This private club of socially-conscious entrepreneurs bought a ski mountain in Utah for $40 million to build what has been called a 'utopia for the millennial elite'

Powder Mountain
  • Summit, a socially conscious entrepreneurial collective, bought a mountain in Utah in 2013 for $US40 million.
  • The community is known for its progressive events with leaders at the forefront of their respective industries making up the attendee list.
  • Summit has begun building 28 houses on Powder Mountain as a first step toward providing a more permanent location for its followers.

On Utah’s Powder Mountain, you’ll find some of the world’s most influential individuals on what has been dubbed “the utopia of the millennial elite.”

The socially conscious entrepreneurial community Summit, founded in 2008, purchased the mountain for $US40 million in 2013, adding it to its repertoire of elite meeting grounds.

The collective is known for hosting gatherings designed to cultivate the biggest and brightest ideas of the millennial generation by bringing together leaders at the forefront of their respective industries. Richard Branson and Sophia Bush count themselves among the Summit clan, and anyone wanting to join must go through an application process beforehand.

Summit, which has been described as a mix of Ted Talks and Burning Man, is taking its progressive programming to the slopes. According to a report published in The Guardian, Summit’s founders envision that the mountain will bring together its community members in a more permanent settlement.

Powder Mountain is still under construction, but these photos give us an early peak inside the Utah utopia. Take a look.


Welcome to Powder Mountain.


It’s the largest skiable resort by acreage in the United States.

Source: PowderMountain.com


The closest city is Eden, Utah, at seven miles away. Salt Lake City sits 55 miles south.

Google

A close-up view from Google Maps shows the ski runs of Powder Mountain.

Google

The mountain and its ski resort remain open to the public.


Summit’s co-founders enlisted the financial backing of investor friends within the collective by inviting them out to Powder Mountain for a weekend and promising them a plot of land in return, as well as their money back once the company grew successful enough.

Instagram/Brett Leve

Left to right: Brett Leve, Jeff Rosenthal, Elliott Bisnow (not pictured are cofounders Ryan Begelman and Jeremy Shwartz)


Richard Branson is one investor and will have a house in the resort, according to The Guardian.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian


Marketing executive Martin Sorrell is another.

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Along with actress Sophie Bush, an avid skiier.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Source: US Weekly


Tech entrepreneur Ken Howery (left), one of the original members of the PayPal Mafia, is also a member.

Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Summit asks attendees to apply to be part of their community. The application lists qualifications for entry, including “must be on the leading edge of your field,” and asks for references.


Though the accommodations on Powder Mountain are still under construction, Summit began hosting events there in 2013. They are commonly held in the yurt-style Skylodge.


Weekend retreats typically consist of talks, performances, and other participatory events.


A former US Army chief of staff made an appearance a couple of years ago as a speaker.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty ImagesAbove: The general at a television show screening in 2008.

When there isn’t a talk or event scheduled, guests can enjoy a slew of activities like snowshoeing.


They also have access to a ski lift and Powder Mountain’s ski runs.


Over half of the ski runs are labelled “advanced.”

Instagram/living.powdermountain

Opening day! ????????✊ . . #SummitPowderMountain #PowderMountain #1718Season #FirstChair

A post shared by Powder Mountain (@living.powdermountain) on


Yoga and spa sessions are also popular extracurricular options.

Instagram/laughingberries


And dinners. Lots of dinners. Summit recruits Michelin-starred chefs to cook the meals.

Instagram/summit

gathering with friends #summitmountainseries

A post shared by Summit (@summit) on

Source: The Guardian


Summiters don’t mess around when it comes to their dinners. A guest snapped this photo of a Wagyu beef shank — a premium meat known for its intense marbling and tenderness.

Instagram/ceciliany


Summit’s Powder Mountain also offers activities suited for warmer weather.

Instagram/living.powdermountain


There are apparently human-sized bird nests in the trees that you can climb into, if you’re into that.

Instagram/Summit

@hanneswingate 's human-sized nest on @powdermountain #tbt #summitair

A post shared by Summit (@summit) on


Guests enjoy a little après ski fun.

Instagram/alissa_inwonderland

Tribe???? #summit . #HEROtribe . #summitseries . #ski #apresski #???? #summitmountainseries

A post shared by Alissa Lentz (@alissa_inwonderland_) on


Neon was a theme for this particular ski day.

Instagram/alissa_inwonderland


For those most impassioned by the Summit ethos, the company has recently begun construction on 28 houses on Powder Mountain.

There are 500 homes that will eventually be built. Current rentals will remain available,and once the new houses are built and purchased, the owners will have the option to rent them out on services like Airbnb or VRBO.


Summit is working with a roster of vetted architects who will be tasked with designing the homes. Buyers will scoop up the homesites for between $US150,000 and $US2 million.

Source: Town and Country


No home will exceed 4,500 square feet. In an interview with The Guardian, cofounder Jeff Rosenthal said, “None of the architecture should express taste or wealth.”

Source: The Guardian


There’s only one structure built and occupied so far, named Ridge Nest 13. The Guardian reported that the only completed house so far belongs to a cofounder.

Source: The Guardian


A look inside the now-completed Ridge Nest 13 shows a bright and airy interior.

Instagram/living.powdermountain


Not the worst view to have with your morning coffee.

Instagram/living.powdermountain


Someday, guests and residents will enjoy shopping and dining out at a town center called The Village. It will be filled with stores, eateries, juice bars, and hotels.

According to The Atlantic, Summit says the village will be up and running by 2022.


There are also plans in the works to build smaller apartments at more affordable prices.

According to Living Powder Mountain’s website, the goal is to create an avenue for artists and researchers to belong to the collective through low-income housing. The founders hope building affordable housing will help Powder Mountain avoid the reputation for exclusivity that the group is sometimes criticised for.


Not everyone’s buying that part though.

Twitter/Jenna Golden


The recent Guardian article prompted users on Twitter to level criticism against the cofounders and their followers for creating a space that’s “elitist” and “out of touch.”

Twitter/Adam W. Gaffney


They’re not holding back.

Twitter/DHH

The cofounders told The Guardian they’re acutely aware of the backlash against their efforts. They believe, however, that their mission will do more good than bad.

“There’s this rich history of groups coming together, where the whole is more than the sum of the parts, right? I think that’s what’s happening here.” – Jeff Rosenthal


Only time will tell if they’re right.

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