I had a trade show that I had to attend on the West Coast and had to be there on Sunday so I decided to make a stop in Utah on the way there. We had won a charity raffle for a college ski program about 5 years ago that included Cat Skiing at PowMo. They no longer offer full days of Cat Skiing there since the former area they used for that now has a couple of new lifts put in 2 years ago. They offered me two days of inbounds guided skiing and lift tickets as a swap for the Cat Skiing. This worked perfectly for me as skiing a big mountain like Powder by yourself with all the trees and off-piste terrain is a bad idea.
On Friday Sara at the Adventure Center paired me up with Christopher one of their guides that owns his own marketing branding company and guides a couple of days a week at PowMo. He told me that they had not run the cats in Rain Tree for several days and there should be around 8” of new snow to ski. PowMo is an incredibly complex and 3d ski area spread out over many peaks and close to 10k acres. See the trail map here but when you are there the trail map is essentially worthless https://www.powdermountain.com/resort/the-mountain/trail-map/trail-map It was great to have an experienced guide to follow even though I had skied about 10 days there over the years. We took a warm-up run through the low angle aspen and pines down to the Hidden Lake Quad which is Powder’s only detachable lift. Christopher needed to confirm I was a strong powder skier which he quickly decided “that they don’t hand out PSIA Gold pins to anyone” so that opened up the whole mountain to us. We then had to get ourselves over to the cat pick up spot for the Rain Tree Cat and loaded up when it arrived. If you do the guided skiing with only one person then you get 2 cat rides included for the $194 guiding fee. If you have two then you only get one ride each. Extra rides are $25 bucks a pop.
Christopher and the view from top of Rain Tree
Christopher found us a great line that was untracked off the ridgetop and we skied boot-top fluff through some tight trees and into a large bowl that eventually funneled to some buried bramble. The powder was sublime and I knew it was going to be a great couple days. After a 10 min cat track runout we ended up at the bottom of the Paradise Lift, a fixed-grip quad similar to WF’s summit quad. The visibility was low so the plan of the day was to ski trees and look for windows of better visibility to get into the more open bowls. I followed Christopher through some great trees all morning and we decided to skip lunch and just refill our water bottles and eat some bars on the lifts. In the afternoon, we got to the Lightning Ridge Cat only to find it had a minor mechanical issue so we made a 10 min hike and skied a bowl. At the bottom, we heard the cat running again so we headed back up the Sundown lift to the cat pickup spot. The guide was psyched to have a client that could ski well and keep up in the powder and he opened up all his favorite terrain to me. The best run of the day was off Lightning Ridge where we traversed down a long way on a ridge that drops off both sides. We passed many lines that were lightly tracked or untracked and eventually got the Elbow Chute which had a big 90 degree left turn in it halfway down. This was the only thing I was asked to wait for him to stop on the side before skiing. It was very steep and technical definitely the challenge of the day and I thought that was the main entrée for this run. It turns out that at the bottom if you know where you are going you can take a very small traverse which takes you to a bowl called Lone Pine. Here Christopher said he wanted me to ski first and we cut the only tracks of the day into it at around 2 pm. It was one of my favorite powder runs of all time to that point. I declared that Christopher had the best job in the world. We were able to see our tracks from the lift ride and it was epic. By then it got too late to cat ski so we decided to take a couple of lower angle pow runs to close out the day and then I bought him a late lunch at 3:30 in the Powder Keg bar and had a beer.
Our Tracks in Lone Pine
Friday night I was staying down in Ogden it was 35 and raining so I knew Saturday was going to be Epic. Christopher was booked so they set me up with Loel the senior guide who was also a PSIA Level 3 Cert and he had been appraised that everything was fair game with me in tow. Loel had a bit different style where he was constantly searching for the best snow and lines zipping left and right as he looked. He was not used to someone keeping up with him so at times I needed to let him get ahead a bit. He delivered great snow on every run. We started out similar to the days before for the first cat ride but then he changed it up a lot. We skied the Powder Cowboy Zone where you exit out the top of Hidden Lake and cross the road. Loel took me to his favorite stash marked by a specific landmark I promised to not reveal. Perfectly spaced Aspens held a foot and a half of powdery goodness. Again my best run of the year only to keep being exceeded by future runs.
Eventually, in Powder Cowboy, you hit a traverse line that is only feet away from the access road and funnel down to a spot where a bus picks you up. we hopped off the bus at the Sundown lift that accesses Lightning Ridge. From the top of the Cat ride, Loel decided to do a hot lap return back to that lift and cat. The other alternative is an hour-long lap to get back there. We put the only tracks into a 1500 vertical foot bowl that had us grinning like little kids at the bottom of it.
Every track in this photo is ours - best turns were top right (zoom in to see) then we came back to the center to get back to the lift
Back up the cat, Loel was gunning to outdo the Lone Pine run I told him about from the day before and he took me to shot next to Lone Pine that was even better.
Again we skipped lunch and did a water and energy bar break for 10 mins then headed to ski the former cat skiing terrain pod called Mary’s. On the trail map, Mary’s looks like a small area of 4 trails but I person it is a bowl with some trees scattered about that is a couple of miles across at the top and funnels back to the lift. It was fine for skiers but would have been hell for snowboarders. The highlight of those runs was when he traversed us for 10 min Sunshine bowl to ski a untracked turns at 3 pm. We ended the day with a run through the Dark Trees which from the top looked like it was not going to pan out until after the tight trees it ended into a bowl that a fire had cleared out. How is it possible to ski the best-untracked powder run of the day at 3:30? Loel is a true master of his mountain that is freaking huge at 8500 acres and delivers the goods so well I now think I should retire to the Eden Valley and apply for a guiding job there.
Loel heading into the Dark Trees
I had the best two days of my ski year for sure with these two professionals that truly have the best jobs in the world. You guys really need to ski Powder Mt as an alternative to Little Cottonwood resorts or the crowded and Eastern like Park City scene. The best way to ski there is by hiring PowMo’s guides
I've told a few people about PowMow and the usual response is "never heard of the place". Great that you had a chance to sample the goods and to do some guided skiing. I noticed that they didn't offer full day cat skiing anymore which is a shame - had a chance to do that twice in the last 10 years and it was amazing.
Anyway, PowMow is a special place and the fresh powder there last forever - it's so huge and they almost get the same snow as LCC/BCC. And yes, the trail map is almost useless as it's hard to capture such a convoluted place in 2D!
I bought food during the day at pit stops, lunch and beers after we were done plus cash
About $50 a day I think it worked out to
One of them was like I just got paid to ski pow all day I don’t need a tip but I insisted
if You French Fry when you should Pizza you are going to have a bad time