Report from February 1, 2020
What’s in a name?
Well, I’ll tell you.
There’s not a whole lot of other mountains like Powder Mountain, at least, not around here where you can still ski decent powder almost a week after it stormed last.
And without the crowds.
We started the day with one warm-up run to bring the legs back to life down to Paradise Chair, took that up, and then made our way over to the cat.
The conditions were nothing short of beautiful today: warm and sunny with a slight breeze and zero clouds in any direction.
It was time to go cat skiing.
Riding the Powder Mountain Cat up to Lightning Ridge is arguably some of the best $25 you’ll ever spend.
A big, sticker-ridden yellow snowcat shows up a little way down the cat track from Sundown Peak at 8,600′ and you just can’t help but get stoked.
A burly, gray handlebar mustached gentleman then pops out of the cabin of the Cat and scans your ticket before all hop aboard the powder chariot.
A scenic 5 minutes pass by as you gaze out the window of the cat towards the snowy countryside and voila! You are at the top of Lightning Ridge, ready to ski some of Pow Mow’s finest side country.
From here, many continue up the skin track to the top of James Peak (9,422′) for more primo backcountry access on mostly south-facing aspects.
But it was already getting warm by the time we got to Lightning Ridge so we decided to just traverse east down the ridge to get some nice, chute-skiing action in before the snow started moving too much.
After a few minutes of traversing down a gorgeous ridge with panoramic views of the Northern Wasatch, we found ourselves on top of Hook Chute — a fun and steep couloir situated between jagged cliff bands on the east shoulder of Lightning Ridge.
From the top, Hook Chute looked sublime.
The chute starts off narrow at the top before widening out a few hundred feet below, shooting you into an open field of pow.
The snow in the chute was slightly old and slightly sunbaked, but still surprisingly creamy nonetheless.
We decided to drop in on the skier’s left side of the chute – the spicier side.
Here, you had to make a few turns before sending a mandatory air over a rock into an untouched field of week-old powder that brought you to the rest of the chute where it began to widen out.
Dustin went first, guinea pigging the high-consequence entry.
The man barely made but two turns before keeping all his speed and sending it over the cliff band landing him into the remainder of the chute.
The dude stomped it and rode it out with speed.
No more than a few seconds went by and he was already at the bottom of the chute.
Now it was my turn.
I dropped in, making a few turns before the choke point and launched skier’s right of Dustin’s track into untouched powder.
The snow in the landing was soft as feathers.
But it was fast — very fast.
I kept my speed and bulleted out the rest of the chute towards the next pitch of our descent from Lightning Ridge.
By now, both Dustin and I had permanent smiles plastered across our faces.
And we we’re barely even to the best part of the descent.
We traversed left from Hook Chute down to Lone Tree where we made long, wide, and surfy turns for several hundred vertical feet down creamy powder, sailing past the occasional rock, free-standing tree, or set of bushes at high speeds.
The snow was good for being almost and week old, and still almost completely untouched!
You’d be hauling ass, making a wide turn in soft powder when every so often you’d hit a sticky patch and feel the snow grabbing back at your ski bases, trying to keep one of them for itself.
It was a reminder to stay a little backseat when ripping the occasionally sticky, leftover powder.
But powder it was, nonetheless.
Big, flowy turns down open fields of powder on bluebird days are what I live for.
And then, as suddenly as it had begun, our descent through Pow Mow’s powder-filled, cat-accessed side country had ended.
All too fast, as it so often does.
But we were high off this last run for the remainder of our day.
So what’s in a name, you may ask?
Well, I guess you’ll just have to put two-and-two together or come ski Powder Mountain and find out for yourself.