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From powder stashes to Alta Bombs, 5 of Utah’s best skiers and riders share their faves

From morning routine to best routes and where to nosh, these pros map out a perfect day on Utah’s slopes.

(Photo courtesy of Nick Alegre) Tim Durtschi catches air in Jackson Hole while filming for the upcoming Teton Gravity Research film "Make Believe". Durtschi went to school at the University of Utah and lived in the state until 2019. His favorite resort for a powder day is Alta.

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When clocking in for work requires a liftie scanning your ski pass, you probably know what you’re doing and where you’re going. For professional skiers and snowboarders, exploring all the terrain at their local mountain is literally on their task list.

But few of us can keep up with the Ryan Hudsons, Devin Logans and Madison Blackleys of the world. And most of us probably can’t follow in their tracks, which could very well lead off a cliff or through a halfpipe. So, we asked them, along with Tim Durtschi and Brita Sigourney, to lay out — in words — the routes they take to their best days at their Utah job sites. (Not surprisingly, they all preferred to wake up to a fresh layer of snow.)

Here’s what else they had to say.

Tim Durtschi, skier

Tim Durtschi spends much of his winters in the backcountry. He cultivated a reputation for turning nature’s bounty into his own personal terrain park while living in Salt Lake City from the mid-2000s, when he attended the University of Utah, until he moved to Wyoming in 2019. Throughout his career, he’s appeared in close to 20 ski films, including Teton Gravity Research’s latest flick, “Stoke the Fire.”

But even backcountry specialists appreciate a lift to the top sometimes — especially on a powder day. So when the snow starts flying, he sets his alarm and sets out for a bell-to-bell session at Alta.

How it starts: Durtschi puts a new spin on the backcountry phrase “earn your turns.”

“I like to show up early and wait in the Wildcat chair (line), especially on a pow day,” he said. It can be a long wait, even once he’s loaded. The Wildcat, installed in 1959, is one of the oldest and slowest chairs in Utah.

“I love the old double chair. I hope they never get rid of it. Knock on wood.”

Caffeine kicker: When the adrenaline starts to wane, Durtschi heads over to Baldy Brews in the midmountain Watson Shelter, between the Collins and Wildcat lifts, for a cup of coffee. Baldy offers drip coffee, espresso drinks, tea and beer.

Hidden stash: Once the more obvious runs get tracked out, Durtschi said he heads to High Rustler. He said, “I feel like I can find the powder up there.”

Getting his fill: When hunger hits, a slice of pizza at the Goldminer’s Daughter, near the base of the Collins lift, does the trick.

Last call: Durtschi doesn’t like to pack it in early, even if he’s up before the sun. To extend his day to the max, he climbs aboard the Collins lift. Unlike the rest of the lifts at Alta, it doesn’t stop turning until 4:30 p.m., which means Durtschi can keep riding until 5 or 5:30 p.m.

“A lot of people are done skiing by then,” he said. “But I think it’s my favorite time of the day cuz the crowds are gone.”

Just rewards: He probably missed most of the traffic by skiing late. Just in case, though, Durtschi returns to the Goldminer’s Daughter for a classic Alta Bomb — a double shot of espresso and a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, meant to be drunk together.

“I would say about seven out of 10 people like it,” he said, “and the other three are like, ‘What the heck is this?’”

Ryan Hudson, snowboarder

Looking for a fresh start, Ryan Hudson moved from Los Angeles to Alta in 2008 to ride and work at the Peruvian Lodge. The pro snowboarder honed his style and skills by riding Snowbird from first chair to last chair 180 days a season. His first big professional break came at the NorthFace’s Masters of Snowboarding competition on Snowbird’s slopes in 2010.

Hudson has since moved to Salt Lake City and recently starred with Jeremy Jones and Rafael Pease in this year’s TGR snowboard movie “Mountain Revelations.” He still seeks refuge on Snowbird’s runs, however, and follows this blueprint for a perfect day.

Hot laps: Hudson said he heads straight for the resort’s famous Aerial Tram to start his day. If it’s a powder day, he’ll hike eight or 10 minutes to Mount Baldy and play in that area. If not, he’s content taking hot laps on what might be an unexpected run for a pro rider — Chips.

“Chips run is just the fun groomer,” he said. “(There’s) a lot of cat tracks to jump off of, some off-trail cliffs to hit, a couple of chutes you can sneak out to kind of venture off track a little bit. It’s one of those kinds of jack-of-all-trades runs.”

Get off my lawn: With all the time Hudson has spent working and living at the Peruvian, which sits closer to the base of ski-only Alta, he’s found a few shortcuts to get home for lunch or at the end of the day. Sometimes when he hikes out to the summit of Mount Baldy, he just keeps going east and dips his snowboard into forbidden territory.

“It’s fun. You get a lot of whoops and hollers,” he said. “You might run into some skiers that are down. They’ll probably take you somewhere where it’s super sick or something. Like, ‘Ah, you’re here now, so follow us. We’ll take you over here.’ And they’ll show you some good stuff.

“But most of the time you’ll get, you know, someone’s dad yelling at you, like, ‘How’d you get here? What are you doing?!’”

Keeping it spicy: When he’s playing by the rules, Hudson will stop to have a lunch of spicy cheese fries, a shot and a beer at the Tram Club. The Tram Club closed in July after 27 years of independent operation underneath the tram, but Snowbird is considering reviving it after an outcry by skiers and riders. If that happens, Snowbird will most likely run the bar.

“All of the locals are pretty sure we no longer are going to get our $5 shot-and-a-beer,” Hudson said, “and we’re pretty bummed about that.”

If a bar’s not your scene, Hudson suggests going down to General Gritts. The general store on the first floor of the Snowbird Center has a sandwich counter in the back. A breakfast burrito or a ham, bacon, avocado sandwich should get you through the day.

Proper ending: Hudson believes the best way to wrap up a day in the mountains is to find a good place to watch the sunset.

“If you can get out to Baldy for your last run, you want to go out there. Take your time on the hike, get out to the face and just kind of chill with your friends, enjoy the view,” he said. “... If it’s pushing 4 o’clock, you know, the sun is setting — kind of midwinter — so you get this beautiful light and it’s gonna be one of the best runs you have. And it’s going to end your day proper.

“If you can’t make it out there, then you want to get to the top of Snowbird and just hang out at the top. Grab yourself a beer, hang out with the boys, chill on the deck. They’ve got like the cool restaurant up there. Hang out there for a while and then rip Chips all the way down.”

(Madison Blackley) Madison Blackley, a Park City native who call Brighton her home mountain, recently won the Queen of Corbet's at Jackson Hole ski area in Wyoming.

Madison Blackley, snowboarder

Madison Blackley is an OG of women’s snowboarding. Brought up in Park City, she learned to ski at age 3 and switched to riding at 8 — the first year Park City Mountain Resort started allowing snowboarders.

Turning pro didn’t become an option, though, until she won the local stop of Volcom’s Peanut Butter and Rail Jam just after graduating high school in 2007. At the national event, she placed third overall and claimed Best Trick. Since then, the park and street riding specialist has been among the top-ranked women on U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s slopestyle team and competed in several Dew Tours. Most recently, she won the Queen of Corbet’s freeriding contest at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming in February.

Blackley now lives in Salt Lake City but hones her skills at Brighton, her home mountain. That’s where you’ll find her when the flakes start flying. Her order for an absolutely perfect day would be 25 degrees and partly sunny with 3 feet of fresh powder.

Easy rider: Blackley admits she’s not much of a morning person. So any morning up in the mountains begins with a cup of coffee and some good karma.

“If I don’t have coffee ready to go I’ll stop by Bjorn’s Brew, pick up a coffee, support the dogs — because I love that,” Blackley said of the coffee shop’s policy of donating $1 to an animal charity for every redeemed punch card. “And maybe get like a breakfast sandwich or something because there’s a good chance we might be waiting in line a little bit up the canyon.”

Oh, chute: If there are freshies to be had, Blackley starts at the Milly Express lift and makes laps. Mary Chute is one of her go-to runs, though she may chase the powder across the mountain down Wren Hollow off the Crest Express or even Hidden Canyon off the Great Western Express.

“Pretty much [I] just try and hot-lap as much as possible,” Blackley said. “And so like maybe 1 o’clock I’m pretty notorious for taking like a little beer break at Molly’s.”

That would be Molly Green’s, a restaurant and bar located on the top level of the Brighton Manor at the base of the resort.

Park it: As one might expect, Blackley said she’s likely to spend the entire afternoon at the terrain park found off the Crest or Majestic lifts. When the lifts close, she parks it elsewhere.

“I like to head down from the chairs to the parking lot and see a bunch of friends hanging out in the parking lot, having snacks, barbecuing,” she said, “especially with one of those really, really good days where you can’t even wait to get to the bottom to get some food.”

If you don’t have friends in the lot or just want to warm up indoors, Blackley recommends heading down the canyon to Bandit’s Grill & Bar in Cottonwood Heights, where she sometimes waits tables. Despite having worked there for years, she said she never tires of their tri-tip nachos.

Devin Logan, skier

Though originally from Vermont, Devin Logan has put her roots down in Utah’s Wasatch mountains. She moved out to Park City in 2011, right after high school, to train with the United States freestyle ski team and has been there ever since.

In 2014 in Sochi, Russia, Logan earned the silver medal in women’s slopestyle. She made the Olympic team again in 2018 and competed in both slopestyle and the new sport of halfpipe in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With the Beijing 2022 Games looming just four months away, Logan, 28, said she has one more Olympics in her. This time she’s focusing just on halfpipe. Since no Olympic-sized halfpipe exists in Utah, however, most of her in-state training consists simply of skiing. So, she goes out whenever possible. Here’s what she considers a good day at Park City Mountain Resort, her neighborhood mountain.

So it begins: “I think a great day is just waking up and looking out your window and seeing fresh snow,” Logan said. Bonus points if it’s a Wednesday.

She’s becoming a snobby coffee drinker, she said, so she’ll grind her beans that morning in her blender and brew it in a French press. Meanwhile, she’ll cook up some bacon and eggs and sandwich them between two bagel slices. Then it’s time to head to the hill.

Space invader: A person doesn’t become an Olympian without being willing to put in some work. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Logan’s first stop at Park City would be the Jupiter lift — one of the hardest lifts to access in all of North America. The most direct route requires taking at least three other lifts just to get near the area, which consists only of expert terrain. Start with either the Town Lift straight off of Main Street in downtown Park City or the Crescent Express from the base. Then hitch a ride on the Bonanza Express and drop down to the Pioneer lift. From the top of Pioneer, follow Jupiter Access to the double-black diamond Promised Land.

“Once it’s all skied off, I head to the park,” Logan said, “And hopefully, you know, that snow created some soft snow in there. And then I have fun for a little bit.”

Upwardly mobile: If Logan wants apres-ski fare as high-end as her run choices, she’s going to settle in at High West Saloon & Distillery. The establishment, located a small hop from the base of the town lift, specializes in whiskey, but that’s not Logan’s spirit of choice. Instead, she orders up a specialty drink that combines vodka, lemonade and cranberry simple syrup.

She’ll pair those with an order of the shishito peppers, which Logan, a self-described foodie, said “are to die for.”

“It’s kind of bougie,” she said of the restaurant, “but every once in a while you have to treat yourself.”

Brita Sigourney, skier

Water polo seemed predestined to be Brita Sigourney’s sport. Both her parents played at the University of California in Davis and all her siblings played collegiately as well. Sigourney, who grew up on California’s Central Coast, figured she’d just fall in line. In college, though, water polo lost some of its luster. At the same time, skiing, her other sport, became more fun — especially after she met future U.S. Freesking halfpipe coach Ben Verge.

Fast forward to today and Sigourney has become one of the American women most closely associated with the halfpipe. The Salt Lake City resident is perhaps best known for being the first woman to land a 1080 in competition. More recently, she claimed Olympic bronze in the halfpipe event at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang and, just prior to that, took silver in the same discipline at the 2018 X Games.

With no Olympic-caliber halfpipe in Utah to practice on, Sigourney’s practice time includes getting comfortable in her skis. There’s no place she’d rather do that than at Alta.

Rise up: Sigourney said she knows anytime it’s snowing, she’s going to have to prepare herself for the traffic she’ll encounter going up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“You just have to wake up really early these days if you want to guarantee a parking spot,” she said. She added, “That part’s frustrating, but it’s usually worth it.”

Uncharted terrain: Sigourney will take either the Collins or Wildcat lift up toward the top of Mount Baldy. Then she seeks out the trees and any secret stashes of powder she can find.

“You can just access so much terrain and the trees and stuff that you can’t necessarily see from the ski lift,” she said. “There’s a lot of little, like, hiking, sidestepping type runs that you have to do to get to [the best terrain].”

Know your limits: Even though she’s a pro skier, Sigourney hates the cold, something she finds the irony in. She also doesn’t have much shock absorbency in her knees after about two decades of doing flips, twists and rail slides. So unless it’s dumping, she punches out after about three hours on the slopes.

“I don’t know how people ski bell to bell,” Sigourney, 32, said. “I’m always so impressed when people buy a ski ticket and actually ski all day.”

How about a toast?: While she waits for friends on especially cold days, Sigourney said she might make herself comfortable inside the Goldminer’s Daughter. She likes to indulge in a slice of supreme pizza and warm up next to its giant fireplace.

On more moderate days, she, like Durtschi, she can be found on the patio quenching her thirst with an Alta Bomb — but only if someone else is buying.

“[It] is actually disgusting. I think I’m too old for it,” she said. “So usually if someone gets me an Alta Bomb, I usually like to sip my espresso and then drink the PBR. … I do appreciate the espresso on a cold day.”

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