Skiing untracked snow is, quite simply, one of the most transcendental winter experiences there is.
With 500 inches of the precious white stuff falling on Utah in the typical winter, opportunities to realize skiing’s holy grail—from pre-public resort access to boarding a backcountry-bound helicopter—are many. Here’s your guide to getting first crack at fresh powder—from James Bond-style experiences to earning your own turns.
Super bucket list: Eagle Point, a 40-run, five-lift gem in Southern Utah’s Tushar Mountains, is available for private rental—as in you can have the entire place to yourself—Tuesday through Thursday, January 5 to April 3 (Eagle Point is open to the public Friday through Monday). Spend the night at one of 40 base-area condos or cabins. To rent this beauty call 855-EAGLE-PT.
Early access: Alta’s early-bird private lessons, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. (lifts open to the public at 9:15 a.m.); spend the night in the Beaver Mountain yurt followed by breakfast and first tracks with the lifties; Deer Valley First Tracks, 8 to 9 a.m. off the Wasatch lift and Snowbird’s Seven Summits Pass, guided skiing off the 7:45 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. trams, private locker room and front-row parking. (Note: private and group lessons at many of the resorts afford participants line-cutting privileges during regular operating hours. Contact individual resorts for details.)
Helicopter/snowcat: Alta Ski Area snowcat skiing, Grizzly Gulch sidecountry, alta.com; Diamond Peak Heli-Ski Adventures in the Ogden-area; Park City Powder Cats & Heli-Ski, Uinta Mountains private backcountry; Powder Mountain Lightning Ridge Snowcat single ride; Snowcat Skiing for Nature, upper American Fork Canyon at Snowbird; and Wasatch Powderbird Guides, central Wasatch Mountains from both Park City and Snowbird.
Backcountry guides: Kling Mountain Guides, the Moab area’s La Sal Mountains; Ski Utah Interconnect, ski the backcountry located around the top six central Wasatch resorts; Utah Mountain Adventures, backcountry skiing and mountaineering in the central Wasatch; and White Pine Touring, guided Nordic skiing in the Uinta Mountains.
Fresh pow DIY: Set your alarm and be the first stoked skier in the lift line. (Or as pro skier Rachel Burks did at the beginning of the 2014–15 season: lock in your first-chair status by camping out the night at the lift base.) Head to mellow resorts—Powder Mountain, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head and Solitude—where fresh snow lives on days after a storm. Get real-time 411 from Ski Utah’s king of untracked snow, Matt Baydala, @iskideeppow or on his blog. Buy a shovel, probe and beacon; take a snow safety class through the Utah Avalanche Center and start skinning.