Salt Lake magazine

Ski (all of) Utah Olden days: Alta is what skiing is and always was

February 1, 2017

The gray-bearded gentleman at the next lodge table over seems to be giving me the stinkeye. His gaze hangs on my boots, then rises. I offer my most earnest smile. He purses his lips and strokes his beard as though he’s trying to solve a puzzle.

I’m already used to this. Without the outer chassis, the Apex boots I’m wearing look like snowboard boots. And snowboards are, of course, verboten here at Alta.

I’d love to board Alta, but I’ll leave it to others to whine about the ban. The only thing that really needs to be said about this rule and this resort is that change happens here very slowly. And that’s a good thing — in so many ways.

“There’s something magical here,” says Andria Huskinson, who has been skiing Alta for nearly a quarter century, which still makes her a something of a newbie around these parts. “It’s how skiing was back in the olden days.”

I take “olden days” to mean copious powder, plenty of steep stuff and a culture of people who are here for the sking first, the skiing second and the skiing third. There’s not a mad rush when the lifts open. This resort has been blessing skiers with the Greatest Snow of Earth for nearly 80 years, and Alta adherents know it’s not going anywhere.

What that means for us, on the day we visit, is not just that there’s plenty of mountain to ski, but that we can enjoy skiing it without fretting over who might get to it first. And that we can do it with a cast of characters who are steadfastly devoted to this place, in all its unchanging glory.

Matthew D. LaPlante is skied or snowboarded at all of Utah’s 14 ski resorts—in seven days—with fellow powderhounds Jared “JJ” Jones and Erik “Swede” Price. Follow their trip on Twitter: @SkiAllOfUtah.

Salt Lake Magazine

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