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Park City visitor has big ski adventure

The route Tara Jones travelled on Monday from Deer Valley Resort to Wasatch Mountain State Park.
Tara Jones
The route Tara Jones traveled on Monday - on skis - from Deer Valley Resort to Wasatch Mountain State Park.

An expert skier headed for Deer Valley’s Daly chutes on Monday lost her way in a snowstorm and ended up skiing all the way down to the Heber Valley.

Missouri resident Tara Jones had just skied Deer Valley last weekend with her friend Cami Richardson. The two didn’t get a chance to ski the Daly chutes, so when Jones returned to Deer Valley on her own Monday, she headed up to the top of Empire and headed towards the chutes. Jones considers herself an expert skier but visibility that morning was very low.

“Looking at the map on my phone, I thought I was heading kind of around the backside to get down to the chutes,” Jones said. “Well, when I turned off right and I didn't see any signs until I got kind of down there, there said out of ski area, but that was kind of when I passed it. So, I didn't know if it was just something that was not avalanche controlled or whatever. I still kind of felt like I was on the front side of the mountain. So, I started skiing down and it was really, really, good snow.”

She kept skiing until she hit a meadow – which was Bonanza Flat – and realizes she wasn’t where she should be. She saw some snowmobile tracks and thought they would lead her somewhere.

“And so, I press forward for about a mile of skiing and maybe a half a mile hike through some deep snow,” she said. “It wasn't really uphill, just kind of, I couldn't like traverse through it. And then I got to go ski downhill for a while and I had no cell phone signal so I couldn't check on a map to see where I was. And then maybe 30 minutes later, I came across a couple walking a dog. And they looked at me like what in the world are you doing here?”

At that point Jones was on Pine Canyon Road and was able to ski down to Wasatch Mountain State Park where a woman let her know that she was about 10 miles away from the resort.

Jones called an Uber and was driven back to Deer Valley. All in all, she says it was about a two-hour adventure. She says was never worried, knowing that she could get down the mountain.

“Once I found the snowmobile tracks, I knew that I could get somewhere it wasn't like I was caught in some valley where there's nowhere where I couldn’t hike out or something bad,” she said. “So, it was an experience -- it was it was fun.”

She understands that it could have had a different outcome, but was lucky to find the tracks, the couple walking and she was also carrying some water. She was able to find some good, untracked powder.

“The first 200 yards were really epic,” she said. “But after that, it was kind of flat. I joked around I didn't get much vertical in, but I got a lot of horizontal in.”

Jones says she had enough time in the day to get back to the top of the Empire chairlift. The visibility had improved a lot and she was able to ski several runs in the chutes.