EDEN — A new sentinel overlooks the top of James Peak, honoring local ski legend Ben Geiger and the mountainous terrain that inspired him and keeps on inspiring others.
“I want it to be something that reminds people of the beauty of the world and the mountains,” said Brad Geiger, Ben’s brother and the main motor behind the memorial, a 9-foot-tall stone creation. “What a gift it is to have these here in our backyard.”
Ben Geiger, a local skier and outdoor enthusiast born and raised in the Ogden area, died unexpectedly last year of a heart attack. It caused shock and sadness among friends, family and the area’s skiing community. Wanting to memorialize his life by more than a cemetery headstone, though, Brad Geiger set to creating the memorial, and it made its way to the top of 9,419-foot-high James Peak on Sept. 24.
Call it art, call it a monument, call it a unique tribute to those who love skiing, the mountains and the outdoors, such a big part of the area. But for Brad Geiger, creation and placement of the memorial — called The Sentinel — has been much more. It sits on the grounds of the Powder Mountain ski resort, near the boundary between Weber and Cache counties.
“It’s been a big part of our healing, for sure,” he said.
Ben Moisen, marketing coordinator for Powder Mountain and a witness to placement of the memorial, delivered via helicopter, sees it as a tribute to Ben Geiger and his extended family, deeply tied to the local skiing community. The monument is a stone depiction of a skier sporting goggles, skis on his back.
But it’s also a nice landmark for the area, which generally draws only the most adventurous of skiers, accessible via foot. “That’s actually where Ben fell in love with powder skiing,” said Moisen.
James Peak, he said, offers a 360-degree panoramic view that takes in Ogden, the Eden Valley, the Cache Valley, Logan, Park City and the Salt Lake Valley.
‘A TRUE LOVER OF MOUNTAINS’
Ben Geiger, just 36, died July 14, 2018, in Wyoming of a sudden heart attack while there on work, leaving behind wife Heather and two kids, Monroe and Laird, among others. He was living in Willard and ran Yore Stone, an Ogden-based business that installs natural stone veneer to homes and businesses.
It was a total surprise given his active life and outdoors pursuits.
“His heart just burst... The thoughts are that he just overworked his heart, pushed it,” said Brad Geiger.
Ben Geiger skied some 150 days a year and seemingly knew everybody in the world of skiing. “He had no vices, man. He was awesome. He helped his friends. He was always there for everybody who needed help,” Brad Geiger said.
Indeed, Ben’s viewing drew some 2,000 guests, and in the wake of his passing, Brad Geiger launched efforts to craft the memorial. He initially installed it at Needles Cirque high in the mountains at the Snowbasin ski resort, hauling the stones, cement and other materials bit by bit. Being on U.S. Forest Service land, though, government officials, on learning of its placement, advised him — delicately and respectfully — that it couldn’t stay.
Powder Mountain reps stepped forward, offering up space at that resort, which sits on private land, and The Sentinel made its move, hauled by helicopter.
Moisen sees the monument as a destination and visiting spot for the hardy Powder Mountain skiers who make their way to the rugged spot.
Brad Geiger, for his part, sees the memorial as a place to remember Ben Geiger and the vigorous life he lived. “My brother was a true lover of mountains, an ambassador, really,” he said.
Beyond that, it’s a tribute to those who find peace and meaning in the higher elevations of the area, like Ben Geiger.
“It’s really a monument to all those who love that mountain,” Brad Geiger said.