Mar 24 2014

Powder Mountain delivers for BCM Gear Test


Fun and games (gear testing) at Powder Mountain. photo courtesy BCM.

Fun and games (gear testing) at Powder Mountain.
photo courtesy Backcountry Magazine.

Howie put the question to me, live, with a video camera rolling. I hate being put on the spot like that. I’m a writer because I know how easy it is to say the wrong thing in the heat of the moment. It’s much better to consider the ramifications of what you say with a bit of thought over time.

Still, the integrity and honesty of a spur of the moment idea can strike to the heart of the matter. That’s how it was when Backcountry Magazine’s editorial director asked me why I thought Powder Mountain was a great spot to host their annual Gear Test. From afar Powder mountain looks pretty flat and rolling. To be honest the top third, the part you see from afar, is low angle and uninspiring.

Still finding fresh 4 days after a storm at PowMow. photo courtesy BCM.

Still finding fresh 4 days after a storm at PowMow.
photo courtesy BCM.

However, when you consider the massive acreage that Powder Mountain gives access to, and the fact that myriad drainages throughout it’s 7,000 plus acres have deliciously steep sides, the place becomes a backcountry skiers dreamland. Easy traverses out various ridges with short skate and herringbone sections keep the spirit of adventure alive by demanding extra energy to reach untouched glades and limb lined couloirs scattered beneath every ridge.

Powder Country, a run from the top to the access road below, is what the most popular, and thus signature experience of what Powder Mountain is about. The further you drop from the top, the steeper the run gets. PC runs on both sides of the road that winds up a 16% grade to the lifts of Powder Mountain. You drop a full 1500 vertical to the road, then ride the bus that takes you back to the top. What BC skier wouldn’t like a day of lift assisted skiing like that? Or go sans bus, take your skins and head out to James Peak, or Liberty Ridge. Better yet, go luxury style and hire a Cat to take you part way.

Rob "Glow" busts a move. photo courtesy BCM.

Rob “Glow” busts a move.
photo courtesy BCM.

The other part of the Powder Mountain experience is how family friendly it is. It’s just a low key resort and it even has a few old quads running that everyone whines about because it reduces how many face shots you can harvest. I’m okay with it because I like the low-key atmosphere and hope Powder Mountain doesn’t go in debt just to add another high speed quad that only destroys the thing that attracts customers to the resort, the scarcity of powder. Slow moving fast loading chairs help ration the powder and keep it fun.

Keeping it real in Aspen Country, Powder Mountain. photo courtesy BCM.

Keeping it real in Aspen Country, Powder Mountain.
photo courtesy BCM.

Since Backcountry Magazine began holding their gear test at Powder Mountain the resort has never failed to deliver a harvest of fresh snow. This year was the leanest ever, but I don’t think management had anything to do with that. In fact, the BCM crew was told that the pick-ins had been rather slim this year and management was grateful for us bringing the storm track their way which has always happened. From the magazine’s perspective, they go there ‘cuz they know Powder Mountain will deliver. Neither can lay claim to controlling the weather, but all the ingredients came together again for a crop of fresh tracks under blue and gray skies, even in the Wimpter of 14.

Now I’m not a betting man, but if you want freshies my recommendation would be to plan a week there during BCM’s Gear Test in March 2015 so you can bask in the shadow of whatever cosmic mix seems to deliver the goods for eight years straight.

© 2014