First Chair at Eagle Point
The last of Utah's winter resorts to open for the 2010-2011 season has a special story. If you have ever driven I-15 to southern Utah past Beaver, you may have looked up to the snow covered Tushar mountains and thought there could be some really great skiing up there. There should be some great skiing up there, and there once was, in the Elk Meadows days. Elk Meadows closed forever 8 seasons ago, and was later acquired by a group of investors who hoped their concept of the Mount Holly Club would rival the exclusivity and amenities of the Yellowstone Club in Montana. It would stand to reason that if the ailing Yellowstone Club model couldn't survive with a membership base that included diplomats, senators and star athletes, Mount Holly Club would have the deck stacked against them from the start. Why do I say that? I'm not sure Beaver, Utah has the same allure to the rich and famous as Montana does. That wasn't the only tragic flaw in the Mount Holly Club plan, but that's history now.
This post is more about the future than the past, and the potential that is tucked away in those mountains just east of the small town of Beaver. On Wednesday, December 15, a new chapter began as the lifts turned on Ski Eagle Point's inaugural season. Our guides for the day were Jodi Holmgren, who handles PR for Ski Eagle Point, and Steve Bills, who from what I can tell, directs just about everything relating to the snow product, from ski school to grooming, to trail cutting, tapping into his 30 or so years experience in Utah's ski industry. First, we had to get the media pleasantries aside. Photos were snapped, sound bites were recorded, names and quotes were scribbled on pads by reporters from Vegas, St. George, and the powder mecca of the Wasatch Front. Then it was time to sample some of the goods. After hopping on an innovative, if not makeshift, snow cat that helped our crew traverse the Paiute Crossing, we looked down the barrel of a run called Delano Drop, a black diamond run with good pitch right straight down the fall line. After Delano Drop, we sampled a few other similar runs off the Lookout Quad Chair, such as Hoodoos and Tushar. How good was it? Let's just say there were no arguments when it was suggested we "hit that one more time" before packing up and road tripping back to the Wasatch. There were too many "one mores" to count. On a sleepy powder day, you could rally this little cluster of steeps all day long and get tired before you get bored. I'm already thinking about my next trip to ski Eagle Point, and will be bringing fatter skis and all the trappings for a little backcountry exploration, as the resort has worked out multiple access gates with the Forest Service for some of the legendary backcountry right outside the ropes.