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We Were There: 50-Inch ‘Snowmageddon’ Hits Powder Mountain

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What happens when it snows 50 inches in 72 hours outside of Salt Lake City? Heaven happens.

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Ripping a fresh track at Powder Mountain; photo by Sean McCoy

It was a storm so deep it buried highways and shut down ski areas across the West. Nicknamed the  “pineapple express,” a glorious atmospheric quirk last week sent wet Pacific air to collide with a cold front inland.

GearJunkie had to get a taste. After our annual trek to the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, our crew drove north and into the maw of snow country.

Utah’s Powder Mountain has more than 8,000 acres of terrain and limits ticket sales to 2,000 skiers per day. This ensures an extremely low skier density on the slopes. It’s set apart from the mainstream Wasatch areas in the state, a bit northeast of Ogden and tucked near a town appropriately named Eden.

Too Much Snow To Handle

The unprecedented amount of snow caused the resort to shut down for several days as the parking lots and chalets needed an extensive amount of time to be cleared. Nearly all inbounds terrain needed to be evaluated for avalanche risk.

This was miraculously fortunate for us, as we were busy working the trade show floor during the closure. When the show ended and we headed to Powder Mountain, the lifts restarted that very day and we were among the first skiers to descend upon the fresh snow — more than 50 inches deep.

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Hang time at Powder Montain; photo by Nate Mitka

Couloir on Lightning Ridge

“Dropping!” Our favorite saying of the trip, Powder Mountain sure boasted an impressive amount of technical inbound terrain. The extra fluff gave us some extra confidence to go for drops and steep sections.

Our favorite run? A chute on the Lightning Ridge area that featured cliffs and a steep couloir section. We boot-packed to a suitable drop spot, and during the hike passed visible avalanche sluff on either side of the ridge.

GearJunkie founder, Stephen Regenold, stated a reality check before we descended: “You cannot fall here. This is serious terrain.” We carefully planned each turn and then I started my countdown.

“3… 2…1…” My mind went blank, instinct took over, and happiness presided. We all nailed the chute and tore up the vacant powder field below to get to the groomed track. A run worth remembering.

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Getting steep on Lighting Ridge; photo by Stephen Regenold

An Epic Pow Day: In Photos

At the end of the day, we compared past ski days and labeled our trip to Powder Mountain among the best. We compiled a photo album in an attempt to convey our amazing day on the slopes.

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Skiers and snowboarders were hungry for any patch of fresh snow; photo by Sean McCoy
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Chutes like this were accessible directly from the chairlift; Sean McCoy
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Cat Track Trails give access to the technical and fresh powder caches. We opted to hike
sitting atop lightning ridge
We took plenty of time to admire the scenery. But not as much as the average day, there was skiing to do!
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When a new area was cleared of avalanche risk, a pilgrimage ensued
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Snow swept trees lined the runs
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Cliffs next to chairlifts makes for some great viewing
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Faceplant or deep powder? You decide

Powder Mountain sure delivered on its name. Check it out when the snow is pounding.

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