My wife and I visited Park City, UT during the week of 11/11 – 11/18/12 for a winter preview. They had their second snowstorm of the year in the days before we arrived and the weather was cold and clear when we drove into town with a high of about 15 degrees. During the week, the clear weather continued the first half with a gradual warming trend. Toward the end there was another small system moving in along with milder temperatures and it was in the low 30s as we left town in a light drizzle.
Since the resort didn’t open until 11/17, we were able to enjoy their slopes on snowshoes for most of the week before the warmer weather started melting and refreezing each day making the snow more spring like.
On Monday, I hiked up the Deer Valley slopes to the summit of Bald Mountain using ski slopes which were busy adding man made snow to the base. The noise was less than appealing, but the views more than made up for it and the packed runs made for easy climbing on my snowshoes.
Tuesday, Pat and I decided to try the route to Iron Mountain
and had a good snowshoe trip going up while the temps were cold, but on our return the sun warmed up the snow and Pat’s snowshoes formed large balls which she had never experienced.
on the trail to Iron Mountain
After complaining about sore ankles, she finally discovered what had happened and it was like trying to walk with a football under each shoe! The last several hundred feet of elevation to the summit had not been visited since the recent snows so I had to break trail through the brushy slopes not knowing where the normal trail might be.
Early Wednesday, I started at first light to climb Jupiter Hill (Peak).
Initially, my plan was to drive to Guardsman Pass and take the cross country route described on Summitpost, but realizing that the road was probably closed for the winter, I decided to try the climb right from our lodging at the Marriott Summit Watch.
Jupiter Pk summit
As a plug for Marriott, we were very impressed with our 1 BR unit there.
The location and décor were very nice and they offered various activities each day. One that we joined was a trip to Salt Lake City one evening to tour Temple Square and experience the weekly rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra that was very enjoyable.
Back to Jupiter Peak, I walked a block over to where the Park City Lift heads up the mountain and strapped on my snowshoes.
Jupiter Pk summit view west
Starting up the hill and veering right beneath the lift chairs, I started climbing up the steep Creole ski run. It was my good fortune that someone had headed up this way the previous day leaving snowshoe tracks. This made my ascent much easier than having to break new trail and also benefited in showing an excellent route that continued along the Drift run which has a gradual incline traversing around the initial slopes toward the base of the Bonanza lifts.
Silver Queen run
There, my mysterious benefactor headed up what appeared to be Silver Queen run to reach the Homerun run which was another gradual incline leading to the Summit house facilities. From that point, I could see my goal to the SW and less than a mile further. From this point, there were two sets of ski tracks coming down from the summit which I followed along the ridge. The weather was excellent, probably about 20 degrees, and little wind. As I approached the final summit ridge, I decided to head straight up toward the summit, leaving the ski tracks which were traversing around the summit.
heading back down
On top, I enjoyed the views and saw that the skiers had been there also before starting down and around the summit to where I had left their tracks. Since there was a fair amount of snowpack on top, it is possible that this 9,998’ mountain was for the moment a 10,000 footer!
After a brief time of enjoying the views in every direction, I began my return trip. This route is about 7 miles roundtrip and gains about 3,000’ of elevation. It would not be as enjoyable when populated with skiers, but early in the day before the lifts open, it might be an option.
On Thursday, I hiked from the Marriott up Marsac Ave past the Montage resort and continued up the closed road to Guardsman pass. This was a nice hike from the Montage and when I returned there, I used the free bus ride back to town and persuaded Pat to ride back up for the hike to the pass and a look around the Montage. It was peaceful and scenic with the road closed for the winter. There was a Range Rover happening at the Montage with numerous models on display around the resort grounds and parked inside the spacious halls for viewing.
On our last day, we explored a nice hike up April Mountain? which is WNW of where we stayed.
With the melting of some of the snow, we were able to use hiking boots and subdivision roads starting with Mellow Mountain to access the top of this hill which is about 7,900’ and offers some nice views across the valley toward the Park City and Deer Valley ski resort trails.