Uncut, 100 Percent Powder Mountain Resort

"This is pure snow! It's everywhere! Have you any idea of what the street value of this mountain is?" Welcome to Powder Mountain, home to the ideal backcountry winter fix.
The Easy Way Up: Hitching a ride via a snowmobile tow rope at Powder (Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah)

If the cluster of resorts around Park City represents the metropolis of Utah skiing, then Powder Mountain is the region's small-town polar opposite—quiet, expansive, and just slightly off the radar. The resort's mom-and-pop vibe is no mistake; the Cobabe family has owned it since 1972, when Frederick James Cobabe used the mountains to herd his sheep. And while a lot has changed in the 30-plus years since Powder opened its slopes, two things remain refreshingly constant: literal feet of the fluffy stuff (hence the resort name) and an honest, no-frills dedication to providing some of the best skiing and 'boarding in the state. And with over 5,500 acres—including 2,800 lift-serviced acres, heli- and snowcat skiing, and guided backcountry tours—its success on the latter promise is easy to grasp.

Sure, the lodge is decidedly more rustic than some Intrawest ultra-resort. Hot dogs and burgers may replace seared tuna and pan-roasted wild salmon fillets, and your mountain guide may chain-smoke Marlboros, but you're also liable to feel as if you've got the entire resort to yourself during the peak season. Of all the refreshing changes that Powder offers, that may be the most welcome.

But as if that wasn't enough, Powder ups the ante via its Pow Mow Backcountry Tour program. Hook up with one of the resort's easy-going expert guides as he leads you to the best snow and the sickest terrain within the surrounding backcountry. Steep bowls, glade skiing through alpine and fir, steep couloir drops that pour out into expansive, snow-covered flats—you name your poison, and Powder's got the antidote.

Better still, give yourself over to the resort's laid-back atmosphere and you may be lucky enough to hitch an easy ride up to the out-of-bounds region by grabbing onto a snowmobile-hoisted tow rope. Purists may claim you need to earn your turns by skinning or trekking to the sweet spots...but after a few days in Utah's backcountry, cheating becomes a relative term, especially when you still have to concentrate on hitting the next two-dozen turns while dodging the snow that's spitting at you from under the snowmobile treads.

Access and Resources:
Powder Mountain (www.powdermountain.net) lies 55 miles north of Salt Lake City Airport, off I-84, near the town of Eden.

Pow Mow Backcountry Tours run from mid-November through mid-May depending on overall conditions. For pricing, reservations, and additional information on the full- and half-day backcountry tours, contact Scott Levine at: 801.791.3586; scott@powmowtour.com.

As with all backcountry outings, the conditions, weather, and avalanche-safety concerns dictate when and where your guide will take you—and you'll only traverse to regions comparable with your skill level.

Powder Resort also offers heli- and cat skiing, $4 shuttle services to regional lodging, and a unique host tour program, mostly tailored to the adventurous and those in search of untracked powder, where groups of up to six people are introduced to the mountains' varied terrain by one of the resort guides. Half-day rates run $50; $100 for an entire day. The resort also hosts complimentary mountain tours daily at 10 a.m.

Published: 28 Dec 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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