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"The Greatest Snow on Earth." The 500-inch annual average snowfall that graces the slopes of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah have long held this claim. It's a combination of the geography and snowy climate that produces frequent storms, a soft underlying surface, and right-side-up snowfall (meaning the snow starts out wet and dries out as it stacks up).
According to Jim Steenburgh, an avid skier and atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah (known as "Professor Powder"), these variables, along with other specific meteorological details give the Wasatch its unique weather. In his book, Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth, Steenburgh comments that few places exist like it in the world.
When you take into account the perfect Utah powder skiing and combine it with a resort that doesn't get tracked out quickly, it creates a blissful recipe for skiers, particularly those on a ski vacation. Traveling for a ski holiday can be a game of roulette, as skiers and families negotiate time off from work and school, and gamble on conditions. At Solitude, a majority of those variables tilt in favor of the traveler, allowing skiers to leave the stress at home and bet on fresh tracks.
The microclimate of the Wasatch, Solitude's chairlift and terrain layout, and the fact that it is still largely undiscovered by the masses, all contribute to a great vacation. The resort's namesake says it all--it's quieter at Solitude with fewer crowds and a laidback attitude devoid of the powder panic. Silent snowfalls of blower pow blanket the mountain, interrupted only by the cackling of skiers and snowboarders as they arc through pine forests and open bowls. Bluebird sunny days are disrupted by the laughter of children.
From laps in the Headwall Forest off the new Summit Express high-speed quad, storm days can feel like a blur as you chase free refills. With luck, patrol will have access to Milk Run and Parachute open, allowing for cycles off the Powderhorn and Summit Express chairlifts. Then, when you feel as if all the powder is just about to be consumed, Evergreen and Honeycomb Canyon typically open, and with luck Fantasy Ridge, providing access to some of the best in-bound terrain in the Wasatch (with as much, or as little, traversing and hiking as you can tolerate). Either way, the experience is akin to the backcountry, boasting fresh snow and fewer crowds.
With 1,200 acres of terrain, 77 named runs, and four terrain areas, rest assured that soft snow, and oftentimes fresh snow will be waiting upon your arrival. And don't fret if it's your first time visiting Solitude. The resort's Hidden Tracks program allows guests to explore the nooks and crannies with a guided tour, so you can experience the true gems of this quiet, yet world-class resort.
PHOTO: Jay Dash/Solitude Mountain Resort