Meet Dan Schilling, who’s called Utah home for almost 50 years. Dan and his wife Julie have been skiing in Alta for decades when their busy schedules have allowed, and having recently retired they’re staying at Canyon Service’s Sugarplum Townhouses as they evaluate long-term options for making Alta a permanent home. We caught up with Dan amidst a classic Alta February storm that has already produced two feet of powder with more on the way!
Chris: So have you been a skier your whole life? Where’d you learn to ski?
Dan: Well I was born in Newport Beach, California, where I grew up surfing and skateboarding. My family would take trips to the mountains in California and around the desert Southwest so I was always into the mountains and the outdoors. I moved to Utah in the 1970s–to Farmington actually (a city north of Salt Lake City)–and we mostly skied at Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. But Alta was always my favorite back then. My wife, Julie, has a longer history in Alta than I do; she grew up in Holladay (another city near SLC).
Chris: Why Alta?
Dan: Well Julie and I are both retired from our full-time careers. I was in the military, and I’ve spent much of my life traveling around the world. Throughout the busiest times of my career, I’ve always felt most at home in Utah, and so when Julie and I decided to retire, we knew we wanted to be here. And honestly, when I say Utah, I mean Little Cottonwood Canyon, because this place is so unique. It’s uniquely beautiful, with an isolated, mountain-town feel, even though it’s so close to the Salt Lake Valley and all its conveniences. When I get all the way up the canyon past Snowbird, the simplicity of Alta feels like home. Most ski resort communities feel too busy, too crowded, and too developed to me, whereas Alta feels like…home.
Chris: What do you like about Sugarplum and Canyon Services?
Dan: Over the years of visiting Alta any chance we get, Julie and I have come to really appreciate the type of lodging that Canyon Services provides. For our purposes, the homes and condominiums along the Alta Bypass Road that Canyon Services manages have provided the right amount of privacy and comfort for when we have really needed a vacation. We like to be able to come home after skiing to our own hot-tub and our own kitchen, where we can have our own schedule, and it helps that some of my favorite ski runs finish up basically right above the neighborhood at Sugarplum! We like it so much we’re making Sugarplum our full-time residence!
Chris: It’s interesting that you mention the skiing that leads to the Sugarplum area because that terrain is truly a local favorite.
Dan: Yeah my favorite terrain is everything from the Keyhole (a classic steep powder shot which originates on the Alta-Snowbird boundary above the Wildcat Lift) through the Blackjack/Westward Ho area. I love the deep forest of tall trees, its sheltered snow, and the complexity of the terrain. And yeah, it’s pretty cool to ski straight to your house at the end of the day; Julie has to remind me to take my skis off before I go inside!
Chris: How much is it going to snow in Alta this year?
Dan: Well, I’m going to say 503 inches. I’m an optimist, so I know we’ll get over 500. Everyone wants a 700 inch year but I don’t think it helps to get your hopes up too high.
(editor’s note: as of publication, Alta has received 386 inches during the 2016-2017 season; it seems like a safe bet we’ll hit 500 at this point!)