Keep Calm and Shred On, Even on Crowded Ski Weekends

Austin Diamond
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When weekend crowds descend upon Utah resorts like some kind of GoPro-wearing, cat-track-blocking swarm of obliviousness, locals at every mountain rightly begin to fear for their mental and physical well-being. However, even the most spoiled season passholder can still stay sane with a little bit of knowledge about how to manage the chaos. These tips will serve you well whenever the tourists are out in force, whether it’s Presidents’ Day weekend or following a massive powder dump.

Remember that timing is everything. 

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Getting to know the routines of the migrant tourist population makes it possible to use this information to your advantage. The average family of holiday weekend warriors often dawdles getting up to the resort, whereupon they spend even more time buying tickets, renting skis, buying coffee and breakfast, and changing little Jimmy’s soiled long johns. Being at the lift for first chair means you can ski or ride for at least an hour or two before the lines stack up. Similarly, steering clear of the lodge between noon and 1:30 pm means you’ll be able to avoid the cattle drive of people waiting in line to buy $17 hamburgers. Eat lunch early or late—or better yet, pack your own or grill something in the parking lot.

Avoid hero terrain.

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Think of the burliest, steepest section of your home mountain: the terrain that everybody flocks to on a mid-winter weekday when the snow is good. Now stop thinking about it, because you won’t be going anywhere near it for a few days. Many tourists see the most black-diamond-laden parts of the mountain as an opportunity to prove their prowess even if it means slowly picking their way down in spectacularly bumbling fashion. If you want to avoid getting stuck behind people tomahawking in open bowls, sideslipping down chutes, and generally blowing it, stick with the less obvious zones even if it means sacrificing some vertical footage.

Expect the unexpected.

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When navigating any high-traffic areas of the mountain, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume the worst out of any situation unfolding in front of you. That kid pizza-french-frying back and forth in a seemingly stable pattern is liable to cut all the way across the fall line at any moment, just like blind corners are popular spots for in-depth group discussions about the unending mysteries of the trail map. Now is a good time to think back to those emotionally scarring games of dodgeball in high school gym class and remember your coach’s constant screaming about keeping your head on a swivel.

Restore balance to the force.

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Whether it’s the uncomfortable rental boots, a fruitless effort to corral their kids, or the ever-increasing prices that put them over the edge, you’re bound to witness at least a couple of impressive meltdowns from weekend vacationers who’ll unleash their frustration on some innocent liftie, instructor, bartender, or parking lot attendant. Give out a few extra high fives (or doughnuts or tips) to the mountain staff to counteract the abuse they’ll surely be taking. As a dedicated local, you have a sacred responsibility to generate positive vibes around the resort, and the busy days are when they’re needed the most.

And always remember: If you stay at home sulking about crowds rather than just going up and enjoying yourself, then the tourists win.

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