Words and Photos: Diane Harrington
Alta’s High Boy party atop the High Rustler is one of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s best get-togethers of the year. Friends from Alta, Snowbird, and all over the valley congregate on top of the mountain to celebrate Alta’s closing day, watch the sunset, and say goodbye to friends who will be heading towards their summer destinations. In previous years, the party was easily accessed from Snowbird and therefore was open to snowboarders and skiers. In contrast, this year’s snowboarding party goers were refused a lift ride from Mineral Basin, denied access at Baldy, and even chased off the mountain by law enforcement. YES, for snowboarding!
A large group of ticket holders attempted to load the Baldy Express chair in Mineral Basin before its scheduled closing time. A Snowbird Ski patroller at the lift was refusing snowboarders a ride but allowed skiers. A skier in sick “Pit Viper” sunglasses was told he was allowed to load, but his best friend on a snowboard could not load. The irate skier, who felt he couldn’t leave his best friend behind, claimed this was the best part of the whole season and now it was being ruined for everyone and he couldn’t believe he was going to miss the event. Just then a guy wearing skis and his snowboarding girlfriend rolled up only to find they would be turned away. She was cute, totally dressed for the occasion in a rainbow tutu and ready to have a good time. Disgruntled snowboarders were told to direct their complaints to the Alta Lift Company. These actions apparently stem from the belief that snowboarders are more disruptive than skiers and therefore a danger to Alta’s clients. Snowbird ski patrollers were apologetic.
The same scenarios were repeated at Baldy. Snowboarders who tried to enter Alta via Baldy were turned away while skiers were allowed access. Even worse, one really dedicated snowboarder who lives and works at Alta, was chased down the slope by a handcuff wielding Alta Marshall, who threatened him with arrest and fines for trespassing.
Ecstatic, colorful, costumed skiers and riders ended up disappointed and feeling animosity about the way they were excluded simply based on the device they decided to use to slide down the snow. In general, people do not go where they are not wanted. Had it been publicized in advance that snowboarders were not welcome this year, many would have just made other après-ski plans and the disappointment factor would have been kept to a minimum.
Signs on the mountain and advanced notification that lifts would be closed to certain people would have given the paying public time to field questions rather than getting upset after being excluded from one of the most scenic parties in the world. Others would have worn skis, their funny one-pieces, Spider jackets and skied to the party instead. Many snow sliders from the Bird are well versed skiers and snowboarders. Furthermore, boyfriends who really wanted to attend could have pawned their snowboarding girlfriends off for the evening. If everyone who wanted to attend knew they had to ski, they would have found a chill way to make it to the party.
Bottom line, “ ALTA is a skiers’ mountain – Snowboarding is not allowed”. Ok I get it, but I don’t. Last year and for as many years as I can remember it was ok for snowboarders to go to the party. The majority of the snowboarding party goers are employees of the resorts and some even live and work in the town of Alta. These hard-working shredders have been providing excellent customer service to Alta clients for the past five months, it is no ones intention to harm anyone or be problematic. In fact, the snowboarders just want to hang out with the skiers and enjoy the last bit of the winter season together. One Love