CANYON 3: THE OPTIONS
I was married near the midmountain terminus of the Flight of the Canyons Gondola a couple of years ago. It was beautiful—mountain peaks rising up around us, a stream running below us, clear skies. And just like me on my wedding day, when I was presented with more life choices than I ever thought possible, you’ll find you’ve got some decisions to make, starting with your choice between the Saddleback Express high-speed quad and the High Meadow fixed-grip, which diverge up separate drainages. Each welcomes everybody—regardless of ability—with a range of terrain options.
It’s here that I meet up with Canyons instructors Wally Wahlquist, Heather Fielding and Bob Lutnicki. They know the area better than I do and are about to take me on a tour of some of their favorite stashes. Wahlquist, especially, would know where to look: He helped install the resort’s first lifts—three Riblet Tramway chairlifts—in 1968, when the place was called Park City West.
With the log-sided Red Pine Lodge and its cafeteria disappearing behind us, we head up the Saddleback lift into a gently gladed hillside called The Pines. The trees up here have been thinned to let intermediates try glades for the first time. But on big powder days, even experts love to hit the wind-protected Pines first thing in the morning as a warm-up for the bigger and steeper canyons above.
“The great thing about this resort is that everybody gets to see this,” says Fielding, gesturing to the sunlit slope. “Most ski areas force their beginners and intermediates to stay at the bottom; but here, those skiers get terrain that’s right for them in the middle of a real big-mountain experience.”
We take a tour of all Saddleback has to offer, from glades to wide-open, family-friendly cruisers and some out-of-the-way favorites. Call Wally when you get there, and he’ll take you. It’s worth the trip.