Far East in the West

Posted By: Solitude Mountain, October 16, 2017

A classic Wasatch blower storm was winding down, dropping over 40 inches in two days as the parting clouds began to mix with glimpses of sun. It hadn’t stopped snowing all winter, just brief windows of clearing that typically accompanied a day of sun sandwiched between storm cycles. I was running on fumes, having not taken a day off in close to a month and in need of something to eat—a good problem to have given the winter’s stellar conditions.

The racks of skis outside Solitude’s on-mountain restaurant, the Roundhouse were packed. Apparently the rumors of the best Himalayan food in Salt Lake City were true. I had spent the morning catching up with friends who were visiting from out of town, lapping knee-deep powder, serendipitously timed with the opening of Evergreen. The conditions were surreal, yet the day wasn’t even half over. So I was looking forward to finally tasting the acclaimed cuisine while I waited for the Highway to Heaven backcountry gate to open.

It may be a bit odd to think of authentic Himalayan food at a ski resort, replacing the traditional burgers and fries. However, the Roundhouse might as well be a Nepalese camp with Sherpas guiding me inside, given the aromas that flooded my senses just by opening the door. The smell of curries and slowly stewed meats replaced the cold crisp air as we clamored in.

The Roundhouse is renowned for its Himalayan cuisine and features an array of dishes like fresh soups, Dal Bhat, which is split lentil and vegetable stew, lamb curry, and more traditional choices such as sandwiches, poutine, and freshly baked cookies. The Roundhouse is so good that I have had several ski-industry friends tell me they specifically meet at Solitude for mid-week “ski meetings,” just so they can eat there. And even with Salt Lake City a mere 30 minutes down canyon featuring an ever-growing gastronomic scene the Roundhouse’s Himalayan fare is often placed at the top of its class.

I enjoyed vegetable curry, rice, and garlic naan bread on my first visit to the Roundhouse. The fragrance of the Himalayan spices smelled delicious, and I quickly devoured the filling yet nutritious lunch, while catching up with friends and neurotically checking the updates on terrain openings. The clearing skies and stable snowpack had my friends and I itching to dip out the backcountry gate, and we scarfed our plates down after hearing Highway to Heaven finally popped open.

Quickly loading up the Apex Express chairlift, followed by a swift ride up the Summit Express chairlift, we pushed off across the boundary a mere ten minutes after our exquisite lunch.

Slapping climbing skins on, we were off to the races, feeling rejuvenated from the home-cooked meal, rather than another mundane energy bar.

The access to Wasatch backcountry gems is easy picking from Solitude when conditions warrant, and that afternoon we took full advantage, descending into Little Cottonwood via a steep and deep powder slopes and climbing back up to a north-facing chute that spilled us conveniently back into Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Skiing back into Solitude, my friend and I were gleaming. Deep, untouched powder was pillaged, and we managed to beat our crew back to the Thirsty Squirrel for après beers… I owe it all to the curry.

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