Our first ride on the ski lift up the mountain seemed like it took forever. I’m not sure if it was the anticipation of our first run of the day or because the mountain was bigger than anything else we had ever skied before–probably a combination of both, but still, we couldn’t wait. We successfully exited the ski lift and glided over to the top of our first run past a sign reading “Elevation 9,500 ft.”
“Wait…this is a green?” Rachel sheepishly asked as she glanced down the glistening slope.
I peered down a steep hill that hardly looked like a beginner slope. For the last 4 years, Rach and I have taken an annual ski trip to Wisconsin over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with my dad and little brother and after 4 years we felt pretty good about our abilities to manage the greens, blues, and black diamonds in the land of cheese curds. However, despite our Wisconsin confidence, we were pretty humbled by the new scale of difficultly offered by the Arizona Snowbowl.
“Um, I guess so!” I responded, and off we plummeted down the mountain.
“Snow” was not the first word that came to mind when I thought about Arizona, but the Arizona Snowbowl, situated under Humphry’s Peak accumulates an average of 260 inches of snow each winter and this January three large storms brought in a base depth of 103 inches! With temperatures in the upper 40’s and 50’s we were able to ski for two days with great snow and sunshine.
The Arizona Snowbowl has six chair lifts for skiers and snowboarders that service over 40 trials (click here for Mountain Terrain Map). The longest lift takes you 11,500 ft up the mountain and allows you to view the other peaks in the San Francisco Mountains and even the upper rim of the Grand Canyon! It was this lift that brought me to my favorite run at Arizona Snowbowl. This trail starts with a modest black diamond that twists through evergreen trees and eventually dumps into the steep wall of the lower bowl of the mountain. By the time I drifted into the ski lift at the bottom of the mountain my quads were burning, but my smile was ear to ear. Since I have never been skiing in Colorado, I’m not sure how the Arizona Snowbowl compares. However, for my level of skiing, it was a perfect notch up from the midwest slopes and I can’t wait to go back!