The mountains surrounding Park City can spark intense feelings of awe and strong desires to explore. Shaun Raskin, owner of Inspired Summit Adventures, is very familiar with these powerful reactions; she’s experienced them herself and she’s embraced and shared them with others through her unique outfitting and guide service. Park City Lodging sits down with Shaun to find out more.
Park City Lodging – Some basics – how long have you owned and operated Inspired Summit Adventures? How would you describe the process you went through in deciding to start and grow the business?
Shaun Raskin – I have owned and operated Inspired Summit for five years. I am a pretty free-spirited person, so I guess I started the company with a dream and a vision to provide something more personal than what I saw other outfitters providing. I had a few incredible clients who gave me the nudge and confidence that what I was offering was truly a product that others would gravitate towards. So with their encouragement and my own stubborn determination I started Inspired Summit. The desire to see how big we could take it and my passion for coming up with creative programs has allowed us to grow at an exponential rate each season.
PCL – The commercial ski experience here in Park City has changed recently, with Vail and its Epic passes and Deer Valley and its Ikon passes, etc. Likely you’ve seen changes in your business, as well – What kinds of changes have you experienced?
SR – For us, it’s been fun. We see more people looking to get into the backcountry for the first time. We also get the clients who have passes and want to learn some backcountry skills and avalanche awareness so they feel more comfortable to step out of the resort boundaries via the access gates and into the backcountry. So for us we are able to cater to those looking to not just be guided, but who want to learn and up their skill set, which is truly what Inspired Summit is about – facilitating people in reaching their personal goals.
PCL – The name of your company and the descriptions of your adventures makes it clear that there is “something more” involved in your guiding. How would you explain that difference?
SR – We are a high touch experience. All of our trips are privately booked and are completely customized to fit our clients’ desires, objectives and skill sets. We work with the industry’s best guides who excel at not just the hard skills, but also can read and relate tou our clients, allowing our participants to feel connected to their activity, surroundings, and ultimately a deeper connection to themselves.
PCL – Who is your typical client? What type of person would you encourage to try one of your adventures? What kinds of concerns do first-time adventurers express and how do you address those?
SR – Our clients vary. I think because we offer such a wide range of activities and because of the customization it allows first timers, families, advanced recreationalists and people training for a bigger goal, to all find our services appropriate. I encourage anyone who has ever wanted to explore nature, feel what being in nature offers, or anyone looking to get more out of their time in the backcountry to try one of our trips. Be it summer or winter, we are getting our clients out in the backcountry and helping them achieve their goals and go further.
PCL – Do you have stories of clients who try different kinds of adventures with you, for example, they did lift access ski touring, then did a hut trip, then came back in the summer to do some backpacking?
SR – We definitely have the four season clients. No particular story comes to mind, just a collection of really incredible people who choose to use us for their adventuring and allow us to share our expertise with them and in return we get to be part of their memories of exceptional days spent exceeding their own expectations. These clients feel more like family.
PCL – What’s your personal favorite adventure, one that you love to guide, and why?
SR – That’s a hard one. I am a skier first and foremost. I love guiding our sled-accessed backcountry ski tours. It’s really where we get to get away from it all. We spend the day deep in the Uinta mountains with no one around. Endless fresh powder to ski, ancient forests and jagged peaks. It definitely is an inspiring setting to say the least. That is probably why I also love our backpacking/ camping adventures so much too, it’s an opportunity to let clients immerse themselves in the backcountry setting and really gain perspective and connect to nature and themselves.
PCL – What are your plans for sustaining and growing your business in the future?
SR – We are constantly working on implementing the industry’s best practices, whether for safety, administrative practices, hiring, or client care. This is something we actively invest in. We take courses and we are involved in industry workshops. The idea is to get those good habits started in the beginning, set a solid foundation even if it means slowing growth. That way we can ensure that every step of the way is intentional and truly creating the experiences and value that we set out to create from the beginning.
PCL – What is your approach to climate change?
SR – Climate change is a reality that our industry is actively discussing, facing. We will have to remain flexible and imaginative in our response to changes, but we also want to be proactive as stewards of the environment. There is always more we can do, but we try to work with mindful companies such as Patagonia and Goal Zero to minimize our impacts on the land and wildlife that inspire a sense of self and place. We have goals to join different environmental nonprofits in 2020. The trick is picking the ones that are doing the most good and figuring out what that looks like within the scope of a small business.
PCL – Finally, what do you do for fun, or for your own vacations?
SR – We do some mountains – winter and spring we definitely go to huts or interesting areas and ski. Late spring and fall we surf – well… Weston surfs and I just try. But now with our little one some of that is changing and we are looking at doing family vacations that are a little mellower – same activities, just kid friendly.
For more motivation to push your own boundaries go to Inspired Summit Adventures.
For more information about exclusive deals for Park City Lodging guests go to Inspired Adventure Package.
Remember and honor our country’s leaders, and have fun doing it with these seven ideas
This Presidents Day in Park City you can have M.A.G.A in your life – More Alpine Games and Activities. Remember and honor our country’s leaders, and have fun doing it with these seven ideas:
President Dwight David Eisenhower – “Ike” – served as the 34th president from 1953 to 1961. He was a five-star general and enjoyed skeet shooting, so much so that he installed a skeet shooting range at Camp David to practice his marksmanship. While we don’t know if he ever tried the sport of biathlon himself, we’re pretty certain he would enjoy the 2019 BMW Biathlon World Cup at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, and so would you. Held February 14 – 17, this exciting international event features over 180 athletes from 28 nations. Arguably the most popular winter sport in Europe, biathlon combines cross country skiing and shooting skills. Spectator crowds are typically animated, sometimes costumed, sometimes raucous. Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Nordic venue, is rising to the occasion, hosting the Legacy Winter Fest – Free admission (and hot chocolate!) to enjoy activities such as tubing, live ice sculpting, a mechanical bull and a petting zoo, food trucks, beer garden, vendor and sponsor village and live music. Come on out and party like Ike!
Gerald R. Ford is the only person to have served as both vice president and president without being elected to either office. Known for his athleticism, having been a standout center, linebacker and long snapper for the University of Michigan, he was also an avid skier, spending a lot of time with his family in Vail, Colorado. We know he really would have appreciated the Ski Utah Interconnect Tour. Designed for expert to advanced skiers, the tour “is not designed for the timid”. Two professional guides go with every tour and groups are limited to 12 or fewer people, so you can be confident and safe as you experience Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird and the backcountry terrain between these resorts. This tour covers an average of 25 miles, requires good physical condition and the ability to ski variable conditions.
Presidents have to eat, and everyone has their favorite foods. Park City offers a wide variety of options where you can “eat like a president”. While we can’t point you in the direction of restaurants serving Martin Van Buren’s favorite boar’s head, or James Garfield’s beloved squirrel soup, William McKinley just might be able to find his special hot lobster salad at Deer Valley’s Seafood Buffet. William Howard Taft reportedly favored steak, and more steak – he’d be a happy camper at Grub Steak. Bill Clinton and Harry Truman could split and share variations of their fave chicken enchiladas and fried chicken at Chimayo. George W. Bush also had a fondness for Mexican food, specifically huevos rancheros – if that sounds good to you, too, head on over to Squatters. Known for “carousing”, our seventh president, Andrew Jackson a.k.a. Old Hickory, would enjoy the spirits and the food at High West Distillery. Somebody get that man a drink!
Some presidents are very artistic – drawing, writing poetry, painting. President Jimmy Carter, a painter, established the Carter Center at Emory University, which regularly hosts auctions to benefit the foundation advancing human rights. One of Mr. Carter’s paintings brought in $250,000. We’re certain he would enjoy the film Leaning into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy showing at Park City Film Series. Creating community through film, Park City Film Series is “art house cinema”, screening thought-provoking and engaging films that you might not find at your local Cineplex. Leaning into the Wind profiles artist Andy Goldsworthy’s distinctive life and medium.
Theodore Roosevelt was well known for his appreciation for animals, and his vast collection of pets including lizards, ponies, dogs, rabbits, an owl and a one-legged rooster. Surely he’d be fascinated with the Nature’s Ninjas exhibit at Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter. The exhibit includes live animal shows with some of nature’s most misunderstood animals including geckos, porcupines and others known for their wild defensive adaptations. The exhibit runs from February 1 – April 28, 2019.
Speaking of animals, it’s a well-known fact that Ronald Reagan really loved horses and enjoyed spending time on his ranch in California. Those who knew him well disclosed that he always rode English until he (or his campaign manager…) decided that his image needed to be more “rugged cowboy”, so he switched to western. Regardless, his famous quote, “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” leads us to believe he’d really love Park City Horse Experience. Park City Horse Experience guides you through partnering with a horse to explore self-awareness and gain new perspectives on life.
Presidents don’t really shop, since they have other people to do their shopping for them. Did you know the White House operates like a luxury hotel in this regard? They get the bills sent to them at the end of each month for their food and incidental expenses, like clothing. But if they did shop like the rest of us, chances are they’d really love Tanger Outlets at Park City. While winter isn’t nearly over, the shops at Tanger Outlets will be clearing the racks for spring and summer merchandise, so you can take advantage of fantastic sales.
Inspiration for Valentine’s Day
Park City offers lots of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day and express your love, for your sweetheart, your family, or just in general for this great mountain town and its terrific recreation and restaurants. As busy as our town can get there’s still time to plan ahead for a fun and romantic long weekend. Go online or call our reservations pros to find the perfect condo or home for you and your loved ones. All Seasons Grocery is a great next step – they can pre-stock your condo with grocery basics and your special favorites – how about chilled bubbly and chocolate-dipped strawberries ready when you arrive?
If you are bringing the kids, Guardian Angel is our trusted go-to for childcare – feel confident planning a special date night and Guardian Angel will take care of the little ones.
It’s no secret that there are lots of great restaurants in Park City. Following are few recommendations for a romantic evening:
Adolph’s For over 40 years Adolph’s has been a special occasion mainstay for area guests and locals. Featuring Swiss hospitality and menu specialties, try sharing the Bundnerfleish – beef dried in the crystal air high in the Alps, then sliced paper thin and served with prosciutto ham, pickles, tomatoes, bread and butter; and some Raclette, the specially imported Swiss cheese, melted to perfection.
Grappa Perched at the top of Main Street, Grappa has the quintessential atmosphere you want for a romantic meal. Their award-winning wine list and rustic Italian cuisine is delicious and impressive. Start with a glass of wine from their extensive list and the Grapes and Gorgonzola salad. For the entrée enjoy the Osso Bucco – slow braised veal, creamy polenta, braised kale and pancetta.
Fireside Dining Situated in Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon Lodge, Fireside Dining features four sumptuous courses served from stone fireplaces, creating a warm and captivating ambience. Snuggle up on a horse-drawn sleigh rides (available by reservation), or consider an adventurous snowshoe trek before dinner.
The Mustang Elegant dining at the bottom of Main Street, The Mustang is perfect for a delightful and memorable evening. A special occasion recommendation: the Duck A L’Orange – tender duck marinated in mandarin orange and Chinese 5 spice, with Yukon gold potatoes stuffed with Okinawan sweet potatoes, poached pear, béarnaise and Grand Marnier demi-glace.
Seafood Buffet Located in Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge, Seafood Buffet serves a grand presentation of fresh seafood including a poke bar, chilled shellfish, hot seafood appetizers and entrées, as well as carvery features, vegetable specialties and prime rib along with a dreamy selection of housemade desserts. Fine wine, beer and cocktails are available.
Ghidotti’s In Kimball Junction, featuring stunning neoclassical Tuscan architecture with multiple fireplaces and sophisticated ambiance, the real delight is the chef’s fresh twist on classic dishes. Start off with the antipasti and lamb carpaccio and a selection from their extensive wine list. Fresh housemade pasta and decadent desserts like tiramisu and homemade gelato are certain to impress your date.
Perhaps you and your sweetheart would like to celebrate with a special lunch – there are plenty of appealing options:
Wine Dive Wine on tap and delicious small plates and wood fired pizzas to share, it’s perfect for a relaxed, intimate mid-day rendezvous. Go ahead and splurge with a pepperoni and date pizza, and truffle fries.
Maybe you’re going to ski or snowboard with your valentine – there are great on-mountain restaurants:
Lookout Cabin Near the mid-station of the Orange Bubble Express at Canyons Village, Lookout Cabin is elegant, fine dining at altitude. For a romantic lunch try the Oysters Benedict made with crispy panko, béarnaise and prosciutto. A sure way to mountain girl’s heart, the Southwestern Braised Utah Poutine made from hand cut fries, ancho chile beef gravy, Heber Valley jalapeno cheese curds, house pickled jalapeño and cilantro crème. There’s a full bar with hand-crafted cocktails and an extensive wine list.
Royal Street Cafe On the slopes at Silver Lake Lodge, Deer Valley Resort’s quintessential on-mountain restaurant offers casual, contemporary and delicious meals and a full bar. For heart-warming comfort food try the RSC Elk Chili, or the unrivaled Deer Valley Turkey Chili. And of course save room for Ice Cream Sandwiches or Deer Valley Jumbo Cookies.
Treat yourself and your significant other to a show: Back by popular demand, founding member of The Supremes Mary Wilson is performing at Park City’s iconic Egyptian Theater.
You can make each other lasting and useful gifts at Soul Poles. Customize your own eco-friendly bamboo ski poles at their shop in Park City – you could even engrave your names!
Instead of going out, stay in and luxuriate with massages: Massage Express is Park City and Deer Valley’s premiere house call massage service. High end massage therapy “delivered to your door” provides for the ultimate in relaxation and contentment, and who doesn’t want that?
The Perfect Itinerary – From a Local’s Perspective
I’ve been in Park City for over 20 years and I enthusiastically welcome visits from friends and family (most of them, anyway…) Each time someone visits, especially for the first time, I get to weigh in on the best things to do, eat and see. I am very careful to suggest itineraries that I would really enjoy, because hopefully I’ll get to go along and, once again, vacation in my hometown.
My brother-in-law, Ed, and his wife, Catherine, make a perfect example. Being a lapsed avid skier, Ed, who lives in the eastern US, comes out every few years in the winter to dust off the boards and enjoy a few reset runs with his brother. But Catherine has never been to Utah. Not even once! So, here’s an itinerary I would put together for Ed and Catherine, to make sure Ed has fun again, and Catherine has a blast (and so do I!):
Since they’re flying in from the east they’ll catch an early morning flight and they’ll get here in time to ski in the afternoon. Ed appreciates and likes to ski on top-of-the-line equipment, and since he skis infrequently he demos every time he comes out. We take him straight away to Park City Sport, either at Town Lift on Main Street or the base of Park City Mountain; either location will have him on Park City Mountain’s slopes in minutes. Catherine doesn’t ski much, like, at all, so she and I will get them checked into their Park City Lodging condo (they’d stay with us at our house, but dog hair). Because she’s fit and health conscious (and because I want to impress her right out of the chutes) I’d take her to Park City Provisions for lunch. I know she’d love their selection of bowls and salads, and I may just twist her arm to share some of my Provisions fries. From there we’d walk around Main Street and I’d show her the Banksy and tell her amusing stories about celebrity sightings and craziness during Sundance and help her shop for cute boots. When the guys are done skiing we’ll meet up with them at Old Town Cellars for a few glasses of wine and some fancy and delicious charcuterie and chocolate. As usual Ed will claim he didn’t have too much trouble keeping up with his brother on the slopes, even after so much time off; my husband will just shake his head and sip his wine.
Since yesterday was a travel day, and they’ll be dealing with the time change and Ed’s sore muscles, they’ll be moving kind of slow. We’ll meet up at Deer Valley Grocery Café for a hearty breakfast – having guests in town in a great excuse to indulge in a Dutch Baby, am I right? The guys are going to ski Deer Valley today, and while Catherine will be thinking about it, she still won’t be quite ready to give it a shot. No problem, lots of other fun stuff to check out. I bet she’ll be ready for a work out and I’m pretty sure she’ll be game for trying out Fat Biking. No, it’s not biking while fat (although after that Dutch Baby…) it’s bikes with big fat tires on which you can ride miles of snow covered trails. I’ve never done it before and it looks like fun, so off we’ll go to White Pine Touring. Local guides are included in Fat Bike rentals there, so I won’t even have to pretend I know what I’m doing. After the ride, we’ll grab a quick healthy lunch at Fairweather Natural Foods, then over to Align Spa for some pampering, maybe a soothing massage for her and hydrating facial for me – the air is really dry here! Meanwhile, the guys will have been cruising the award-winning groomers at Deer Valley, with a break for Turkey Chili and beer. For dinner we’ll treat them (and ourselves) to some local flavor, at the quintessential locals hang out, the No Name Saloon. Catherine might be a little reluctant, it’s pretty casual for her taste, but we’ve taken Ed there before and he loves the buffalo burgers and vibe as much as we do. I’m certain Catherine will come around. After dinner, we’ll go to Paint Mixer. Ed and Catherine aren’t particularly artistic, but they don’t have to be to have a blast with us, having a few bevs and creating a unique souvenir. My husband and I have done it a few times and we want to add to our collection of, ahem, fine art.
Catherine will be ready to ski. After breakfast at Bridge Café & Grill we’ll take her back to Park City Sport and get her geared up. While Catherine brushes up with a lesson, Ed, my husband and I will ski a few runs and we’ll meet up for lunch at one of Park City Mountain’s on-mountain restaurants, probably the renovated Mid-Mountain Lodge – tuna poke and crispy brussels sprouts? Yes please. In the afternoon we’ll make our way over to the Canyons side of the mountain. When we’re done skiing we’ll apres on the deck at the Umbrella Bar which usually has live music and always a fun scene. For dinner, I really want to have them over to the house, but I really don’t want to cook-to-impress. So, since I’m on vacation too here, I’m going to ring up my friends at Epicurean Chefs and let them do the cooking for me. They do these terrific sous-vide entrees that will amaze Ed and Catherine, AND we’ll have a clean kitchen and leftovers.
Ed and Catherine’s last full day, and a lot to pack in. We’ll get up pretty early, grab coffee from Atticus Coffee & Teahouse and head over to Daniels Summit for snowmobiling. My husband and I don’t do a lot of snowmobiling, but we have so much fun every time we do we wonder why we don’t do it more. We’ll have a great morning careening around the trails and then by golly, for more adrenaline rush we’ll head to the Utah Olympic Park and do Comet bobsled rides. We feel so justifiably proud of our town’s – our – Olympic legacy, and we love sharing it. You can still feel the excitement of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at the UOP, and now, the electric anticipation of possibly hosting another Games here in 2030 – fingers crossed! Ed typically hosts us for his last night in town, so they’ll ask us about doing something special that we usually don’t get to do – score! Sleigh ride, here we come. Rocky Mountain Outfitters over in Midway has romantic, horse-y, sleigh-bells-jingling sleigh rides that are just plain great fun. After that we’ll go to one of our favorites for dinner – Sammy’s Bistro. Sammy’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, even though it is neither a diner, nor a drive-in, and certainly not a dive. Normally I’d share my mahi mahi tacos, but after the day we’ve had, hey, get your own.
Ed and Catherine’s flight isn’t until later in the day, so there will be time for a few final runs. We’ll get them out on the mountain again, or maybe Ed will want to go fly fishing – Ed really, really likes to fish. My husband likes to fish with him, especially when he catches bigger fish. My husband doesn’t have gear so we’d grab a guide with gear from All Seasons Adventures to take them out to some blue ribbon waters. Catherine and I can get ready to cook the fish they catch for lunch. Kidding. We’ll go out for sushi lunch at Flying Sumo. We’ll all be sad when they have to leave later on in the afternoon. But Ed will have had another great experience, Catherine will have been impressed to the point that she’ll come back again, and again. And my husband and I will be happily exhausted. Thanks Ed and Catherine, come back soon!
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