Powder Mountain, UT 2/19/09

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
Day 36: Not a bad consolation prize

As many of you know, I had a seat with Park City Powdercats in the western Uinta Mountains scheduled for today. My phone rang around 5 pm last night. With a 435 area code on the caller ID, I figured that it was PC Cats just calling to confirm. Sure enough, it was them, but they were calling to tell me that their second cat broke down and my day there was thus canceled. ](*,)

I had to think quickly. The storm ended on Tuesday. Should I go to work? Should I go somewhere else, and if so, where would be best?

Powder Mountain.

Driving up, the effect of this week's storm was evident. There was more snow above the Ogden Valley than I've seen in a long, long time.

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I arrived in time for the 9 am opening, and sampled some of the untracked below the parking lot en route to Timberline -- even though they got several feet of snow this week I was surprised to find that it was the consistency of Cool Whip. The wind had done a number on the snow on Tuesday, and I could only sink in a few inches. No matter, I was off in search of untracked.

I rode up Timberline and took a more creative route to get to Hidden Lake, much to my surprised finding a stand of aspen trees without a track in it, a hint of what was to come.

I headed out the Powder Country gate from the top of Hidden Lake, poling past an abandoned construction crane to where the pitch started to increase. Delightful! A thin layer of surface hoar made the top few inches ski wonderfully light. The area was perhaps only 50% tracked, so it was easy to score untracked lines all the way down to the access road, where by a stroke of luck the bus was sitting there waiting.

I got off the bus at Sundown, rode the lift and headed straight for the Lightning Ridge snowcat, where a line was already forming in front of the closed sign. I paused to consider taking another lap when the cat rumbled around the corner, ready to start operations for the day. I was about 20th in line, though, and had to wait for the second run.

Arriving on top, I skied down the groomed track to the saddle along the ridgeline where the James Peak hike starts. Right there was a traverse set out across the slope, and...nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not one single track on the main east face of James Peak. I traversed out to where I'd get a longer fall line and dropped in, continuously working my way left into the adjacent drainage for an even longer run. I popped out onto the groomer just a short distance above the bottom of the Paradise lift, having skied 1,500-2,000 verts without crossing a single track! Two days after the storm. During President's Week. \:D/

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From the top of Paradise I repeated the lap: down to Hidden Lake Express and out the Powder Country gate. This time, though, I angled to skier's right, finding a sizeable stand of aspens, completely untracked. This time the bus was rumbling up the road when I popped out, but the driver thoughtfully stopped to pick me up even though I was still well above the bus stop. I got off again at Sunset, bought another snowcat ticket and returned to the Lightning Ridge pickup, where it was now a three cat wait.

While waiting, I struck up a conversation with a couple of guys who were also waiting. One was wearing a Powder Mountain season pass, yet spoke with a decidedly non-Utahn drawl as he chatted with a patroller he obviously knew about flying in late Tuesday night. His name was Eddie, and his friend was Leonard. I'm not fond of skiing alone, so when they invited me to join them I gladly accepted.

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Eddie skis ~60 days a year at Powder Mountain, yet lives in Austin, Texas. When prompted, he indicated that he had a home down in the Ogden Valley. Leonard now lives up in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and drove down the ~600 miles to hook up with Eddie. I was lucky to tag along with someone who knows Powder Mountain's secrets so well.

We pretty much repeated my first route off Lightning Ridge, and the snow wasn't any more tracked out than the first time I went out there today. We stuck together, heading out toward Cobabe Canyon. When we got to the Sunrise poma, the line was a good 10-15 minutes, and Eddie suggested that we hike. I agreed. But we hiked no more than 50 feet up the poma line when Eddie stepped back into his skis and stood there. He waited for the first beginner to let go of a poma, grabbed it and glided to the top. Leonard and I repeated the trick. :lol:

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We kept lapping various lines out Cobabe and an area Eddie referred to as "Larry's Leap" for pretty much the rest of the day. We never stopped for lunch. In the afternoon the mid-February sun was already up to its evil tricks, as the UV had baked anything SW through SE into some heavy, stick snow. We were still skiing at 4:15 when Eddie suggested dropping off the Lodge Trail and skiing part of Powder Country that would stick us on the access road before the ski area at 4:30, thumbing our way back up the road and catching a ride within only a few minutes. When he suggested that I stop back at the house for an après-ski cocktail, it was hard to refuse.

What I hadn't expected, however, was a 6,000 square-foot "vacation cottage" - 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, if I remember correctly, right at the base of the Pow Mow access road. I certainly hadn't expected this from such an unassuming guy.

I've got video footage, but I'm just too damned tired to start editing it tonight.

Days just don't get much better than this.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
I'd live in identikit suburban hell for a while to get some of that.

The "Cobabe Canyon at ~ 2 pm" LAP pic is $$$$.
 

powerlumina77

New member
The landscape close to Pow Mow and Snowbasin is different when it comes to sprawlness. Most people (like us) are drawn to the older houses in Ogden. Lots of 60 year + houses for cheap. Unique neighbors! Cat Food smell from the plant at 30th street! Good times in a fixer upper.

The upper fixin can certainly cut down on your skiing and mountain biking opportunities though. Sigh.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Unique neighbors! Cat food smell from the plant
Heh, when I lived in Albuquerque, we weren't far from the ABQ Dukes' baseball stadium. Every night I'd hear the organist play the same songs over and over (I was trying to write a master's thesis), accompanied by the smell from the fried foods plant a mile away. In the middle of the night, you'd hear the cats in heat -- Hispanics refused, on religious grounds, to fix their pets. Lovely.

Where's Admin's video?
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
jamesdeluxe":2bdou73u said:
Where's Admin's video?

Admin":2bdou73u said:
I've got video footage, but I'm just too damned tired to start editing it tonight.

I'm not even sure that I've got enough footage as Eddie was pushing the wrong button to start recording for much of the day (and during the best runs). However, it takes about 4-5 hours to edit a three-minute video properly.
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
jamesdeluxe":yz6ygnxb said:
Forget the three-minute video... give us one nice run.

Even transcoding that takes significant processing time that my body and brain just didn't have in it last night. Besides, as mentioned the best run footage was never recorded to tape (the whole wrong button thing). Anything we shot yesterday doesn't look terribly impressive, either, for as I indicated the thick consistency didn't leave the shots looking "deep."
 

yak

New member
I'm dyin' here. Nice pictures, can't wait for the video. I love PowMow. You were in all the right places. (I would have hiked Lightening ridge rather than wait for the 3rd cat. Do they still allow it?)
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
yak":25uhjfc9 said:
I'm dyin' here. Nice pictures, can't wait for the video. I love PowMow. You were in all the right places. (I would have hiked Lightening ridge rather than wait for the 3rd cat. Do they still allow it?)

Yep. Had I been skiing my Reverends I would've considered skinning up, but the Reverends were on the truck and I was skiing my Goliaths, which were the perfect tool for that dense snow. Unfortunately I have no skins large enough to fit the Goliaths.
 

Skidog

New member
Marc_C":262fe260 said:
Admin":262fe260 said:
...that dense snow.
One of the reasons I've always been a bit disappointed whenever I've gone to Powder Mtn.

Its certainly not pacific northwest snowpack, but it aint LCC/BCC blower either....its fun to ski different snow.

Ill be there next weekend helping Bluehouse Skis with their demo.

Feel free to join us.

M
 

yak

New member
Admin":2ln7kdra said:
yak":2ln7kdra said:
I'm dyin' here. Nice pictures, can't wait for the video. I love PowMow. You were in all the right places. (I would have hiked Lightening ridge rather than wait for the 3rd cat. Do they still allow it?)

Yep. Had I been skiing my Reverends I would've considered skinning up, but the Reverends were on the truck and I was skiing my Goliaths, which were the perfect tool for that dense snow. Unfortunately I have no skins large enough to fit the Goliaths.


Got a pair of Rev's ready to go to the shop tonight about 2 minutes after the UPS guy delivers the freeride's. \:D/

We just bootpacked it the last time I was there. The cat track makes for an easy hike, and we had packs to carry the skis on.
 

Admin

Administrator
Staff member
jamesdeluxe":1nvnd060 said:
Where's Admin's video?

By request:

[skitube2]http://www.firsttracksonline.com/modules/crpVideo/pnmedia/videos/2009-02-19_Powder_Mt.flv[/skitube2]
 

baldyskier

Member
yak":2m37gp2s said:
Admin":2m37gp2s said:
yak":2m37gp2s said:
I'm dyin' here. Nice pictures, can't wait for the video. I love PowMow. You were in all the right places. (I would have hiked Lightening ridge rather than wait for the 3rd cat. Do they still allow it?)

Yep. Had I been skiing my Reverends I would've considered skinning up, but the Reverends were on the truck and I was skiing my Goliaths, which were the perfect tool for that dense snow. Unfortunately I have no skins large enough to fit the Goliaths.


Got a pair of Rev's ready to go to the shop tonight about 2 minutes after the UPS guy delivers the freeride's. \:D/

We just bootpacked it the last time I was there. The cat track makes for an easy hike, and we had packs to carry the skis on.


Yak,

How long did it take to bootpack up the cat track?

(Admin- Nice pics and video, btw)
 

yak

New member
baldyskier":22msx0yz said:
Yak,

How long did it take to bootpack up the cat track?

(Admin- Nice pics and video, btw)


It's been a few years since I've been there but I wanna guess about 15 minutes if your going to ski Cache (hiker's right), maybe 20 minutes to click in and ski down to the saddle below James.

Watching the video made me a bit nostalgic for the old days when the cat pulled you up on a rope behind it. The local's secret was to be sure you're up front so you didn't get taken out by a novice cat rider when they inevitably went down, cuz the cat ain't stopping for that stuff.
 

Wags

New member
Nice video. I'm a professional producer/editor, so I don't say that easily. Anyway, what was the song? I'm always looking for good songs like that in my work.

Thanks
 
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