The first person we met at Snowbasin was Utah’s very own Wizard of Oz. Only this wizard had a grandmotherly smile and a twinkle in her eye. The twinkle only grew stronger as we talked about mountains and skiing. You could tell that passion for skiing runs deep in Mary Rowland’s veins. A refugee from Sun Valley, she now works as the marketing and public relations fixer for Snowbasin, living in the shadow of the peak with an amazing view across a lake, surrounded by wild mountains and empty spaces. The wizard conjured up three passes for our team as well as patroller Mike Poborsky, who did an admirable job finding us secret powder stashes as our guide and we were soon on our way, up the John Paul lift, rising above the steep and deep terrain that is Snowbasin’s best kept secret.
With most of the Utah’s action centering around Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Snowbasin’s northerly location, outside of Ogden, makes the ski area slightly off the beaten path. This served us well. With 16 inches of new, and the Canyons both shuttered due to avalanches, access was easy, once we juked past an unfortunate tour bus which was blocking 99.9 percent of the ski area access road. Our team which included athletes Charlotte Moats and Jeff Annetts, only needed the point-one percent margin of error, though, to distance ourselves from the mayhem behind us and our aggressive driving was soon repaid with face shots and epic lines though aspen and scrub oak as we worked the terrain off of the John Paul quad.
The terrain and snow was a taste of things to come as Poborsky’s guiding paid dividends throughout the day, allowing us to knock off untracked bowls ahead of the crowds (yes, there were five, maybe six other people in one lift line, horrendous!) and scoring freshies through the end of the day. With a powerful storm dumping nearly three inches per hour in the morning, the snow was, well, pretty good. The photos tell the story.
Stay tuned to freeskier.com for more trip updates and be sure to check out the full feature in an issue of Freeskier Magazine next year, when we break down all the details on how you can find Heaven here on earth at this forgotten corner of Utah.