Feature article that ran in Pique Newsmagazine, March 27, 2017
The invite email for the Summit Series said to check in by 4 p.m. but it’s 3:45 p.m. and I’m still roughly half an hour away according to my phone’s map. It’s hard to keep my eyes on the road because I’m passing incredible possibilities for untouched powder lines as I weave through Utah’s Ogden Canyon. I had to make an emergency pitstop at Wal-Mart after the timely realization that I never took my underlayers out of the dryer. At least the lightbulb went off before I got to the hill.
Surely there has to be some buffer time to allow for late arrivals like myself, considering the majority of the guests for this weekend are flying into Salt Lake City on a Friday. As I race through Eden — population 600 with only one gas station and no stoplights — I fail to consider that a lack of cell-phone reception prevents me from checking the directions in my email. I remember reading the check-in location is called Bower Lodge, so I speed uphill on Powder Mountain.
I ask a few people where to find Bower, only to meet puzzled faces with no idea what I’m talking about. I zigzag my way between lodges with no luck until I finally reach the top where a ski-patrol shack sits at the end of the road. Surely they will know where it is. They are friendly and welcoming, but after telling them my intention to write a story on the changes taking place here, the room goes quiet and they look around at one another. Another patroller remarks: “No comment” while everyone else laughs. Another one pipes up: “Come back with a bottle of tequila and we’ll tell you some stories.” The guy to my left realizes that the lodge in question is the old clubhouse at the golf course back down in the valley. I thank them and speed back down to check in with no time to spare. While weaving back down toward Eden, my first note-to-self is: Fun-looking mountain but at US$40 million they could probably afford a couple of signs.
The Summit Series started as an offer for a free ski weekend from a college dropout wanting to fast-track how to become a successful entrepreneur. Elliot Bisnow and his “dream list” of 19 people has now blossomed into a community of more than 10,000 individuals who converge under the Summit banner several times a year. According to their website: “Summit creates unique gatherings designed to catalyze entrepreneurship, creative achievement, and global change to create a more joyful world.” To put it another way, they produce events that bring together people who want to meet other big-idea people.
Four years ago, the same people crowd-sourced the funds to purchase Powder Mountain and the land that it’s built upon. After 10 years as a brand, Summit now has a home as stewards of an old ski resort that bears the oxymoron of being famous for the fact that nobody knows about it.