Tom Clyde: A lackluster ski season behind us, it’s time for … axe throwing?
Well, that does it for the ski season. It never really got going. There are years when the ski season is all about the skiing, and there are years when it’s all about the company, and then there are years like this, when it’s all about trying to make the best of it. The season began with record-breaking warm temperatures that melted the snow faster than they could make it. Nothing came naturally. So on opening day, the guns were just beginning to blow snow. The crews worked long and hard, and by Christmas, there were a few runs open.
And then the entire world arrived in town for the ski vacations they booked back in September. The number of skiers on the few available runs was a total mosh pit experience, with long lift lines and short tempers. About half of my usual ski group abandoned the season before New Year’s Day, and some of them never came back.
It got better in January, and they were making snow all the way to February. Without that snow making, we wouldn’t have had a season. The bottom of the mountain would be sprouting grass. There were some objectively excellent days. Maybe a handful, randomly mixed in with day after day of groomers and rock hard moguls. The good days were enough to keep me going, and there were some surprises. The potential for a good day, compared to the reality of staying home and vacuuming, was enough to tip the balance toward skiing.
In the past, I’ve usually split my skiing about 50/50 between Park City Mountain and Deer Valley. This year, it was about 90/10 in favor of Deer Valley. For some reason, they got some steeper terrain open earlier in the season, so we started going there for more options. And in a year when lunch became the main event, well, there isn’t really any question. Three hours of skiing followed by two hours of lunch is pretty darn civilized. The only complaint is that the menu said there were three sauces for the pasta, and there were, in fact, only two. That is a very first-world problem.
The mess at the base of Park City was also off-putting. The new parking system helped, but if you weren’t in the parking lot by 8:45 a.m. most days, you weren’t going to get a parking place. A few times, the planned destination was Park City, but after hitting the “Lots Full” signs, I went to Deer Valley. That only had to happen a couple of times before I quit trying. Still, the three best days of the season were at Park City when the gang did some hiking in Jupiter, finding surprise pockets of powder days after the storm.
Thanks to the snow-makers, groomers, lifties, patrol and cooks who made the best of a difficult season. You worked some miracles this year. But it’s over. Time to muck out the car and arrange an exorcism to deal with the old ski boot smell that has taken over.
The big question is what to do between now and bike season. The next couple of months are wonderful around here in the sense that it’s our town again. But from an outdoor recreation standpoint, Summit County is largely uninhabitable until June. What do to?
And like that, an answer came from above. Axe throwing. I had no idea that axe throwing has become a thing. I clearly need to get out more. There are axe throwing venues in Salt Lake, Ogden and Lehi. Lehi, once home to farm supply stores, has become the high-tech hub of Utah. And apparently computer nerds are spending their off hours throwing axes. It makes perfect sense. Who among us hasn’t wanted to take a well-deserved axe to our computers?
The axe throwing venues are like bowling alleys, where you pay for so much time in the axe throwing lanes. There is a target, and the goal is to hurl your axe into the center of it. Darts on steroids. The venues offer professional coaching and instruction (those ski instructors need to do something in the off-season). At True North, in Lehi, the first half hour of axe throwing costs $18.73, with each additional half hour costing $7.04. Axe-throwing instructors apparently expect to be tipped, and since they are wielding an axe, it’s probably a good idea. Social Axe in Salt Lake and Ogden charges $30 for a two-hour session, and reservations are recommended. That includes the axes.
Both companies offer organized leagues with eight-week competitions. There is a dress code. Open-toed shoes are prohibited, for sort of obvious reasons. Tattoos, beards, and flannel shirts are optional. Snacks are available, but apparently people are there to throw axes, not eat bowling alley food. The Salt Lake location has a beer license.
And you thought Park City had everything.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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Columnist Amy Roberts recently found two diversions from the glum news of 2020: the mysterious desert monolith and “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”