Interview by Lucia Goin
November’s Powder features telemark skier Noah Howell making some “illegal turns” in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. This park barely receives snow, much less enough snow to ski. We sat down with Noah for a few minutes to get an idea of what was like to ski some of the rarest powder in the nation.
How was the snow on that day? How did it compare to the snow that’s usually in Bryce Canyon?
The storm we were following was 16-20 inches and certain areas had blown in deposits of 2 feet. It was Wasatch light and dry in the AM and completely cooked by the end of the day. This was my first ever visit to the area, but from what I’ve heard it usually doesn’t get that much in a single storm and it doesn’t last long at all once it has fallen.
What was getting ready for that day like?
I was with my brother and photographer Jay Beyer. We scoped the area the evening before and woke up early to capture it with first light. I remember the free continental breakfast was better than expected and it was really cold!
Were you worried about being caught skiing there?
This was intended as an exploration trip. The avalanche conditions were frightening in the Wasatch so we shot down south just wanting to take a look around at what was possible if it snowed more later in the season. We didn’t actually expect to be able to ski. And the information we had was that ‘Nordic’ skiing is allowed in the park. Since I was on Telemark gear I figured we were going to get by on that technicality if someone had a problem. It wasn’t until after that we found out that Nordic is only allowed in certain areas.
Were you going for fresh tracks every time or did you stay in the same area?
We moved around quite a bit in the most featured areas. My brother put together a short video which shows some of the zones. You can see we didn’t have enough snow for more than a few turns here and there. It worked out better for still photography than it did for video, but there are some nice scenic shots and it captured the mellow mood of the trip.
What were you thinking during the run in your shot?
I knew the light was prime and that it wouldn’t last for more than a few minutes so I was hoping not to hit a rock or to blow it. After the few turns I knew it could turn out pretty spectacular since the snow was kicking up and the light was going off.
Was there anything about Bryce Canyon or that day that was particularly
memorable? Anything you’ll take away?
It was a magical little visit that may never be relived. There is no place I have ever seen that compares to the beautiful contrasts of this world of red rock, white snow and blue sky. I went back a few weeks later with my girlfriend so I could show her how wonderful it is.
For more on dropping into Bryce Canyon, pick up the November issue of Powder on newsstands Tuesday October 12.