Deer Valley Skiing
Deer Valley Resort is North America’s skiing’s Waldorf Astoria. Luxury cubed. If you want to impress a lady, Deer Valley is your place. The first time I came to Deer Valley was in the 1990’s. I took my then girlfriend (now wife). The ski-in, ski-out house we stayed in had two hot tubs. One upstairs as part of the master bedroom, the other downstairs. My wife still talks about it.
You can’t talk about Deer Valley without talking about how hard they work at creating an amazing skier experience: grooming, concierge services, and food. No one grooms better. If you’ve advanced to a level where grooming is simply not on the top of your terrain preferences, go for the first chair at Deer Valley. You’ll find wide-open groomed slopes. You may find yourself reassessing the power of the perfectly groomed man-made surface.
My GNASA had no budget for Deer Valley. But I discovered that my Alta/Snowbird pass gave me three free days, and my friends at Squaw were competing there in a mogul competition. I’m glad I visited. No one does concierge services like Deer Valley and they throw them at you. Deer Valley personnel are trained to help you take your skis off if you look like you want or need the help. They also will place skis laid out on the snow, in ski racks. That’s right; they have staff that will bend down, pick up your skis and store them for you. A simple story involving skis. I was at Deer Valley on a bluebird day two days after a monster dump. I had found some powder stashes and thoroughly burnt myself out. I popped out of my skis in front of Stein Ericksen Lodge (and left them on the snow) and had a great lunch at the Troll Hallen (adjacent to the famed Glitretind which was too pricey for my budget). The views are spectacular. When I returned to my skis, an employee had placed my skis neatly in a ski rack.
Deer Valley would call their food artisanal, farm to table, organic. Most of us would call it really, really expensive. But if you like food, or have memories of eating experiences in Gstaad, Les Trois Vallées or Chamonix you can relive the dream at Deer Valley. I mostly brown bagged it.
The other noticeable attribute at Deer Valley are the on-slope homes. Luxury development is prevalent in the lower half of the mountain. If you’re skiing this part of the mountain pay attention to your map to avoid chasing an unskied area that leads to a road you can’t easily cross.
Deer Valley Expert Skiing
Think of Deer Valley as an expert ski resort experience, not as an expert’s skier’s mountain. Your slopeside living options are much greater than your expert terrain options. That said, there are a few places to hunt down some challenging terrain.
On an uncrowded powder day, Bald Mountain shines. Sultan, Wasatch or Sterling Express will get you to the top. There are a bunch of South and South East facing (at their best post dump) bowls and chutes including Mayflower Bowl and Mayflower Chutes that can offer up some steep untracked terrain. Then you can pick up Morning Star or Fortune Teller all the way to the bottom of Mayflower Chair. The great, even if it hasn’t just snowed, North and North East facing slopes are the iconic Stein’s Way, Preerverence Bowl, Thunderer, Blue Ledge, Grizzly and Ruins of Pompeii. From Stein’s Way south, if it’s clear, there are great views of the Jordanelle Reservoir.
The Daily Chutes & The X-Files
If Deer Valley has a legitimate claim to expert terrain, it most certainly lies here. This is where you’ll find the ski school expert classes headed, especially when the snow coverage is lean. At the top of Empire Express, head skier’s right to the Daly Bowl and Daly Chutes. They’re skier’s right off Empire Express. It’s a down and up, so keep up your speed, and be prepared for some sidestepping. If you stay high on the ridge and hike a bit you’ll find the entrance to the X-Files, steep, well-spaced glades.
When freshies are abundant the area below the Empire Express including Empire Bowl, Conviction, and Solace are awesome. But these areas are mostly Southeast and East facing. When snow is scarce, this area has likely been through freeze and melt cycles that make for nasty, icy, even Zastugi type conditions.
Deer Valley hosts lots of ski events. Freestyle and bump events are held on Champion. If its open, not roped off for an event, take a run down this famous bump run.
Deer Valley is at a relatively low altitude starting at around 7,000 feet. Snowbird’s bases start at around 8,000 ft; Alta’s at 8,500 ft. The highest peaks at Deer top out at just over 9,400 feet. Much of the steeper terrain suffers from Southern oriented aspects. If Deer Valley is not flush with new snow, stay high and stay on northern facing slopes.
Snow Park Lodge parking has trams that bring you to the base area. Keep in mind that you go under (via a tunnel) the main entrance area. Otherwise, you can lose time making your way to the base. Deer Valley is a developer’s mountain. Thousands of homes are on the mountain. The lower lifts and runs compete with the roads that service these homes. You can’t simply ski over to another mountain. You need to take the right lifts. If you don’t learn your ski map, you can easily burn up time and find yourself in areas you don’t want to be.