by Tracy Ross
We hadn’t heard much news from the Fjallraven-clad hipsters (sorry, the term is now fauxhemians—the editors) behind the newly imagined Powder Mountain since we reported on the resort in 2013 (see “Hipster Elysium”). It’s strange, given how much hype the resort and the nearby town of Ogden have received of late, that both are still largely off the radar of most skiers. But then we got a press release stating that with the addition of two new lifts this January, Powder Mountain skiers will access an additional 10 new groomed runs and 1,000 acres of bowls and tree skiing. With an updated total of 8,464 skiable acres, the sleepy ski area in the northern Wasatch is now the biggest ski resort in North America, surpassing Park City Resort and Whistler Blackcomb.
But how does the development mesh with Powder Mountain’s eco world view? According to marketing manager Jean-Pierre Goulet, to keep the impact low and the experience high, the plan limits adult season passes to 1,000, and daily lift ticket sales to 2,000. Eventually, the new runs will lead to a “contemporary, intentional village” replete with mini think tanks and local artisan shops all catered to “executives and families seeking to blend outdoor adventure with soul-enriching experiences,” says Goulet.
If Powder Mountain envisions an “intentional village,” then rapidly changing Ogden, 25 miles to the east, must be the unintentional hamlet. Once a Mormon rust belt backwater, low taxes, established infrastructure, and easy-to-access powder days and trails have lured companies like Atomic, Enve (carbon wheels), Rossignol, and Suunto. Local business owner and 60-day-a-year skier Jared Allen says the cost of living is about one-third of Park City—allowing employees at his bar, Alleged, to buy homes. Some barkeeps ski from Snowbasin to their homes on the Ogden East Bench, he says. They ride hundreds of miles of new singletrack, enjoy a robust live music scene in summer, and choose between two massive resorts in Snowbasin and Powder Mountain in winter.
And now Powder Mountain is getting bigger still. The resort is challenged with low elevation (and no snowmaking), which can hurt it in the shoulder seasons. But the average slope angle matches that of Vail’s Back Bowls, and it’s in the Wasatch, so it gets 500 inches of snow a season. Jake Strassburger, U.S. alpine manager for Atomic skis, says, “For the advanced or intermediate, it’s a little playground with tons of natural features. And the snow doesn’t get pummeled like more popular areas.” Strassburger tends to head up after work when “it’s been pounding all day. They’ll open up at 6:30 p.m., and I’ll go night powder skiing.” What a fauxhemian.
From the Deep Winter issue.