According to legend, at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, nestled in between the ridge lines of Mt. Wolverine and Mt. Baldy, there lives a creature named the Wasatch Jellyfish.
Well, at least that’s the locals’ nickname for the weather pattern that insures that the little mining town of Alta, Utah, receives more snow than any other resort in the region.
In the ski community, “Alta” is a one-word synonym for the best snow on earth. It also boasts an average annual snow fall of 600 inches, and access to endless amounts of some of the most challenging backcountry terrain in the lower 48. Those are just a few of the reasons why BLISTER calls Alta its Utah home.
The Central Wasatch is the epicenter for skiing in the western hemisphere. On any given powder day, while another epic storm brews over the Great Salt Lake, next year’s feature-length ski films and next month’s ski magazine covers are being shot on the same terrain we use to conduct our tests. The conversations taking place on the chairlift and around the mountain are a testament to Alta’s embedded ski culture: this is where it is happening.
Alta not only provides some of the deepest and most frequent powder days around, but also a large spectrum of snow conditions that truly allow us to put skis to the test. Combine this with a variety of terrain from the wide open bowls of Devils Castle, the Backside, and Catherine’s; the steep chutes of Baldy; the variable technical lines off of Supreme, the High Traverse, and West Rustler; the playful tree skiing of the Wildcat area and the Westward Hoe; and finally, the ripping groomers that connect all of these areas, and you’ll quickly see why Alta is ideal.
There is another community that makes up the low-key and laid-back attitude of Alta. The lodges that reside at the base of the slopes embody an older European style of living that is uncommon for a modern day ski resort. Keeping alive the communal dinners and the eat-sleep-ski values of the past, the typical question upon check out at these lodges is, “Would you like to reserve your stay for the same week next year?” The typical response is, “Yes.”
Countless pros have spent their winters working the early and late shifts at these lodges while spending all day on the mountain. During your stay, the next star of skiing may be taking your breakfast order while giving you beta on where to ski. This balance of intimacy and amenities has created a very special and unique ski area.
The moral of the story? Don’t come to Alta if you want to go shopping, but definitely come if you want to go skiing.
BLISTER Trip Reports from Alta: