Burning Man is held every year from August 27 through September 4 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada and creates a temporary city that promotes art, self-expression, and self-reliance. The temporary city is named Black Rock City, with the festival’s mission being to guide, nurture and protect the more permanent community created by its culture. It all started in 1986 at Baker Beach, California, with a population of 35, and today boasts a population of over 70,000 people.
This year the Black Rock City (BRC) Snow Club will be adding a new addition to Burning Man, a 14-foot tall and 62-foot-long portable dry ski slope. I had the opportunity to speak on the phone with Dylan Hogan, the founder of BRC Snow Club, and he said,
“The focus (of the Ski Slope) is on spreading the love of snow sports and to give people the opportunities who don’t have the chance to go to the mountains.”
The BRC Snow Club began in 2021 when Hogan and some friends wanted to bring together people who loved snow sports and would embody Burning Man’s principles on and off the mountain.
The idea of building a ski slope in the middle of the desert sounds like a tremendous task. Hogan thought of the idea while sitting in the desert at Burning Man a few years back. They started with a budget of 35,000 dollars and have gone through some trials and tests along the way. The first full construction of the portable ski slope will be on Saturday, August 12, at the Frolique Waterfront Circus in Richmond, California. Two weeks later, Hogan, his team, and the portable ski slope will head to the Nevada Desert for Burning Man.
Skiers and snowboarders will be riding on a material designed by JF Dry Ski Company specially designed for skiing and riding. The material is constructed of mushroom-looking bristles that simulate snow and perform like being on a groomed trail. The U.S. Olympic and other Olympic teams worldwide already use the material. The frame is built of a ring-lock-scaffold superstructure with reinforced plywood panels and then covered with the skiing material.
The BRC Ski Club’s ski slope is much smaller in scale than the Olympic team’s courses; however, they are also not portable. The overall weight of the ski slope is estimated at 7,000 pounds, with the scaffolding weighing 5,000 pounds and the ski material weighing 2,000 pounds. According to Hogan, the ski slope is expected to take around 6 to 8 hours to get fully constructed with a team of about 45 people.
Looking to the future, Hogan said they are open to expanding and taking the portable ski slope to other locations and events. The portable-ski slope will primarily be taken to events on the western side of the country at first, with hopes of hitting other locations east down the road. Hogan added that one struggle with moving forward is getting enough boots and helmets for everyone. The BRC Ski Club provides the opportunity to purchase different products on their website, which will go directly to supporting the club’s projects.