Wild Utah: What kind of visitor is best suited to patronize your resort?
Alta: Alta is a skiers only mountain. Snowboarding is not allowed. Our
mountain counts families heavily among its visitors. We are almost equally
divided between destination & local skiers for our skier base.
WU: What is your resort's number one feature?
WU: What causes the biggest headaches for visitors at your resort?
A: We remain concerned about the relative difficulty involved with beginner
skiers entering any ski area. We are working on making the experience as good
as possible for beginners who show up at Alta.
WU: What's new for the 2004/2005 season?
A: Improvements: Alta Installing Long Awaited Lift! When skiers arrive
at Alta next winter, it will be hard to not notice our new lift. For years
we have wanted a bottom-to-top lift, and now, with Forest Service approvals,
we are building it this summer. The new Collins Lift is a 6,300-foot long
detachable quad. It replaces the old Collins and Germania lifts. Skiers will
ride one lift to the top in under nine minutes, accessing over 1800 vertical
feet of skiing.
Alta Ski Area has always been a destination for skiers who are looking
for the steep and challenging terrain we are so recognized for. Alta would
like to remind all skiers that we were given the perfect gift from nature
when our founders chose the first great place to develop a ski area in Utah.
Our mountain is equally divided into terrain suitable for beginners, intermediates
and expert skiers because of glacial activity that occurred thousands of years
High Points: Some of the Best Snow / Terrain Anywhere! Lots
of Beginner Terrain
Low Points: The Attitude is a Little Smug & No Snowboarders
Free tip: Tailgating is Real.
Ah, Alta. If Wild Utah had to crown one resort supreme, it would have to
be Alta. The resort is exceptionally old school, with very few high-speed
lifts. The premise here (from the days of Alf Engen) was to use slow lifts,
which builds up lines at the bottom but allows each skier on the mountain
the greatest run.
The quantity and quality of snow at Alta is simply unfair. You can ski in
Michigan, Massachusetts, California, Wyoming, North Carolina and even Colorado
and never experience anything like Alta. The annual average is 500 inches
per year; last year (03-04 season), Alta received 593 inches, and it didn't
even snow in March (the biggest snow month). The dryness of the snow is unimaginable.
Colorado ski marketing likes to work at convincing people that they have the
driest snow; but quite often the moisture density is six or seven percent
in Utah, compared to 11 or 12 percent in other ski regions like Colorado.
The snow is so dry at Alta that it's almost magic.
We laugh to think of the measly 1,800 feet of vertical, compared to just
about every other Rocky Mountain resort at 3,000 feet or more, and even Big
Sky, Montana at 4,500 feet. Alta's 1,800 feet will punish you like few resorts
can. If you ride the new Collins Lift and ski down High Rustler, you 'll find
out why. That 1,800 feet is in one shot, steeper-then-hell. Test your "fitness
threshold" by seeing how many times you need to stop on that one run. It's
It won't take you long to figure out that the Alta locals don't immediately
take to "visitors." We're not even sure they take to each other. Alta is so
cool, that it's a little cold. Old school skiers have dominated Alta for a
half a century. Their kids and everyone else who starts hanging out at Alta
begin to take on a very possessive attitude. They figure it's their mountain-and
really, it is. Don't let the smugness affect your day. You'll enjoy yourself
immensely at Alta.
Alta's food also spans the whole range. Goldminer's Daughter and the Watson
Shelter are the bottom end: ski bum food. Alf's Restaurant and Albion Grill
are a smidge better (a bowl of soup at Alf's is $7.00). The Alta Lodge and
Rustler Lodge are both up from that in performance and price; and the Shallow
Shaft is the high-end, with tasty salmon, pork, lamb, steak, etc. Our choice
for après ski would be at the Peruvian, just down the road. We often grab
a beer for the patio at the little beer window; and there are several other
places to whet-ja-whistle.
If you can stomach a skier's-only environment, Alta is a must-ski. Very few
resorts in the world can hold a candle to Alta for a variety of reasons. When
we skied Alta in the beginning of November, we overheard two guys on Devil's
Castle who kept repeating "the snow is just phenomenal!" We had to bite our
tongues to keep from yelling, "it's just an average day at Alta!" As our tip
suggests, you should bring your favorite intoxicants for après skiing in the
parking lot. Sure, there are plenty of places to get a beer, but tailgating
is a daily practice at Alta. Enjoy it; you might just break in with the locals.