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Alta/Snowbird, USA

Now I have been known to dabble in the dark art of “le snowboarding”, as the French call it, but I am first and foremost a skier.  And Alta is a skier’s resort.  By this I don’t mean that it has lots of button lifts and long flat sections for poling along (a little joke for my snowboarding brethren here).  I mean that boarders are banned.

For many skiers, this alone would be a reason to propel Alta to the top of the list of world ski resorts, but Alta’s charms aren’t confined to its ban on those who aren’t talented enough to control two planks at once.  Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in the US, and due to its location at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon within moisture range of the Great Salt Lake, Alta apparently gets a whopping 13m of reliable, dry snow every year.

Alta photo of the day

image courtesy of

The skiing isn’t too extreme, and with Alta keen to promote its family friendly credentials some 40% of the terrain is given over to beginners and intermediates.  However there are plenty of long, steep, fall-line pitches if you look for them, and lots of tree skiing for those who like the added thrill of potential high-speed impact to spice up their holidays.  This mixture of terrain has given Alta the reputation of having some of the most challenging in-bounds skiing in North America.  And best of all, there are no snowboarders sitting in the way at the top of lifts.

The next resort in the valley is Snowbird, with similar amounts of snow (loads) and similar terrain.  It’s possible to buy a joint pass for both Alta and Snowbird, but the two resorts have a much different feel.  Snowbird has a edgier, younger crowd, and yes, it allows snowboarders.

I prefer Alta.

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