News Headlines     |     


Thursday March 16, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The 4-week PlanetSKI road trip ends. We finish where we started, Utah, after a final day in Grand Targhee in Wyoming.

March 5th - Day 27

The PlanetSKI road trip rolls into Grand Targhee in Wyoming. Our first impressions proved to be completely wrong.

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

And so it turned out to be.

In the last few days we'd had the fabulous skiing surprise of Sun Valley and it was preceeded by the highlight of my whole 4-week North America road trip - Jackson Hole.

And yesterday we'd had the most interesting and adventurous day on the road as my travelling companion for this leg of the trip, Katie, and I crossed from Idaho to Wyoming - see the blog here from Saturday.

And here is Katie's video of arriving.

Grand Targhee had its work cut out to compete.

This was the sight that greeted us at the base of the resort and it was hard to get inspired by the small hill in front of us.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















The lifts were so slow - a brand new quad, Blackwood, replaced an old 2-man but it hardly took us up the slopes at much speed.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Then Katie had binding problems and her ski kept popping off.

We had to go back to the village to get it fixed.

Ski time lost but big thanks to The Ski Repair Shop.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Katie and I went back up but we were both going through the motions - perhaps not surprising after skiing hard and fast for so many days in world-class resorts.

I had been on the road for 26 days and Katie had clocked up 14.

And then something white and flakey fell out of the sky.

And then another one.

And yet more.

And it looks even better in slow motion:

"You guys ought to head over to Sacajawea area. There's some steep skiing over there and powder in the trees," said a patroller we were riding the lift with.

So we did.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Our opinion of the resort changed immediately.

We lapped the Sacajawea lift half a dozen times.

Each time we found a different line and each time more snow.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















We had misjudged Grand Targhee.

And Katie had the same view.

Check out her video here.

And we had an après drink raving about the slopes and powder of Grand Targee and ticking ourselves off for jumping to conclusions.


We were the last to leave The Trap bar - we heard some great music and met many of the locals who have made Grand Targhee their home resort.

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















Grand Targhee averages 500 inches of snow each winter and is well on target with 400 so far.

If you are visiting Jackson Hole it is only just over an hour away over the Teton pass.

It is worth it for the scenery along and has some stunning views.

"We have runs for families and beginner skiers, but our secret is the runs in the Sacajawea area," said the marketing manager of Grand Targhee, Jennie White.

"We also have cat skiing and you should give it a go next time you are back," she added.

It has more than 600 acres and people can get 15,000 feet of vertical.

The resort is also good value for money - $80 for a day lift pass and you can get lunch for $10.

I recommend the beef burger - the first one of my trip

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















We had both misjudged Grand Targhee - first impressions are not always correct.

And the next morning we woke up to this:

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















20cm had fallen overnight and it was set to carry on through the day.

I had a dilemma: My plan had been to head back to Utah to finish the four-week road trip where I had started and to hit the resorts of Powder Mountain and Alta/Snowbird.

But there was some of the best powder of the whole journey waiting for me here.

Do I scrape the snow off the car or go ski it?

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















I'll let you know tomorrow...

Monday March 6th - Day 28

It was an early start for the penultimate day of the 4-week US and Canada road trip and we awoke to a powder day in Grand Targhee. But we were supposed to move on elsewhere...

It was a good dilemma to have, but a dilemma nonetheless.

The plan from Grand Targhee was to set off early and to drive the 4 and a half hours south to Utah so we could ski the resort of Powder Mountain by lunchtime.

Powder Mountain is a fabulous resort, in fact more of a ski area, with huge amounts of terrain and very few people know about it.

I had spent 2-days there at the beginning of the trip and was looking forward to skiing it again - see here for the posts from the time.

The only problem was we had 20cm of fresh snow on our doorstep and a powder day awaited in Grand Targhee, Wyoming.

Brush the snow off or go and ski it?

Grand Targhee, WyomingGrand Targhee, Wyoming
















What would you have done?

After much discussion with my travelling companion, PlanetSKI's senior news reporter Katie Bamber, we decided to go.

To turn our backs on a powder day.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















It proved (as far as we know) to be the right call and here's why:

The 280-mile journey down the I-15 gave us spectacular views.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















This was the penultimate day of the road trip and we wanted to be back in Utah for its end.

Tomorrow we have a flight at 20.30 and a day ticket to Alta/Snowbird - one of the best ski areas in North America and just an hour from Salt Lake City airport.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















But back to today.

By 12.45 we had arrived in the car park of Powder Mountain and got kitted up.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















It seemed the snow in Powder Mountain would be just as good as at Grand Targhee.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















And it was:

Good call.

And here is Katie's video take on the day:

Thank you, Powder Mountain. Smile

Tuesday March 7th - Day 29

Alta and Snowbird of course.

The two resorts linked a while ago and offer some of the best advanced skiing on the continent.

But it is more than just the skiing – they compliment each other perfectly and are full of people with a deep passion for snowsports.

Snowbird has the steep terrain and large vertical, while Alta has that old-fashioned charm and some great groomers and tree skiing.

The slopes ooze variety and challenge.

I don’t know Jackson Hole well enough yet to make an accurate US comparison, but for me it all comes together in Alta & Snowbird.

Plus it is about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City international airport and with a flight at 20.30 a final full day on the slopes could be had.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















And what a day it turned out to be.

It was a bluebird day with a little fresh powder and some fabulous piste skiing.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip


















PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















I cruised the slopes and reflected on the past 4-weeks as I criss-crossed some of North America’s finest.

I spent the first week with my friend and journalist colleague, Alf Alderson.

Despite our banter on Facebook he is a perfect road trip companion, but this is definitely his best side.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip


















PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















Road trip buddiesRoad trip buddies
















And the last week I was travelling with PlanetSKI’s, senior reporter, Katie Bamber.

She has helped me enormously with the videos, photos and life on the road.

She will also be posting some longer features about the resorts we visited later - Jackson Hole, Sun Valley and Alta/Snowbird.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















Otherwise I had been travelling alone – meeting old friends and making new ones.

I skied a few resorts;

Utah Park City, Deer Valley, Alta, Snowbird, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain.

ColoradoBreckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, Aspen and Copper.

Wyoming Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee.

Idaho - Sun Valley.

And then there was Canada and the resorts around Banff – Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay.

I’d had adventures along the way and seen some sights – the journey between Sun Valley and Grand Targhee springs to mind as we tried to find Atomic City and visited Craters of the Moon.

I will remember the many people I met along the way – from Pat and Martin in Vail, Colorado.

PlanetSKI road tripPat, James and Martin














To Nigel (with friend) and Bert in Sun Valley, Idaho.

PlanetSKI road tripNigel - PlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripBert - PlanetSKI road trip
















The wonderful Nina who took me on an historical tour of Aspen in her electric buggy.

PlanetSKI road tripNina and her motor
















And the ski instructor, Jacqui, who likes to judge people on the colours they wear (lucky I had my blue jacket on that day and not my black one):

Jacqui and Yours TrulyJacqui - the colour queen
















There was Chris at the Silver Dollar bar in Wyoming:

PlanetSKI road tripChris Koch - PlanetSKI road trip
















And the giggling girls in Breckenridge taking in extra oxygen as the resort has an altitude of just under 3,000m and it is in short supply.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















And I bumped into some fellow UK ski hacks who were in town as I passed through Aspen.

The UK's finestThe UK's finest
















I blogged daily during the trip.

People have asked if I can post them all in a single place so they can be read and enjoyed at leisure: they can all be found here if you want to re-live the journey – all of it, parts or just to dip in.

And then again if you find it difficult sleeping at night some say they are the perfect cure for insomnia... Wink

I loved life on the road, moving from resort to resort as the whim took me:

PlanetSKI road tripUtah - PlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripColorado - PlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripAlberta, Canada - PlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripWyoming - PlanetSKI road trip
















PlanetSKI road tripIdaho - PlanetSKI road trip
















And I will remember the snow.

Huge, huge amounts of it:

And some...And some...
















I was lucky enough to hit the USA and Canada in some of the best conditions in recent years with record amounts of snow in many resorts.

From the powder of Powder Mountain:

To the chutes in Alta:

The particular chute is top left in the photos and I still don’t know its name.

PlanetSKI road tripPlanetSKI road trip
















I gave a brief overview of conditions this winter in the USA for the PlanetSKI snow report with my one word conclusion to the snow:

So, the inevitable list has to be done:

Best resort – Alta/Snowbird.

Best single moment – Skiing the steeps in Jackson Hole for first time and on a powder day.

Worst moment – Filing up with petrol and realising I had lost my credit card in a bar the night before (long story).

Hardest moment – Hiking Highland Bowl in Aspen – it's at an altitude of 3,777m.

Funniest moment – Laughing hysterically at our utter incompetence in map reading as Alf and I spectacularly failed to find the base for cat skiing – it was due to be one of the highlights of the trip.

Biggest surprise  – Arapahoe Basin. What an amazing ski area - I could have stayed for days rather than a single morning.

Best drive of road trip – Sun Valley to Idaho Falls.

Worst travel moment – Any airport I had to visit to take an internal flight  (memo to myself - avoid airports at all costs on a road trip even if it involves a 2-day drive).

Best hotel – Limelight (Aspen and Sun Valley) and The Wort in Jackson  - sorry can't split them and if you visit you will see why.

Proudest moment – I was in Sun Valley when I got a call from my 22-year old son that he had passed his Level 3 ski instructor exams. He lives in Banff and I'd been sleeping on his floor the week before as he trained.

Best powder – Powder Mountain.

Thank you Powder MountainThank you Powder Mountain















Now a few people have asked me to award a prize for the best meal I had.

Well I am not going to.

Those people that ski with me and know me well will be familiar with the fact that I am fairly underwhelmed by food and all the absurd fuss around it.

I genuinely can't understand why people spend so much time and money on it when they could be skiing.

I tend to eat what is put in front of me and I can't bear looking at menus with all their choice and silly descriptions so tend to ask whoever I am with to order for me.

"I'll have whatever you are having or something light and vaguely healthy," is my request as I order a large beer and/or a bottle of wine.

But for the record the breakfast at Toulouloo's in Banff wins hands down.

I hadn't eaten for 24-hours when this was placed in front of me.

Now that's a breakfastNow that's a breakfast
















And the muffins at Powder Mountain were rather tasty.

Munching on a muffinMunching on a muffin
















At Grand Targhee in Wyomning I'd missed breakfast to get on the first lift and heard a huge snowstorm was coming in early afternoon so I had my one and only burger of the trip.

Loading up for the approaching stormLoading up for the approaching storm
















I never quite knew if people would want to read my personal exploits every day for four weeks, but it appears they do as the numbers of readers rose as the trip progressed – 15,000+ to date.

I've had many private mentions of appreciation and advice of where to go and which runs to ski.

I even met up with readers en route by sheer chance as they messaged me when they saw I was in resort. 

Thank you to every one of you and I just hope my exploits inspire you to get out there, push the envelope a bit and have some ski adventures in the mountains.

So, plans are already underway for 2017/18 - I’m going further afield and deeper into The Rockies.

On the roadOn the road
















The mountains are calling...The mountains are calling...




















Next winter I'm also going higher when the road stops:

Going up...Going up...
















But for now it is back to the Alps where I hear some rather good snow has fallen.

Next stop is Cortina in Italy at the weekend – I am attending the International Ski Travel Market, ISTM, as the international snowsports world gathers to do business and assess the state of the industry.

Got to get the advertisers in for next season on PlanetSKI after all,  and I'll probably have a ski too.

And guess what?

I have never skied Cortina and I can’t wait to see it.

Then it’s on to the Pyrenees – taking in the resort of Arcalis in Andorra which is a personal favourite of mine.

After I’m off to the French Alps for the first part of' Spring.

And after that I have no idea…. But there's currently 2-months of the season left and I’ll be somewhere in the mountains until early May.

My colleague at PlanetSKI, Jane Peel, has just posted an article about skiing at Easter - see here if you want to see the huge fun you can have way into April.

And then there is the summer.

Did someone say South America?

Working, planning or maybe bothWorking, planning or maybe both
















See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

Related Articles

VIDEOS TO WHET YOUR APPETITE (Saturday December 7, 2019)
HOW TO DO A CITY AND SKI BREAK... (Saturday December 7, 2019)
DECEMBER SKIING SECRETS (Saturday December 7, 2019)
BUSTING SKI MYTHS (Wednesday December 4, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners