Alta For One
Skiing my first powdah
December 6 - 11, 2005
This trip was a real big milestone in regards to my skiing adventures, as it was my first time skiing a real mountain with real snow. Before this trip, I had skiied a total of 10 days in my life; all in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin over the past three years. As you all know, vertical height at these resorts is around 500 ft. I did do Granite Peaks Rib Mountain in Wausau, WI which is actually 700 ft and that's where the idea was planted that I needed more vertical and more challenging terrain.
Once I put my motorcycle away for the winter, my focused switched to skiing and I was itching to go. I knew going out west was going to cost quite a bit, so I decided to get some early season deals. And then there was the task of choosing which resort. I did a fair bit of research here on EpicSki.com and other sites and settled on Alta.
Things that appealed to me about Alta were 1) they seemed to get the most snow coverage in the area, 2) no snowboards, I wanted to see how that was like and 3) everyone was raving about it so much in the magazines and on the web. I chose Utah over Colorado as I heard Utah snow is much more the true powder snow and besides, I got the itinerary to work out pretty nicely with flying to Salt Lake City, due to the proximity of the resorts from the airport. Initially, I also wanted to take advantage of the Quick Start program at Park City, where if you catch an early flight into SLC, you can ski free at the PC resorts that day. In the end, it didn't seem worth it with all the logistical challenges of where to keep the bags while I was skiing and shuttles between PC and Alta, etc.
I also got an excellent early season package deal at the Snowpine Lodge: $123 for a dorm bed, lift ticket, 4 course dinner and full breakfast. I got a round trip ticket through Delta for $206. I maximized my time by arriving at SLC by 10:30 am on the Wednesday, planning to ski half day, then full day skiing till Sunday. I caught a red eye flight out of SLC on Sunday night, arriving in Chicago Monday morning and having a friend pick me up and take us straight to work. Rough, I know, but I'm single and young and had to make it work.
Many of my friends and coworkers couldn't understand how I could go on such a trip all by myself and I kept telling them that it's all about meeting cool new people and I sure did that over this trip. Staying at the Snowpine was an awesome experience and I'm definitely heading back there, maybe late season. The maximum capacity of the lodge is 40 people, so everyone gets to know you and it becomes a friendly environment. It's quite an old lodge and is built into the side of the mountain, which looks across at the Alta slopes. It was so much fun to be staying at a ski-in/ski-out lodge for the first time. They had tow ropes that pulled you right up to the lodge. And they also had a heated wooden closet for your ski books, so that they were nice and dry in the morning.
It was real interesting to try an outdoor hot tub in the winter for the first time. It was a great meeting place for all the young people staying there. I also got everyone into doing "polar bear" runs, as it had just snowed 24" in the past 24 hours before I got there. One of the Russians from New York was bravest to try it first and it involved rolling around in the snow and jumping back in the hot tub. It really awakens your spirits and the tingling feeling lasts for a good 5 minutes.
I was told that there's no night life in Alta, but I wasn't much interested in that. I was more there for the skiing and meeting other skiers. The general itinerary for the days was get back to the lodge around 5 pm (after catching the last lift at 4:30 pm and making it back to get the tow rope before it closed at 5 pm - it was quite a hike if you missed the tow rope). Then, jump in the hot tub for about 45 mins, take a nice shower, sit down for dinner at 6:30 pm, which never ended before 8 pm, as there was so much talking going on, then watch a movie or ski documentary with the others in the main room and hit the sack by 10 pm. It was my goal to make it to the lifts as early as possible in the morning. About the documentaries, we saw one of the 10th Mountain Division (WWII army unit that specialized in winter mountain conditions, which involved lots of skiing) and it was interesting to see how after the war, these started some of the big resorts out west - Vail's one of them. Also saw a documentary on the history of skiing and one on Alf Engen, prominent figure in Alta's history.
And now the skiing... I currently own a pair of 170 Rossi Bandit X, which are very good all mountain skis, but I didnt know how they would fair in the powder. My first half day there, after a few blue groomed runs, I thought I'd attempt the powder, seeing that it didn't look all that scary. I didn't know how to control my speed through the powder and fell so many times that I didnt know if I would make it out of there. I decided a lesson was needed. After getting an intro to powder lesson on Day 2, I was hooked and stayed off piste most of the time after that.
That's all that I was taking, my ski bag and boot bag, with everything else wrapped around them. My carry on was my ski jacket. Nothing got damaged during transportation.
Salt Lake City
Day 3 (no pictures the first day, I was concentrating more on the skiing)
The Snowpine Lodge
Looking down from the lodge
Here's the trail map of Alta for the ski pictures, so that you can place them
From the top of Corkscrew, looking across at the Alta Lodge and Snowpine on the right
Mount Baldy from Collins Lift
Hiking up Baldy to ski fresh tracks
Looking down the Ballroom Area - my first off piste skiing
My Rossis in fresh powder with my pistol grip poles - I love them!
Edited by JamminSki - 10/30/13 at 9:13pm