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The Dream Of Alvin F. Cobabe, M.D.

powder mountain historyAlvin F. Cobabe, a hard working, intelligent man, has always looked for interesting things to do. He first started skiing as a child. He would make a ski jump off his family’s barn roof – over the roof of the pig shed - and- on to who – knows – where. However, that infamous “final run” ended his skiiing career for a period. Alvin fell and severely fractured his leg. He gave up skiing for many years. His children say they were deprived the privilege of learning how to ski at a young age because he claimed it was “much too dangerous.” In 1963, Alvin relearned how to ski while scouting the mountain for future placement of ski trails.

Alvin lived in Slaterville, a farming community west of Ogden, Utah. When not in school, he spent time working with his father who was a sheep rancher. His father turned the operation of the ranch over to Alvin when he was 16. Instead of fun and games, Alvin spent his youth learning what hard work was.

When Alvin graduated from high school, he wanted to be a radio engineer. He studied at night and got his radio and television engineer license from a school in Kansas City, Missouri in 1937. Working as an engineer for KLO radio in 1937-38, he helped build the radio station.

About the same time Alvin decided to become partner with his father. He bought a piece of mountain country for sheep grazing that adjoined his father’s property. Because the ranch needed a reservoir, Alvin bought some heavy moving equipment. He delved into earth moving for other people to help pay for the equipment. Later the same year he married June Heslop.

powder mountain

Ranching, raising livestock and earth moving construction did not satisfy Alvin. He kept saying he wanted to be a doctor. In 1956, at the age of 37, he sold the livestock and earth moving companies and enrolled at Weber College to take classes for pre med. Everyone said he was too old and no medical school would ever accept him at age 38.

When the diplomas were handed out at the University of Utah School of Medicine there was one for Alvin Cobabe. The oldest graduate at the time, he was in the top tenth his class with the U of U Medical School in the top ten percent in the nation.

powder mountain

sundown constructionOne day while riding with some friends in the Powder Mountain area in the summer of 1958 one friend looked down over a wide open slope and remarked, “That slope would make a fantastic ski run”.  Skiing-the word rang true.  It fit the mountain.  Even though he was not a skier, he began to investigate.  Consulted with the experts and they all agreed that Powder Mountain was a mountain made for skiing.

A contract was entered into with Weber County to provide a road to the area.  With contract for road construction under way, Powder Mountain entered into a contract with Thiokol Chemical Corporation early in the spring of 1971 for the construction of two lifts.  Work began, but delivery of material was slow.  The towers arrived in October of 1971.  Despite adverse weather conditions construction was pushed by Powder Mountain.  With the efforts concentrated on the lift #1, or Sundown Lift, The crew worked diligently through subzero weather, accomplishing an impossible task.

By February 19, 1972 the lift had been completed, tested and ready for public use.  On Washington’s Birthday weekend Powder Mountain opened for a trial run of the season.  Crowds flocked in and their acceptance of the hill proved that Powder Mountain was indeed a mountain made for skiing.

Opening day at Powder Mountain