People say timing is everything. I say being in the right place at the right time is more important. Last week’s delivery of fresh 'Wasatch Gold' was well received by many, and the heinous crowds in the Cottonwoods proved it. However, while the general population of powder-starved locals waited in the line at the base of the canyon, my friends and I enjoyed an absolutely splendid day at Powder Mountain. Less than an hour drive from SLC proper, this little gem offers up some 7,000 acres of pure shred-able entertainment, without the egocentric masses that inhabit the slopes closer to town.
We began our journey, coffee in hand, around eight o’clock and were pleased by the lack of traffic going north on I-15. After a soothing and scenic ride through Ogden Canyon, we arrived at the base of the mountain and purchased our tickets. At only $59 a person, we felt like we’d hit the jackpot. By 9:15 we were booted up and on the Sundown lift headed for the top of an untracked powder field. A few hot laps later and we were reduced to five-year-olds, laughing and giggling with the delight of each turn. Due to some high winds the night before, a few lifts were delayed in opening, so we decided to indulge and ride the snowcat ($15) to the top of Lightning Ridge. The driver greeted us and placed our skis on the rack as we piled into the comfy cab. As the steel-tracked behemoth whisked us to the top of 700 acres of untracked gloriousness, we re-hydrated and thought about all the suckers waiting in line back at Snowbird and Alta. Once atop the ridge, our driver informed us that all lifts were now open, and that we could drop anywhere we pleased. Surprised by this burst of info, we tried to decide which line to choose. In the end, it really didn’t matter because all around us was slope after slope of unadulterated excitement. A few of us dropped into Hook Chute and proceeded to get gnarly in the tight quarters of this zone. We pulled out of the bottom of the chute and cruised over to Lone Tree for some wide-open, high-speed face shots. “Oh my god” and “Holy shit” were uttered a handful of times once we reached the bottom of the Paradise lift.
Upon gaining our composure and picking our jaws up off the snow, we loaded the lift and were treated to aerial views of the next epic terrain we would soon be schralping. Laid out before us was a cornucopia of cliffs ranging from five to thirty feet with uber-fresh landings waiting to be hot-tubbed. The Paradise lift lived up to its name as we continued to take lap after lap, throwing down hucks and spins to the amazement of the chair loads above. By noon, we had done our fair share of crowd-pleasing and headed back to the car for a bite to eat. After nourishing our gullets, we decided it was time for another snowcat ride. Reaching the top of Lightning Ridge, we gazed towards James Peak and the blanket of pristine powder that still clung to its face. Looking at each other, it was clear that this mountain must be skied immediately, so we strapped our skis and boards to the packs and started hiking. Within twenty minutes, we were on the peak enjoying a 360-degree view of the gorgeous snow-clad valleys below. A quick group photo session ensued and the smiles came easy as we planned our decent. Since it was my boy Dan’s birthday, we let him choose the line. Shug’r Bowl was his line of choice, and the hoots and hollers echoed throughout the canyon. Feeling great, the five of us loaded the Hidden Lake Express and made our way over to Powder Country. A novel idea from the geniuses at the resort, Powder Country is hundreds of acres of terrain that empties out on the road leading to the base. We dove into the still untouched glades of aspen and skied fresh lines all the way to the bottom. Within minutes, a shuttle picked us up and took us back to the parking lot, for free! By now, our legs had given out from so much powder skiing, and we thought it better to head to the car and call it a day. Although the mountain still had plenty of pow left to shred, we were vanquished.
So next time the snow falls in Utah, reconsider your destination and head on up to Powder Mountain, where the freshies are plentiful and the people are few. Thanks to Patrick Lundin and the great operations staff for making us feel at home. For more info, check out www.powdermountain.com.