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Snowbird for Beaters

“Beater: A term used at Utah ski areas (Alta, Snowbird) to describe a tourist of inferior skiing ability. This noun was coined due to the distinctive sound made by a skier, tangled in their own equipment, tumbling down a steep ski slope.” – Urban Dictionary

Above Photo: The Beaters at the ‘Bird
Photo Credit: Jim Harris, Perpetual Weekend

So, you’ve only gone skiing or snowboarding a few times, and your friends have invited you to go riding at Snowbird, in the heart of Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, UT. You meet up at the Park-n-Ride at 7 a.m. to get first tracks off the tram. Your buddies are rippers. They’ve been skiing since they were 2 and know the mountain like the backs of their gloves. The minute you step off the tram, you hop on Chips Run, on your way to the gate to the Cirque Traverse. It’s the steepest, fastest cat track you’ve ever skied, visibility is low, and everyone around you is ducking for first tracks at The Cirque. You’re immediately out of control, and you barely make the sharp turn off to the traverse. There’s no stopping now, so you decide to slow down and stop because your legs are shaking and you have no idea where you are. You lose control and yard sale all over the traverse. They laugh, they scream, you pretend you understand the lingo I’ve just used. You are a beater, and you are beautiful.

There’s nothing wrong with being a beater. In fact, you represent the majority of visitors to Utah’s world-class ski resorts. What would a day of skiing be without getting mowed over by a poor, recently divorced father of three? Or watching a teenage snowboarder in his saggy, lime-green snow costume and $500 Dre Beats fall awkwardly in the lift line while trying to text his mom? If it weren’t for beaters, we’d never get to see people ski backwards by accident or erupt from five feet of powder like a zombie from the grave. Beaters help us remember that we all sucked at some point or another; beaters remind us not only that we’ve progressed, but that we’re still progressing. And each season, new generations of beaters come to the resorts and buy lift tickets and lodge burgers, keeping our local economy robust and strong.

JHarris-jortski-9373Photo Credit: Jim Harris, Perpetual Weekend

Some say beaters have no place on the mountain. Don’t let this stop you from enjoying what the glorious Snowbird has to offer. If you’re looking to save yourself as much humiliation as possible, here are some tips to keep your Snowbird experience as crash free and as much snow out of your undies as possible:

  1. Stick to Chips Run. There are a myriad of fun trails to ride while avoiding the hardcores and keeping them from quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) judging you based on the age of your goggles.
  2. Road to Provo also provides everything the average beater could want. Lots of long, easy trips down the mountain.
  3. If you think you can hide your beater ass in Mineral Basin, think again. There’s plenty of terrain to scorpion down and break your femurs on. Stick to Lupine Loop from the tram or the Mineral Basin Express Lift (though I suggest you stay away from this lift all together. It’s really hard getting off this lift with beer intact). Stick to Baldy Express, there’s plenty of easy terrain for you to pizza/french fries down.
  4. If you’re not feeling the 45-minute ride down from the tram, there are a few lifts at the base of the mountain that will best cater to your beater sensibilities. Peruvian Express gives you access to plenty of easy runs, even the tunnel to Mineral Basin’s Lupine Loop. You’ll surely trip or stab someone with your pole on the automatic people mover, but it’s cool, they’re used to it.
  5. Check out Mid Gad Lift for more mid-mountain fun. Nice short runs to the bottom, perfect for your entire uncoordinated family.
  6. If anyone with weird-looking skis or a shovel in his backpack asks you to join them for a run, politely decline. You’ll spend the rest of your day digging yourself out of a powder field or stranded on top of a cliff.
  7. Lastly, have fun! And if the more experienced skiers make fun of you, whisper behind your back, or straight up laugh in your face, just remember: No one else likes those guys, either.

Here’s a trail map so you can start planning your beaterrific day at the ‘Bird.

JHarris-jortski-9194Photo Credit: Jim Harris, Perpetual Weekend