Snowbird trail names: Funky, historic, intimate

By Yeti \ February 4 2016

By Harriet Wallis, the geezer gal.

Some trail names came from the silver mine heyday. Regulator Johnson and Black Jack were the names of mines. Gad Valley, Gadzoom, and all the other gads refer to a pointed mining tool used to break ore.

Names also recall the mining day's shady ladies. West 2nd South, an easy run, was named for the red light district where women were easy. Big Emma, also an easy run, was either a local madam, a local mine or a famous San Francisco madam visited by local miners.

It was a massive project to name all of Snowbird's trails before the resort opened in 1971. To get ideas, resort owner Dick Bass hosted a Naming Party, a social event where guests brainstormed for trail names. Bananas, Tiger Tale, and Harper’s Ferry came from the Naming Party according to Dusty Sackett, a local historian and former Snowbird mountain patroller who explained how many names came about.

Some trails were named for people. Silver Fox was named for Ted Johnson who bought up the old mining claims and was Bass’s Snowbird partner for a while. His hair was prematurely gray, so he was nicknamed the Silver Fox.

Johnson’s former wife, Wilma, cooked in the Alta Lodge kitchen under the tutelage of a European chef who had trouble pronouncing her name. He called her “Wilber” and the name stuck. An E was added at the end to feminize it. When Snowbird opened, she climbed tram tower 4 and christened it with a bottle of champagne. A plaque was placed on the tower to commemorate the event. 

Chip’s Run was named for the son of a Bass friend who died in the Viet Nam war. 

Junior’s Powder Paradise gives homage to Junior Bounous, the resort’s first ski school director and a pioneer in the ski industry who was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame. Bounous, now in his 80s, is still an avid skier.

Dalton’s Draw was named for Charlie Dalton, an Alta patroller who regularly skied from Alta to Snowbird. Alice Avenue is named for Dick Bass’s wife, who he called “sweet Alice from Dallas.” Bassackwards is named for Bass himself.

The right to name some runs was auctioned off by a Snowbird-based non-profit organization that no longer exists. The Rothman family had a home in the canyon and named Rothman Way. Local resident Barry McLean named a run Barry Barry Steep.

A trail is even named for an accident. Patroller Tom Trulock cleared brush on the mountain during the summer. He fell on the chainsaw he carried and it gashed his arm. The run Tricep used to be known as Trulock’s Tricep. 

Geography was also the source of names. The Road to Provo heads south, the same direction you would drive to get to Provo. Phone 3 Shot was named before cell phones existed. There was a an emergency phone on a post at the top of the run. The word shot is from the slang usage: I’m going to take a shot down that trail. 

There'll be a pop quiz in 10 minutes about the trail names. Just kidding! But now that you have the inside story it's a good conversation starter on your next lift ride. 

Harriet Wallis has been a ski writer, editor and photographer forever. She learned to ski on a dare when she was in her mid 30s and has been blabbing about it ever since. Read more from Harriet at Senior Skiing http://www.seniorsskiing.com/  

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