticket windows, ski schools, rental shops, deli(s), coffee shops, etc. Included will also be a skier cafeteria to handle 300 skiers with outdoor and fine dining with a lounge. You will also find a state-of-the-art fitness facility with pool and private club for members, owners and guests.

bh-village1.JPG

Giant Steps is in the background and this would replace the lodge at the base area of Giant Steps.

bh-village2.JPG

The map of the area looks like this:

bh-village3.JPG

More to come in my next post.

Posted by Justin at 04:40 PM

Where is my White Ribbon of Death

It is Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Normally, I am dreading the WROD, but this year, it actually is more appealing than the alternative--no skiing yet at Brian Head.

I guess that is just one side of the equation. The other is that I have two alternatives to drive to Brian Head. I can go via Page and cross Lake Powell or I can go up via Kingman and Vegas and cross Lake Mead. Both are pretty scary places right now. I am not saying they are empty, but I am saying they are going to be if we don't end the drought.

Colorado is still slow to open most places. Many of the major resorts are struggling to get their WROD open including Vail. Check Caroline at Eagle Valley Blog's post on that:

Vail, Colo. – November 15, 2007 – Vail Mountain resort officials announced today that they are moving the resort’s 2007-08 season opening day from Friday, Nov. 16 to Wednesday, Nov. 21. Snowmaking crews have been making snow on Born Free trail since Nov. 1, but early November snowmaking temperatures have been marginal. Last evening a cold front dropped into the region producing the first significantly cold temperatures that allowed for a great night of snowmaking.

She has dozens of pictures of the mountain. And it ain't good.

This is from the Brian Head Resort Webcam:

White Ribbon of Death

Posted by Justin at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)

November 19, 2007

Brian Head Video Contest

Brian Head is running a new Video Contest without using Youtube.

We want to see all the great video that you've shot out on our mountains, so we're having a contest to see who's got the best of the best footage. First prize will be a 2007-08 adult season pass (or a voucher for a 2008-09 pass if you've already got yours), second prize will be a $100 Snow Dough Gift Card, and third prize will be a $50 Snow Dough Gift card. The winning videos (and maybe even some non-winning videos, if they're good enough) will be featured throughout the Winter season on the brianhead.com website, and the winner's photo and a short bio will be posted on the site.

Here are the rules...

2. Footage may be submitted on a CD or DVD in .avi, .mp4 or .mov format.; or you may send ftp information to webmaster@brianhead.com...

All entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, December 7, 2007. The winning entries will be announced on Friday, December 21, 2007. Send CDs or DVDs to: Video Contest, Brian Head Resort, P.O. Box 190008, Brian Head UT 84719.

First, cool idea. I am really surprised that this is not user interactive and posted on Youtube. Local Phoenix Radio Station 98 KUPD did a Youtube video contest a couple months ago.

I have offered to assist Brian Head with online marketing via my site, similar to the posts that I did for Deer Valley Resort promoting their freestyle competition via Youtube and even provided the Marketing Manager for Sunlight Mountain Resort an account to post information to the site. I have sent e-mails to Brian Head since I provide tons of content about the resort, to have them add me to the press releases list and contact me when they have something interesting and want to put the word out.

I find it odd that they blow me off. I mean blow me off. Nada. Don't even return e-mails. I offer to provide assistance helping get the word out about the resort and even informed them that when you put in the Google search terms "brian head interconnect, my site is actually listed higher than theirs. Nada still.

Information exchange is not a one directional thing anymore. Blogs and things like Youtube are changing the way people get information. Let's hope Brian Head wises up. Erin Grady at Deer Valley gets it. She actually returns my phone calls and e-mails. So does Dax at Big Sky. Dave Smith at Snowbowl. Try Googling "snowbowl snowmaking" for instance.

Why is it that if you want information about Snowmaking at Snowbowl or about the Interconnect at Brian Head, you are gonna get both via my page? Why do I pop up on Google above Brian Head and just below Snowbowl and Savethepeaks?

But Brian Head continues to blow me off.

UPDATE: Spoke to Ron Burgess at the resort. Great conversation. I might have just been talking to the wrong people. Ron was genuinely interested in what I had to say and had actually read the site before we talked. Like I said, I have never met a person up there who isn't friendly. I think there is a lot of optimism about things and after talking to Ron, I am genuinely optomistic. I thought for a while that the expansion was a smoke screen because the town had stayed unchanged for so long. Progress is being made and plans are moving forward. The Interconnect is just the start. And it is done. I will be skiing on it in December if the Snow Gods cooperate.

Posted by Justin at 10:13 AM

November 09, 2007

White Ribbon of Death is Coming to Brian Head

The new Brian Head Connection is up.

Friday, November 2, 2007: Brian Head Resort has officially begun its snowmaking efforts in anticipation of another great winter season. Early Friday morning, temperatures dropped low enough to allow the Resort to start up nearly 30 snowmaking machines to help out Mother Nature in the snow department. Snowmaking efforts will continue as temperatures permit...

“We hope to have the expansion project wrapped up later this month and ready to go for December.”

I won't concede that my pessimism about the Interconnect being done by the opening of the season wasn't warranted. Fact is that the season opens on November 17th. That is the date. And the Interconnect is not going to be completed by that date. But if you don't open on time, you buy yourself a couple extra weeks and we fully expect that the Interconnect will be done by the first couple weeks of December. The hangup is the bridge. I have been saying that is the sticking point all along and that it was probably behind schedule. Not as much as I thought, but part of that is that the weather has been very mild and they are making good progress.

If it had been a good early snow year and the resort was opening on time on both sides, the bridge would be further behind due to weather and the resort would be open on time instead of probably opening the end of November or early December--at least opening in a meaningful way.

But again, credit where credit is due. I didn't think that the resort would be done this year at all when they originally pitched the idea of a taxpayer funded bridge back in the fall of last year. I am still not sure that the town is going to get a huge bump in sales tax revenue from the bridge/interconnect, nor that these specific improvements increase the property values or spur enough development to justify a million dollar bridge that realistically only helps the ski resort, if it does that right away. I think it helps get the resort sold or makes it more attractive to investment companies, but that is more of a philosophical issue than a practical issue.

Reality is that whatever philosophical disagreements I have over the role of government, how tax dollars should be spent, and whether this is a good investment, I am seriously stoked about some new terrain on the mountain and the ability to ski between mountains and not ride the bus.

I am thinking snow right now. Damned this La Nina anyhow. But the Snow Gods need to reward my faith and my tithing via property tax to resort improvement projects. I am at the point that Pedro Cerrano was in in Major League:

I pissed off now, Jo-Buu. I good to you, I stand up for you. If you no help me now, I say f*** you, Jo-Buu. I do it myself.

Snow Gods better come through. Man made White Ribbon of Death isn't what I want for the Interconnect.

White Ribbon of Death

Posted by Justin at 12:37 PM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2007

Brian Head Revisited - The Positive Side

I was speaking with an acquaintance from Brian Head earlier. I said, hey stop by the site and check out what I have to say about Brian Head, the Interconnect, etc. The response:

Not so flattering.

I have spent a lot of time paying attention to the negatives lately of the resort. I went back and read most of the 90 or so posts I did about Brian Head and it strikes me, most are either about the snow (or lack of snow), the Interconnect, the Real Estate market, etc. Very little is about why I just purchased my season pass, own a condo, and am looking forward to the season. It is time that I go back and highlight what I like and don't about the resort. This is gonna be long, so let's start at the beginning. First the positives:

1. Proximity. Location, Location, Location. Brian Head is 3.5 hours from Las Vegas, about 7 from LA, and 7 from Phoenix. It is the closest resort to Phoenix (not counting Sunrise and Snowbowl). It is Interstate the entire way from Vegas and only the last 45 miles ever has snow.

2. Great Snow. Not legendary like Alta. But 400" and the snow comes early. Not A-Basin early, but usually they have a good base by Thanksgiving and the entire mountain open by mid-December.

3. The weather. It isn't that cold compared to other resorts. That is good and bad. It is bad for snowmaking and for spring skiing, but is good becuase there are fewer nasty cold days than some of the resorts farther north.

4. People. I have yet to meet anyone from Brian Head or the resort that weren't friendly and outgoing. Most homeowners and condo owners don't own for the prestige of having a place (see Vail, Aspen), they own because they like Brian Head. There are some investors and you get idiot renters and dumb kids like all resorts, but Brian Head generally has good folks that will sit and talk and treat you well.

5. A Family Friendly environment. Jake and Jackson feel safe and take the shuttle between the mountains and back to the condo. The kids programs are outstanding. The instructors are great. Everyone down to the lift ticket sales people are great. A few of the lift operators are more on the punk kid college student side, but certainly not as bad as most resort's lift attendants and a lot of this comes from the fact SUU attracts a different kind of college student.

6. A clean lifestyle. I guess that probably hails from the Mormon influence, but Utah's smoking bans and alcohol laws tend to annoy some of my friends, but more often make the trips more pleasant (as I don't smoke and don't really drink myself).

All of these things have a flip side of course, but I wouldn't own at Brian Head if not for all of these major positives.

Posted by Justin at 02:13 PM

October 16, 2007

Local Politics in Brian Head

I have about three or four local sources of information about the goings on at Brian Head. I tend to talk and talk and talk, so my local friends are other folks that tend to do the same. Talk about the resort, the town, the real estate market, and so on.

One of my friends is Tony from Pizanos Pizza at The Mall near the base area of Giant Steps. First, Tony makes a mean pie. No doubt. He is a Dodgers fan and if you are looking to have someone to talk baseball with, you better have an afternoon to spend at Pizanos. His wife grew up in west Phoenix and went to one of Wickenburg's rival high schools. They are just good people.

So Tony and I are talking Interconnect and town and base area and growth and condos and development and baseball. Tony owned a place five units down from me in Timberbrook. I mentioned that I have such a big investment in the town, that I consider myself a local. Then I showed him my Utah Drivers License. 464 N HWY 143, Brian Head, UT. His eyes lit up.

"Are you registered to vote up here? Because if you are, I am running for Town Council."

So I am running down to Parowan to get registered.

I never stop into Brian Head without stopping by and seeing Tony. Whether it is to grab a slice or to talk baseball or to just BS, he is one of my favorite people on the mountain. I am not in the business of endorsing politicians, but I have known Tony for two years and he consistently has the same vision for the town that I do and sees the same challenges.

If you get up to Brian Head, stop in and get a slice and talk to Tony about the goings on. He pays attention and loves to talk. I mean LOVES TO TALK. But so do I.

Posted by Justin at 03:28 PM

October 11, 2007

Interconnect Updates at Brian Head Website

New updates are available at the Brian Head website on the Interconnect project. I am heading to BH this weekend for a few days with Jake and Jackson and will post some pics of my own later.

The new Snow Making System has been installed, and the Lift Towers and motor rooms for Chairlfts 1 & 8 are installed! A helicopter flew in the lift towers and motor rooms with precision and ease. The foundations for the Skier Bridge are currently being constructed.

The Interconnect Skier Bridge, a project funded jointly by the Town of Brian Head and Brian Head Resort, has been making steady progress behind the scene.

Brian Head Interconnect - October 10th, 2007

Posted by Justin at 02:35 PM | Comments (2)

October 07, 2007

Snow on the Mountain at Brian Head

Brian Head got a little more than a dusting last night. Maybe a couple inches. I could see it had some decent whitening on Giant Steps via the Kraft Fam webcam.

I am heading to BH next Sunday to put in our new ladder for the loft and to finish some painting. The place is ready to rock for ski season.

Sorry for the light blogging. Jake is playing Pop Warner. The Dbacks had two home games that I went to. Wickenburg is still winning. ASU and the Cards are playing. Suns training camp is starting. Just been busy.

Posted by Justin at 12:27 AM

September 26, 2007

New Interconnect Photos up at Brian Head Resort

Brian Head Resort has updated their interconnect page with new pictures and info that the project is still on course for an on time completion. The lift towers are in and the project appears to just be waiting on the terminals and the bridge.

Brian Head Interconnect - Sept 25, 2007

Posted by Justin at 11:30 PM

September 19, 2007

Brian Head Interconnect Still Iffy

I went up to Brian Head for a short trip to finish the drywall and heater/fan in the bathroom. Got a chance to talk to a couple locals including one at the resort and they keep saying the lifts are going to be done by opening day. It is now less than two months away and the bridge still is not in and the terminals are not set. Foundations are poured and the lift towers are ready to go in, but the bridge and the terminals are the show stoppers.

I got a ton done on the condo and it is actually ready for the winter. Bathroom is finished (except a little paint), tile is done, and we added a new thermostat, fixed the fan, and put in a new heater in the bathroom. It looks absolutely awesome.

I am planning another trip north to finish the paint before the ski season starts, but finally, the place is done. No more mess. No more projects for quite a while. Here is my wish list of stuff to do that is left:

  • New entry door and redesign the entryway to make it more usable
  • New sliding glass patio door to better utilize the space and get more light in
  • New fireplace

I am in no hurry to do any of these and honestly am putting the place on the market in the next couple months. I hate to even think about selling it, but I have a couple of business deals that are going on and it is going to get harder for me to make it north enough to be worth the $1500 a month that it is costing. Plus I am not sure that the market up there will appreciate enough to make it a good investment.

I say all that, but in reality, I am probably putting it on the market just for show so that Tera will think I am trying to be responsible. In the meantime, I am gonna ski as much as I can until March when the business really gets going. From there, let's hope I am successful and don't need to even think about selling it.

So if you know anyone that wants a pristine, remodeled condo that sleeps 7 plus another 3 kids comfortably, lemme know.

Posted by Justin at 11:19 AM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2007

New Interconnect Photos and Info

I am in Brian Head for the weekend and have an update on the Interconnect. First, the bridge is not done and we are already in September and a little over two months away from the start of the season. The lift situation looks a little better. Most of the equipment is already up the mountain, but the terminals don't look like they are here yet. Everyone seems pretty confident that the lifts will be done and the bridge ready by opening day in early November. I am still not 100% that it will be done in time.

Here are some pics posted in photo gallery:

Posted by Justin at 10:12 PM

August 17, 2007

New Winter Trail Map for Brian Head

Brian Head Resort has just released the new trail map for 2007-08.

2007-08 Brian Head Trail Map

I am not sure what to make of the interconnect on the Giant Steps side of things. I don't like cross-traffic flows and it seems like the resort added some trails that aren't really new in an effort to bump their stats on new runs.

But the changes are welcome. I want to check the new runs off of the ridge on Giant Steps as looking at the face under the lift, the ridge looks about as steep as anything on the mountain. The other runs off of the new Giant Steps lift look like they were put there simply for less skilled skiers because under the lift is so steep.

Anyway, check the PDF's at the link for more details.

Posted by Justin at 10:54 AM

July 28, 2007

Brian Head and Market Share

I have been on a little bit of a tangent about Brian Head the last couple days because of their interconnect project. Started looking at the statistics on Utah Skier Visits that I have posted on my site.

Some numbers for you:

  • 4.7
  • 4.9
  • 4.7
  • 4.6
  • 4.5
  • 4.6
  • 7.2
  • 4.5
  • 3.8
  • 3.7
  • 3.3

That in my book constitutes a trend. That happens to be Brian Head's market share of total Utah Ski Visits for the last decade.

The amazing part is that Brian Head is a pretty good place to ski. It is close to Vegas. It is closer from Vegas than Sunrise is from my house and it is twice as close as Sundance that is the southern most SLC area resort. But for the closest resort to the fastest growing city in the nation, one would think that Brian Head would be gaining market share, not losing it. Brian Head has a 400" annual snowfall. Never has a lift line.

I have met several of the folks in the marketing dept at the resort and many/most of the other staff at one time or another. They are good people. The resort is a good resort and is friendly and clean. Good kids program. Good learn to ski. But something is missing. I am just not sure it is a high speed quad (due next year) and a little more blue-green terrain. The MDP has a ton of new terrain approved in the Pioneer Cabin area that can be developed. I think the combination of that terrain and the current expansion might make a difference, but then, the resort is tapped out.

Lots of potential there. Let's hope the results start coming.

Posted by Justin at 10:33 PM

July 27, 2007

Brian Head Condo Projects and the Interconnect

I keep waiting for the stange voice that says "If you build it, they will come" to be listed as the motivating factor in Brian Head's expansion. But who will come? The new Lofts at Brian Head, the Black Diamond at Brian Head, the White Bear Condos, and Sojorn at Brian Head are already building. The lofts is almost a year behind schedule on phase one. The story gets worse for phase two. Do the new improvements enhance the resort enough to generate additional interest in owning condos at Brian Head? Maybe some. I don't see buyers tripping over themselves to rush to Brian Head. Vegas, LA, and Phoenix as well as the new housing market are just dead right now. Because of the housing market slump, many of the condo projects will not begin their phase two's of their projects and some may struggle to sell their phase one's. At least until the housing slump reverses. Current owners of smaller, cheaper condos will still have a market, but that is decidedly slower than it has been.

Does the resort gain some additional daytrip visits from Vegas? Probably. It really helps that market. It may help the rental market. But Demographic growth in Riverside, CA, Clark County, NV, and Maricopa County, AZ, will do that anyway. Does it allow the resort to charge $55 or $60 for a lift ticket? Yep. Expect that for certain.

Long lines have never been an issue. There is plenty of uphill capacity so in that sense the new lifts aren't needed for uphill. Does an interconnect improve things that much? I don't think so. Navajo is a kids and beginner's mountain anyway. It has longer lift lines but that is because it really only has one lift. Maybe this improves that piece, but for me who skis off of Dunes, Roulette, and the top of Giant Steps, this is just a mid-mountain lift and has no impact. And to enthusiasts who actually enjoy skiing and are not casual occasional skiers, they won't notice it either. The lack of vertical and lack of advanced terrain hurts because the major ski publications have no interest in a family resort with 1400 feet of lift served vertical, under 1000 acres, and no real challenging runs.

In 2005-06, the last year stats were available, I have a table of skier visits for Brian Head and the rest of Utah. Brian Head had 135k skier visits. The best year in the last decade was 2001-02 with 212k visits. A 155k visit year is a good year. A very good year as in would be the best year in the last decade that didn't involve the Olympics being held in Utah. And we might see that this year. There is some serious buzz and that would be a 15-20% improvement over last season. Heck, we could see it spike to say 170k visits. That would be monumental.

Net is that local businesses will see some tangible benefit because a bunch more daytrippers will come up and there will probably be a spike in condo renters. Condo owners and new condo projects will still see a slow market and have a tough time moving their places because of a nationwide housing slump. It allows higher lift ticket prices (and it better yield either more skier visits or more revenue from existing ones in order to pay for an $8M expansion). But I still don't see how this benefits the resort enough to repay their $8M off of new business. Maybe, MAYBE, it increases the value of the resort's real estate holdings (1700 acres) but that increase is only realized as they sell the holdings and there have to be buyers. And future condo complexes or homes are not going to immediately flock to Brian Head and start a bidding war over the resort's land.

So what is the real business motivation to make an $8M improvement to a resort that gets 140k visits per year and has had stagnant growth despite the fact that Utah as a whole is growing as a ski destination? How do you get return on investment? I think the real question is does it finally allow the current owner of the resort to sell Brian Head to a ski corporation (ala Intrawest or someone of that nature)? That has to be what they are banking on. There is no other explanation. Either that or the resort manager needs shot for convincing the owners to invest $8M.

Posted by Justin at 08:20 PM

July 22, 2007

Brian Head Expansion Updates

Brian Head has new updates on the Interconnect Project complete with pictures:

After years of careful planning, the resort is poised for dramatic expansion...

This summer Brian Head Resort is installing a new interconnect lift and ski trail system that will join the two mountains. Skiers and snowboarders of all abilities will now be able to enjoy both mountains by skiing/riding instead of driving. The Interconnect System consists of two new lifts and a ski-over bridge. Chair Lift #1 will cross over State Highway 143 to Navajo Mountain replacing the historic Chair Lift #1 that was removed from service in 1993. A new second chair lift, Lift #8 will start near the bottom of the new Lift #1, and will transport skiers to mid-mountain of Giant Steps. Skiers will cross over Highway 143 via the skier bridge under Chair Lift #1. The Interconnect System will expand the Resort’s existing trail capacity by nearly 35% and will allow skiers and snowboarders to circulate freely between Navajo and Giant Steps Mountains. The Interconnect System will also dramatically increase accessibility by creating expanded lift access to the entire Resort.

The entire interconnect project, including expanded snowmaking on many of the new runs, is on schedule to be completed by the start of the 2007/2008 ski season.

Interconnect Bridge and New Runs

I was at the resort two weeks ago and dirt is moving. Not sure about schedules and so forth, but my concern would be the bridge more than anything.

This is going to create a lot more green and blue terrain, which BH is not in need of. They need more steeps. And some more trees to cut down on the wind. In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a bark beetle and Brian Head would have 3000 ft of lift served vertical. But I will take what I can get and this should create some new buzz for the resort.

Posted by Justin at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2007

Hokey Websites for Resorts

The whole Interweb thing is gettin' awful popular nowadays. But 2003 was a long time ago. In web years, which work kinda like dog years, 4 years is about three lifetimes ago. But 4 years ago was the last time Sunrise updated or redesigned their website and their design pretty much sucked 4 years ago too. I actually think their design was done about six years ago because I remember the page being roughly the same as far back as 2001.

I want to use my forum as a quick shout out to the worst designed and oldest web pages for resorts that I have found. Maybe encourage them to hire some college kid for $10 an hour (which is almost double what they pay their lift operators and ski instructors) to do some updates. I mean it ain't expensive to do some site updates every once in a while. And adding a webcam isn't really a site update. I am not talking crazy flash animation like Vail, but rather some simple, clean site design.

Some are much worse than others, and the last two really aren't that bad. Not meant to offend anyone, except for the designers of the first two sites because I consider it personally offensive that they can go around calling themselves "Web Designers". Here are the worst two with a couple of other suggestions (but I will update with reader input):

  • Sunrise - oh, where to start. The use of tables with thick borders that serve absolutely no purpose. Then you have randomly sized pictures and announcements that have absolutely no theme. The background is just the same image over and over that serves no purpose either. In short, this looks like a web page that some kid taking Web101 at the local high school designed as a pet project. I hope that he got a D or F for it. I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old brother that collectively could do a better job. And since it is the 5 year anniversary of the 500,000 acre Rodeo-Chediski fires, I will suggest that the tribe hire Leonard Gregg who should be learning some good vocational skills in prison after he felt the unemployment situation on the rez was so bad that he decided to start the largest wildfire in Arizona history to secure some part time employment as a firefighter. How about creating a non-casino job for one of your tribe members?
  • Wolf Creek - not nearly as bad as Sunrise, but still in major need of an overhaul. What is up with the color scheme? Whoever signed off on these colors needs shot. But at least the links work. I don't like the redundant use of navigation on both the sidebar and the bottom of the page, especially that the links are not in the same order.
  • Rock Dodge - not a bad site, for having a copyright in 2002. I don't really like their use of tables and I hate them using white text in colored table cells. But they have a consistent color theme. Their navigation links are too small to see and get around on and the white text contributes to that.
  • Brian Head - Their new summer site is not much to look at. They did a redesign last year of their winter site and I am not a huge fan of the light green text against a dark green background. Again, minor quibbles. Their navigation is easy to use. This site was just redesigned this last year, but their old site was not bad at all. I really wish the site had more information about the new ski lift improvements.

The last two don't even belong in the same category as the first. Brian Head's and Red Lodge's sites are well laid out and well designed, except for the color schemes. And even at that, they could be much worse.

Please Wolf Creek and Sunrise, fix your crappy sites. There are lots of folks that design web pages for a living and do it pretty cheap. Give it to a college class as a class project. But it is time. Well past time. Sunrise can afford to pay lawyers to put their competition out of business (Snowbowl) with all their casino money, why not spend a little on the resort website?

Posted by Justin at 09:23 AM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2007

Statistics on Utah Skier Visits

I have added a new page with detailed statistics of Utah skier visits from the state's Demographic and Economic Analysis Department. Check out the new page and info. Here is the chart:

Some interesting info, but Skier Visits have increased dramatically since 2001.

Utah still lags far behind Colorado as a national ski destination, but the state has a ton to offer. I rec'd an e-mail today that said the following:

I was lucky enough to ski Breck in January and Snowbasin in March. What are your thoughts on Snowbasin? Skiied it on a Wednesday and Thursday. No lift lines and the two gondolas were awesome. Different atmosphere than Breck.

Check the stats for Snowbasin:

  • Vertical rise: 2,959 ft (902 m)
  • Average yearly snowfall: 400 in (10 m)
  • Total lifts: 12
    • 1 Tram
    • 2 Gondolas (high speed detachable)
    • 1 Quad chair (high speed detachable)
    • 4 Triple chair
    • 1 Double chair
    • 1 Magic carpet
    • 2 Hand rope tows
  • Total lift capacity: 14,650 people per hour
  • Skiable area: 2,650 acres

Compare this to Breck that receives roughly five times the number of skier visits on the same acreage. Here are Breck's comparable stats:

  • Vertical rise: 3,398 feet (1,036 m)
  • Average Annual Snowfall: 300 in
  • Total Lifts: 29
    • 2 high-speed 6-passenger SuperChairs
    • 7 high-speed quad lifts
    • 1 triple lift
    • 6 double lifts
    • 1 8-passenger gondola
    • 4 surface lifts
    • 8 carpet lifts
  • Total lift capacity: 37,880 people per hour
  • Skiable Area: 2358 acres

Utah is nearly untouched. Colorado gets 12M + skier visits per year to Utah's 4M. Alta-Snowbird is absolutely massive and Snowbasin, Solitude, Brighton, and the West Side resorts getting half as much traffic as Park City.

Long story short--Utah has far fewer people than Colorado and the resorts are much less crowded. Down side is that the nightlife is lacking (save Park City) and the beer flows like water--but it has the same alcohol content and tastes like water too. Utah has a very different feel than Colorado, but as far as pure skiing, I prefer Utah. No, I take that back--I prefer Alta, and it happens Alta is in Utah. I have yet to try Snowbasin, but plan to early next year. Just been spending almost every day at Brian Head this season.

Posted by Justin at 03:44 PM

April 08, 2007

The Year That Was in Utah

The SLC Tribune has an article on the year that was in Utah:

"We got some good early snow," he said.

But starting in November, a high pressure ridge parked itself over the West until about February.

That weather pattern acted as a bubble, forcing snowstorms to other areas, he said.

Utah's loss was Canada's gain, as many storms shifted to the north, McInerney explained.

Meager snowpacks, which reached about 50 percent of average in northern Utah, are not only bad news for skiing, but they also spell trouble for the Salt Lake Valley's water resources in the summer.

This season sucked in a bad way for me. Early snow, but no mid season snow at all. I finally had my place done and Brian Head got 225" of snow (and a huge chunk of that came in March). Normal snowfall is over 400".

But take what you get and thank the Ski Gods for the wonderful sport. It still was a ski season and the laws of averages mean that sooner or later we will have another 600" winter like two years ago.

Posted by Justin at 11:21 PM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2007

Maybe Some More Storms Brewing

There is a storm coming through on Wednesday that may drop 6" or so at Brian Head and possibly one next Tuesday on that may bring some more snow.

Tera and I are planning to head up over Easter and possibly one other trip sooner, but waiting to finalize. She has not been up since Thanksgiving... It finally hit me that she keeps saying she will go next time and never has.

She is putting Bookends on the season to be there for opening and closing but not in between.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM

February 28, 2007

16" Last night at Brian Head

Title says it all. And it is still snowing. I am debating with Tera whether to head back up there this weekend. I was there last weekend and it was epic, but this weekend is gonna be all bluebird with fresh.

I will update.

Posted by Justin at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2007

Three Footer Coming This Week to Brian Head

Never count your chickens, but this is the weather report for the next three days at Brian Head. These forecasts change frequently, but this appears to be a major storm coming through.

bh-forecast-feb26-2007.JPG

We are not sure if we are going up this weekend, but had planned to. Will update with actual totals.

Posted by Justin at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

February 24, 2007

Two Footer and Bluebird Day at Brian Head

Title says it all and I don't have much time to spend blogging while I am getting ready to head up the mountain.

Took a couple of runs yesterday and it was awesome. Blinding storm though.

I am still having inner ear and sinus problems that are affecting my balance. I fell over while standing still again. Weird. Makes you wonder.

Posted by Justin at 08:57 AM

February 12, 2007

Brian Head Trip Last Weekend (and Video of Jake)

This last weekend Jake, Tim, and I went up to Brian Head. Conditions were better than we expected. It hasn't snowed much over the last few weeks, but the snow was fairly soft and had good coverage on the runs (although some bare spots here and there that you had to be careful of).

I took the camera out with us and grabbed a quick video of Jake on Wild Ride off of Roulette. Had a blast skiing with him all day as opposed to letting him and Jackson do their own thing.

My old Atomic Beta Carve 8.18's have basically become my dad's skis. My mid-fats are my usual fare, but because of the packed conditions, I took out the old skis. Hadn't used them in almost two years. My mids are miserable on groomers, so consequently I forgot how fun it was to ride groomers. What a difference. My new skis are unstable at speed and don't carve on ice or packed very well, and I had gotten used to the way that they feel and perform. Moral of the story--use the right gear. I have two sets of skis for a reason and forgot how different a good set of all mountain carvers feel on groomed runs.

Posted by Justin at 02:24 PM

February 07, 2007

Brian Head Trips This Weekend

About time I get back up to Brian Head. Jake, Tim and I are heading to Brian Head and taking some closets with us. I bought three new IKEA closets for the loft so that we get some storage room up there. They are crazy heavy so Tim is gonna be hating me. But free lodging is still free lodging.

Not a lot of snow on the way this weekend, but hopefully some. Next week might be better and Tera and the kids are planning on going up with me the following weekend.

I am really hating life because the place is finally done, but the snow sucks so bad that I don't want to spend 16 hours in a vehicle to ski groomed ice. Let's hope that this weekend and next week the storms start rolling in.

Posted by Justin at 04:29 PM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2007

Skiers versus Snowboarders - Brian Head Horror Story

I am talking to Cynthia, my neighbor down the hall at Brian Head. Way cool lady from Vegas who we run into most busy weekends including over Christmas and this last weekend.

Turns out that some jerks broke into her ski storage closet between Christmas and MLK weekend. Get this--they stole two Burton boards, but left about $2500 worth of skis behind. They didn't even want to waste time with the skis, just the boards.

I pulled my powder skis into the condo and brought the Burton board into the condo too. Sure, they can get stolen from the condo too, but I have double deadbolts on both the condo and the storage closet. She only had one lock. I checked my closet and some jerk with a screwdriver had tried to break into mine too.

So not to sound like a two plank wank, but why the hell do all the gear thefts involve snowboards, not skis? Cynthia didn't have condo insurance, which double sucks. I do, so if someone steals my gear, it isn't going to hurt as bad. I left the old kids skis in the gear locker, so if you want a four year old of K2 Jr. Escapes in a 125 or a pair of crusty Rossy 109 kids skis, have at it. I hope you have fun busting into my locker and wish you well if you want to tote them down the three flights of stairs.

If you dig on stealing stuff or if you need to steal to afford your snowboarding habit, I offer three alternatives to fix the situation--charge the kids on the football team a little more for their reefer; get into the more lucrative side of theft and crime; or stop wasting your money on the ganj unless you are willing to make a career out of being a lowlife.

Disgusting. Gear thiefs are the lowest form of life their [damn that grammer and my inability to use there and their] is and I hope that karma bites you for it. I hope that you steal an avalance beacon from someone's locker and it is defective while you are in the backcountry and that a freek sluff sends you to meet the ski Gods who will punish you for your lack of faith. There is no repentence for being a gear thief and eventually the punishment will catch up with you.

Posted by Justin at 12:55 AM | Comments (3)

January 15, 2007

Major Power Outage and -15 Degree Temps at Brian Head

How do you top the misery of riding the lift in sub zero temperatures? Why having a power outage while you are doing it. Bad things at Brian Head today. Not sure what caused the problems, but the power went out at around midnight last night and did not come back until after 11:00 AM. The it was spotty for the rest of the day with brief 10-20 minute outages. Cable did not come back until after the Seattle-Chicago game was over, so we missed it.

Brian Head had all the lifts but Giant Steps closed down until power was restored (since I believe Giant Steps has a diesel generator). Because Navajo was shut down, there was no place for Jarrett to go today. We sent Jake and Jackson over to Giant Steps while I took care of Jarrett and nursed what appears to be a case of the flu with my second sinus infection of the year. I slept for 16 hours on Saturday and came home at around 1:00 PM from skiing feeling horrible.

Conditions are still sketchy in many places and I still bottomed out on some rocks yesterday on Dunes. The latest snowstorm only dropped about a foot of snow and the base still isn't where it needs to be. Combine that with -10 degree temps, power outages, and the holiday crowds, it isn't exactly epic conditions. The snow is good in spots, but choppy from the wind, the traffic, and the lack of a good base.

We are going to give it a go tomorrow since the power problems and the crowds seem to be improving. Good news is that we got a lot of work done on the condo today and got it buttoned up earlier than expected. Painting and drywall texturing. Good times.

Posted by Justin at 12:43 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2007

Huge Storm Coming to Brian Head

A major Arctic blast is on its way. Temps in the single digits and below zero. 30+ MPH winds. Oh yeah, and did I mention 2-3' of snow.

If you have never skied in below zero temps with a 30 mph wind, it is like heaven. You have the slopes to yourself. Every single inch of you is cold, but anything that is exposed is frozen. You take one run and then spend 45 minutes in the lodge thawing. The lift rides seem to take an hour and every time a lift stops, you have thoughts of killing someone and hiding the body under a drift. Real fun times here.

My son Jarrett usually wants to stay with Mom (yeah, he is a momma's boy) but last night he tells me that he "wants to go skiing with Jake and Jackson". My conditions are simple--don't fight the entire time while we are driving and don't whine the whole time we are there. Last time I took him to a Suns game, he needed earplugs and by the 4th quarter kept saying "I want to go home" and crying.

I am going over to Sports Authority to buy some long underwear for the kids. They are gonna need it. Hand and foot warmers are a must. Part of me is looking forward to a powder day, but the other part of me is from Arizona and my body isn't prepared for this kind of cold yet, if ever.

Posted by Justin at 09:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 06, 2007

24" in 48 Hours at Brian Head... And I am in Phoenix

Brian Head finally got the big snow storm we have been waiting for to complete the base and keep me from spending all my hard earned money on p-tex. 24" in 48 hours and it is straight up bluebird today. It is supposed to snow Wednesday and Thursday of next week and I am planning to head up for the weekend with Jackson, Jake and my dad.

Last night I hit the Miami Heat vs. Phoenix Suns game and next week I have tickets to see the Lebrons on Thursday. The Suns just destroyed the heat minus DWade and Shaq. The high point of the night came with :02 seconds left and the Suns up 25. Pat Burke. 6'10" way back up center dropped the bomb from 3 as the game ended. The crowd went wild when he got up off of the bench with 4:00 left, but when he hit the three it went nuts.

The Phoenix Suns are scorching hot right now and have won 23 of their last 26 games. I have tickets to two games this week coming up, then don't have tickets again until Feb 21. I backloaded my season tickets by selling most of the games in Jan, Feb, and March. I didn't want to be stuck in Phoenix when Brian Head was having major powder days. Yeah, that worked out.

Posted by Justin at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)

December 29, 2006

Powder Day, Rocks and Stumps, Wind Holds, and Core Shots

Still early season conditions, but plenty of fresh. Last night it snowed roughly a foot which was almost enough to cover the rocks that were still poking up. Worse yet, the entire upper mountain had gusts of up to 75 MPH overnight and into the morning which means two things--lifts on wind hold until 2:00 PM and whatever snow came down had relocated into wonderful drifts. So the upper mountain went something like this: lift, rocks, drift, rocks, drift, rocks, stump, rocks, drift.

We spent most of the morning until Giant Steps opened off of the Blackfoot lift poaching powder runs through the trees between Yaz and Desbah. We hit some great powder through the trees, but I also hit some nasty stuff below the surface. Stumps, rocks, all kinds of stuff that you would expect early in the season. Around 3:00, I stopped and took of the skis and had a nasty core shot that needed some Ptex and came fairly close to blowing out an edge.

Another great day on the mountain. Left a little early because my skis were in the shop, but my quads certainly got their workout in. By the last couple of runs, I was struggling to keep my skis parallel and burning through the powder. Jake and Jack continued to surprise me with their ability to hit almost anything on the mountain. I kept stopping to look back and they were right on my hip no matter how fast I was going.

Posted by Justin at 10:19 PM | Comments (1)

December 27, 2006

A Day of Instructing

Up here at Brian Head and it is finally snowing although not as much as I would like. I brought up two buddies who are total Noobs and put one of them in "Learn to Ski" for the morning since I do not have the patience or ability to teach how to get on and off the lifts. Take the 2 hour lesson and then we can start working.

By the PM, we were taking runs together and working on technique. Just little stuff, but honestly, it was so much fun to work with new folks to the sport and get them excited.

I am actually hurting pretty bad because one of them took me out pretty hard. Probably as bad of a day as I have had injury wise in a while. I was riding switch trying to coach and caught an edge and twisted my knee, plus got wiped pretty bad when my buddy got cut off and could not stop and hit me. It was refreshing in a way because after two 30+ day seasons, you never ski with noobs anymore and rarely ski bad conditions. It just isn't that fun unless it is a dump. Today, we closed the lifts down and I can't remember the last time I did that when it wasn't epic. It is a good feeling.

It finally happened today for the first time. Jake was skiing with me and I got behind him and was just watching him come down off of Giant Steps. Knees touching. Skis completely parallel. Using his poles perfectly in his turns. For the first time, he looked like a better skier than I did. Jackson is damned near there himself. And both of them were just fluid. Hitting jumps. Making turns. My dad went out with us and got to watch them tearing it up.

Jake got in his sixth day of the year and will be at nine before New Year's Day. Jack is a day or two behind him for the year. I was coaching my two buddies today and working on linking turns. They are both at the point where all they need is time on the snow. I get jaded when I don't even want to go out unless the conditions are great. I am spoiled. But conditions are improving and I have a couple of good long days in which will pay dividends when we get our powder dumps later on and my legs are already under me.

I am a little worried about my right knee from getting sideswiped and from wrecking. I haven't had a good twisting fall in a while, but it seriously is so dangerous on groomers when idiots think they are Shawn White or Bode and cut you off. In this case he cut off a first dayer with no concern for anyone else and it got me hurt. I wanted to chase the dude down and give him a smackin', but instead was walking uphill 40 feet to get my ski.

Posted by Justin at 10:40 PM

December 24, 2006

Brian Head is Now Almost 50% Open

Just in time for Christmas, Brian Head is now almost 50% open. I was getting worried because the place gets crazy busy over the Holidays and if Giant Steps Lift and the main mountain are not at least half open, the lift lines will be insane.

I am waiting to see how open Roulette is because it usually does not have lines since it is a mid-mountain to the top lift. Dunes will not be open and is my favorite lift, but has a south facing exposure which I think hurts snowfall and snow retention.

The Navajo lift and most of the runs on it and Pioneer are open also. We are heading up with two friends from Wickenburg, one of which is a first timer. The other has been a few days. I am probably going to do more coaching that personal skiing, which is probably good for me anyway since the conditions are mostly corduroy.

Other news is that there is a storm expected mid week next week, but I am getting conflicting reports from the different weather sites. I am going to finish most of the work in the loft, the painting, and get the place completely put back together including finishing the carpet and tile in the loft this trip. Tera and I may go back the following week, but we are not sure yet.

Posted by Justin at 01:27 PM

December 19, 2006

Brian Head Receives 21" in Three Days, Set to Open Giant Steps

Brian Head is finally getting some snow. And it is about time. If BH does not have decent snow for Christmas, they lose a key period for their business. Christmas is one of the most important times of the year for resorts and at Brian Head it is by far the busiest time of year.

The only chair that is not expected to be open by this weekend is the Dunes, which happens to be my favorite lift. All of the beginner runs and most of the intermediates should be open, we are just waiting on the top areas of the big mountain.

I am heading to BH on the 26th with about 20 people. I swear it is going to be packed. We are taking three friends from Wickenburg, plus my dad, Jackson, Jake, Liz, and possibly Wil and Chris from 120 Days are going to stop by for a day or two. We are talking almost a dozen people in the condo. Plus the whole complex will be totally full. Plus the remodel work is not done so we have to bust the work out the day we get there and get the carpet laid. Plus we have no closet space because we don't have the remodel done.

Good times. The more the merrier, I guess. I just hope the mountain is open so we don't spend all of our time in lift lines.

Posted by Justin at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)

December 17, 2006

5" at Brian Head Last Night

Title says it all. Still hardly any terrain open, but hopefully with the additional snow on the way, the Giant Steps chair will open soon.

I had to come back to PHX for the Cardinals - Broncos game and just got home. Waiting to see when I am going to get back to the condo.

Posted by Justin at 07:01 PM | Comments (1)

December 15, 2006

Storm Coming to Brian Head, and It Is Needed

We are at the condo as we speak. Jake and Jackson both skied yesterday and today, plus hit up the mountain for night skiing too. It is mega-ice. But they don't seem to mind. I enjoy being able to walk and move in one piece too much to ski these conditions.

A major storm is heading this way and forecasts are for possible two to three feet. I spoke to one of the operations guys for the resort and he said no new terrain is going to open until next week at the earliest after this storm comes through. It has been too warm for snowmaking several nights last week.

We are finishing up the drywall in the condo today and doing taping and texturing. We put in the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom, finished the drywall in the main loft, and finished the upper loft. We have carpet ready to install as soon as we finish the texture. As usual, early season ain't fun for us to ski, but we work while the boys ski the ice and man-made groomed stuff. It has been a pretty productive trip.

Posted by Justin at 09:22 PM

December 10, 2006

Heading to Brian Head

Got the Green Light from my dad to take Jake and Jackson out of school and head to the Condo Wednesday through Saturday night. We are going to be working in the mornings and evenings and trying to get some skiing in between. OK, less work and more skiing than I am leading on.

Conditions still pretty much suck, but it appeared that today's snow is going to linger a little bit and hopefully leave a foot or so of fresh, which may permit opening some more runs. If we are still basically down to a couple of runs and crap snow, I will not spend a ton of time navigating things, but on a weekday before the Christmas Holidays, the place should be dead so that helps.

Goals for this trip::

  • Finish tape and texture of drywall in loft
  • Paint loft
  • Fix wood floor in loft
  • Install carpet in upper loft
  • Possibly put up drywall in downstairs bathroom.
  • Ski 3-4 days, conditions not sucking

This should close the work for the year up. And it is just the right time for it. The following week, Tera, Jake, and Jarrett are going up with me sans our 2 year old who is staying at Grandmas. Then the week after, Jake and Jackson as well as my dad plus some friends from Wickenburg are going. That gets us through until the New Year.

I have a ton going on next year, but as long as my job situation allows me to, I am going to stay in Utah as much as possible. I am hoping for a 30-40 day winter again, so I gotta get going.

Posted by Justin at 10:31 PM

December 07, 2006

Finally Some Good News From Brian Head

Brian Head posted the following on their website:

Chair 6 will be open with all terrain, Chairs 3 and 5 will be open with limited terrain.

All-day lift tickets will be $28 for adults and $19 for children and seniors until more chairs and terrain are open. Night skiing starts Saturday, December 9 with a lift ticket price of $12.

I believe I am heading up the week before Christmas with my Dad, Jake, and Jackson.

There was supposed to be snow this weekend, but that has been downgraded.

Posted by Justin at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2006

14" Last Night at Brian Head

Brian Head got their first big storm of the season last night. 14" of new snow fell. That is almost enough to cover the rocks.

They are still close today through Friday so that they can groom the snow and get it ready for a decent opening of some more runs. It is important that they compact this base down so that they can build up for the season, but they continue to make snow on top of the new snow that has fallen.

I am hoping for a top to bottom opening on Giant Steps this weekend.

Posted by Justin at 12:10 PM

November 27, 2006

Brian Head Expecting First Major Storm--But Closing This Week

Snow is on the way for Brian Head, but the resort is closing to focus on snowmaking. This should be good news for the rest of the seasona as temps are expected to drop (meaning snowmaking can take place during the day) and there is a major storm on its way.

Last Wednesday was somewhat anti-climactic. I played around on the two open runs and hit a couple nice jumps and tried my hand on the rainbow they had set up, but all in all, I hate the thought of tearing an ACL/MCL on the opening day, and hate the thought of getting taken out by some schmuck going all Bode.

Still, the condo is coming together nicely and we are working at things. It was a nice trip to get some plumbers up there and get some things buttoned up for the season. We are starting to plan for our weekends this year with friends or family and have several different people that are going to use the place.

Gonna head up sometime in the next week or two, but have a Doctors Appt next week and some other plans going on. Probably wait it out for more snow so that my dad and Jackson can come up and we can finish the tape and texture on the drywall as well as finish the carpet, wood repairs, and closets for the winter and focus on what the place is for--skiing.

Posted by Justin at 01:08 AM

November 23, 2006

Day One - Ski Season Starts at Brian Head

Yesterday, Brian Head opened for the season. Conditions were EPIC. Two runs on manmade snow. Snowboarders that sat 15 wide across top of the runs gawking and watching as the other snowboarders that were halfway decent. The rest would wait and then ride down missing every jump but cutting off anyone that did want to hit anything.

You always want to set the tone for the season right. And Jake did just that. First run, getting off the lift. Took a header. So for the entire season, he gets to hear it.

Not a lot of skiing to enjoy, but it was still a day on skis. I took a good fall off of a rainbow. And man is ice hard. You know, it isn't a glass is half full or glass is half empty situation. After seven months, it certainly wasn't a bluebird powder day, but it was a start to the season. And it still felt good.

Posted by Justin at 09:31 PM | Comments (1)

November 17, 2006

Season Passes Printed, but No Season Yet

Yesterday, I went in and talked to Tracy at Brian Head who handled the season passes. Got the passes all printed up and ready to roll. Only problem with me being early to get all my goodies in anticipation of today's opening--there is no opening.

Looks like Wednesday at the earliest. Hardly any snow and what is there is man made, but they are making it as fast as they can. Temps are a little warmer than optimal though.

Dad and I did some major remodel work and were putting in outlets for a Washer and Dryer. Will have pics posted shortly. Better news is that we redid the upper loft and we have improved livability in a major way. Check back for the pics.

Posted by Justin at 10:07 AM | Comments (1)

November 09, 2006

Still Little Snow at Brian Head

Brian Head is still struggling to get enough snow to make opening more than the usual white ribbon of death. But good news is that hopefully there is some new snow on the way.

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving and unless the snow really starts coming down, it may be a very weak opening.

Pray for snow!

Posted by Justin at 04:31 PM | Comments (1)

October 19, 2006

Snow at Brian Head

What a long week. I got up to Brian Head on Sunday evening and demo'ed the old upper loft and the closet in the lower loft. My dad came up on Monday at around 2PM but was beat so we only got a little bit done. By the time we finished taking out all the old framing and drywall, we were too tired to go down the 3 flights of stairs and take a load to the dump that night.

BIG MISTAKE. We awoke to find an entire truckload of 2x4's and now wet drywall covered by almost a foot of powder.

It absolutely dumped on Monday night at Brian Head and it made the place look so much better. It always looks better when there is snow on the mountain.

Posted by Justin at 11:33 AM

October 11, 2006

Wolf Creek gets 22" During Latest Storm

Wolf Creek has already received 42" of snow so far this year and got another 22" the last couple of days.

Today is my birthday and for my birthday, it appears that both Brian Head and Wolf Creek got some snow. But the best part is the news from Arizona Snowbowl:

Ski fans will rejoice to know that while it will be a sunny day in the Valley today, a light dusting of snow last night added to the about 2 inches of snow that fell Sunday night and Monday morning at higher elevations outside Flagstaff. The Arizona Snowbowl ski area reports snow at about the 9,500 foot level.

Snowbowl Marketing Director Dave Smith said, "Hopes are high here among all of us that this snow is the first sign that we're going to have a great season. It would be terrific if we could be open by Thanksgiving."

Let us hope.

Posted by Justin at 09:52 AM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2006

Brian Head Summer Photos Posted Including Proposed New Terrain

Pictured below is a view of Giant Steps looking toward the proposed site of the bridge and the new terrain (across Highway 143).

For more pictures of Brian Head taken this summer including details pointing out the new Brian Head Lofts condos and the Cedar Breaks Lodge / Timberbrook condos from the top of the peak, check the gallery.

Posted by Justin at 02:14 PM

September 27, 2006

Picking on Brian Head

The Employment Listings for Brian Head for the Upcoming Season are out. Let's make a bold career move and leave IT to work at the resort:

Position Department Hourly Pay Rate
Ski & Snowboard Instructors Winter Sports School
$6.50
Strong communication skills & ability to teach others. Patient & friendly personality. Intermediate or above skiing or snowboarding ability required. Ensure guest safety and guarantee a good time on the slopes for your clients. Employment is dependent upon applicant passing an on-slope ability test prior.

I will save time and space by summarizing... lots of jobs for line cooks, lift operators, rental shop folks, daycare providers. And all of them pay $6.50 an hour.

BUT, and that is a big BUT, the resort wants the town of Brian Head to subsidize a $10M expansion project (that will probably never get completed) to allow them to make a bunch of new condos Slopeside by paying for a $1M bridge across the main road.

So what is the resort giving back? I just plain don't understand it. I would like to see audited financials from the resort to see where all the money is going. I mean, if they are struggling to make ends meet AND PAYING THEIR EMPLOYEES POVERTY WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS, then perhaps it is not a good investment to spend any more money on the resort at all. If, on the other hand, the owners are doing well AND PAYING POVERTY WAGES, I sure don't see why the town should spend money on improvements. The resort, flat out, is not a good neighbor if they are paying these kind of wages. Why create more $6.50 an hour jobs at a resort where no one can afford to live all so that we can build huge slopeside condos for folks in Vegas to come and spend their Vegas money while our locals make $6.50 an hour. Let the folks from Vegas pay for it in their new Condo prices.

An important part of a resort town is to have locals. The industry has effectively priced locals out of living near the mountain or near their job. The smallest studio condo at Brian Head is $100k. A mortgage on that at say 7% would yield a payment of $700 per month plus Homeowners dues of another $200 give or take. Add in utilities and that is right at $1,000. Let's say that a person makes $6.50 an hour and is lucky enough to work 40 hours a week. That works out to $260 per week before taxes or $1040 per month.

Notice why there are so few locals or the locals we do have don't actually get to enjoy living at a resort because they are working three jobs. The only folks that actually live in Brian Head are either retired, own a business, or are Realtors.

And the resort wants the town to subsidize their industry? Yeah, right. Pony up, Brian Head Resort.

Posted by Justin at 11:11 PM

September 11, 2006

WWBD--What Would Bode Do

From the What Would Bode Do section of the news, Utah Lawmaker Michael Morlet talks about banning alcohol at ski resorts:

(KCPW News) State Representative Michael Morley says he's dropping his plans to crack down on alcohol at ski resorts. This week, the management of Brian Head Resort sent a letter to Morley responding to his complaints and those raised by a resort visitor.

"If they will follow up on the things they've committed to here, I'm probably gonna back off," says Morley.

The Spanish Fork lawmaker Morley sparked a panic in the resort community last week when he threatened to run a bill that would nearly ban alcohol at ski resorts.

In a letter, Brian Head's general manager vowed to ban all open containers from ski lifts and better train lift operators to handle signs of intoxication. Resorts have the ability to revoke lift passes and call the police in some cases.

Morley says his threat had the desired effect, and he no longer believes the state needs to pass new laws. Ski Utah director Nathan Rafferty says all of Utah's resorts are committed to enforcing rules similar to those mentioned in Brian Head's letter.

First off, alcohol and skiing is retarded. I am not much of a drinker at all, so I just cannot see the logic behind skiing drunk. Or having open containers on the lifts. You are out in freezing temperatures, and if you are like us, off piste hitting powder. Imagine making a mistake and getting injured. You want to be in control. Now I guess skiing groomers where ski patrol can come over and give you the "sled of shame" ride down makes it less dangerous, but let's face facts--skiing is dangerous. I wear a helmet and don't understand people that think it is completely safe. It is not.

But then again people think boating while drunk is a good idea too. Until someone drowns. Same with skiing. You get hit or wreck or freeze to death or get frost bite because you are toasted and then it isn't fun and games anymore. What I am wondering is why the resort isn't already cracking down on open containers and busting people for skiing drunk or being impaired. I want ski patrol to be keeping people safe, not focusing on busting people poaching lift tickets or using someone else's season passes (inside reference that some readers of the site may find humorous).

Posted by Justin at 01:20 PM

September 08, 2006

Brian Head Interconnect Improvements--Whose Job is it to Pay

Got an e-mail from another local and friend of mine answering some of my questions about the new interconnect. First, let's have a little reality check--the real estate market at Brian Head is dictated by the market in Las Vegas and to a lessor extent, LA and Phoenix. And right now, all three have slowed considerably. It remains to be seen whether any new construction has sufficient buyers. Most of the speculators are gone. So the new Summit project sounds good, but it actually getting built is yet to be seen. If there are not a bunch of new condos, will the resort need/want to invest in the new lifts?

So that leaves us with the question of what does the town get in return for building a bridge for the ski resort. I assume that if it meant additional building of new condos, additional tax revenue, additional growth, etc., perhaps this would be a justifiable investment of public funds. I just don't see that. I don't see how making more condos slopeside, especially if they never get built or never get sold due to the RE market, makes the project worthwhile. Nor do I see that "new hiking trails" across the road make it a good project either. I can hike across the road, thank you very much.

This is a gift to the resort and a gift to developers building across the road. And unless the resort is obligated to complete the lift improvements and somehow this is going to result in a return of revenues to the town, I cannot see that it makes sense for the town to make this kind of investment. The new condo projects should pay for the improvement through impact fees. Or they should build the improvements as part of their zoning requirements. If the recovery of the investment were clear, I would be in 100% support.

I want new lifts and the Navajo interconnect as bad as anyone, but it is not the town's job to pay for resort improvements. The resort owns huge chunks of land that increase in value if the improvements are completed and I can guarantee you that lift ticket prices are going to increase if the resort puts in more runs and better lifts. This gift from the town would allow the resort to invest less money in improvements that are going to allow them to either attract more skiers and/or charge more money. That just does not make sense to me as a taxpayer.

Posted by Justin at 06:09 AM | Comments (3)

September 06, 2006

Summit at Brian Head

How can I possibly be this slow to report major news on my home resort? I am seriously slacking, but hey, it is football season. I guess that is my excuse.

The Summit at Brian Head is going to be a massive new development on the Southern edge of town.

"Our resort will capitalize on what we see is pent-up demand for quality resort living and we plan to lead the growth in that area," added Jabra, who is also a driving force behind a $500 million 700-unit luxury high-rise residential project in Las Vegas.

Summit at Brian Head will be a master-planned community built on 42 acres near the southern boundary of Brian Head. The overall complex at completion will consist of 420 condominiums, 34 town homes and a signature clubhouse. Pre-development financing is in place for the project.

The town's namesake ski resort is also has in place a 10-year expansion plan which calls for a golf course, another chairlift, and housing projects of its own.

Add this to the Lofts at Brian Head and the new Black Diamond condos going in near the base of Giant Steps, and there are some massive new projects coming to the resort.

I can tell you from personal experience that Brian Head has a lot to offer. First and foremost is its proximity to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and LA. Second, is its cost. An entry level condo is a third the cost at most comparable resorts. Third, the resort has great powder and lots of terrain. Most of it is intermediate, but that should change when the new Pioneer Cabins lift is completed. Fourth, Brian Head has an awesome family atmosphere, uncrowded slopes, and is a great place to bring the kids.

Makes you wonder how all the new traffic and new people will change the resort, but I am a huge advocate for change and for improvements at resorts. BH needs some new lifts, some more terrain, and needs the exposure that these projects will bring. This increases the value of my condo and my experience at Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)

Brian Head Interconnect Improvements Proposed

Brian Head is considering a new interconnect project to connect the existing Navajo and Giant Steps ski areas. If you have been to Brian Head, you will notice how the runs were already cut above Georg's ski shop from the previous lift that used to be on that side. In addition, the project will include replacing the Giant Steps lift with a high speed detachable quad.

The Interconnect Project will consist of a new chair lift to replace the historic chair lift #1 (removed from service in 1992) that crosses over Highway 143, and a second new chair lift that extends from the base of the new chair lift #1 on the east side of Highway 143 to a point near the top of Giant Steps Mountain. A new highspeed detachable chair lift will also be installed to replace the existing chair lift #2 at Giant Steps. The Interconnect lift system will expand the existing ski terrain by over 33%, and allow skiers of all abilities to circulate freely between both base areas without removing their skis. Importantly, the Interconnect Project will also significantly enhance ski access to a majority of the area’s lodging units, thereby reducing automobile traffic and parking congestion in and around the Town of Brian Head.

I received an e-mail from another local yesterday pointing out the information at the Brian Head Town website. We went back and forth via e-mail about the logistics and the issues, but net is we feel this is a good addition, but not in lieu of completing the Pioneer Cabins area. Our other concern is that the town is footing an almost $1M bill for a bridge across the highway, but much of the improvements will make more condos "slopeside" and ski in ski out. Certainly this means all of our tax bills will go up--now it looks like $100 a year or less for most condos.

Brian Head needs more advanced and expert terrain and I posted about Pioneer Cabins and the MDP last year, but the pdf's at the USDA website are gone. I tried to get copies from the Dixie National Forrest and from the libraries, but no dice. The area has good snow; a great location close enough to California, Arizona, and Nevada; and great atmosphere. Only real issue is that it is a weekender and day tripper resort and there is almost no destination skiing. What that means is that the resort is usually empty on Mon-Thur but busy on powder days and weekends. Don't even ask about holidays. Most of the condo rentals occur over the holidays.

I probably won't be able to attend the town meeting on September 13th, but will ask some friends to provide more info on the happenings.

Posted by Justin at 10:36 AM

May 31, 2006

Memorial Day at Brian Head

Jeremy and both boys went with me to Brian Head this weekend and it was the first time he has seen the place without snow since he was not around during fall last year. The grass is coming in green and the Aspens are starting to grow leaves.

The place had more people than my last trip up, but it was still largely dead. We ate at the Bump and Grind and hung out a decent amount. We took US-89 up and back and the ride was mellow and relaxing as we avoided Hoover Dam over a holiday weekend.

Summer is just kicking off in Phoenix and the 110 degree temps are only days away. As we drove in on Saturday, it was SNOWING! It got down into the low 20's and while it didn't snow much, it certainly snowed some. Foggy and snowing. What a contrast.

I had some business at the Condo to take care of and missed game 3. We watched on the tv in the condo. But I ran into the former owner of my condo and invited him up to have a look. He didn't know what to say. Not even the same place. You would think he had never lived there. Amazed.

I am heading up again after the playoffs are over. This season's playoffs have been a marathon of emotions, but certainly enjoyable. It was nice to relax a bit and breathe the fresh air at Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2006

Brian Head in May

Dropped the two oldest kids off this week and my wife and I headed north to the condo to relax and check out what is happening at Brian Head in the off months. The Answer--nothing. Less than nothing. I mean the entire place is empty. Ghost town like.

I ran over to the new condo site for the Lofts at Brian Head. They are ripping out trees and going to town. I am seriously happy about ponying up the money to buy one. Great investment and we are not sure about what we are going to do when it comes time to upgrade, but regardless, either this place after the remodel or the new place will surely sell for a healthy profit. I hung out with my friend and real estate agent Chris at High Country for a few today and looks like people are buying and selling up here again. If you want a place located within 6-7 hours of San Diego, LA, Las Vegas, and Phoenix with great snow and a family atmosphere, Brian Head is the place.

Posted by Justin at 12:20 AM

April 26, 2006

Follow Up on Economics of Being a Skier

So I was thinking about things that I have to get done for next season and one of them is buying my season pass. Turns out that most resorts have season pass sales right at the end of the previous season and this is when prices are lowest. Here is the deal at Brian Head:

Adult Season Pass = $339
Minus College Student Discount of $50 = $289

If you do a family pass, you get discounts on everyone's pass by lumping them all together. With my kids set to attend school in Utah next winter, the kids' passes were only $89 each. Turns out, for me, Tera, Jeremy, Jake, Jackson, and Jarrett, the total ran right at $900. The boys all have their own equipment (Jarrett's is too big since it is hand-me-downs from Jake), so we don't have to do rentals. They have smokin' deals on season rentals too, but I am not sure all the details.

Seriously, check out Brian Head and give them a call about Season Passes before it is too late. Tracy in the pass office tends bar part time at the Navajo lodge and is one of the coolest people on the mountain to talk to. She will hook you up and at $289 (before the discount for buying a family pass), it only takes 6-7 days on the mountain before you are skiing for free. For the kids, it is more like 3 days.

And why am I already making preparations for the 2006-07 season already?

Posted by Justin at 12:31 AM

April 09, 2006

Trip to Brian Head over Easter

Despite the fact that my grandmother is going to kill me, we are probably heading to Brian Head to close out the season this weekend. It is the last weekend of the season and there is an Easter Egg hunt as well as the annual Pond Skimming contest. I am going to give pond skimming a go this year and have challenged Jeremy and Jacob to try it too. (Neither seems excited about the idea of getting soaked in 35 degree water.)

I am already starting to miss the season after taking this last week off. I hate to miss the last weekend, despite the warm temps and spring conditions.

It is 88 degrees in Phoenix today and I know what is coming. The AC is already running and I spend yesterday in the backyard doing some yard work. I filled out my FAFSA for the MBA program at SUU today, did my taxes, and bought my tickets to NYC for a work trip in two weeks. I renewed my Suns tickets and bought my Cardinals tickets for next year. I have two brand new mountain bikes in the closet. Lindsey is standing on her own and about to take her first steps and baseball season is starting. So my life has plenty to fill things up. Yet all summer, all I can think about is "How far away is November?"

I am already setting goals for what I want to accomplish next year. I want to throw a switch 180 and a 360. I want to start throwing some grabs. I want to lose 35 lbs. I want to improve my technique in powder. I want to ride some new rails. I want to start the season in better shape so that it doesn't take a month to get over the soreness of riding consecutive days. I want to ski 60 days. I want to finish my MBA. But all of these things can wait one more weekend while I enjoy the finale of the season at Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 03:50 PM

April 02, 2006

Great Day at Brian Head

Yesterday may have been the last day I get up to Brian Head for the year. Season ends in two weeks on Easter, but that weekend is booked and next weekend is looking pretty busy since I have been out of town the last week and a half.

Dunes was closed due to wind, but the wind died down in the PM considerably. It kept trying to snow, but it was more of an annoyance than a storm and produced no measurable accumulation. Conditions were mixed. The pow from a couple of days ago was compacted and crusty and it was not warm enough to loosen up. We stayed on the lower mountain due to the wind and stayed on the groomed stuff as it had loosened up more than the upper mountain had.

So down below, in the terrain park, I decided there were two things I wanted to do successfully this year. First was 50-50 a rainbow and second was land a 180. Not like rainbows are crazy difficult, but I have this enduring image of doing a facial into a a metal object and looking like a hockey player.

First run through it, I hit the rainbow for the first time and while not pretty, rolled right over it. The second trip over the rainbow was much better. Got down to the jumps and threw a 180 on both runs and landed both. Not like it is difficult on either case, but it is simple fear of doing something stupid and missing the rest of the season that has kept me from attempting more this year. Well, now it is the end of the season and the fear of breaking a wrist or tearing an ACL is less of an issue. Now, I regret not taking more risks and pushing myself more. But really, the terrain park is only there for days when there is not fresh pow.

If it was my last day, I have something to build on and left on a high note.

Posted by Justin at 12:28 PM | Comments (3)

March 29, 2006

18" of Fresh at Brian Head last night

Title says it all. And it is still snowing today. I am heading back from Dallas on Friday and probably going to BH on Saturday morning if at all possible.

The season is winding down and I am really hating the thought that I have to suffer through another six months of summer with no skiing. I am going to try to get some more skiing in, despite spring conditions, before the season ends.

Posted by Justin at 09:37 AM

March 18, 2006

Lofts at Brian Head

Interesting new project is coming to Brian Head starting this year. The Lofts at Brian Head is the first new condo complex build at Brian Head in almost 25 years. Prices start at around $425,000 for a 1600 sq. ft. condo.

Considering that the going rate for crusty old 1970's condos with popcorn ceilings and nasty interiors is close to $250 per sq. ft. right now, the $260 per sq. ft. asking price for the lofts is a heck of a bargain.

If you are interested, I have worked with Chris Thompson at High Country Realty on a couple of properties now (one fell through and buying one now) and he is a straight shooter and a quality guy. Make sure you call Chris and let him know that Justin at Ski-blog.com sent you. My wife and I are looking at one of the units now since our current condo, despite being pimped, is a bit on the small side for five of us to live in year round.

BTW, my wife and I are strongly considering relocating permanently to Brian Head starting this fall. Details are still in the works, but the new condo is a major consideration.

Posted by Justin at 04:26 PM

March 14, 2006

Kids Learn to Ski Program and "Get Better" at Brian Head

Jarrett had exactly one run on skis under him prior to this weekend, but at age 5 (in February), I felt he was finally ready to begin learning to ski. My concerns about teaching him before age 5 were centered around weather more than anything since he is an Arizona boy like his mom and has never really been in the cold. Tera is also ramping up her skills and probably a 1+ or maybe 2 on the skills scale.

I called ahead to make reservations at the Tiny Tracks Ski program at Brian Head (which is suggested). Since he has a season pass and his own equipment (thanks for the old gear, Jake), his day lesson in Tiny Tracks was only $68. Not a bad value for an entire day of lessons, some lunch, some hot cocoa and lots of personal attention.

I was genuinely impressed with the program. Jake did a half day of lessons, but at the time when he was five, I was still probably a beginner/intermediate, so I after his half day lesson, he was my sidekick. Jarrett is not so lucky. Dad and big brother are off in steeps and deeps and skiing the bunny hill is not my idea of how to spend a weekend, let alone the sick powder from this weekend. The instructors we almost all young (Cedar City is a college town and most employees are students or former students at SUU), but they gave tons of personal attention to not just Jarrett, but me too when I dropped him off and picked him up. Most were aching to get their turns in in the pow.

My criteria for evaluating things is pretty simple--did he have fun and did he learn something. On both counts, the answer was a resounding yes. First, it was crazy cold with a standing temp of 10 degrees. Second, it was snowing heavily. Add some wind and it makes for a miserable day for a little one. Despite the cold, Jarrett had fun. Tera on the other hand didn't. =) On the learning front, he is turning and "pizza-ing". I prefer "wedge" or "snowplow" but he looks at me like what are you talking about when I don't say pizza.

Jake came home talking about doing 180's and hitting boxes and Jarrett wants to do jumps and ski with his big brother so bad. It is the coolest thing in the world. I think this experience will provide a solid base for next season and if we can get him linking turns and starting to parallel, he can start hanging with me and Jake.

Tera on the other hand, had a pretty miserable weekend. She was sick to start with on Saturday, but went up and got a good half day in at "Get Better". For $20, they spend two hours working with you on the slopes. With Adults, my firm belief is that it is all about snow time. You just have to put in the time building on your skills and have some coaching to progress from the snowplow into parallel turns. But it takes time more than anything. The coaching let her work on her skiing without forcing me to play instructor (on a powder day no less). I met her at the lodge at 2:00 PM and had a Starbucks with her. I believe that Jarrett and Tera are both getting close to hitting blue groomers and at that point, we can start skiing together more.

Brian Head leaves something to be desired for me and some of my buddies who want long steeps with 4000 ft. verticals and double black terrain, but is unmatched at providing a solid and affordable family ski experience.

Posted by Justin at 11:20 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2006

POW, SUGAR, BUTTA, Describe it how you want--Yesterday was SICK

We are immersed in a freak spring storm today. The Sheriff is stopping people without chains and the mountain is darn near impassible. Spoke with the ski office and despite the huge storm and spring break, the road conditions have prevented quite a few people from coming up.

I drove down to Cedar City last night to get some stuff for the condo and the roads were wet, but clear. By the time we came back three hours later, there was at least 3 inches of snow on the road. The plows are running now and it appears that the storm has passed, which is good news.

We rode another day of the Dunes almost exclusively, sticking to the tree lines and cutting fresh tracks most of the day. Tim came off a blind jump and clipped another snowboarder's helmet who had cut under neath him and Jeremy and I both had mishaps working on some jumps. I injured my shoulder and knee bad enough that I am done for the near future and may need a doctor's visit to ensure that all is OK. I worked on throwing 180's and grabs most of the day since the landings were so soft. I injured myself in the terrain park when I caught an edge while switch on the landing after a 180. I sucked it up and finished the day, but after landing on my head and shoulder, was seeing stars most of the day.

Note to self--work on riding switch. The only two bad falls I have had all year were riding switch in the terrain park and falling while facing backwards. Switch on skis is so counter-intuitive. Riding backwards in general is intimidating and after a couple hard spills, makes you wonder why anyone would want to.

Posted by Justin at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)

March 11, 2006

Exercise Extreme Caution

Black ice is no joke. And it is nothing but black ice from St. George all the way to Cedar City. To make it to worse, it is still snowing. YOU MUST HAVE CHAINS OR YOU WILL BE STRANDED.

That was the bad news. Now the good news. IT IS SICK HERE. Dumping as we speak and sick. Knee deep or more, and no end to the snow in sight. They are saying another foot or more tonight and tomorrow.

So if you have a huge SUV and chains, head on up. If you are driving the old Honda Accord, stay in Vegas or LA or Phoenix. It is not a good weekend to sleep in the car. As for me, we may end up stuck up here for several days and miss work. I hate it when that happens.

Today was Jarrett's second day on snow and he had a blast. Jake was talking trash to me today before we hit the terrain park. I told him to put up or shut up. He asked what I would do if he threw a 180 and rode off the jump switch. I figured I would humor him and said if he started throwing 180's we would buy an Xbox 360 for the condo. I really hate that kid sometimes. He threw one the first time out of the gate. He is riding parallel like a champ and starting to throw stuff off the jumps. I was literally shocked how much better his form is. But in steeps and deeps, I still was smoking him. He is going to try a 360 pretty quick. I am working with him on pole placement in his turns and riding switch.

Posted by Justin at 05:12 PM

March 10, 2006

Winter Finally Arrives at Brian Head

Sickness. That is all I can say. The Brian Head Snow Report says it all. For 2005-2006, since October, BH has received a total of 178" of Snow All Year. 28" of that has been in the last 2 days. That is roughtly 15% of the snowfall all year in the last two days. And more on the way.

The National Weather Service sees the next three days shaping up as follows:

  • Today: Snow showers. Snow accumulation 5 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 100 percent. West wind 12 mph. High 13.

  • Tonight: Snow. Snow accumulation 3 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 60 percent. Southwest wind 14 mph. Low 3.

  • Saturday: Snow. Snow accumulation 8 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 80 percent. Southwest wind 21 mph. High 13.

  • Saturday Night: Snow. Snow accumulation 7 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 80 percent. South wind 17 mph. Low 4.

  • Sunday: Snow. Snow accumulation 2 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 70 percent. West wind 22 mph. High 15.

  • Sunday Night: Snow. Snow accumulation 2 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 60 percent. Low 2.

  • Monday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 50 percent. High 17.

My wife packed the clothes and the truck last night. We are rolling in about four hours. Heaven awaits. POWDER!

Posted by Justin at 09:15 AM

March 08, 2006

6" of Fresh Last Night at BH and Still Dumping

Check out the links on the right side and have a look at the webcam. This storm is doing some dumping. Should make for a good weekend.

Posted by Justin at 09:42 AM

March 07, 2006

Brian Head Expecting Snow All Week

This last week failed to materialize as hoped, but new snow is on the way this week. As I was driving home this afternoon, the light rain showers started around 4:00 PM as we headed across to 89 and back down to Phoenix.

I met with the head of IT at the resort this PM and am considering doing some part time work helping with minor IT issues next year. Wil at 120 Days shoveled snow to get his free season pass, and doing some IT work will give me something to do to keep my mind sharp. Plus the Cable TV at the condo really sucks and I can't get Direct TV (north facing condo). Without a Tivo, what else do I have to do but work?

The snow is getting pretty icy and not worth busting my head open on, so I am waiting to see how things turn out this week. We are making plans for about 8 of us to head up this weekend and ski, plus next week is Spring Break for Jake and Jackson, so hopefully the snow situation improves. Not a bad snow situation as the base is not horrible, but I got spoiled by the last few powder days.

Posted by Justin at 01:35 AM

March 04, 2006

Brian Head's Weather Forecast LIES

Five days ago, BH was supposed to get 15-20" on Tuesday and 10-15" yesterday. And so far, out of almost 3 feet predicted, BH has received 5".

I took a half a dozen runs today with Jeremy and there are some softer spots at the top of Giant Steps and in patches on Dunes and Roulette, but for the most part, it is hard pack. Today it is approaching 40 Degrees and stuff is softening up, which does not bode well for tomorrow.

No real complaints, because skiing is skiing, but the last day we skied was a straight up powder day. Good news about today is the wind is almost non-existent. Bad news is that they are doing Snowmobile Hill Climbs on the bottom of Engens and it is loud, crowded, and annoying. Dunes and Roulette are far enough away that they block most of the noise.

We started skiing late, but made up for it by leaving early. Not a great day by any stretch, but still better than sitting around in Phoenix. There is another storm system coming through next week and we are coming back up on Friday.

Posted by Justin at 02:13 PM | Comments (1)

March 01, 2006

Disappointing Snowfall Last Night at Brian Head

The storm that was supposed to dump between 15-20" managed a paltry 5" last night. Very Disappointing.

There is another storm system coming through on Friday and it has been downgraded to 6-12" according to Snowforecast.com.

We are due for another couple big ones this year, but as I said yesterday, the season of fresh snowfall is winding down. Brian Head is stuck on 149" total snowfall for the year, which is approximately one third of the average annual total of 400" that Brian Head normally receives with just over a month left in the season.

I got far more work done on the condo than I anticipated, but far less skiing in than hoped. We appear to be headed up this weekend and next with my wifes cousin Keith and his girlfriend Kailee Friday and my friends Jake and his sister Freddie and maybe Erich, Dan, and/or Tim from my old work. So let's hope for some snow.

Posted by Justin at 12:31 PM

February 26, 2006

Freshness Expected on Tuesday at Brian Head

Snowforecast is predicting the following for Tuesday:

90% chance of moderate to heavy snowfall with a bit of a rain mix for the base early during the onslaught with snow levels hovering at and just below base level...moderate to heavy accumulations possible of 15-20".

That is the good news. The bad news is they are also predicting this:

Winds remaining SW and strong today at 25-30mph with gusts 30-35mph at the base...summit SW 30-40mph with higher gusts 40-50mph at times especially early.

On Friday we have more coming with this little tidbit:

60% chance of moderate to heavy snowfall...snow levels lower this time with fluffier snow...10-15" possible again.

This could be a five plus foot week at Brian Head. All indications are that a series of storms are on their way in. Unfortunately, I have loaned the condo to my wife's cousin for the weekend. I am still planning on heading up however and may try to sneak out on Thursday night. We shall see what the weekend holds, but the good news is it should hold a couple of sick deep powder days.

Posted by Justin at 06:11 PM

February 24, 2006

It Was the Best of Times... Worst of Times

The following article is from the Arizona Republic dated today.

Utah is poised to set its third consecutive record by exceeding last season's 3.9 million skier visits, Ski Utah spokeswoman Hilary Reiter said.

Snowfall along the Wasatch Range - home to 11 resorts including Snowbird, Park City and Alta - has been about 157 percent more than the total in an average season.

Utah is loving life. How about Colorado?

In Colorado, so much snow has fallen that many mountain towns have piled it high on street corners and in parking lots. Aspen has had more than 21 feet of snow, with many longtime residents saying it's the best they have ever seen, Aspen Skiing Co. spokeswoman Kristen Rust said.

Colorado resort managers are hopeful they will set a record for skier visits this year. The previous record of 11.98 million was set in the 1997-98 season; last year, the total was 11.81 million. From October to December, the resorts reported 3.1 million skier visits, said Rob Perlman, president of the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA.

What about Snowbowl, Arizona that has been battling to get snowmaking capability added so that they can have a consistent season?

Meanwhile, folks at the Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff - in the midst of a drought - continue to wait for enough snow to open, a year after posting a season record 460 inches. Since October, they have seen about 20 inches of snow, resort spokesman David Smith said.

The delay has cost millions of dollars in revenue, "and you can put that in capital letters if you want," he said.

"It's extremely frustrating to sit around and look at the slopes and see dry grass where typically they should be covered in white," he said. "The hope is still there that we'll still be able to have a good season, at least the latter half."

20 Bleepin' Inches? 20? Come on people. I don't know what Arizona did to deserve another Fire Season like 2003, but this is gonna be a bad one. There is no snow at all. We are going to be engulfed by flames shortly. I mean like Arizona needs massive fires to add to the already heated nature of our state.

We need rain in a bad way. The high country needs some snow. We are past due.

Posted by Justin at 01:28 PM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2006

Future Projects at Brian Head Resort

Some interesting reading about Brian Head's Master Development Plan. The MDP contains plans to build three additional lifts and increase the amount of Intermediate and Advanced area significantly.

The deficit in upper intermediate and advanced terrain at Brian Head was identified in the resort’s 1997 master development plan (MDP; Brian Head Resort 1997), which documented the fact that the resort does not have the range of terrain difficulty to meet the demands of skiers of all ability levels. This limits the recreational opportunity the resort provides.

The 1997 MDP addressed the lack of more difficult terrain through proposed development on Brian Head Peak. Subsequent experience with the peak terrain indicated several problems, particularly its unreliable snow coverage and its short, extremely steep upper slopes that shift abruptly to relatively flat terrain. In light of these shortcomings, alternatives to the Brian Head Peak terrain were investigated by the resort, resulting in the current proposal.

The new proposal creates the ski terrain in the pioneer cabin area:

The proposed MDP amendment includes the following five elements. The proposal is described in detail, and the location of these elements is shown, in Chapter 2 of this document. 1. Amending the special use permit to add 158 acres of National Forest System lands in the Pioneer Cabin area. 2. Developing new terrain and ski trails in the Pioneer Cabin expansion area instead of the Brian Head Peak area. 3. Constructing three lifts and associated support facilities to access the expansion area. 4. Amending the Forest Plan to change the Management Area designation of the expansion area. 5. Mitigating the loss of goshawk habitat due to ski area expansion by amending the Forest Plan to designate an off-site goshawk mitigation area.

The purpose is as follows:

The purpose of the proposed action is to provide high-quality recreation at Brian Head Resort, a designated Winter Sports Site, by developing an appropriate amount and mix of ski terrain for all ability levels and the infrastructure necessary to utilize this terrain. To achieve this purpose, there is a need to:
  • Develop steeper (greater than 25 percent), longer, more consistently sloped ski terrain.
  • Locate such terrain in an area with reliable snow conditions.
  • Construct the ski lifts necessary to access this terrain and the roads necessary to access the lifts for maintenance.
  • Provide necessary services for skiers using this terrain (e.g., ski patrol/first aid support, restrooms, and food service).

Interesting reading and it has the topo maps of the new area to match. If there is a downside of the Resort, it is lack of advanced skiing. As Brian Head addresses this need, the resort will only improve. As it stands now, for a mid-sized resort, Brian Head is perhaps my favorite place to ski with my family. But as discussed this weekend with Erich and Dan, the runs are often shorter than we would like and there is not enough black and maybe double black terrain.

Posted by Justin at 09:38 AM

February 22, 2006

Season Pass Sales for 2006-07

Season Pass sales are coming shortly. Tracy in the Brian Head Group Sales and Season Passes office was working at Navajo this weekend while I was in and we are starting to prepare for 2006-07.

Consistently, March-April is the best time to purchase almost anything ski related. The Season Pass sales are always cheapest this time of year. Prices only rise as the summer wears on and the season gears up.

Last year at this time I bought my Atomic twin tips that I use for powder skis. Probably got them for 35% of the regular price. $800 versus $279. Same with my boots. Regular $750 for $300. Several ski shops have insane deals going on right now, especially in Phoenix due to the awful season for the Arizona resorts.

Posted by Justin at 12:03 PM

February 20, 2006

Best Week of the Year at Brian Head

No other way to describe it. It has been snowing on and off since Friday and yesterday the snow was at least mid-calf and often knee deep. Well, it snowed another several inches overnight. BH is reporting 15" in the last day. And it was snowing again this PM.

We spent Sunday on the Dunes again for about half the day. Lap after lap of pow. Erich and Dan followed Jeremy and me as we guided them through our favorite runs:

  • Pillows Glade off of Giant Steps
  • First Tracks off Roulette
  • The Plunge off Dunes

Each is special in its own way. But all in all, the entire Dunes Area was sick deep and awesome everywhere we went. I stuck to the trees between Last Chance and The Plunge and tended to ski the glades where the pow was deepest and untracked. And today I can barely walk from the burning.

My son Jake and brother Jackson are hitting boxes, rails, and jumps like they belong in the terrain park. Tera took a couple of runs on Sunday, but Saturday and Sunday were bitter cold because of the wind. Today was perfect. No wind, blue skies in the AM, and temps that were far enough below freezing to keep the snow soft, yet not frostbite you if you didn't wear a mask.

My Dad, Jeremy, and the boys stayed behind and skied all day today and called me at 4:00 and decided Jake and Jack are skipping school tomorrow so they can ski one more day. I am starting a new job and had to get home so it appears I am missing the best day you could ask for tomorrow. Dan and Erich left last night.

All in all, a perfect President's Day spent with friends and family.

Posted by Justin at 10:11 PM

February 18, 2006

Eight in the Condo and the Lifts Are Shut Down

Good things and bad things today at Brian Head. First, it is snowing, which is always good. Second, it is so windy that the lifts are on wind hold. The entire upper mountain at Brian Head is shut down since about 11:30 AM today.

So, third, tomorrow is going to have a decent amount of fresh (if it doesn't blow away). But fourth, the place is completely packed with people because it is President's Day weekend and to compound it, there is only one lift open on the main side.

So it is with anticipation for tomorrow that things will be better that I head to sleep tonight. I spent the day riding crowded slopes on groomed runs, but we did enjoy the terrain park and I worked riding switch on my Atomics. My wife stayed in the condo, because the conditions just were too rough. No sense trying to keep warm and learn in close to zero visibility.

Erich and Dan from my old work rolled up last night and we always enjoy hanging out. We are enjoying the place with family and friends for the first real get together. More updates on conditions tomorrow AM.

Posted by Justin at 04:10 PM

February 16, 2006

8" Fresh Last Night at Brian Head

Well, the title says it all. But the storm system is not done. BH is expecting another storm to come through on Friday that will leave some snow and on Sunday snowforecast.com anticipates 8-14" of new or possibly more. And snowforecast has been underestimating snowfall totals all year.

I am heading out the door when Jeremy and Tera get off work. My dad and little brother Jackson along with son Jake are rolling up with me. And on Friday, my buddy Erich that I used to work with is gonna come up.

All around good times. Eight people in the condo, tons of fresh, a long weekend, and what should be an excellent trip. I will be posting tomorrow PM on actual conditions, but I am expecting to stay over off of the Dunes when I am not instructing Tera on the finer art of linking snowplow turns.

Posted by Justin at 08:39 AM

February 14, 2006

Valentines Day and President's Day Trip to Brian Head

Good stuff is on the horizon at Brian Head. Looks like high pressure is lifting and we may get a series of storms in to the area over the next few days and into this weekend. The folks at Weather.com can't decide whether it is going to snow or not, but the folks at snowforecast.com think it will. I am a glass is half full kind of guy so I am predicting it will snow, but the 40MPH winds will quickly relocate the snow somewhere else.

I was supposed to be in New York this week, but cancelled my plans due to the blizzard. How about the fact that I live in Phoenix and left my cold weather gear at the condo and the only winter storm that happens this year is in New York, not in Utah. I am being punished for something. I almost had to fly into a blizzard without all my warm weather gear. I think I have like one light jacket that is not at the condo. But we are using the trip cancellation as an excuse to leave for the condo Thursday and try to get a decent day in on Friday.

My loving wife is planning a second go-round of "learn to ski with Justin". I am bringing the new Burton up and gonna hope that the extra 20 lbs I am carrying will protect me from icy conditions. I am really hoping that it is not too windy this weekend.

Posted by Justin at 10:32 AM

February 09, 2006

Possible Snow at Brian Head Next Week

Our friends at Weather.com are reporting a pretty good chance that Brian Head will get some snow late next week. (Wed-Fri so far)

I am heading to New York for a week to speak at a conference for work. I fly home late Thursday night and am planning on heading up to Brian Head on either Thursday night or Friday--probably Friday. If the snow is soft and fluffy for my delicate backside, I may just strap on the new Burton and make an idiot out of myself on the bunny slope during night skiing. Tera is coming with and night skiing might be fun for her. (by "fun" I mean "cold")

It was literally 80 in Phoenix yesterday, which is late March weather. There is no snow anywhere in the state. And there are fires already burning near Payson in the White Mountains (as if there is anything left to burn after 2003). Lest we get some precip soon, this is gonna be a crazy bad fire season here.

Posted by Justin at 10:52 AM

January 28, 2006

Conditions Exceptional at Brian Head

Friday was one of the best days I have had for powder skiing. It was a weekday and there were no crowds at Brian Head (unlike today when it was way too crowded). Wednesday's storm dropped 15" and on Friday it snowed all day and dropped another 7". We had the pick of the mountain and the grooming Nazis had not gotten to it yet.

We started the day on Giant Steps and took several runs with my dad, 11 year old brother Jackson, my 9 year old Jake, and my brother and now fixture on my condo couch Jeremy. Still a favorite is Pillows Glade with is just to the left of the Giant Steps lift. It is shaped like a halfpipe at the top and runs down to a nice jump at the bottom, then ends into the terrain park.

We tried both the left and right sides of the mountain (Roulette and Dunes) and both were even less crowded. We finished taking lap after lap through the trees on Dunes. Thigh deep powder. Perfect length runs of untracked goodness. No crowds. No lift lines.

Today, I have a serious case of the burns in my quads. We hit the tub last night and when we went up today, I played instructor for my wife. We overslept the start of ski school with getting everyone ready, etc. I am proud to announce that she can snowplow down mild to mid-range greens. And she actually is starting to enjoy it.

Another storm is on its way, but this is my last ski day for about a week or so. Superbowl parties and such next weekend.

Advice--ski on weekdays. It is crazy crowded and there is a church group up here staying in several of the rental condos in our complex. They cannot recognize the difference between 306 and 307 and keep ringing our doorbell and running down the hall thinking they are funny. They are less annoying than the dumbass highschool kids that were here over MLK weekend though. Plus their chaparones are doing room checks around 9:00 PM so we can hot tub in the evenings without being bothered.

Posted by Justin at 07:39 PM

January 23, 2006

Weekend Trip to Brian Head Coming Up

Brian Head Forecast for the upcoming week:

  • Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Chance of snow. Snow accumulation 2 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. Northwest wind 9 mph. High 29.
  • Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy. Chance of snow in the evening. Snow accumulation 1 inch. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. Low 8.
  • Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 30.
  • Thursday Night: Partly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. Low 7.
  • Friday: Snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 60 percent. High 27.
  • Friday Night: Partly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 50 percent. Low 7.
  • Saturday: Partly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. High 25.
  • Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. Low 5.
  • Sunday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. High 25.

Interesting news. I am heading up with my wife this weekend, but will probably spend most of my time on runs named "Bunny Hill" or "Hansel and Grettel" or "Powder Puff" or the like.

In other news, just got a $900 bill for truck repairs to get the Avalance's 4WD fixed, brakes done, and steering shaft replaced. Figured that it was worth it to get things fixed right. The truck is in the shop now and was will probably celebrate her 100k Anniversary this next trip. 100k for a 2003. And she is still beautiful.

And as I blog, there is a story on TLC or Discovery or the History Channel about the Donner Party. Good times. Now I am hungry, so I am gonna grab something to eat. =)

Posted by Justin at 01:01 PM

January 21, 2006

Best Day this Year

Today was absolutely awesome at Brian Head. First off, the Dunes lift was open and there was extensive powder that was only slightly tracked. We skied several runs over on the Dunes side, but my personal favorite, Bristlecone Bowl, was not open yet. Since we have season passes, we did not poach, but a couple of folks tried to. We could hear rocks, so that kept us honest.

Pick of the hill though was Pillows Glade. This is a slight drainage that runs right above the terrain park and has a huge lip that several snowboarders were catching some large air off of. I decided to get up some nerve and see if I could land anything--mostly so that I could trash talk to my brother who complained of the "torn o-ring" last week. Not too bad, but I missed the landing on my last grab attempt of the day and took a nice spill.

This was the first time that I really took a few good falls in a while. I took a nasty spill in the trees off of the Dunes when I caught a branch with one of my skis and lost my balance. BTW, BE CAREFUL of obstacles if you hit Brian Head. There is some nasty stuff under the fluff. Took a couple more good spills on jumps. Two years ago, I would not even attempt to catch air off of the lip we were hitting today.

Wil over at 120 Days of Powder was writing recently about progressing. I am getting my ski legs back under me and taking more risks which means occasionally eating some snow. But I too am noticing an improvement and better balance. The conditions were awesome to take risks on today, but stuff is getting packed and starting to melt. This week is snow-free according to Weather.com, but the weekend may bring another storm. Cross fingers.

Posted by Justin at 10:10 PM

Brian Head Opens Last Lift

Brian Head has finally opened the Dunes lift. Today's conditions are picture perfect. Sunny. 20 Degrees. Still Fresh from two days ago. And new terrain open that is virtually untracked.

Jeremy and I are heading out to get some skiing in before we head back to Arizona for the rest of the week. He went up while I was working yesterday and stayed over to the left hand (Blackfoot/Roulette) side of things and said that conditions were awesome. Nice and soft. Fairly untracked. Just beautiful.

I will snap off some shots today and the only reason I didn't on Wednesday is that visibility was close to Zero due to the storm. Enjoy. Finally conditions that are worth skiing and writing about.

Posted by Justin at 10:08 AM

January 19, 2006

The Wait is Finally Over--First Real Powder Day

I am scheduled to be in Las Vegas tomorrow and travelling today. I figured I would stay at the condo and drive in to Vegas tonight and it just happens that the weather has finally smiled upon Southern Utah.

We hit the mountain late today at around 11:00 AM because we drove all night last night. By 11:00 AM, there was already at least 6" of freshness. It is almost 3:00 PM right now and a complete whiteout. We finally had to come down because we cannot see at all.

Brian Head is sick today. We stayed either to the Roulette or Giant Steps side, but Roulette/Blackfoot is the best idea since there is less wind. There is plenty of wind let me tell you. Temp is not too cold, but bring the extra layers.

THERE ARE STILL HIDDEN ROCKS AND TREES that you would expect in early season so watch out. The very top of Giant Steps is very windblown so you cannot ski right off the face. It is probably the worst. Best bet on the mountain is Wild Ride or the far left side of the main area.

Poppin' Fresh. And it was well needed.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM

January 16, 2006

15" of Fresh and a Bluebird Day

Some days I hate my wife. We were sitting in the condo Saturday night and having a fairly heated argument about priorities. She seems to think her job and being at work on Monday after taking a Friday off is more important than 15" of Fresh, 30 degrees, and sunny. ESPECIALLY after the crap ski season we have had down south so far.

I lost. It was when she brought up my new Kenwood DVD player in the truck, the Xbox 360, the new iPod, my new PDA, new skis, etc., and "Why is it that whatever is important to you is always first."

She rarely pulls that one out, plus the kids were fighting and bugging the heck out of all of us, so we decided to head back on Sunday and beat the storm. I spent yesterday driving instead of watching the Steelers game (a true classic that we listened to on Sirius) or preparing for an epic powder day. Wife-1 Skibum-0.

On another note--we did get to see Denver return to the AFC Championship for the first time since Number 7 played at the old Mile High. We would have gotten thrown out of our condo complex when Champ almost housed his pick in the 3rd QTR, if not for about 100 high school kids that were on a trip to Brian Head. They must have assumed that the only people that would be that loud and obnoxious were high schoolers, but they sadly underestimate the power of a Broncos playoff win to make idiots out of my brother and me.

Posted by Justin at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

January 11, 2006

Ice, Ice and More Ice

Brian Head is now about 50% open, but it is funny to watch them open new runs when they have not gotten any real new snow accumulation. That may be about to change starting Sunday though. A small storm is rolling through that may provide 3-6" of new snow--that is just enough to make the rocks and the ice harder to see under the fluffy blanket of white stuff.

I hit a couple rocks last week when I was near the top in one of the areas where they were't doing tons of snowmaking, but that is really my own fault for thinking a small powder stash was more than a small hiding place for rocks.

I am heading north on Thursday again and have the folks coming to do my countertops on Friday AM. Let's hope that the winter is finally on its way for the Southern Rockies. Season is over half over.

Posted by Justin at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)

January 04, 2006

Brian Head finally starting to open some runs

We arrived at 4:30 AM last night, so we overslept a little bit. Fortunately for us, the countertop guy who was measuring for our granite showed up at 9:00 AM, so it was wake up time and off to the slopes.

We took our first run off of the Giant Steps lift and Jeremy and Jake stayed on the groomers while I took a direct line down the only black open on the mountain. Giant Steps (the run, not the lift) was pretty tracked, but ungroomed and at the top was nice and soft, with an occasional rock, weed, small tree, etc., that is to be expected from early season. After a couple of runs and a couple trips through the terrain park, we came back for some lunch and a nap.

I have two sets of skis in my quiver, my Atomic cruisers with deep sidecut and narrow waist, and my Atomic twin tip mid-fats with a 90cm waist for powder. I debated on using the twin tips since we were riding around the park. I chose the cruisers--like old faithful, my first skis, but they never get jealous and are always willing to take me back. Note to self, skiing backwards on twin tips, good, skiing backwards on cruisers, bad. I took a header and reminded myself not to be a jackass. My brother had a similar situation when he took a spill on a jump. He landed hard on his butt and complained that he has major bruising and possible a torn o-ring. =) The terrain park is icy and there are still way too many kids that are on break. One snowboarding 12 year old cut me off on one of the jumps and I almost had to ditch.

But the best news of all is that I stopped in at Walmart (sorry Eric, my liberal anti-Walmart friend) at midnight in Kingman to get something to eat and figured I would check electronics. Low and behold, they had an Xbox 360 Core System. As evil as Walmart is, they are in my good graces tonight. Tonight is filled with a trip to the hot tub, some Call of Duty, and some USC vs. Texas.

Posted by Justin at 08:44 PM

January 03, 2006

Stop Lying--7" of Fresh at Brian Head

Yep, believe it or not, the ski report does not lie. Brian Head rec'd some actual snow (7" in 24 hrs to go with another 4" from two days ago) meaning that the conditions are no longer man made and icy.

I am packing my bags as we speak, but have some actual work to finish before I can go. Probably leaving to head north in a few hours. Will let you know how it is tommorow.

Posted by Justin at 10:08 AM

December 31, 2005

Brian Head update

We left the condo last night and returned home after three "not so wonderful" days of skiing. I got offered a couple of jobs from people that saw all the work we were doing on the condo during the course of the holidays, but as far as skiing, I only put in a little over a half day.

Jake and Jackson skied three days mostly on the Navajo side of Brian Head since Jacko is a beginner. He picked it up pretty easily and the two of them came home every day as excited and worn out as if they had been heliskiing in Alaska after an epic snowstorm. I didn't have the heart to tell my baby brother and son that the rest of us thought the conditions were so crappy and the resort so overcrowded that we passed on skiing to do WORK!

But the tide is turning for the southern Rockies (right after we left unfortunately). A series of storms is moving in today and it should open a lot more terrain at Brian Head shortly.

I am planning another trip north next week, but over the course of two weeks, the Lakers, Spurs, Heat, and Cavs all are making their trips to Phoenix. I have a horrible life when I have to choose between going to a Suns game or going skiing. Most of my friends just want to slap me. My brother thinks he has won the lottery by moving back in with me. =)

Posted by Justin at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

December 28, 2005

Brian Head Conditions Less Than Ideal

I am at Brian Head right now and spent today skiing for the morning before finally calling it due to conditions. Several groomers are open and most lifts were running, but the resort was crazy busy due to the holiday rush. So hard packed man-made snow that is completely overcrowded by once per year skiers?!?! Not good times.

A major storm is supposed to come in this weekend, so I am heading home on Friday and probably back on Monday. Gonna take a few runs and snap some pics tomorrow and Friday before leaving, but we brought a load of furniture from IKEA and things are starting to settle in nice.

The cabinet installer is due tomorrow and the appliances are due tomorrow too. We are finishing some drywall work, painting, and the floors under kitchen. Ski during the day until the crowds show up, then head to the condo to work. Sounds like the way to spend the holidays to me.

Posted by Justin at 09:14 PM

December 04, 2005

Heading North Again

I am heading north this Tuesday for the rest of the week. Brian Head is still open in name only since two runs is not really "open", but I am taking my skis with. Might try to get a few turns in and take a couple of pics. The last few days they received another foot or so of snow, but it still barely coats the slopes. Nice thing about a season pass is it costs the same to ski a bad day as a good one. Say a short prayer that I don't get hit by some 16 year old on the two open runs that thinks he is Bode Miller training for the Super G.

More work on the condo this week as we are expecting new appliances and cabinets to show up shortly as well as my dad and I are putting in the hardwood floors and finishing the painting. The place is almost ready for prime time.

Christmas break is almost here and I plan to spend almost all of it at Brian Head teaching my middle son, Jarrett--age 4, to ski. My wife has only got a day or two on the mountain in her life and is an Arizona native, so I am hoping that she gets back up there too. I bought her a padded "girdle" similar to what football players wear with hip and butt pads so that she doesn't break anything.

The best part is Jake is such a little jerk that the entire time he will be taunting Jarrett and Tera with, "You suck" or "This is so easy". Last week he was wedging down the blues because he hadn't been on skis in a year. I wanted to make fun of him and pay him back, but decided not to--very much. I stopped playing Playstation or X-box because of him, so I try to enjoy the last year or two of skiing where I am actually better than him. Another few years and I won't even be able to beat the crap out of him anymore. The joys of parenting I guess.

Posted by Justin at 11:58 AM | Comments (3)

December 01, 2005

Brian Head to open this weekend

Brian Head is opening the white ribbon of death (thanks for the term JP) this weekend.

With the recent cold temperatures and snowfall, we will be able to begin our 2005/2006-winter season with a limited opening this coming Saturday, December 3rd. We will launch the season by opening Chairlift #3 with two groomed runs and a small terrain park.

I am still working on getting another longer trip up north lined up for Christmas time.

Posted by Justin at 03:32 PM

November 24, 2005

Snow on the Way (Finally) for Brian Head

This is what a Weather Report should look like. From the Brian Head NWS Website:

  • Friday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 50 percent. Southwest wind 23 mph. Low 19.
  • Saturday: Thunderstorms. Southwest wind 22 mph. High 25.
  • Saturday Night: Snow showers. Snow accumulation 5 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 70 percent. Low 4.
  • Sunday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Snow accumulation 1 inch. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. High 19.
  • Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. Low 6.
  • Monday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. High 23.
  • Monday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. Low 3.
  • Tuesday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow. Probability of measurable precipitation 50 percent. High 20.
  • Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 50 percent. Low -3.
  • Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 40 percent. High 21.
  • Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy. Chance of snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 30 percent. Low 3.

Posted by Justin at 10:26 AM

November 10, 2005

Mid-November and still no snow at Brian Head or Wolf Creek

It has been a brutal winter so far for skiers in the South Rockies. Wolf Creek, Durango Mountain, Telluride, and Brian Head are all bare. The very upper reaches of the mountains (above 10,000 ft or so) might have enough snow to cover a rock or two, but that is about it. From Wolf Creek's ski report:

Wolf Creek is anxiously waiting on snow!! Twenty-four inches has fallen year-to-date but warm temperatures have reduced the snowfall to 8 inches at the summit and 2 inches at the midway. We will announce our opening plans as soon as mother nature leaves her mark on the slopes.

I have yet to step in to my bindings for 2005-2006. I am not going to drive 16 hours to ski one run at A-Basin or Loveland, so until some snow starts flying, I am pretty much hating life. Good news is it is football season and tonight I am heading to watch my old high school team in the playoffs. There better be snow before football season is over...

Posted by Justin at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2005

Fall Colors

I thought that I would share this picture of Brian Head Resort in full fall color bloom (hat tip Brian Head Resort). The leaves are changing and a snow storm is expected this weekend. Probably only a dusting, but I'll take what we get at this point.

brianhead

Posted by Justin at 02:53 PM