Sundance Ski Resort Terrain

Sundance Ski Resort Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (ft)
    6,100 – 8,250 (2,150)
  • Average Snow Fall
    319 inches
  • Lifts (5)
    2 quad chairs
    2 triple chairs
  • Ski Season
    Mid Dec - early April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 45
    Size – 450 acres (182 ha)
    Beginner - 35%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 20%

Sundance Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Trail maps at a lot of ski resorts overstate or exaggerate the terrain. The trail map at Sundance Resort does exactly the opposite. It states only 20% of the terrain is advanced, but the reality is very different. From the top, lines of ridges, bowls, and gullies stream down to a mid mountain valley. Light trees line all runs and can generally all be skied. Nearly 100% of the terrain on the top half of the mountain can be skied (less so on the bottom half). That includes all the ‘cut trails’, the sides of the trails, the trees and everything in between.

Forget about the trail map. If the weather is good follow your nose and explore Sundance’s nooks and crannies.

Sundance Lifts

I’ve heard it said that some snow bunnies don’t venture down to Sundance because it ‘only has three old lifts’. Can you hear me yell ‘Suckers’?! If you don’t think three lifts can service enough terrain for your expansive ego – great. If you think ‘old’ lifts are too slow to let your superhero sized quads melt after a full day of smashing freshies – awesome. If you think like that, stay away from Sundance, you don’t deserve it. Leave it all to the sum of those that are in the know and realise that the number of lifts is no reflection on terrain, and that old lifts mean: 1) blessed relief and recovery; 2) conversations with friendly locals can be conducted and concluded with suitable decorum; 3) one can appreciate the gob-smacking scenery; and 4) freshies last the whole day because tools that don’t like old lifts are skiing somewhere else – hoorah!

The ski area is serviced by two successive chairs (Ray’s quad & Arrowhead triple) that get you to the top, another chair (Flathead triple) that services most of the advanced terrain, and a handle tow in the rank beginner’s area. The main chair (Ray’s) is one of the oddest we’ve ever ridden. It is the only chair I know of that has three exit points (effectively two mid stations plus the terminus), plus the terminus is lower than the second mid station, and you can ride up from the terminus back to the second mid station. Confused? Suffice to say that given the terrain Ray’s lift services, it is pretty well designed and allows all levels of snow riders to exit at the most appropriate terrain.

Snow and Weather

This is Utah with the greatest snow on Earth, so the snow quality at Sundance and weather are similar to all of the other big Utah ski resorts. It does however get less snow then the likes of Alta and Snowbird. Whilst Sundance’s 350 inches of snow is nothing to be sneezed at, it does mean that a good look at the weather patterns may be necessary if you want to ensure a blissful powder day.

Temperatures at Sundance are slightly more comfortable than at Alta and Snowbird which can affect snow quality on southerly aspects.

Sundance Ski Terrain for the Beginner

A nasty walk faces rank beginners that need to go to the handle tow. It’s probably the one let down of the entire resort (aside from the fact that you have share the mountain with others – that’s a huge let down!). The upside is that it is FREE, and the walk will do you good.

A good range of lengthy beginner terrain is available from ALL three of the Ray’s quad departure points. Long cat tracks, wide cruisers – more than enough to allow a cruisy progression to skiing blue runs – which you will want to be able to do or else you won’t get see the gob-smacking view from the top of the Arrowhead triple at Bearclaw’s Cabin.

Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain

For lower end intermediates the pick is the huge wide expanse of Maverick. For higher end intermediates, head up to the top for Wild Flower and Bear Claw. Bishops Bowl could be skied by most intermediates if conditions are good, however the exit down the bottom of pipeline can be ‘challenging’ by the end of the day.

For the Family / Kids

Try night skiing which is on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Dress up for the cold and scream down all the main runs off Ray’s lift with the family. There is even an advanced run under lights (Top Gun).

Parks & Pipes

Can’t say the Powderhounds actually noticed as we were too busy supping on some of the best POW ever. Go to Brighton Ski Resort if you are into this.

Advanced Skiing and Snowboarding at Sundance

Sundance’s line of steep ridges and gullies are an advanced skier’s nirvana. So many lines, so little time. Everyone naturally heads for the massive Bishop’s Bowl from the top of Arrowhead. Don’t get suckered into just riding the main bowl if it’s tracked. Dropping in from either side (Far East or through the Bishops Gates 2 to 5 off Amy’s Ridge) tends to better fall line and snow quality.

Anything off the Fathead triple is funner than a fart in an elevator, and remember that due the number of ridges and gullies, they tend to hide stashes of pow particularly in runs like Drop Out. Out wide off Arrowhead, drop through the Aspens between Wild flower and Bear Claw, make a hard left and traverse across to the top of Freddies. If the wind is howling from the north, this sucks in snow. The Powderhounds saw their tracks disappear throughout the day and every return was greeted by three feet of untracked goodness on a steep fall line. Yummy!

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

There are no defined expert runs listed on the trail map for Sundance, but on the ground, there are a few signposted between Bishop’s Cat Track and Pipeline. They are not truly expert terrain, but are likely to be signposted double black by virtue of the twiggy and bony exits onto the Pipeline. In fact, the more one thinks about it, on a powder day, you’re taking your life into your hands when exiting onto Pipeline as psychos come screaming down from Bishop’s Bowl and surrounds, hell bent on slowing down for nothing and no one. ‘Tis expert after all!

Aptly named The Wall, the run under the top section of Ray’s quad can quickly become expert terrain as it not only tests your grace and style under the stern gaze of your peers on the chair, but it also can slough off after two riders have been through, exposing the very unpleasant glacial base and rocks beneath.

For the Powderhound

Hike up to Mandan from the top of Ray’s Lift and drop into the un-named bowl above Top Gun, then do it again, but this time whip down Marmot Gulch. There’s heaps of terrain in here, but because there is a short hike involved, you’ll have it all to yourself.

The most secret stash for the expert powderhound is the ‘Black Forest’, an unsigned steep tree area accessed from Mandan and exiting onto Roundup. Don’t tell anyone else – it’s a secret! Good manners dictate that this area is not to be ridden until the resort is tracked out. Its northerly, shaded aspect means snow quality is assured for days on end.

If night skiing is on and it’s dumping – get out there. Nothing finer than skiing at night when it’s puking!