The 2017/18 season hasn't been kind to Utah because the normal big snowfalls have been absent this year. Most people, including my wife AiRung and I, need to make lodging and travel reservations long in advance, so we take what the weather throws at us and make the best of it.
With all the brown hills around, we weren't expecting much, but the resort was nearly 100% open with excellent coverage everywhere. This just goes to show how reliable Utah is for planning in advance. Even in a historically bad year, the skiing is excellent. Deer Valley has snowmaking on many of their major runs, and when you add in what many people consider to be the best grooming anywhere, the snow surface was great with very few bare spots. Score!
When we ski Deer Valley we like to start on the most popular part of the resort first thing in the morning: The Northside Express. These are shorter runs but groomed to perfection and really fast.
Next up, we headed over to Empire which is the highest peak at 9,570 ft. At the base of the Ruby Express and Empire Express there is a permanent demo centre which is as far as I know a unique feature that only Deer Valley has. Any guest can go in there and demo the latest high-performance equipment for 2-hours at a time. You can switch skis and demo all day if you want. It's a great way to try before you buy, and we always take advantage of it. This time we tried some carving skis that were fantastic on the firm groomers and we liked them a lot better than our own skis. Time for an upgrade!
Empire provides access to the steepest terrain on the mountain -- the Daly Chutes. This is true double-black steep terrain and will challenge anyone. Further down the ridge to the west is the Lady Morgan Express where we found the steepest groomer on the mountain "Magnet". There were some folks peering over the edge discussing whether they were going to go or not when AiRung and I dropped in for a thrilling ride on the demo skis.
After many runs on Flagstaff mountain and Empire, we headed over to our favourite place to eat lunch: Silver Lake lodge. We have travelled all over the world skiing and find that Deer Valley still has the best food in the business, and it's not that expensive for what you get. The cafeteria has all we need to refuel, including some always awesome pie slices. Yum!
After lunch we had a lot of ground to cover on Bald Mountain and Little Baldy peak. Bald Mountain is the main peak at Deer Valley with runs fanning out on 3 sides and several lifts terminating at the top. We skied them pretty much in order and even dropped into some trees on the Sultan Express. Even after a few days of no fresh snow, there were pockets of powder to enjoy in there.
Also on Sultan "Stein's Way" is named after one of my skiing heroes - Stein Eriksen. My father taught me how to ski and his technique was modelled after Stein's -- skis locked together and the extreme hip check action that looks so stylish in motion. Stein did it because the equipment of the day was reluctant to turn, but also because it's flashy and he was basically a lifelong skiing ambassador. Stein was the director of skiing at Deer Valley from opening day until his passing in 2015.
We always finish up the day on the Jordanelle Express gondola. That lift has only one run that descends down to the lowest elevation that Deer Valley has near the shores of the Jordanelle reservoir, but it's steep and always well groomed, and there won't be many other people skiing it. You can also take a look at some of the most expensive ski resort real estate on your way down. We once toured a house that had an open house sign out, priced at 15 million USD. Inside there was a movie theatre and golf driving range just in case you get bored with skiing some of the best resort skiing on the planet!
It had been a few years since we had skied Deer Valley, and this refresher reminded us of why we love to ski there. Fantastic terrain and grooming, an efficient lift network, reliable snowfall, and great food are just some of the things we like about it, and that guarantees that we will be back many more times in the future.