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BY BRETT PRETTYMAN
Skiing was not supposed to be an option when OWAA picked Utah’s Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort as the site of the 2011 annual conference. And, in a normal year, skiing would not be something resort officials could offer in July. But this year is anything but normal and when Snowbird announced it would be staying open to the public on weekends through July 4, it suddenly seemed possible that OWAA members could be skiing during their 84th conference.
So in addition to packing hiking boots, fishing rods, cameras and families into planes, trains and automobiles to get to Snowbird for the July 9-11 conference, some attendees may be bringing along their skis. Well actually, they won’t need to worry about drawing crazy stares while driving through Arches National Park with skis on their car rack in July — Snowbird will get them outfitted.
There are a couple caveats required to participate in the skiing. Snowbird, as of June 9, received 776 inches of snow since last October. The count was going up as I talked to Snowbird representative Emily Moench about this event. That is more than 64 feet of snow! Of course, there won’t be that much around when conference starts, but there may be enough to run from the top of Hidden Peak, at 11,000 feet, to the base of mountain. As of this writing there was still a snow base of more than 160 inches at the ‘Bird. Conditions permitting, skiing or snowboarding will be available for up to 20 OWAA conference attendees.
There should be enough snow, conditions pending, but it won’t be the usual fluffy stuff that earned Utah “The Greatest Snow on Earth” moniker. You will have to come back in the 2011-12 winter to experience why our snow is considered the best on the planet.
The plan now is to make at least, and maybe only, one run on July 8. Those 20 skiers, and I’m planning to be one of them, will be the last of a record-breaking 2010-11 season for Snowbird and Utah. This is the third time in resort history that the ski season has made it to July 4th, matching records set in 1995 and 2005. It is unclear if allowing OWAA members to ski will be considered part of the 2010-11 season. But even by going to July 4, Snowbird surpassed, by one day, its longest season of 201 ski days set in 2005.
OWAA officials picked Snowbird for several reasons, including a reduced room rate for its “off season,” never expecting to be able to use the “Ski” in Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, but the opportunity is there and the folks at the resort are excited to give conference attendees the opportunity to ski in July.
Crazy, but true. Hope to see you on the slopes.♦
— Brett Prettyman is the 2011 OWAA Conference Local Committee Chair. A member since 1992, he is also a member of the OWAA Board of Directors. Prettyman is also an outdoor/recreation writer for The Salt Lake Tribune and author of “Fishing Utah,” second edition. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.