There's no denying that we have rounded a corner in the seasons. I noticed it weeks ago when I walked out my front door, felt my skin prick against the cool damp air and smelled an earthy blend of wet leaves and wood smoke. Fall means many things, but for a lot of us in Utah, it means we're one step closer to ski season.
It doesn't take much to get ready for winter sports, but if you want to be well prepared, now is the time to start. Here's a short guide to pre-season essentials.
Pre-Season Pass Sales
As prices for gear and lift tickets rise, skiing often feels like a sport for the rich. Responding to this, most resorts try to keep in touch with their local audience—and more moderate-income riders—by offering pre-season pass deals. If you intend to use resorts, buying now can save you hundreds of dollars and slash the price of a day ticket in half. But deals don't last forever; deals for Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort and Beaver Mountain have already concluded.
• Powder Mountain Resort: pre-season adult passes are $665, available until Oct. 1.
• Snowbasin Resort: pre-season adult passes are $799, available until Oct. 5.
• Deer Valley Resort: pre-season adult passes are $1,985, available until Oct. 31.
• Sundance Mountain Resort: pre-season adult passes are $499, available until Oct. 31.
• Solitude Mountain Resort: pre-season adult passes are $799, available until Nov. 3.
A little bit like a flea market or a community yard sale for powder hounds, pre-season gear swaps let people buy and sell old gear. There's nothing new here, but you can find some great deals. Some swaps benefit schools or foundations. Swaps are all run a little differently; check websites for details on hours, admission fees, what equipment is accepted, and drop-off and pick-up times for gear.
• Snowbird Sports Education Foundation Ski & Snowboard Swap: Sept. 26-28 at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, 801-933-2222. Snowbird.com
• 2nd Tracks Ski Swap: Oct. 3-5 at Millcreek location, 2927 E. 3300 South, 801-466-9880; Oct. 24-26 at Ogden location, 1273 Canyon Road, 801-621-2003. 2ndTracks.com
• Black Diamond Swap: Oct. 18 at Black Diamond store, 2092 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-278-0233.
• 42nd Annual Park City Ski & Snowboard Swap, Nov. 7-9 at Basin Recreation Field House in Kimball Junction, 1388 New Main St., Park City. ParkCitySkiSwap.com
Learn about avalanche characteristics, snowpack, terrain assessment, safe travel techniques and rescue techniques before you head out to the backcountry. Classes can be pricey, but are worth it.
Utah Avalanche Center has a number of classes, including Backcountry 101 for Snowshoers (Dec. 4 and 6 with an in-class day at REI and a field day at Brighton Fire Station) and Women's Free Beacon Clinic (Dec. 8 at Alta Ski Resort's Albion Grill). For hours, prices and a full list of classes, go to UtahAvalancheCenter.org
American Avalanche Institute conducts numerous classroom and field-based avalanche courses in Salt Lake City and Park City. The earliest classes are Dec. 4-7 and Dec. 11-14; classes are available through February. For hours, prices and a full list of classes, go to AmericanAvalancheInstitute.com
Winter Conditioning and Fitness
It's been five months since you did your last tele lunge, and to avoid straining a muscle, your legs are gonna need a little help getting back into shape. Don't worry—help is on the way.
The University of Utah Orthopaedic Center is hosting its 16th-annual Ski Conditioning Class this fall with regular classes as well as low-impact classes for people 55 and older. Each 90-minute class meets twice a week for two months. The next sessions will be held October to November and December to February and cost $150. Register in person at the Orthopaedic Center 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, 801-587-7109.
The BurnSLC gym specializes in pilates, TRX and circuit classes. Come fall, they combine all of these into a total-body workout designed with help from some top ski athletes and tailored to improve skier/boarder fitness. For full schedules and pricing, visit BurnSLC.com.