East vs West: Which Mountains are Best

Posted by Katja on February 22, 2011

love-utah-snow (love-utah-snow)When our family is asked, as we often are, "So what's your favorite place to ski?" we all say Park City. People always wonder why all five of us say the same place and why we prefer skiing in the West when we live in the East with many ski areas within a three hour drive of our home.

I didn't grow up skiing either in the East or the West. I grew up skiing in Finland, where down jackets, triple layers and frequent warming breaks were part of the experience, as were icy slopes. When I started skiing in Utah and Colorado, I knew my skiing life would never be the same. 


While we prefer Park City with all of that fluffy powder, there are lots of pros to East Coast skiing--especially when you can jump in a car and get away on a moment's notice, like we did a few weeks ago when we went to Killington, Vt. We also ski every Tuesday at Tuxedo Ridge, New York where they have $10 night skiing.  But after you take a six -minute lift ride up and ski down in less than four minutes, $10 doesn’t seem like such a bargain. That brings me to the first con of skiing on the East Coast:  The runs are not typically as long. There are of course larger mountains in the East as well, but overall I have not found the same wide open mountains  as you find in the West.

I love the crunchy snow in the East, when it's well packed and you can hear the crunch under your skis, and the snow almost squeaks when pressed hard. It’s fun to ski and it’s perfect snowball snow. Unfortunately this snow doesn't exist all the time. If it has gotten above freezing, the snow starts getting slushy and then freezes, which makes skiing conditions less than ideal. The ice is probably the worst part of East Coast skiing. Second worst is the cold weather. The moisture makes 25F in East feel much colder than in Utah.


I know I may sound like the Utah tourism commercial, but they really do have have the best snow on Earth. People who don't live in cold climates or who don't ski, have a hard time understanding that snow isn't just snow. I've heard that there are 34 different words for different types of snow in Icelandic and I believe it. And the snow in Utah - it's the best kind for skiing. There is no moisture in the air, the altitude is high (10,000 feet at the top of Jupiter at Park City Mountain Resort) and the snow doesn't get heavy and wet as it does in coastal climates.

When it snows, it's fluffy, thus they call it powder. It's even lighter than other white powdery stuff like powdered sugar or flour. It really is more like fluffy cotton candy and you can ski literally knee deep in it. And even when you are knee deep, it just brushes off your clothes without sticking and making you feel cold and wet.

It's comfortable snow. I guarantee you that when you takes kids to a ski school for the first time in Park City, it is a totally different experience than in the East (that’s assuming it isn’t dumping snow!)

The biggest con for us on the East Coast is getting to Utah. The flights are pretty expensive for a family of five. But there are many direct flights to Salt Lake City which means that thanks to the time difference, we can leave NYC in the morning and be skiing at Park City Mountain Resort by afternoon. Even better, you won’t have to pay for a lift ticket as long as you show your boarding pass and the Quick Start form you’ve downloaded.

Of course, besides the great snow, Park City Mountain Resort has got a great kids’ ski school, plenty of green runs and groomers and dangerously addictive black diamonds with spectacular mountain views and wide slopes with plenty of space for every skier.

When I get on the slopes here, I think the best snow on Earth just got little better.


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The views expressed on Snowmamas are those of the individual authors, who are independent contractors of Copper Mountain Resort and Killiington Resort and may not be factually accurate. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Copper Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, its owners, its management or its employees. Snowmamas' will receive compensation for their participation as an author.