Wolf Mountain
04 March 1997


Heavy snow at the beginning of the morning, with high winds at the upper elevations and very poor visibility. Very cold, especially with the wind chill. By midday, the snow started to abate and the sun came out.


Fresh powder everywhere. A great deal of recent snow on top of a good base resulted in excellent conditions for powder skiers.


Before arriving in salt Lake City I agonised over which ski resort to visit. In the event, the weather virtually made my decision for me.

As it got light, and I looked out of the window, it was clear that the meteorologist had the forecast badly wrong. Instead of the promised clear skies, it was heavily overcast, and just beginning to snow. By the time I got into my car, the snow was very hectic and I almost could not get out of the car park.

As I drove to the ski rental outlet, there was a radio report that the canyons to Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude were closed to vehicles without four wheel drive or snow chains. This narrowed down the decision to Deer Valley, Park City or Wolf Mountain.

The drive up I-80 was not pleasant. Driving snow, frozen windscreen wipers, and slippery roads kept speeds down. By the time I reached Kimball Junction, I'd had enough, so Wolf Mountain, being the closest was the obvious choice.

Visibility was dreadful. From the base area, virtually nothing could be seen. However, as soon as I put my skis on, and started out towards the bottom of the Golden Eagle lift, even the groomed runs were covered in more than six inches of light fresh powder.

I decided to start with an easy cruise. Wrong! There were no easy cruises today. Every run needed to be skied with concentration. From what should have been an easy intermediate run from the Spotted Owl lift, I graduated to a steeper black run, Black Bear. There was so much fresh snow on top of old moguls that this proved to be pretty challenging and I fell at least twice.

I managed the steeper and narrower Black Rhino a little better and got to bottom without any major problems. The less steep and broader Caribou was a delight with deep fresh powder that I managed to ski with some confidence. By the end of this run, some of the danger signs of lack of acclimatisation to the altitude were beginning to show, with a growing thirst. I ignored them and decided to take a run off the Condor lift.

Rat Run is usually a comfortable blue run, with just two steeper pitches which are left ungroomed, but with by-pass runs for the timid. Today is was skiing rather harder. At the top there was a narrow groomed track, but this did not lead far. Elsewhere there was a foot or more of more of less untracked fresh snow. I skied the first section comfortably and turned off down the short steeper Jaguar which resulted in two face plants and into the King Fisher bowl and run out to the bottom.

I stopped to take on liquid and for a while felt little less nauseous. I decided to ski off the shorter Rator lift for a while and took two runs down Wombat. The first run was difficult. The fresh powder masked the bumps somewhat and I found it difficult to judge turns and ended up careering across the slope trying to regain control on a couple of occasions and fell several times. The second run was better. I tried to ski more aggressively but found that my ski bindings released twice when I felt under control. The bottom half of the run in particular felt quite fluent.

Unfortunately, this proved to be enough. The altitude finally got to me, with a feeling of nausea and heavy legs. More liquid didn't help and I had to call it a day just after 12. (One compensation, I got $8 refund on my lift ticket!)


Lift Vertical Easy Runs Intermediate Runs Advanced Runs
Golden Eagle 1400 Lower Salamander Marmot
Spotted Owl 1000 Lower Salamander Sea Lion, Woodpecker
Raptor 1100 Sea Lion Black Bear
Spotted Owl 1000 Lower Salamander Caribou, Black Rhino
Condor 1800 Rat Ridge King Fisher, Jaguar
Raptor 1100 Lower Salamander Wombat
Raptor 1100 Lower Salamander Wombat
Raptor 1100
Mountain Beaver, Lynx
Total vertical 9600

Last updated: 08/03/97