Powder Day: Early Season Snowboarding in Utah

Matthew Karsten Snowboarding Snowbird Utah
Powder Day! (Photo by Matt Gibson)
Snowbird, Utah

Winter ski & snowboarding season has offically begun. Striking white gold on opening day at Snowbird Resort in Utah was a pleasant surprise.

Global warming weather conditions got you down? Utah’s winter season opened with a bang last week — about 50″ of snow fell in the mountains!

Getting ready to leave for Fiji & Southeast Asia next week, I planned to miss out on snowboarding this year. But thanks to an early snowstorm I was able to sneak up to Snowbird Resort and pillage some fresh powder.

Joining me was fellow adventure travel blogger & About.com Snowboard Guide Matt Gibson of Matt-Gibson.org. We loaded our packs with GoPro & DSLR cameras to capture the action and set out for the mountain.

Opening Day Snowbird Utah
Opening Day at Snowbird Resort

Opening Day at Snowbird

The date was November 15th, 2012. Bluebird conditions, sun shining bright. This would definitely be the earliest I’ve ever been riding too. Back East you normally have to wait until around Christmas to get your fix.

Even better: opening day happened to be a powder day! :D

Snowbird kicked off its season with 2 of its 11 lifts running. But that was enough to entice adults to call in sick at work & kids to skip school. Everyone and their Grandmother wanted to hit the slopes for early bragging rights!

A mix of fast groomed trails and powder covered tree runs kept us all happy. It was pretty deep in some places too, with over a foot of white gold on top of a decent base.

Exposed rocks were an occasional nuisance, but that’s to be expected so early in the year.

Powder Day Snowbird Utah
Mr. Gibson Discovers White Gold

Niche Snowboards

Unfortunately I don’t have room in my long-term travel backpack for a snowboard. So Salt Lake City based Niche Snowboards hooked me up with a fantastic all-mountain freestyle board called the Story.

Long & wide enough to tackle some deep snow, but ultra-light & snappy thanks to cutting-edge materials like basalt magma fiber, hemp hop stringers, and a bamboo topsheet.

The Story even won the 2012 ISPO Eco Award for it’s environmentally friendly construction.

It performed beautifully — floating through the powder, popping off kickers, and hauling ass when I told it too.

Snowboarding Snowbird Utah
Loving my Niche Snowboard (Photo by Matt Gibson)

Winter Mountain Fun

Matt and I spent over 6 hours on the mountain playing in the snow. Taking a quick break only for lunch and a beer before heading out again.

The areas of the world I plan to visit this winter are lacking in snow. Oceania & Southeast Asia are not known for their snowstorms, snowman building, or heliskiing opportunities… so I took full advantage of these perfect early-season conditions.

But the next day my body wasn’t very happy with my earlier enthusiasm. Your first session can be a bit rough on muscles & joints, even more so when battling deep snow.

Bragging rights like these are totally worth it though. ★

SEE ALSO: Snowboarding At Whistler

Watch Video: Snowboarding in Utah

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Looking forward to skiing or snowboarding this year? What’s your favorite mountain?

*This journey was made possible with help from Snowbird Resort. However, as you probably know by now, all opinions & thoughts are my own. Learn More..


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
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Comments (14)

  1. Man this is the third post on snowboarding i’ve stumbled upon in as many days and it seems every resort except mine has absolutely epic snow right now! :(

    I do live in the south of Spain though so swings and roundabouts n all that I suppose…

  2. Looks awesome, i’m jealous! We’ve had some snow in Colorado but nothing too crazy yet. I didn’t have the chance to go last year but I’m definitely planning on hitting the slopes this year once we get some more snow!

  3. We just had opening day out here in Aspen, Colorado but the snow has been extremely scarce. Most of it has been made although we did get a little back in October…I’m praying we don’t have a repeat of last season. If so, looks like I’ll be making my way up to Utah!

    • I’ve heard rumors that it is going to be a good snow year… but who really knows! Might be time to do a snow-dance for the gods… :D

  4. It has been 3 years since I’ve been on my board. I’m not quite good enough to bring my good camera gear with me… a little too risky.

  5. I’m a huge Snowbird fan and so happy/jealous that you guys got out on opening day with fresh powder! Looks like you had a blast.

    • It was a lot of fun Gareth. Thought I’d miss out on the whole season… very happy to get one good day in! Definitely want to come back and ride Snowbird again someday too.