Amazing snow, tons of terrain, great vibe
May scare off less-experienced skiers
This past week I had the privilege of skiing Alta. Alta has always been revered and feared by me as the place of a skier's dream: challenging terrain, a hardcore environment, and tons of snow. Well, Alta is exactly that, and a whole lot more.
When you arrive at Alta, you really feel the old-school ski town vibe. The place radiates an old-style ski village aura in the architecture and layout. When you walk up to get your lift ticket, the cashiers aren't wearing flashy, embroidered-logo $200 vests with their hair all primped. Instead, they are fresh off the slopes--probably hitting a few pre-chair turns--with helmet hair, still in their snow pants. The other people standing in line aren't your average gapers or seasonal skiers. Everyone there is there for a reason: to ski some of the best terrain on the continent and this is their life. These two elements—plus the lack of snowboarders—really ups the great atmosphere that Alta gives off.
But with hardcore locals and hard-ripping transient skiers, Alta has another side—one that threatens people with fair-to-average skiing skill sets. Every where you look, you will see incredible skiers with incredible skis. There aren’t too many skinny sticks around. We were 3-4 days away from our last powder day, and people were still skiing commonly reserved for deep powder. I was threatened by this, but quickly found out that even 3-4 days after a powder day, there’s still plenty of powder (or packed powder) runs to really make use of a fat ski.
Alta has some of the sickest terrain I have ever been on. There’s so much “inbound backcountry” that someone arriving to ski powdery groomers will surely be frightened. At the top of the Collins lift, for example, a large, expansive bowl was filled with snow waiting to be poached. While there were definitely tracks, most of the snow along the far sides of the traverse was there for the taking.
If you do want to ride on wide, expansive, soft groomers, then Alta has that too, although it’s mostly known for its varied expert terrain. The groomers are windy and fun, and always rewarding.
We skied Alta on a Monday and found the lift lines non-existent. The busiest lift—that services the main parking lot area—the Collins lift—is the newest (“Alta’s big jump into the 21st century,” one local told us) high speed detachable that has a midway loading point (perfect for lapping the Ballroom area). We also used the Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts, which also had minimal lines. Alta’s lifties are great for keeping control of the lift lines when they do grow.
Between the atmosphere, terrain, and great snow (Alta is rumored to get much more inches of snow than neighboring Snowbird), Alta has everything a skier can want. You’ll never have to worry about an icy patch on a groomer or cat track either, since snowboarders aren’t allowed. Afterward, we hit the Alta Ski Shop for a few souvenirs and conversed with some of the locals about how great Alta was. Alta pushed my limits and expanded my skiing horizons, making it my favorite ski resort.