EDEN — Two Weber County-area ski operations are partnering, aiming to give skiers and snowboarders more options in experiencing the state's rugged terrain and snow.
Whisper Ridge, which offers backcountry skiing on a 70,000-acre expanse in Weber and Cache counties, and Powder Mountain, the Eden-area ski resort that also spills into the two counties, launched a reciprocal partnership last month. The aim is to create synergies and cross-promote each other's offerings.
"Powder Mountain is a fantastic partner," said Matthew Peterson, an investor in Whisper Ridge, which launched in 2015 and hauls clients to remote ski spots via helicopter and snowcat. "It's a very complementary relationship."
Powder Mountain, an 8,400-acre facility that opened in 1972, is a more traditional resort, with lodges and lifts, though it also offers some snowcat tours. The partnership with Whisper Ridge, said Mark Schroetel, the Powder Mountain general manager, caters to skiers and snowboarders "seeking an alternative to the overcrowded and overhyped resorts that are becoming all-too common these days."
Representatives from both operations emphasized the proximity to the Salt Lake City area, hoping to appeal to customers from across the state and beyond.
"Together with Whisper Ridge, we have created a winter paradise of unprecedented scale only an hour from Salt Lake," Schroetel said in a statement. "The addition of heli-skiing, snowmobiling and access to the Whisper Ridge yurts provides visitors with an inexhaustible combination of terrain and access options."
Per the arrangement, each operation will pay a commission for business referred by the other. Ownership of Whisper Ridge and Powder Mountain remains the same, each controlled by different groups.
"We hope to continue to grow and leverage partnerships like the one with Powder Mountain to increase skier volume," Peterson said in an email. Whisper Ridge — catering to those with intermediate and more advanced skiing capabilities — can operate up to eight snowcats and three helicopters a day and accommodate 120 or more skiers a day. It also utilizes snowmobiles.
Generally more pricey than a traditional resort given the more remote terrain where it's located, Whisper Ridge operates on land it owns or leases, much of it pristine and untouched. Peterson likened it to backcountry skiing operations in more remote areas, like Alaska and British Columbia in Canada.
"The scale of Whisper Ridge is just so massive. You kind of get the feel of a BC or Alaska heli-ski trip," he said. "This area's just been closed off to the public."
Powder Mountain, within easy driving distance of Ogden, is an established operation in its own right, Peterson said. "Add in the Whisper Ridge experience, I think we have a world-class partnership," he said.
Whisper Ridge, with bases in Eden and Paradise, has a small complex of yurts, round, portable structures, to accommodate overnight guests in the backcountry area where it operates.