Tour concludes with Alta Resort

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

SALT LAKE CITY -- On our last day on the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, David Rittenhouse and I decided to visit the venerable resort of Alta. No Olympic events scheduled there, but it is one of the oldest resorts in the nation, dating from 1938. And it has a fine reputation as a skiers' mountain -- no snowboarders allowed.

While time may be on a hold at Alta, modern additions are not. The lodges are new and sleek, the facilities just where they are needed. And lift tickets all day adult are only $35.

Alta offers two base areas, Albion and Wildcat, linked by a slow-moving surface tow. Two lifts service Albion, both opening up wide open green fields for tyros. Wildcat is served by two base lifts, Collins and Wildcat. Wildcat opens up several black diamond runs and a blue; Collins ties into the Germania lift which links to the Sugarloaf chair. From Sugarloaf the runs take one to the Supreme lift. With the exception of Sugarloaf, all lifts are fixed two- and three-seaters. This limits the number of skiers on a run, resulting in a safer experience.

Trails blue and black blossom from the Supreme lift, which ends at 10,595 feet. Groomed trails are a pleasant jaunt, while the blacks require some serious skiing. Rittenhouse explored the black trails, seeking and finding powder stashes a week after the most recent snowfall. I also found some easier powder runs through the trees.

The snow was excellent at Alta, as it was at the other three resorts we visited. Where it was groomed it was well groomed. Where it was left up to skiers to pound things down it was just as good and when it was powder, it was the kind of powder that is rarely found in the Sierra Nevada -- light, fluffy, champagne.

New at Alta is a combined pass with Snowbird, a resort just over the saddle. We didn't try Snowbird, but past experience rated it as high on the scale.

Alta remains a ski area with the accent on ski. No snowboards. It combines the rugged, basic qualities of the past mixed with modern housing and amenities. It's a resort where one could spend a long weekend, perhaps combining runs across the ridge at Snowbird. Trails aren't as long as say Snowbasin, but for skiers it is a last refuge from snowboarders (not that I have anything against riders).

At Alf's restaurant at the base of the Sugarloaf lift old wooden skis are displayed along the walls, complete with 'skins and leather boots. They are a reminder of whence Alta came and why it continues to lure skiers from around the world.


Our last day in Salt Lake City was spent partly on a fruitless attempt to secure press credentials for the Olympics. Not a chance, we were told. So we then wandered the city, visiting the Mormon facilities in the heart of town and admiring the gigantic pictures of an ice skater draped down the side of a 40-story building and of a snowboarder at equal length on another building.

At one of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints buildings we stumbled on a piano concert. The man and woman alternately sat at a grand piano and played Scriaban and Schubert. The audience was sparse, but the music was strong, enthusiastic, and a fitting coda to a skiing vacation.


A new shuttle service takes Carson City snowsporters to Northstar-at-Tahoe for $56, just $2 more than the cost of an adult all-day ticket. To make a reservation call (775) 883-2100 one day before departure. Kids' prices are also available. Sounds like a good deal.


Alpine Meadows checks in with a couple of events. On Wednesdays the resort hosts Gravity-X series of male and female skiers, male and female snowboarders. Dates are Feb. 13, Feb. 27, March 13, March 27. Team events entry fee is $200 for the series, individual entry fee is $20 per event. Register on the day of the event 10 a.m. to noon, Kangaroo Building deck. Practice starts at 11:30 a.m. Call (530) 581-8234.

For Night Rider series, same lineup, Feb. 21, March 17 and March 28.


At the other resorts, Homewood Mountain Resort on the west side of Lake Tahoe, lift tickets are $25 Monday through Thursday, with Merchants Day Feb. 14. Buy a lift ticket from a participanting merchant for $15. At Northstar-at-Tahoe Saturday and Sunday USASA super pipe and dual slalom events, pipe on Saturday and dual slalom on Sunday.

Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment