I’ll never forget the first time I took some unsuspecting friends down Regulator Johnson on the first run of the morning.
These were advanced skiers used to tackling most parts of the mountain, and the run was perfectly groomed corduroy on a bluebird day.
After we flew down the steep groomer and raced towards the bottom, one friend shouted at me with a huge smile on his face, “Wow, you didn’t warn me about that one! The bottom completely fell out!!!”
He was certainly onto something…
What is Regulator Johnson?
Regulator Johnson is a black diamond groomer off the Little Cloud chairlift at Snowbird.
On the trail map, it doesn’t look all that remarkable. It’s not particularly long, nor is it on any special spot on the mountain.
But like my friend, take one run down this iconic black diamond, and you’ll immediately realize that it’s one of the steepest, fastest, and most fun groomers anywhere!
Here’s 5 fun facts about one of Snowbird’s best runs.
1. The run has a max steepness of 32 degrees.
According to data from Fatmaps.com, Regulator Johnson has a nearly constant slope angle of 25 to 32 degrees of steepness.
This makes it the steepest groomer on the mountain, and one of the steepest groomers anywhere!
2. It’s 3/4 of a mile long…
Not the longest groomer in history, but still perfect for cruising!
3. …And descends over 1,000 vertical feet.
The exact number is 1,093 vertical feet, according to data from Jollyturns.com.
Interestingly, while this is certainly a lot of vertical, it’s only the 6th most vertical feet of Snowbird’s many black diamond runs.
But of course, vertical and length only tell half of the story. These two stats, combined with its location almost directly underneath the chairlift and Snowbird’s frequent grooming of the run, makes this a perfect run for racking up distance and vertical!
4. Regulator Johnson is named after Snowbird’s founder. Or is it?
According to mountain lore, Snowbird’s famous black diamond is named after the resort’s founder, Ted Johnson.
In the 1960s, Ted Johnson chased powder all the way to Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon, where he got a job working at the Alta Lodge. He soon realized the terrain immediately next door would make for perfect skiing too, and he began buying up old mining claims in the Peruvian Gulch area and started his hunt for investors.
In 1969, he met Richard D. Bass, a Texas rancher and oilman, and the two began a partnership that developed Snowbird into the world class resort it is today.
As explained in an article on Snowbird.com:
Almost everything at Snowbird – from the Tram to the village to the spirit of Snowbird’s first employees – started with Ted,” said Snowbird President and CEO Bob Bonar, who worked for Ted before the resort opened. “It was Ted’s vision, intellect, endearing personality and persistence that brought Snowbird to life.”
Some say Ted Johnson carried the nickname “Regulator Johnson” for his ability to deal with government regulators to help realize his snowbird vision.
Or is this just an urban legend?
There’s another, possibly more likely story.
Regulator Johnson is the name of a old mine located a few miles from Snowbird. That mine is named after John S. Johnson, a Wasatch miner who lived in Alta in the 1870s.
This other Johnson owned the rights to the Regulator Mine, a consistent ore producer located above Grizzy Gulch. Naturally, John S. Johnson became known in the area as “Regulator” Johnson.
5. You can turn it into a mogul run.
In case 32 degrees of groomer steepness wasn’t enough challenge for you, you can always dip underneath the lift line to experience ungroomed moguls of a similar steepness.
In fact, on my first visit to Snowbird, this unmarked trail was one of my day’s best runs!
Lastly, How Difficult is Regulator Johnson?
If this all sounds like a good time, but you’re an intermediate skier or rider and a little concerned about Regulator Johnson’s difficulty, here are my thoughts.
Regulator Johnson is definitely steep. As previously mentioned, it’s one of the steepest groomers at any mountain.
You definitely need to make sure you’re capable of controlling your speed before dropping in on this one. If not, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Additionally, you’ll want to check whether it is groomed. Occasionally, Snowbird does not groom Regulator, which obviously makes it a different experience. Likewise, the run sometimes gets bumped up later in the day, so you’ll want to check that first, too.
The good news is that you can peer over the edge and scope out the whole run. The bad news is that there’s no easier way down from that point. So if you decide to bail (No shame! Live to ski another day!) you may have to skate/pole/walk over to the Peruvian area.
Otherwise, brace yourself for one of the most iconic runs at Snowbird!