Powder Mountain is renowned for its friendly smalltown staff, and Greg Arnette is one reason why. A master motivator, he’s rarely spotted without a huge smile. At 60-something, he’s full of youthful exuberance, which explains his thirst for adventure and the six-pack abs he hides under his thermals. For the past 20 years, Arnette has been carving up every inch of Pow Mow terrain. His admirable skills and intimate knowledge of dependable powder stashes make him the most sought-after instructor and private tour guide on the mountain. For Arnette, it’s a labor of love. The former sunglass mogul doesn’t exactly need the work. Like many in this community, he simply feels the urge to share his knowledge and give something back.
Powder Mountain became his winter home in the late 90s, a few years after he sold his Arnette sunglass line to Bausch & Lomb. He learned the trade while spending more than a decade at Oakley, where he was employee No. 3. After selling Arnette, he helped his son launch Electric sunglasses, which sold to Volcom five years later. Since the early 80s, Greg’s been working and playing with the best athletes in the surf, snow, motocross, and adventure sports. On top of that, his expertise on lens technology put him in close working contact with military contractors and aviators.
Greg loves his toys. Beyond his garage full of outdoor toys, he’s an avid tinkerer and award-winning model plane builder. Mind you he and his buddies build fully operational scale model jet planes. That, of course, got him interested in flying, so a couple decades ago he started flying helicopters. Since becoming a pilot he’s been tapped for a wide variety of special ops. He’s worked with SWAT teams and the Coast Guard, done contract missions in Ukraine, relief missions in the Bahamas, stunt work for Hollywood, and test piloting for aviation companies.
When asked why he settled on Powder Mountain he lights up. “I traveled all over Europe with my snowboard team back in the day, and this place reminded me of those little gems you find in Switzerland, France, and Germany that nobody knows about, where there’s still powder weeks after a storm. And with the CATs and stuff, it’s almost like heliboarding all day long without having to pay for it.”
In the late 2000s, he joined the local crew in Eden protesting the mountain’s previous owners who wanted to blow out the resort with 10,000 homes, three golf courses, and new lifts everywhere. “They would have ruined this place within a couple years if they had their way, and guys like me would have had to move. I was really proud of our community for stepping up to stop it.”
He’s far more optimistic about the new Summit Powder Mountain founders, who’ve invited him to several planning meetings. “I tell other locals now we’ve hit a home run. Greg Mauro was here and saw the big mistake those earlier owners were making. Today, he and the rest of the investors up here want to keep it more exclusive because they want to ride powder every day! That’s a huge plus. We don’t accept those EPIC and Ikon passes causing all the crowds everywhere. They’re capping daily ticket sales to 1500, so now people are buying in advance so they don’t miss a great powder day. Meanwhile, you’re dodging bullets all day at those other resorts. They’re way too crowded.”
Over the past several years Arnette has befriended many of those new homeowners who helped save the mountain. He’s often the one tasked with showing new guests around to get a feel for the place. Naturally, he rarely disappoints. “They’re really nice people who just want to have fun, no matter who they are. My only requirement is they send me intermediate or expert level only,” he laughs. “Because if you’re coming with me, you’re heading for the good stuff.”