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Powder Fridays. They’re a special day at Eagle Point Resort, a small independent ski area in Beaver, Utah about three hours south of Salt Lake City. Why? Because Eagle Point isn’t open every day. So when a storm dumps two feet of snow and sits untouched for a typical bluebird day, the loyal customer base can’t wait for Friday to roll around.
Until some skiers from Salt Lake took it upon themselves to hike up the closed ski resort, skiing the best trails before the paying public. This happened last week and is something that Eagle Point is working to ensure never occurs again.
The scenario unfolded when it began to snow on February 21—it had been over a month since the last storm brought fresh powder to much of Utah. By Wednesday, two feet had blanketed the high elevation resort, and the loyal Eagle Point clientele were getting pumped.
“Our guests love Powder Fridays and are passionate about it,” notes Eagle Point Marketing Director Scott Curry.
The stars really need to align for these days because the resort doesn’t fan smoke for just a few inches. A true Powder Friday is when it dumps midweek before the resort opens again Friday. “They’re special days and have a unique vibe to them,” Curry explains. “How often do you pull up to a resort and know exactly how much snow has fallen and is waiting for you? Most ski resorts are open every day, so it just doesn’t typically happen.”
Eagle Point operates Friday through Monday until March, then just Friday through Sunday until it closes in April. Curry says that this past Powder Friday, on February 25, was their busiest on record—a testament to the community-oriented ski area that opened in 2010. And by busy, we mean only a few hundred skiers. The total opposite of those crowded ski resorts near the Central Wasatch where folks sit in traffic all day.
Maybe that’s what lured those six people from SLC, who, on Thursday, Feb. 24 took it upon themselves to nab first tracks before the resort reopened for the weekend.
“On Thursday, six individuals skinned up the west side of the mountain, and skied for about 4 hours,” said Curry. “They went over three of our most coveted trails multiple times. When we noticed it we were able to identify who it was and contacted the Sheriff to have a conversation with them about trespassing on private land. They were not kids, not people who couldn’t afford a ticket, they were business professionals who came down from Salt Lake in their nice car. They 100 percent knew what they were doing, which was poaching powder before our guests could, they knew it was private property and were fully aware the resort was closed that day. They wanted it before the paying customers,” explains Curry.
By Friday, the ski resort already had local authorities involved. One of the six trespassing skiers owns a condo directly adjacent to, but unaffiliated with, the resort and had tracks that led right to the condo.
The resort, which received overwhelming support from its customer base for its decision to press charges, also caught a lot of backlash on social media by folks accusing it of being petty or claiming that no one “owns” powder. For reference, Eagle Point Resort doesn’t operate on USFS land and is, indeed, private property.
“This was skiing a closed resort, this isn’t an uphill skiing policy situation,” notes Curry. “Comparing this to the backcountry would be comparing swimming in the ocean to someone swimming in another person’s backyard pool. A pool is something they maintain, install, and operate, and the ocean is wild. We did this because we want them to know that you’re not allowed to ski the resort when it’s closed and we want to preserve the powder for when our guests come to the resort.”
Curry never thought the small ski area would be at the center of a private land rights debate, especially since it’s one of the most affordable places to ski; bought in advance, single-day tickets are around $40. Furthermore, Eagle Point allows uphill access to certain gates to enter the backcountry any day of the week, not to mention the various public trailheads near the base area that access the Tushar Range, home to awesome backcountry stashes for those willing to earn it.
Dillon Green, an athlete for Ski Utah who frequents Eagle Point, supports the ski area 100 percent. “The place is pure skiing,” he says. “You go to Eagle Point for that experience and you know if you see a storm midweek you will have an untracked resort completely to yourself. The place is the golden nugget of the state and what Eagle Point is doing will set the precedent to keep this place for skiers and riders.”