Look at a map of northern Utah and you may spot the tiny towns of Eden and Paradise.
Once simply small, historic farming communities, today they are the jumping off points for one of Utah’s most unique skiing experiences.
Introducing Whisper Ridge Backcountry Resort
I’m certainly not the first person to tag Whisper Ridge Backcountry Resort with the name “Powder Heaven.”
For all the necessary components are in place: Eden to the south, Paradise to the North, an annual 500-inches of light, dry, “greatest snow on earth” Utah powder, and 70,000 private acres accessible only by snow cat and helicopter.
Helicopter Skiing At Whisper Ridge
Based on ski movies, you may think that helicopter skiing is only for sponsored athletes or crazy people. It is not. There is no magic age or gender. To heli ski you need desire, advanced to expert skiing or snowboarding skills, and money (operating helicopters and snowcats isn’t cheap).
Skiing Whisper Ridge was the second time I’ve been heli skiing and without question, it was the best.
First, Whisper Ridge is convenient and easy to get to, just a 1.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City, no passport required.
Second, Whisper Ridge has a massive amount of terrain. Depending upon your group’s ability and the weather/snow conditions, guides choose the skiing to maximize the fun. If you’re comfortable skiing trees and adapting to natural snow conditions, you will have a fantastic day.
Third, groups are small, just four guests each with a guide and pilot. These small groups make a big difference, because the larger the group, the more time each lap takes. At Whisper Ridge, groups take alternating laps — as one group and guide ski, the other group and guide are picked up and bumped back to the top of the mountain or ridge.
It’s important to note, that getting into and out of the helicopter can be tricky. Guides explain all the “do’s” and “don’ts” prior to departure and they direct traffic throughout the day. Follow the rules and it will all go smoothly.
Finally, an average day of heli skiing at Whisper Ridge is about 14,000 vertical feet of untracked, pristine powder turns and includes breakfast, lunch and après-ski. Nonstop smiles and spontaneous cheering are guaranteed.
Cat Skiing At Whisper Ridge
While we didn’t cat ski at Whisper Ridge, we saw a group at the end of the day and they were smiling and whooping it up just as much as we were.
One of the differences between cat skiing and heli skiing at Whisper Ridge is the terrain — cats are more limited in where they go, both by speed and logistics. Still, the Whisper Ridge team is continuously scouting new lines and opening new areas, so all guests enjoy an untracked experience, with no sloppy seconds.
Snowcat tours cost less per person and accommodate bigger groups, up to 14 riders, making them a fun choice for families and friends.
Whisper Ridge does not have a minimum age for skiers and snowboarders. Please let them know in advance if your group includes children under 10. Like all of the adults, participating kids should be advanced skiers and have “ample” powder skiing experience.
Cat skiing days average 10 runs or about 12,000 vertical feet and include breakfast, lunch and après.
Safety is a Priority
We arrived in Utah two days after a big storm, with a lingering avalanche risk ranging from “considerable” to “moderate” in the backcountry.
I am always concerned about safety. As a mom, and someone interested in self-preservation, I want everyone to be safe, and that includes people reading this post.
Whisper Ridge has a forecaster on staff and a team of experienced guides who monitor conditions and choose the best skiing and riding terrain on a day-by-day basis. They are just as concerned about safety as we are and if conditions are adverse, they don’t take groups out.
If a trip is cancelled, Whisper Ridge provides a voucher good rescheduling within two years.
The Yurt Village at Whisper Ridge Backcountry Resort
Backcountry skiing and riding are the main attractions at Whisper Ridge, but you can enhance your experience with an overnight stay at the Yurt Village.
Located at 8200′, the views from this settlement of 11 yurts, two shower and bath houses, and an ice bar, are stunning, whether the sun is coming up or the sun is going down. Simply being able to see the night sky in its natural glory without excess light is worth it.
If you book a night or more in at the yurt village, here are a few tips.
First, the yurts are extremely comfortable, with inviting beds and pellet stoves, but they are yurts. Ask for a hot water bottle to warm your bed and keep your toes toasty all night. Bring snow boots, slippers and extra layers. And remember, the bathrooms are a short walk away.
Second, larger groups are more likely to have privacy. Each yurt sleeps approximately 14 people, so we shared a yurt with a group of three men. Sleeping rooms are partitioned and each yurt has two entrances, but we suggest bringing a headlamp, earplugs or earbuds, an eye shade and a sense of humor. Noise throughout the village can carry.
Third, electricity and services are limited. WiFi is nonexistent and cell coverage is spotty (can I get a hallelujah?!). Meals come in by snowmobile each day and is reheated. Guests bring their own alcohol. While it’s not five-star dining, there is no shortage of good food.
Finally, leave your Type-A tendencies at home. Life in the Whisper Ridge yurt village is relaxed and schedules creep depending upon the number of guests, the timing for each day’s skiing and so on. The staff will go out of their way to help and accommodate you, so just ask if you need anything.
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