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Deep in Cottonwood Canyon

The Cottonwood Canyons, UT, Nov. 14, 2000--Solitude, Snowbird, Alta, and Brighton Ski Resorts are perfectly situated to receive 500 inches of snow annually. They spread across the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons in the Wasatch Mountains. The geography is a winter collage--open white space sparsely tracked by perfectly connected S-curves; steep and famous chutes protected by gray and black rock spires; and strips of green pine distinguishing one trail from another.

This year, smiling resort officials have been added to the canvas earlier than usual, as the four mountains have accumulated over 100 inches of snowfall so far--the majority has fallen in the last two weeks.

The mountains got a jump on the season when they welcomed skiers to schuss down "the greatest snow on earth" this past weekend. Snowbird Ski Resort, President, Bob Bonar, reported that "after skiing the entire mountain, I can say the skiing and riding is phenomenal." Snowbird's Tram is already in operation, boasting a new automated drive system and speedier access to the summit.

Alta Ski Area opened this past weekend to give hungry locals a taste of winter and a mouthful of champagne powder. The mountain will open Nov. 17 for the season and has accumulated a forty-seven inch base.

Five lifts service forty runs, including Great Western, at bad-boy Brighton Ski Resort. Brighton added a new high-speed lift to its roster this season, unloading anxious skiers and riders on the hill a little faster than before.

At Solitude Mountain Resort, three lifts grant access to nine trails, covered by a forty-two inch base. The new Powderhorn Lodge and added units at other locations have improved Solitude's accommodations for the winter and summer too. Solitude also gets a cameo role in Universal Studio's release, "The Grinch," which hits studios later this month.

Big Cottonwood Canyon is on its way to a stellar season. Look for more snow to layer the canyon this week and brain-freezing face-shots for the remainder of the season.

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