OGDEN — Powder Mountain wants to take adventure sports to another level.
The ski resort operator has applied for a conditional use permit with the Weber County Planning Division that would allow it to build a helipad to house a helicopter that would haul skiers and mountain bikers to remote mountain locations. Boosters also envision hauling sports fishermen to remote locations for fishing.
“Powder Mountain has always been known as an adventure type resort with snowcats. We’re always looking to expand to more terrain,” said J.P. Goulet, a Powder Mountain spokesman. The helicopter, if the helipad plans are approved, would haul skiers and mountain bikers to otherwise inaccessible mountain locations, giving them what boosters say would be a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience.
Whisper Ridge, which is teaming with Powder Mountain in the initiative, would oversee the operation. The firm first launched a helicopter operation from the Cache County side of Powder Mountain to ferry mountain bikers to a remote trail earlier this summer but halted the effort after learning the initiative didn’t have all the required permits. Powder Mountain submitted its permit application to the county on Aug. 1 and it’s tentatively scheduled to be considered at the Tuesday, Aug. 27, meeting of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission.
Dan Lockwood, chief executive officer of Whisper Ridge, said the helicopter would allow the firm to bring customers to “places further, steeper, more remote” than is possible with snowcats, tracked vehicles it already uses to get skiers to distant areas. Company reps have said the helicopter service for hauling mountain bikers would be the first of its type in the continental United States.
Kimbal Wheatley, who lives in the Ogden Valley and keeps close tabs on development issues in the zone, said he hasn’t heard any feedback on the helipad proposal. He wonders about the financial viability of hauling mountain bikers given the many good trails already developed around Powder Mountain. Still, he thinks the proposal fits with most area residents’ development vision.
“It’s pretty consistent with our long-term strategy of a destination resort kind of place,” Wheatley said. The area is home to three ski resorts and the Pineview Reservoir and draws many weekend visitors throughout the year.
The heliport, if developed, would operate from Dec. 1 to April 15 for winter activities and June 1 to Sept. 30 for summer activities. The helicopter would run only three times per week, maximum, and serve only up to 24 customers in a day, per the proposal.
The base of operations, 8,500 feet up, would be at a “future village area” on the southeastern periphery of the Powder Mountain complex, off Summit Pass Road.
Potential impacts like odor, vibration, dust, smoke and noise can be “substantially mitigated,” the Powder Mountain application reads. “Impacts from the noise generated by the helicopter is minimized because the flight paths are through vacant, mountainous properties.”
County officials would have leeway to set conditions in approving the permit. “In this case, requiring a conditional use permit allows the planning commission to place reasonable conditions on the project that mitigate detrimental effects if they feel it would be disruptive,” said Steve Burton, principle planner in the Weber County Planning Division.