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An Unexpected Pow Mission to Snowbasin, Utah with Snowledge

 


 

As has been the case for many skiers, this season has been filled with a lot of tentative plans and uncertainty. Should we even be traveling? If so, how can we do it safely and respect the communities we’re traveling to? Trip plans have been put together and then tossed out, competition dates have been pushed back, and schedules are constantly changing. One of these tentative trips was to explore the under-the-radar freeride terrain of Snowbasin, Utah to film an episode of Seeking Snowledge.

Having researched local health guidelines, made a plan to travel as safely as we could, and coordinating with the resort, the Snowledge team packed up and left Tahoe, just ahead of the biggest storm of the season. With a mix of excitement and uncertainty around Covid and our snowfall prospects, we hit the road, jumping on I-80 East towards Ogden and Snowbasin, nestled deep in the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah.

One of the oldest operating resorts in the United States, Snowbasin features a diverse mix of options from groomers, steep trees, and legit hike-to freeride terrain. With 3,500 acres, 3,000 vertical feet, and 350 inches of blower Utah powder, Snowbasin has endless zones to explore.

On the first day, we made a scenic drive from the Ogden Valley and rolled in to a surprise 8” of signature dry Utah powder. With the upper lifts closed due to high winds, and more snow on the way, we teamed up with Brooks Roe, Snowbasin’s Content Coordinator, for some classic storm skiing. Brooks gave us the local’s tour, which included numerous deep turns in the trees and fun side hits off of the Porcupine and Wildcat lifts. All of us were surprised by the amount of interesting terrain on the lower mountain despite only two lifts running.

Feeling satisfied from a full day of slashes and face shots, we made our way fifteen minutes down the hill to the Compass Rose Lodge. Situated in the Ogden Valley, the lodge is actually a farmhouse offering several unique indoor and outdoor common areas to chill after a long day on the hill. These include a fire-pit and the heated teepee with an oversized game of tic-tac-toe, which we’re two of the cooler experiences we had on our trip.

Our second day started with a quick breakfast and strong cup of coffee. We arrived at the resort and were treated to another 7” of unexpected light pow. Excited by the prospect of getting into the new zones that were slated to open, we made our way up the mountain, making laps off of the Needles Gondola and Middle Bowl lift. The terrain higher up is a mix of the open tree skiing found lower on the mountain, with some fun hike-to terrain that offered additional challenge in the form of cliffs, chutes, and a couple of fun booters. We spent the day alternating between pow slashes and airs, surprised with the number of different options we found.

Hungry from two big days spent exploring the resort, the Snowledge crew was looking forward to a night in Ogden to experience the city life that makes skiing in the area so desirable. Originally a railroad town, Ogden is often referred to as the rebellious stepchild of Utah. It’s notoriously independent and there’s something for everyone, with a mix of glamorous and gritty. Whether it’s a new resort, a restaurant, or a cool place to stay, you feel like you’re finding something no one else has.

For dinner, we landed at the B Street location of Roosters Brewing Company, a fast-growing brewery with a diverse selection of delicious beers and tasty post-skiing food options. In addition to great food and beers, the team at Roosters couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating, giving us a full tour of the brewery. They also host community events - including free backcountry awareness classes!

The storm persisted into our third day, but subsided just enough to access new zones higher up the mountain. We spent the morning hitting airs off the John Paul Express lift, lapping the bowls and steep trees, before making our way over to Strawberry Gondola for a surprise mid day opening. The terrain off of Strawberry is rugged and open at the top, with numerous opportunities to straight line tight chutes and send larger airs from the hike-to terrain of Sister’s Bowl and Middle Bowl Cirque. We knocked out a run on White Room and hugged the rope line down to WFO, before making some technical turns through the chutes of Strawberry Fields on our way back to the main base area. With 4” of new snow falling during the day, the refills were free and the skiing was all-time.

After three days exploring Snowbasin we found a bunch of cool terrain, deep snow, incredibly friendly people, and an experience that felt unique in the ski world. We made our way back towards Tahoe across the vast, open plains of Nevada feeling full and satisfied. We had accomplished something positive and productive at a time where it felt like so many objectives might remain unfinished in this season of uncertainty.

 

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Comments

Thanks for the great report!!

By James McKee on March 15, 2021

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