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TRIP REPORT: Powder Mountain, Utah (December 25, 2016)

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I am obsessed with finding bottomless, blower powder. On Christmas Day, 2016, we found it at Powder Mountain, Utah.

Here are a few quick facts about the mountain and then we'll get into a showcase of the best photos and videos from the day.

  • The parking area and lodge is at the top of the mountain
  • The elevation is low with the summit at about 9,000 feet
  • The terrain is generally low-to-moderate angle with open areas and nicely spaced trees ('hero' terrain when there is powder)
  • The mountain is located east of Ogden or about 50 miles (as the crow flies) north of the Cottonwood Canyons

We skied on Christmas Day (December 25), and the depth of the powder was evident on the next day's snow report which showed that over 30 inches fell in the previous two days.

We verified that we were skiing about 20 inches of light, dry, fluffy powder. There was likely 5-10 inches of thicker powder under this lighter snow, which is a perfect recipe for turns that feel bottomless.

A unique aspect of Powder Mountain is that you can get uphill in three ways: Chairlift, Bus, and Snow Cat.

When you ski into the Powder Country area, you end at the access road and hop on a bus back to the main area.

After the bus, we rode the Sundown lift to access the snow cat, which then drove us about 10 minutes along the ridge to access additional terrain.

Ok, on the good stuff – photos and video from the day.

To qualify the footage, this was a truly incredible day. I chase powder 30-50 days per season, and while it's not too difficult to chase enjoyable powder days, it takes skill AND luck to get the few days per season that offer deep, bottomless turns, on hero terrain, with weather conditions that aren't too cold or windy, and to do all of this on a day when there are not a zillion people tracking every inch of snow. Christmas Day 2016 fit these conditions at Powder Mountain.

The weather pattern that created these perfect conditions started with a slow-moving storm that initially brought heavier, denser powder due to warm air and moisture surging from the south. Then on Christmas Eve, the storm moved to the east, which allowed cold air to move in and the wind to switch directions and blow from the west. A steady yet not-too-strong wind from the west is great for Powder Mountain, and the temperature of 10-15 degrees during the day ensured that the snow was light and fluffy.

Skier: Joel Gratz | Photo: Lauren Alweis

Skier: Joel Gratz | Photo: Lauren Alweis

Skier: Joel Gratz | Photo: Jenn LaVista

Skier: Joel Gratz | Photo: Lauren Alweis

Skier: Lauren Alweis | Photo: Joel Gratz

Skier: Lauren Alweis | Photo: Joel Gratz

Skier: Lauren Alweis | Photo: Joel Gratz

Skier: Jenn LaVista | Photo: Joel Gratz

Now, the moving pictures. There was no need to milk turns for the camera. This was deep, blower powder that provided faceshots even at slow speed on low-angle terrain. Amazing fun!

Skier: Lauren Alweis | Video: Joel Gratz

Skier: Joel Gratz | Video: Lauren Alweis

Skier: Joel Gratz | Video: Jenn LaVista

Skier: Joel Gratz | Video: Jenn LaVista

Skier: Joel Gratz | Video: Lauren Alweis

This last video is special to me because it's rare that my wife Lauren and I have video or images of us skiing together. The hoots and whoops are a good indication that we were having a blast!

Skiers: Joel Gratz & Lauren Alweis | Video: Jenn LaVista

We skied from about 915am to 200pm and only quit because we were getting tired, hungry and cold (all the snow from the faceshots eventually made all of our clothes wet, icy, and chilly). Tough problems to have, right? There were fresh tracks at 200pm when we called it a day, and the fresh lines likely would have lasted until the chairs stopped spinning at 4pm.

This was a day that I will likely remember for the rest of my life. The joy was off the charts!

Lauren Alweis was happy!
 

We were all happy! (Left-to-Right: Lauren Alweis, Jenn LaVista, Jim O'Loughlin, Joel Gratz)

And what's better after five hours of skiing deep powder than to devour tacos at Hidden Lake lodge?

So true!

Yes, we will return!

JOEL GRATZ
Founding meteorologist at OpenSnow.com

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