Many haven't met Ski Utah's most loyal—and, um hairiest—employee...
He's been with the company since 2007 and nobody would dare question his penchant for powder skiing and snowboarding. His job responsibilities include sharing powder tips, plundering soft stashes of snow and the occasional guest appearance at events around the state. His most important task is alerting the entire Ski Utah staff when any resort in the state receives a powder storm and he never fails in this duty. Learn a bit more about the history of the Ski Utah Yeti, our official International Monster of Mystery.
The Ski Utah Yeti is centuries old and though he has been in Utah for nearly two centuries, he originally hails from the Himalaya of Nepal. As a youngster, he longed to see the world, to feel foreign wind in his hair and to taste snow from wide and far. A large portion of the Yeti diet does consist of snow and our Yeti was seeking new flavors from unknown ranges. From the Japanese Alps to the Southern Alps in New Zealand to the actual Alps in Europe, the Yeti wandered. He was seeking 'The Greatest Snow on Earth
' and the sight of the next mountain on the horizon had him ranging all across the globe, searching for that perfect consistency and flavor.
The snow in New Zealand had an unexpected glacial twang. Though the portion sizes in Japan were amazing, he didn't care for all the bamboo shoots. Alaskan snow made him nervous as the polar bears are quite territorial and the snow in Wyoming was simply too frigid for his sensitive palate. He spent a few decades devouring snow in the Andes mountains of Chile and Argentina but the savorier flavor down south wasn't exactly what he yearned for.
This Yeti of ours has a highly refined sense of taste, more developed than what you'd typically find amongst his kind. It drove him to the ends of the earth—he literally did wander among both poles—in his search for the finest snow to dine upon. After 437 years of searching, he stumped into Utah. In all his days, he had not seen or tasted such glorious snow. It was light. It was tasty. But best of all, it was as dry and effervescent as the finest champagne. He was hooked. The year was 1802 and the Yeti lived quietly in peace for a number of decades, shoveling snow down his gullet and wandering through the many landscapes of what would become Utah.
In the mid to late 1800s, settlers and pioneers began to arrive in droves. The Yeti, a solitary creature by nature, took to hiding in the darkest corners of caves, abandoned silver mines and the labyrinthine canyons of Southern Utah. Most mistook the Yeti for a fearsome, savage, carnivore. Nothing could be further from the truth, but no human stuck around long enough for the Yeti to explain himself.
One winter, perhaps in the early 1910s, the Yeti found a pile of wooden skis stacked near a gaping maw in the mountainside. Many miners used primitive wooden skis to traverse across the deep mountain snows, as they had done in Nordic countries for centuries. The Yeti had observed this act while hiding and was curious to give it a try. He quietly stole a pair and began ascending the nearest peak.
All it took was one fell swoop. The Yeti—a naturally gifted athlete—swooped down the deep, untracked powdered slope as whoops, growls, yells and hoots escaped his long silent lungs.
For a number of years, the Yeti skied every day in the winter, perfecting his technique, and learning how to perfectly navigate through the snow he loved so dearly. In an unfortunate accident involving a creek, the Yeti eventually broke one of his skis. He had seen Alf Engen, a famous Norwegian skiing champion, and his United States Forest Service rangers skiing around several weeks earlier. What he did not realize was that this crew was surveying areas of Little Cottonwood with plans to establish a ski area. Despondent and desperate for new skis, the Yeti ignored the persecution he had endured and befriended Alf. The two were soon hunting for the perfect Douglas fir to fell and fashion a large pair of skis for the Yeti.
Because he had been skiing Little Cottonwood for decades, the Yeti offered numerous helpful and insightful suggestions to Alf and he played a vital role in plotting the layout of Alta
. The Yeti was delighted to lend his expertise and share skiing with the residents of Utah. The Stewart Family of Timp Haven (the future Sundance
) gladly accepted the help of the Yeti in installing their original tow rope in 1944, powered by a Chevrolet truck engine and Yeti sweat. It was a busy year, as he again helped Alf with the layout of the future Snowbasin
. In 1945, he assisted Luella and Harry Seeholzer with the relocation of Beaver Mountain. In 1946 came Snow Park Ski Area (now Deer Valley) with ski lifts constructed from timber the Yeti felled himself.
Ski areas were rapidly gaining popularity in the 50s and Alf recommended the Yeti to his friend Zane Doyle at Brighton
. The two plotted the construction of the first 2-person chairlift in the intermountain West and installed it on Mount Millicent in 1955. Solitude
was next and Yeti gladly assisted uranium tycoon Robert Barret with mapping Solitude's ski runs in 1956.
In the early 60s, the Yeti returned to his favorite southern haunts and advised Burt Nichols on the construction of Brian Head. The United Park Mines obtained funding in 1962 from the federal government to build a ski area called Treasure Mountain in the economically depressed area of Park City. The Yeti knew this area so well, thanks to his decades of mine shaft dwelling and he helped to construct what was at the time North America's longest gondola. Four years later, at the recommendation of our Yeti, the ski area changed it's name to Park City Ski Area
. In ’68 he plotted the beloved local ski hill of Nordic Valley
with local landowner Arthur Christiansen.
The 70s kept the Yeti busy with the hugely ambitious opening of Snowbird
with Ted Johnson in 1971. The Yeti did assist the Swiss crew with the installation of several of the enormous tram towers. They would not have succeeded without him. Powder Mountain was next in ’72 followed by Mount Holly (today’s Eagle Point) in the same year.
Exhausted after decades of ceaseless plotting and playing a critical role in jump-starting the ski industry in Utah, the Yeti took a hiatus through the 80s and 90s. He mostly hibernated with occasional periods of activity for his well-developed skiing habit. It wasn’t until 2006 that he joined the Ski Utah crew. Naturally, nobody knew the Utah resorts better than Yeti and he was the only 'person' truly qualified for the job.
The Yeti is now over six centuries old, a middle-aged specimen by all accounts. His former wanderlust has waned and he is content to spend the rest of his days enjoying Utah’s perfect snow and the fruits of all his Herculean labors. He has kept his skills strong and helped John Chadwick plot out Cherry Peak in 2014. More recently, he assisted Woodward Park City with the layout of their extreme terrain in 2019 and he's even perfected executing a frontside McTwist on his snowboard in the massive halfpipe.
The Yeti's ultimate motivation continues to be sharing skiing and snowboarding and you may even occasionally spot him at events around the state.
RANDOM YETI FACTS
- Many falsely believe that the Yeti has bad breath, but his breath actually smells like pine needles.
- The Yeti consumes a mixed diet of snow and vegetation, he's not a carnivore. He uses juniper berries as sprinkles.
- The Yeti picked up snowboarding in 2002 after watching the superpipe finals at the Olympic Winter Games in Park City. He does have a hard time finding a board wide enough for his enormous feet so he requires a custom-made Rossignol board.
- The Yeti trims his toenails on one of the rainbow rails in the Brighton terrain park. He only does this once night skiing is done for the evening because grinding his toenails creates sparks and he knows pyrotechnics aren't allowed in the terrain park.
The History of "The Greatest Snow on Earth" - Click Here
The History of Avalanche Forecasting & Mitigation in North America - Click Here
How to Paint a Simple Mountain Scene - Click Here
Ski Utah's Yeti Pass - Click Here
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