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Alta tactics?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I've skied Alta a bunch of times, but never with new snow. Looks like I'll get my chance on Thursday. I'd be VERY grateful for suggestions on how to ski the mt to enjoy the deep (not necessarily the steep - I've got the fambly). Some hiking ok, but coming from sea level we will be sucking wind as it is.
post #2 of 16
ski school. seriously. I learned most of my secret powder stashes and tactics there. Then I've honed and perverted them over the years.
post #3 of 16
Be in line by 6:30am. Then you have earned your 1 untracked run. Ski moguls the rest of the day.
post #4 of 16
How you ski Alta on a powder day depends on what you are looking for. If you want to be in the full on feeding frenzy then hit Collins and stick with Collins. No matter what your plan, I would start there, at least for 3 or 4 runs. Work the lines of the high traverse skiing farther and farther out each time. Ski all the way to the bottom, (don't waste time looking for a chair at the 1/2 station.) Also, don't overlook lines like "Freds trees and Freds slot. These are just to skiers left of the Collins chair off main street. Or, follow the high T all the way out to the pass and hit Greely bowl (You'll have to come back to collins via the transfer tow). Traverse back over towards gunsite (skiers right) and hit the willows down low. This quite often sticks around for a while. I also love skiing North Rustler/Eagles nest, but it's a little more work to get to.

If you looking for fewer runs, but "cleaner" lines then I'd hit Supreme or Wildcat. With the new collins lift, the terrain off wildcat is now "under utilized." Catherines and Supreme bowl are great. There are also quite a few shorter but nice lines out towards sleepy hollow or the three bears. If the visibility isn't too bad, there are also some good lines to the skiers right of extrovert (off sugar loaf). The trees at the bottom of that run are also choice.

Late in the day (but before 3:00pm) you might find a few very short clean lines off sunnyside along vail ridge. It's great for first time powder skiers. If you still have the legs, nothing better than to finish the day with a run down high rustler. It won't be fresh, but it will be epic.

Basically, I'd just go out and have fun. Look for any unskied lines and check the boards at teh top and bottom of each lift for any gate openings. Generally, things open in roughly this order, Catherine's, Westward Ho, Supreme Bowl, The backside, ballroom, Devil's Castle, East Castle (then baldy). The high T and Greely Bowl rarely close. If it's storming all day, don't look for much new stuff to open during the day. They generally let things stabalize before doing ava work. (the like to shoot things with the ava-launchers before they go out and toss bombs. The patrol won't fire the Ava-launchers while the skiing public is out and about.

Depending on how heavy the snow is, there's a lot of low angle powder skiing that many of the locals don't ski. If it's fairly light you can ski it. Think trees between named runs on sugarloaf....

I would love to show you some stashes, but the reality is, unless you know right where to go, you'd most likely get lost. If you want to take Mr. Crab's advice and want to ski with the absolute powder freak, ask for Lenny B. He LIVES for powder and will ski your legs off. His nickname is "PS" but you have to ask him what it means.....


PS My first bluebird powder day at Alta my wife got really cold. We skied down from the Albion lift right to Alf's. I spent the first 30-45 mins of the day in Alf's "warming up" watching folks track out Yellowtrail and the back side. Being from the east at the time, it was agony. I never said a word. I still think my good karma in support my new fiance (at the time) is part of the reason the fates saw us end up here.....
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Great post, including the personal touch. I'll study it and take the test tomorrow.
post #6 of 16
Ski School isa great idea. You get to go to the front of the lift line. if you haven't already rent some fat boards. And have fun
post #7 of 16
Ski school is a superb idea, they even have a 2.5 hour Powder Clinic for like $42. You can cut lines, and find great stashes. Only downside, you may get stuck with some mega gapers who'll rob you of turns.

Alternative, find some gnarly old dude in a one piece and with fatties. He probably knows the deal
post #8 of 16
Or you can just go to Solitude and be one of 100 people there, if that.
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by jamesdeluxe
Or you can just go to Solitude and be one of 100 people there, if that.

You won't like Solitude - it's much smaller than Alta or the Bird.:
post #10 of 16
Originally Posted by Woodee

You won't like Solitude - it's much smaller than Alta or the Bird.:
You're right. Now that I think about it, I'd rather get a beatdown by the Pain Train at Alta.
post #11 of 16
Ishull- You're so nice! I used to be pretty free with info as I watched Alta's skier visits dwindle to the point where I was riding chairs with marketing people asking me how they could improve the service. Well they did- the new Collins chair nailed it. I used to go out far out on the high traverse and work back toward Sunspot- when everyone else was rushing straight to High Boy and Eagles Nest- Now the "new blood" is all over West Rustler and it tracks up fast. But I'll suggest this for DRB- maybe with Fam, maybe not depending on ability. Anyway, first run, take the traverse all the way to Piss Pass, you'll know by the blue mats, Turn right through the gate to High Greely and rip straight down- take the traverse and hit Greely hill. You'll see. its nice. Best early a.m. Hike later as stuff opens up. There's about a miliion other great moves, the best being a nice pair of fatties!

P.S. "when traversing at high speed, keep your knees bent and be cheerful"
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing: great tips, tough choices, life could be worse. Gotta go catch a plane. Thanks all.
post #13 of 16
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab
P.S. "when traversing at high speed, keep your knees bent and be cheerful"
Also, please don't stop suddenly in the middle of the traverse if there is someone behind you...
post #14 of 16
Of course all this goes out the window when the main gear on Collins lift gets shreaded and the lift is down all day.....

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Which was, in fact, the day I was there! (Having taken the advice to ski Solitude the previous day - waist deep snow in places). Imagine my dismay! Especially since I had already bought my discount tix at Canyonsports based on Epicski forum advice.

However, all turned out well - waiting in the line at Supreme to ski Catherine's was (barely) tolerable since the 0-to-10,450 ft above sea level transition was having its effect, and when we finally headed over to the Watson Shelter for lunch we had unskied lines in Fred's trees. Played off of Wildcat the rest of the afternoon and limped home.

Finished the trip with a beautiful sunny view at Sundance doing laps on the upper chair (since they had not bothered to fix the Flathead chair assuming the season was over). Notable for my now badly spoiled 13 yo daughter asking "where's the powder?"

Thanks for all the suggestions.

PS. check out Nick's in Kimball Junction (near Smiths, next to the now defunct New York Burrito's - which is not surprising - New York is to burritos as SLC is to pastrami). Excellent Greek food and empty on Friday night.
post #16 of 16
Ditto on Solitude. I skied 10-15" (20”?) fresh on Sunday, March 20. Caught the first chair and literally had entire runs untracked like Rhapsody and Paradise Lost all to myself. Never waited in line. Untracked lines ALL DAY. Then you can go into Honeycomb and do it all over again the next day.
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