More Dogs on Main: Whoopie! Opening day |

More Dogs on Main: Whoopie! Opening day

Tom Clyde

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.
Tom Clyde mug

Game on. Park City Mountain opened early this year, and it was very good. My group decided that there was no need to camp out for the first chair, and rolled in right at the crack of 11:30. A couple of employees said it was busy earlier, and we had timed it right. The first chair gang had done it all and gone home. When we got there, we had the place more or less to ourselves. The last piece of the early festivities was a very loud DJ at the bottom of Payday. His gig apparently ended at noon. 

It was a pretty typical opening day in terms of terrain; the Payday and First Time chairs, Home Run, Treasure Hollow, the bottom of Silver Skis, the cat track from First Time, and Dividend. What wasn’t typical was that the snow on all of them was really good. Midwinter-, God-created-, proper-snow-good. Coverage was great and the grooming was really nice, even after the morning rush. Dividend was still a bit powdery with the beginnings of a few moguls.

The plan had been to hit it all once and call it a good start. It was good enough that we kept doing “one more run” until we had hit it all at least twice, and Dividend more than that. In other words, skiing at Park City Mountain was fun again.

There are differences. The traffic flow loops everybody through the First Time parking lot, which is probably good, but different from what I’ve experienced for almost 60 years. I was in the “Buses only” lane and had to move over.  Somebody else had made that mistake and conveniently smashed a couple of traffic cones, clearing the way. Good luck when the plows are out. 

I was with a group of eight (well, we lost one on the first run — not easily done — but regrouped). Two arrived by bus. One came from Prospector and got there quickly and easily. The other bus rider came from Kimball Junction and ended up 40 minutes early to hit the agreed upon meet-up time. It’s not clear if the next bus would have made him late. So he got to hang out for longer than he wanted.

That took care of two of eight. Two have season passes for the garage, so they arrived each in his own car, and parked in the garage that they had already paid for, even though it is free for a couple of weeks.  One couple arrived in the same car, from the same house, which seems almost strange behavior for locals. I know a couple who always drive in separate cars, from the same house, because they can never agree on how long they are going to ski. I asked about their plans and, without hesitation, they said paying to park two cars was cheaper than a divorce. The other two in the group arrived from different directions and drove our own cars, like real Americans.

That, of course, is why we have a parking problem. It’s us. In theory, we could all have fit in one Suburban with a seat to spare. No way. The logistics of trying to figure out a central meeting place to car pool seem daunting. We are all coming from different places. We make, then change, plans last-minute.  Friends in Prospector have offered parking in their driveways, and the bus from there is efficient. Richardson Flat offers 750 parking places, and a bus route that inexplicably does not service either ski resort. Multiple stops are a problem, but having to transfer is deadly. So that’s useless. It might work as a car pool location, but it’s doomed to fail as a park-and-ride lot if that’s the only bus service. That’s the city’s doing.

The biggest difference in the parking, however, was the new layout. The parking lots have been turned 90 degrees, with the lanes running north-south instead of east-west like they have done forever. Once you have your boots on and are walking to the lift, you aren’t fighting the traffic other than getting across Lowell Avenue. And if you are driving into the parking lot, you don’t have to dodge children or worry about running over piles of gear as families get assembled. It seems so obvious after only 59 years.

I got the parking reservation app set up. That would have been easier if I had a 12-year old in the house, and it’s on the computer, not my phone. It’s going to take some getting used to. First, when meeting friends coming from different houses, we need to figure out who will make the reservation, so we can carpool. We all have small cars and nobody has a roof rack, so stuffing four of us and all the gear into the same car won’t work. The cancellation policy requires 24 hours’ notice or you get charged for the reservation. The only obvious solution is to invest in three dummies and arrive in the parking lot with the windows all steamed up. So there are some kinks there to be worked out.

The important part is that there is snow on the ground, lifts are turning, and ski conditions were really, really good. We’re off to a good start.


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