Powder Mountain Going Private?!
Most of the powder that falls on our beloved slopes this year will be available to the public. BUT, in shocking news (at least for us ski nerds) Powder Mountain in Utah has announced that commencing next winter some of the lifts and terrain will be available only to its real estate investors. So, buy a home or an available lot at the ski area and you won’t have to put up with the unwashed ski masses! Think Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana.
For ski gods sake, why would they go down this path?! Well, speaking of the unwashed ski masses…the ultimate irony is that Powder hasn’t had enough of us types there filling their coffers. We love Powder! If you throw in their cat skiing terrain (most of which you can pay for day of, on a per ride basis and is very accessible) it has more skiable acreage than any other hill in the US of A. One of the reasons we love it is it has zero to one skier per acre when you ski it. In other words – there ain’t nobody there usually except the locals. Hasn’t snowed in a couple days? Go to Powder and you will find powder!
Unsurprisingly, the area has struggled financially. Several years ago it was sold to a group of private equity dudes who had some touchy feely idea of developing the place as an eco-friendly techy mountain retreat. The reason we can’t describe it more completely than that is they themselves couldn’t nail the concept down clearly enough for others to buy into it. Locals hated whatever the concept was, even if they understood it. Go figure, but the idea never advanced.
So…in September one of the co-founders of Netflix, Reed Hastings, acquired a majority interest in Powder. A media billionaire buying Powder? Mayday! But our take on it then wasn’t all negative. Hastings is a long time owner of a house at Powder and has publicly professed his love for the way Powder is (their tagline is ‘uncrowded by design’). And the concept of a billionaire being involved may be something Powder needs to stay afloat.
But now we have our doubts. In an era when skiing is a sport for the rich elite, we cant say the concept of making Powder a private area thrills us. Yeah, we hate lines and crowds as much as you do. But we love the sport so much we want it to be inclusive. Last time we checked “private/inclusive” is the definition of an oxymoron. Also, Powder Mountain represents what we think the ski industry needs more of – a low key independent area with great terrain. Finally, this private ski area thing cements the notion that the industry is really a real estate play and isn’t about skiing itself.
It may not be as bad as we suspect though. The plan is to designate only two of the smaller lifts with beginner and lower intermediate terrain as private and put in a lift in one of the cat skiing areas that would also be private. This would still leave most of the area for us little people. But is this a slippery slope (couldn’t resist) into making the whole place the next Yellowstone? Stay tuned.
Ski Well; Be Well.