Steep slopes and fresh snow greeted the “Road To OR” crew at the final stop on the tour, the All Mountain Demo event at Solitude Mountain Resort.
We had driven through the night. Salt Lake City was dark and foggy at 2a.m., where the Winnebago would park at its penultimate destination on our route to the Outdoor Retailer trade show.
The “Road To OR” crew — two GearJunkie editors; Zach Doleac and Lauren Steele, Columbia Sportswear’s “Directors Of Toughness”; and filmmaker Joshua Van Patter — had coursed more than 1,200 miles from Minnesota to Utah.
On the trip so far, we’d tagged the highpoint of Iowa, spent hours heading westbound across Nebraskan nothingness, and then, after a pit stop in Denver, climbed the 14,440-foot Mount Elbert in a daylong push.
The All Mountain Demo, a part of the Outdoor Retailer show, is a chance to test new ski and winter gear coming to market.
This year it was held at Solitude Mountain, a steep ski resort in the Wasatch Mountains’ Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Lifts churned as All Mountain Demo attendees clicked into new skis. Our group picked up gear and headed uphill, the chairlift ferrying toward the mountain top.
Signs warned of cliffs and avalanche dangers at the ski area boundaries. We glided through the open gates in search of trees, powder, and drops adjacent to the resort.
I was skiing with Zach Doleac, a former K2 Ski employee who worked with the brand’s athletes and is an all-around shredder. He shouted from the trees below, “Keep cutting right.”
My skis sunk into powder, slicing between two small pines.
Doleac hit a drop, disappearing into a chute below. Snow tumbled after him, tendrils and accumulating spheres rolling on a white face.
It’d been days since we left the GearJunkie office in Minneapolis. Truck stops, long highways, and huge mountains had dominated the routine on the road.
The RV was parked at the base of the resort, 2,000 feet below. I pushed off, following in Doleac’s tracks.
Gravity took control, pulling me toward the drop, down into the chute, and closer with each turn toward the final leg of the journey on the road to OR.