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The Day the Outlaws Came
by tommy kirchhoff
The Wild Utah-mobile screamed out “Hells Bells” in tribute to Bon Scott. Eight outlaws—all capable of skiing whatever madness Snowbasin could throw our way—smoked and downed beers as we put on our ski boots on the side of the road. Hill Air force choppers were flying their a.m. patterns over Weber County every six minutes. The cabrio took too long, so we just hoofed it.
We were supposed to meet a guest services person “at the moose.” There was chain-link fence, Olympic fence and dead-serious SLOC “helpers” at multiple checkpoints to make sure we were heading only in the direction of the resort. As anyone in Utah these days could attest, the general vibe in the air was intensely military.
The moose sculpture was clearly visible between the massive Grizzly Center and monstrous Lodge. A young boy was sitting right beneath the moose cock. Our guest services guy hooked us up with tickets, and we were gone.
John Paul was closed, but the ride up the Middle Bowl Express (or passing bowl express) gave us an excellent view of the DH course. It was an awesome sight, and the green Olympic flame cooked brightly in each of our eyes.
The gondolas are a bit strange. True, they’re brand new, but the cars have a real 60’s throwback look to them. Each is dedicated to a country of the world. Until those doors opened, we saluted Latvia with clouds of international joy.
We booked over to Strawberry and—oh ya!—ripped some shit up. We burst through some trees, and mached into a little gully no more than 12 feet wide—with six fucking military guys standing there in the middle in full camouflage. A tasty little booster right next to them made for some good fun. They didn’t look pleased.
Our first real run began with a hike up Strawberry Peak. For the glory hounds, that third chute was critical; but hey, the camera was rolling. I took a lower line, but got better snow. They were all served up a true 71-inch base (or less); and as they say, it takes 100 to make it real. I had knee-deep cream down to a bristle cone pine on the edge of the chute. I hucked off a wide branch and landed clean, but a rock took my ski as an offering. Impacted edge, no big deal.
After the next gondola ride (and glide), we hiked up to the top of De Moisy Peak. Atop the razor’s edge, the view of Ogden and the Great Salt Lake was breathtaking. We spent a good 10 minutes figuring out how to get down the north face (a ski patroller later said something about the chutes being called “Sisters”). It was hairball, even for a group of outlaws like this.
Dusty, Andy and Garth walked east and shimmied down some chute we couldn’t see; Dustin called over “it’s OK.” Ryan walked west and down to the Couloir; he probably got the best snow. Somehow, I got into the big chute all by myself. I think I pissed my pants at some point. You always know better the second time; the first time’s just such a gamble. Once I was set up, the snow was better than knee deep and only had one track. Not bad for five days after a storm.
When I took off my skis at the gondola, Andy looked at my ski and said, “Woa.” A cigar-sized chunk of sidewall/edge/base/core was missing between the front and rear binding of one ski. Sharkbite! Oh well, I needed new sticks anyway. All told, we got in four runs. Pow shots, huckin’, and abusive male discourse.
When we headed in for après ski, the “lounge” wasn’t open yet, and no one knew of a TV anywhere at the resort (Ryan was on ESPN at 3:00). We couldn’t believe the opulence of the Lodge. The carpet was so new you could still smell the glue. The walls, the halls, the general elegance of the joint was pretty impressive. I mean it’s nice.
When we asked about adult beverages, the cashier told us we had to see the hot cocoa girl. When I asked hot cocoa girl about beer, her first words were,
“You can only have two each.” Hmmm… not familiar with that rule. Why the hell not. There were four of us, so I asked in all seriousness for eight Squatters (I was sure we were heading for another rule). She told me all four people had to be present. Hmmm…not familiar with that one either.
“Ryan, Garth—get over here!” Each of the four of us presented our persons. Again and again, the hot cocoa girl drafted identical, 16-ounce Squatters twins and set them down for each of us to redeem our two. $32.
We weren’t sure what the “two-beer” rule meant, so we kept sending two or three guys up for multitudes of beers. Ya, that worked. The obviously-Mormon bus-girl seemed to enjoy hanging around our table—who wouldn’t with eight strapping studs… We kept laughing and asking her if she wanted a beer. She’d say things like, “I’ve seen my brother on that stuff—it’s crazy.”
For a ripping good ski experience, one that can offer such things as panty-wetting chutes and “the ole two-beer rule,” head for Snowbasin. Watch out for rocks. Watch out for wanton Mormon bus-girls…and watch out for that moosecock.