Braving Brian Head

Posted by on March 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm :: No Comments

A few months ago I won a weekend stay at a condominium on Brian Head Resort, a place Jason and I had never snowboarded before, at a charity auction. We were excited to try out some new slopes, especially since these new slopes could be accessed just by walking out the front door of this condo. We decided to use our Brian Head getaway a couple weeks ago and that turned out to be very advantageous timing. A storm dropped 13 inches of fresh powder on the resort in the 48 hours before we arrived and another one threw down 8 inches while we were carving it up. Those delicious flurries made our weekend amazing but complicated. Here is the thrilling tale of our adventures at the Head.

That's the way I like it.

That’s the way I like it.

Brian Head is a little over 3 hours away, which is why we’ve always opted to hit one of the closer resorts rather than head south to its peaks. But, now that we’ve been to this secluded mountain, I think we will be returning again. Brian Head’s base elevation is actually the highest of any Utah resort at 9,600 feet and its extensive terrain satisfies boarders, skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers. Plus, it’s got a cool tubing hill. My favorite thing about this resort though was its lack of patrons. We didn’t have to constantly check over our shoulders for other riders as we cruised downhill. Yes, I believe we’ll be going back.

It may have been cloudy but the view from the top was still striking.

It may have been cloudy but the view from the top was still striking.

Thanks to those previously mentioned storms, and the lack of people present, the snow at Brian Head was fabulous! The powder was deep and heaped. It was glorious! Our one concern about the mountain’s conditions was the potential presence of blow-me-over air currents. The weather forecast indicated that the resort would be very windy, with gusts up to 26 MPH, all day Saturday. Not only would that much blowing make boarding cold and miserable but it could also cause the lifts to close, which would halt our fun altogether. Good thing Mr. Weatherman was incorrecto. While it was a touch breezy, the day was much more pleasant than expected. We didn’t see a lot of the sun but the constant flurries formed another thick blanket of snow by the afternoon. We were overjoyed about that extra layer of powder but, judging from the number of riders we saw stuck in the fluff after lunch, I think it may have been a vexation to the lesser skilled. When 4:30 hit and the resort closed for the day, Jason and I couldn’t believe it was already time to call it quits. Time flies when you’re flying down a mountain.

Even my limited skillset seemed to impress the crowds at Brian Head. I got cheers, waves, and gawks from those on the chairlift. It was odd but flattering.

Even my limited skill set seemed to impress the crowds at Brian Head. I got cheers, waves, and gawks from those on the chairlift. It was odd but flattering.

I think Jason was probably the best boarder on our side of the mountain. I didn't see anyone else trying his type of stunts.

I think Jason was probably the best boarder on our side of the mountain. I didn’t see anyone else trying his type of stunts.

That snow wasn’t all fun and more fun though. It piled up on the roads quickly and made it impossible for us to drive into town to get dinner that night. Luckily, the tasty local pizza joint was happy to deliver. Later that evening those expected winds finally gusted in. Both of us were woken up several times during the night by the bedroom’s shrieking windows as the storm whipped about them.

Gliding through soft powder is like pushing through cottony clouds. It never gets old.

Gliding through soft powder is like pushing through cottony clouds. It never gets old.

We stayed on Brave for a good portion of the day because we are brave?

We stayed on Brave for a good portion of the day because we are brave?

And our drive home the next day was intense to say the least. Those of you who have wound around the steep climbs of State Route 143 that lead to Brian Head can understand why any amount of snow would be extremely hazardous on that twisted narrow road. Upon leaving the resort, we had to wait about half an hour at the top of the pass with a number of other cars while plows attempted to remove the remnants of the night’s blizzard from the highway. Once we were allowed to proceed, our convoy of vehicles crept down the canyon going only 7 MPH. Even at that sluggish speed we were all still sliding precariously, the 4WDs included. Our antilock brakes got some serious use and it took us about two hours longer to get home than it should have all thanks to just 11 miles of slick drops. That fluffy powder beast may look friendly but its wagging tail will knock you off your feet.

I was freezing when we returned to our condo after boarding so I stayed right next to its fake fireplace for hours.

I was freezing when we returned to our condo after boarding so I stayed right next to its fake fireplace for hours.

Even with its scary moments, our weekend was terrific. Being able to just grab our boards and walk onto the runs was fantastically convenient and the quantity of powder on those runs was excellent, especially since we had so much of it to ourselves. Brian Head was a finer resort than we expected. We won’t wait until we win another bid to go down there again.

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