Nestled at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, about a 45 minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, Alta is one of the oldest ski areas in the US, with the first lifts having opened in 1939. It is also one of only three remaining US resorts not to allow snowboarders (the other two being nearby Deer Valley, and Mad River Glen in Vermont). However, if you’re a skier, you’re in for a treat…
Compared to some US resorts, Alta still has the nice down-to-earth feel of something of a small local hill – there is no overgrown base area, just a bar and a couple of shops near the car park. While on weekends and powder days there can be a short line for the lifts, once you are up on the mountain you have all the space you could need. There are a number of fast detachable quad lifts, so you don’t feel like you’re wasting any snow time stuck on a chair. The standard of skiing here is generally very high – it’s clearly a resort frequented by keen skiers!
And then there is the snow… We were lucky enough to ski two days at Alta, one of which was in the perfect conditions skiers dream of – a week day with no crowds, over a foot of of fresh snow overnight, and perfect bluebird skies overhead. It’s fair to say we all had one of our best ski days ever! Initially we skied laps under the Sugarloaf chair in the sunshine, picking new lines down through Glory Gulch and then hopping back on the chair. Later on we moved to the front side of the mountain, skiing the powder on Baldy’s Shoulder before discovering the steep and deep runs reached off the High Traverse. The latter occupied us for the remainder of the afternoon as we worked further along the traverse each time before dropping into the steep routes such as Stone Crusher and Lone Pine. Each time, we felt like we had the mountain all to ourselves. Perfect!
Overall, it was an epic day and a great introduction to the Utah Powder. We’ll definitely be back!