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Monday, December 28, 2015

Alta Ski Resort- Utah

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday with family and friends.  I shipped off to the East Coast on Tuesday, but I am still catching up on the start of the ski season in Utah.  While New England is sunny, lets take it West, back to Utah where there was actually a white Christmas.

Last week, after skiing Deer Valley, I had one more "skiers only" resort to try.  And it was one everyone talks about.  When I ask friends or acquaintances in Utah what their favorite Utah ski resort is, nine times out of ten it is Alta.  Alta Alta Alta.

Because I normally ski with snowboarders, Alta and Deer Valley (skier only resorts) were off limits. But when a snow storm dumped nearly 3 feet of snow across the Utah mountains, and Liftopia had a deal, I ditched the snowboarders and headed to Little Cottonwood Canyon to see what Alta was all about.

Alta and Snowbird share Little Cottonwood Canyon.  You can even buy a joined Alta/Snowbird pass if you would like to ski both mountains, but one mountain a day is plenty enough for me.  The price was right, the conditions were perfect and I had the time.  The stars seemed to line up, and mother nature knew I had some free time during finals week.  My only final was Friday so Thursday, with a fresh foot of snow on the slopes, I decided it was time to ski Alta.

Alta is by no means a cheap mountain to ski.  A new lift ticket to ski is $89, standard for a ski mountain but still expensive for many.  I knew that was out of the budget so I checked out Liftopia prices.  When I saw a Liftopia ticket for $54, I knew I had to bite the bullet and see what Alta is all about.

Note:  While Alta lift tickets are expensive, they have a great deal after 3.  You can ski a certain area of the mountain for $10 after 3pm, an hour and a half of skiing at the end of the day.  With all the fresh snow, I wanted the day to check out the mountain and for $54, it was a steal of a day at Alta.

First Impressions:
  1. I thought Alta was going to have an uppity vibe to it.  Not Deer Valley uppity but a "skiers only" kind of exclusive vibe.  I am proud to report not at all.  The mountain reminded me of a Skiers Only Brighton, a really laid back locals mountain with down to earth old school facilities and buildings.  Nothing swanky, just simple and classic, with an old school ski lodge 
  2. The base lift does get a bit crowded.  Back in Vermont, you can easily wait in a 45 minute ski line.  That is unheard of in Utah.  There are no lift lines due to the size of the mountains, the number of resorts, and the number of lifts at each resort.  I was surprised to see a line at the base lift by the lodge.  When I say line, I mean 5-10 minute wait (am I spoiled much?).  I never saw a lift line the rest of the day.  
  3. The mountain really stuck with that old school vibe.  One of my favorite runs was off the "wildcat" lift, a simple two person lift that didn't even have a bar that came down.  And on that note, NO ONE puts the bar down here while riding the ski lifts.  Maybe its my large fear of heights, but I just like putting the bar down.  I am fine on ski lifts but it was definite that the bar was staying up all day long and I was going to accept that. 
  4. This mountain has a loyal following of die hard skiers who love love love this mountain.  Everyone I talked to on the mountain was so friendly, so excited, and so glad to hear I was finally giving Alta a try.  They were more than happy to share their favorite runs with me, and tell me where the snow was the best. 
  5. Un-groomed.  Unlike Deer Valley, Alta had a fair number of un-groomed trails.  I prefer to play in the fresh snow any day then ski a perfectly groomed trail.  Don't get me wrong, I love the variety, and like to start and end on the groomed, warming up my legs or giving them a break when they are on fire.  But this mountain had so many great un-groomed trails where you could ski through feet of Utah powder.
I had such a great time skiing Alta.  My favorite runs were off Wildcat is where I spent a lot of my time. I skied everything from Blues to Blacks, played on the groomed trails and found some fresh powder all over.  The conditions were amazing after days of snow piled on top of Alta's slopes.  I loved the vibe of the mountain, and how much people really loved the mountain was very very clear.  And I can see why.  The facilities were old school and simple... nothing like the newer resort style of Snowbird, and reminded me a lot of the basics at Brighton.  After a long day of skiing, I quit at about 3:00 pm to enjoy a cold beer at the Goldminers Daughter, Alta's popular bar.  I enjoyed a cold beer in front of the hot fire, while watching skiers make their way down the slope.  

Alta lovers, I finally understand.


  1. Alta is my go-to resort! I almost never have to wait in line for the ski after 3pm deal. I love how empty this resort usually is, and you're right - there's a good mix of groomers with non-groomed trails. Goldminer's Daughter is where I hang out after skiing for beer and a fireplace. Fun, fun! Alicia @

  2. Oh I want to be a better skier so badly! It's my goal before I head out west, otherwise I am going to miss some beautiful mountains out your way. Love that you took the day to head up too. Life goals. :)


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