Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skiing in Utah 2012 - Brighton Ski Resort

Ski run at the Brighton ski resort

February skiing is my favorite.  The weather is good, and the snow conditions are perfect.  I am not a powder hound, so the skiff of soft snow on top of the groomed runs at Brighton was just the right amount for me last week!  The snow consistency was amazing, and squeaked under our skis as we went down the mountain.  In March, the warmer temperatures can leave the snow slushy for part of the day, and then icy late in the afternoon, but February snow is neither icy nor slushy, and Utah resorts can guarantee good snow.  Even in a relatively lean snow year like this season,  the base at Brighton is a respectable 70 inches.

Top of the Majestic lift at Brighton.

I returned to skiing last year after a twenty-odd year absence, and had so much fun that I am skiing again this year.  I skied Brighton several times growing up, and although there have been many changes to the resort in the last two decades, it is still the casual, friendly place I remember. The resort welcomes both skiers and snowboarders, and I find that the two co-exist quite well on the slopes.  Brighton has installed terrain parks at several points on the mountain, and it is fun to watch skiers and snowboarders alike practice their skills.  The Majestic lift goes right over one terrain park, so you get extra entertainment as you ride the lift.

You can watch the snowboarders from the Majestic lift.

We arrived at the resort about 9am.  At this hour on a Friday morning, there was ample parking in the lot, and there weren't any lines for the lifts.  In fact, we didn't encounter any long lines all day at Brighton.  We ate lunch a bit earlier than the crowd, and then returned to skiing while everyone else paused for lunch, and got in several runs with virtually no wait time.  The Brighton Ski Resort offers several lifts and a variety of terrain.  We stuck mostly to beginner/intermediate runs, but Brighton also offers moguls and black diamond runs for the more adventuresome skier.

View from the top of the Majestic lift.

Brighton offers ski lessons and rentals for all abilities.  The Explorer lift is for beginners to use during lessons.  Majestic is a slow, short lift.  All other lifts are faster.  For a longer run, try the Crest Express lift adjacent to Majestic.  It takes you much higher on the mountain.  You can also ski over to Snake Creek Express, and take that lift to the top of the resort (10,000 feet.)  The views of the Heber Valley and the backside of Mt. Timpanogos are incredible from the top of the Snake Creek lift.  The Great Western Express and Milly Express are Brighton's other two lifts.

View of Mt. Timpanogos from Brighton ski resort.

All lifts are quad chairs, which greatly increases the resort's ability to move skiers quickly to the top of the mountain.  The sun was out on the day we visited the resort, and we made sure to apply sunblock.  At this altitude and with the sun shining on the snow, sunburned cheeks can occur rapidly.

Overlooking the Brighton Ski Resort from Snake Creek.

Brighton lacks the high rise condominiums that house multitudes of tourists at some of the other resorts, but welcomes locals and out-of-towners alike.  There are cabins and quaint chalets for rent on the Brighton loop, and as we left Friday, we saw several boys skiing from the run, across the parking lot, right to their doorstop.  Brighton is at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and shares the canyon with Solitude Ski Resort.  The resort offers all-day and half-day passes, and also has night skiing.

Eating lunch outside on the patio at Brighton.

Food is available at the resort.  My son and I like to stop in for a brownie at the end of the day.  Although like most resorts, the food is pricey, the eatery offers both breakfast and lunch/dinner items.  The weather was so nice Friday, we ate outside on the patio.  Indoor seating is also available. There are racks outside to hold your skis while you eat, but do keep an eye on your equipment.  Brighton does provide some areas for brown-baggers to eat their food from home in a separate area.  

Brighton Ski Resort - building for lockers, passes, skis, food, and more.

If you haven't tried skiing before, Brighton is a great place to learn.  The resort offers many options for all ages, including "learn to ski" rates for locals every January, and several "ladies" programs.  You can try your hand at either skiing or snowboarding.  I love watching the youngest skiers making their way down the hill with short skis and no poles.  They are so close to the ground and so bundled up in their snow suits they look like they will bounce when they fall.  They do get up quickly and happily get going again, following their instructors in curving "S" paths down the hill. 

Skiing is a great way to get out of doors and exercise in the winter time, and what's not to love?  The lifts take you up, and gravity brings you down!  I can be at any of six or seven different ski resorts in about 30 minutes.  I am so lucky to live near the mountains and have great skiing literally minutes away.  If you are not a Utah resident, consider coming on your next ski vacation to try out the greatest snow on earth! 

View from the top of Majestic

See you on the slopes!

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