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“It’s so butter out there” - Park City Mountain opens to short lines, good vibes

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Parker Malatesta
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Park City Mountain VP and COO Deirdra Walsh with (left) Danica Fox, Lily Strong, Ryan Cook, Wyatt Pike, Terrix Mowry, and Conon - who took the first chair up Payday Wednesday morning.

Park City Mountain opened for the season on Wednesday, making it the earliest opening since 1996.

The resort has a 32-inch base thanks to Mother Nature dropping solid snow in October and November. Lift lines were short Wednesday, traffic was minimal, and the parking lot wasn’t even close to full around 10 a.m.

Local musician Wyatt Pike extended his first chair streak on Wednesday. He said he’s ridden first chair for seven of the last nine seasons.

Pike and his friends Connon, Terrix, Ryan, Lilly, and Danica started arriving at 5 p.m. Tuesday evening.

“A lot of time is spent on the heated patio at Legacy Lodge," Pike said. "It’s pretty good with a sleeping bag.”

Despite the reported high level of comfort, they said they didn’t sleep more than 15 to 30 minutes.

Terrix drove from Boulder, Colorado Tuesday night, and said he took a pit stop on I-70 at Vail to hit a few slopes.

Three Park City High School students, who preferred to stay anonymous because they skipped school, tried to describe their level of hype to get out on the mountain.

“Dude I’m so gassed up," one said.

"It’s peaked, it’s peaked," another added.

"It’s so butter out there," his friend said.

"Psych scale, like 10."

They camped out in the parking lot all night, but didn't recommend others do the same, calling it "horrible."

They said they plan to recruit another friend this winter to take advantage of the carpool rule of Park City Mountain’s new parking reservation system, which goes into effect Friday.

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Sarah Ervin
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The Main lot at Mountain Village on Wednesday morning.

Reservations will be required for the Main, First Time, and Silver King lots between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Starting Dec. 12, spots will cost $25, but those with four or more people in their vehicle will get to park for free. People can reserve their spot at parkatparkcitymountain.com.

Paul Tibbits of Heber did a quick three runs and was in the parking lot getting ready to go home by 9:30 a.m. He expressed optimism about the new parking program.

“Kinda sounds like a pain, but hopefully it’s a good trade-off and traffic will be better and stuff like that,” Tibbits said.

He said he plans to ski Canyons more, where parking will remain free, and will give the reservation system a try. He added that he doesn’t plan to reserve parking when the resort begins charging for a spot. As a local, he said he has other plans.

“I got some secret spots I know,” Tibbits said.

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Sarah Ervin
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New signs along Empire Ave. help direct drivers.

Dave Howard of Park Meadows was getting his first runs of the season on Wednesday. He was not happy about the new parking policy.

“To be honest with you, I’m thinking of giving up skiing," Howard said.

"It’s just not worth the hassle. They charge you every time you turn around. I’m surprised they don’t charge you for toilet paper in the bathrooms.”

He said on peak days, he expects the bus to take an hour to get from Park Meadows to the resort, due to heavy traffic. Until he gives up skiing, Howard said he’ll carpool with friends.

A Park City Mountain spokesperson said Three Kings will open on Friday along with the terrain park. The Transitions terrain park at Canyons will open later this season. It’s been closed the past two years.

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Sarah Ervin
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Robyn handed out free donuts at the Mountain Village base on Wednesday morning.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.