5 Ways To Improve: Alta Ski Area

5 Ways To Improve: Alta Ski Area

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5 Ways To Improve: Alta Ski Area

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Ask any skier or rider what could be improved about their home hill and they’ll quickly rattle off a laundry list of hot-topics. Whether it’s the difficult parking or outdated lift that desperately needs an upgrade, seemingly everybody has an opinion on how to make things better. To the institutions of North American skiing and snowboarding, here is our unsolicited (and free) customer feedback.

Perhaps the most iconic ski resort in all of North America, Alta is both loved and despised for its ski-only policy. With a rich history stemming back to the early days of lift-served skiing, Alta is known for being more old-school than cutting edge. That doesn’t mean the skiing is not excellent and one legendary Little Cottonwood powder day is often enough to convince a powderhound to stick around for a lifetime.

Remove the EBT

The East Baldy Traverse helps connect skiers returning from Snowbird or the top of Sugarloaf back to the Collins side. It may seem counterintuitive for a ski area to remove an existing connector but there are many advantages to getting rid of the EBT. Foremost for the patrollers that have to carefully mitigate avalanche danger and the snowcat operators who have to move
all the snow that buries the road, their time could be better spent on opening and grooming other sections of the mountain. Without the EBT in the way, the East Baldy chutes can also be skied with a pristine fall line and considerably more vertical feet. It would take longer to return to the bottom of Collins or Wildcat without the EBT, but just imagine how much longer fresh lines could last on the classic frontside runs.

Gaper Guard the Devil’s Castle

It goes without saying if you want to access the goods at Alta you will need to hike, side-step and skate to get there. Jokingly many Altaholics claim the acronym stands for “Another Long Traverse Ahead”. A common situation at Alta after a long hike is watching someone undercutting your fall line with a pointless traverse. One of the most flagrant examples of skiing across the fall line happens on the Devil Castle. If ski patrol was able to place a gate or closure before countless beater traverses were cut, the skiing experience on the Castle would be greatly improved.

Add a couple rails/boxes on Sunnyside Alta is celebrated for powder, big natural jumps and being a skier only mountain. However between the big storm cycles, the lack of any park features leaves park rats heading to Brighton or worse Park City. A message to Alta management from a younger generation; ‘rails and boxes aren’t just for snowboarders anymore’. Adding a couple rails or boxes to lower Sunnyside would be great for the high pressure cycles when snowfall slows down. The low angle terrain on Sunnyside is an excellent place to stash a small terrain park and if it gets buried all season…
(oh well, everyone will be happy to go ski powder instead).

Reduce High-T braiding

A rite of passage to ski Alta is safely navigating the High Traverse with its wild bumps, exposed rocks and traffic congestion. At some point in the season the High Traverse becomes a braided network of multiple trails that compromises the quality of the runs along its route. Many life-long Alta skiers will tell you if you want to ski the steeps of Stonecrusher or High Rustler, the first step is to be confident in carrying respectable speed across the High-T. Reducing the amount of extra traverses along the High-T would dramatically improve the fall line skiing on some of Altas most famous runs. Simple signage at the entrance to the High-T to stay on the defined traverse
would be beneficial to both new visitors learning the mountain and the lifers who revere these runs.

Allow snowboarding on Wildcat only

Alta is a skiers mountain and even as a lifelong knuckledragger it is obvious the layout of the ski area is far more conducive for 4 edges not 2. By far the most controversial item on the list, snowboarding at Alta is a radical proposal that will leave die-hards rolling in their graves. It may never make sense to let a snowboarder attempt the High traverse or any of the other mandatory
traversing runs, but allowing snowboarding on Wildcat would tremendously benefit the reputation of Alta as a more inclusive mountain. Also from allowing snowboarders onto Wildcat, riders can see firsthand why the mountain has been ski-only for decades. It would also be extremely fun to see new blood airing the classic natural hits of Wildcat and enjoying the greatest end of season party on earth: The Frank.

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