Snowbasin, Utah Mountain Tour

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One of Snowbasin's unsung beauties is that two of its three base-to-summit lifts load in front of the Base Lodge (Strawberry Express is the exception). The Middle Bowl Express gondola rises to the Needles Restaurant and numerous black, blue and green runs. Located 50 yards to the right, the John Paul Express Quad unloads next to the John Paul Restaurant and the Olympic Tram.

When the lifts open at 9 a.m., take the Middle Bowl Express and warm up on Sweet Revenge to Board Walk to Wild Cat Bowl, which leads back to the base. While the first run will warm your fast-twitch muscle fibers, your legs are still not ready for the downhill courses. Saving the high-speed lifts and your tight knees for later, reboard Middle Bowl Express and follow the Strawberry Traverse to Philpot Ridge to Sunshine Bowl, which terminates in the Penny Lane Traverse back to the base.

Snowbasin profits from cold winter storms that lift Salt Lake's salty haze above Ogden Peak, where it seeds torrential blue-smoke powderfalls. When the Wasatch powder blankets Strawberry's faces, meadows and hollows, ride the Middle Bowl Express to the Strawberry Traverse, which leads to the Strawberry area. Here, Elk Ridge, Wolverine and half a dozen other trails explore rolling hills and steep faces as well as aspen and fir glades. After a half dozen runs, adjourn to the Needles lodge for coffee, croissants and a visit to the restrooms-if only to wash your hands and marvel at the green marble. Skiing the downhill courses is a must. Lunch at the John Paul Restaurant will leave you relaxed, calm and calculating. So eat first, tour the course to avoid cramps-and then floor it later in the afternoon.