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Alta wants to

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Alta wants to upgrade. Here's the story with thanks to the Salt Lake Trib.




Alta Resort Plans Major Overhaul


The Wildcat ticket office would be demolished and a new skier services facility built in the plan Alta proposes to the Forest Service. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune)
BY MIKE GORRELL
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

A momentous face-lift proposed at Alta Ski Area would replace the venerable Germania and Collins lifts with a single detachable lift rising 6,400 feet from the base to Germania Ridge.
Under the plan, mid-mountain Watson's Shelter would be razed and eventually rebuilt near the existing boarding area for Germania. More immediately, primary food service on Alta's west side would be provided at a new three-story restaurant/skier services building at the base. It would be located between the current bottom of Collins lift and the Wildcat ticket office, also targeted for the wrecking ball.
Wildcat lift's loading terminal would be moved 125 feet up the mountain, a tow rope along the base that connects the Collins Gulch side with Albion would be shortened and the administration building expanded by 50 percent. Considerable regrading would take place between the Wildcat parking lot and the revamped base facilities and lifts.
The proposed changes to Alta's master development plan were submitted last Friday to the U.S. Forest Service, which has jurisdiction because it manages the land beneath the structures. The Forest Service's Salt Lake Ranger District will hold two open houses/informational workshops next week as part of an environmental review of the request.
Open houses are scheduled for Monday in the Wildcat ticket office at Alta and Dec. 18 at Whitmore Library in Salt Lake County. Both begin at 6:30 p.m. Salt Lake District Ranger Loren Kroenke expects a draft environmental analysis to be released in the spring, with a final decision by next summer.
"Depending on Alta's economic situation, the proposed facilities could be completed as early as fall of 2004," stated the application from Alta Ski Lifts, the resort operator.
When the master plan was approved in 1997, Alta intended to replace Watson's Shelter with a larger restaurant and skier-services building at its present location.
But the ski business has not been as lucrative since then. The cost of on-mountain construction has escalated and a change in ownership at the base-level Goldminers Daughter Lodge prompted resort officials to question whether the lodge will continue to offer food services.
Further, with a mid-mountain restaurant unlikely to be profitable when its hours of operation are restricted to winter days, as is the case with Watson's, Alta officials opted instead to seek approval for a 15,000-square-foot lodge at the base.
"The new building would cost less to construct and provide more hours and days of operation," the application said. A replacement shelter would be built "in a subsequent phase, driven by demand."
That shift in thinking triggered a re-evaluation of the lift infrastructure. Alta's three lifts on the Collins Gulch side -- Wildcat, Collins and Germania -- are old-fashioned fixed-grips, 12 to 29 years old. The rest of the industry is going to detachable lifts that are quicker, plus easier to load and unload.
The detachable lift Alta now has in mind would start at the first level of the new lodge and proceed to Germania's existing base, where an angle station would be built. This station would provide loading and unloading capability as the lift altered course slightly to proceed up Germania's existing alignment.
No increase in skier capacity is foreseen. Parts from Germania lift would be used to upgrade Wildcat lift, while the Albion and Cecret lifts on Alta's east side would receive parts from Collins lift.
Alta maintains the face-lift would have limited environmental impact. A few sub-alpine firs would be removed and some clearing might be required along the detachable lift's lower portion. But one less lift and a less visible Watson's Shelter will improve visual quality, the application contends.
mikeg@sltrib.com
post #2 of 26
Interesting...very interesting...

I'm very curious to hear many local's oppinions...
post #3 of 26
Should be a huge improvement. While Alta is an awesome area (especially since there are no boarders), it lacks consistent vertical. It's an area that is skied on terms of terrain pockets rather than the super long powder runs you get next door at Snowbird. Having one high speed lift in place of the brutally slow Collins and Germania lifts will be a huge improvement. It will allow for better mogul skiing for one. It currently takes two lift rides to access Alf's High Rustler, which to be honest is a pain in the A$$. I don't particularly care that the lift will be fast. I personally don't mind slow lifts as they give me time to catch my breath in between runs, but having one lift instead of two will be immeasureably better. The vertical gain of the two lifts combined is about 1800'. But seperately Collins is only 800', and germania is only 1000'. Is that really enough for a great powder run? Most people (myself included) would argue that it is not. Most people skiing that part of Alta already use the two lifts in tandem. The new lift will be a Godsend.
post #4 of 26
Overall it sounds like a good plan, but the only thing that saddens me is the destuction of collins lift. the original Collins was the 2nd ski lift built in the country. I know its not the original but it does hold a place in skiing history.
my only other concern is ticket price. Im praying that it will stay around $40

duke
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
Having one high speed lift in place of the brutally slow Collins and Germania lifts will be a huge improvement. It will allow for better mogul skiing for one. It currently takes two lift rides to access Alf's High Rustler, which to be honest is a pain in the A$$. I don't particularly care that the lift will be fast.
Who said anything about a fast lift?

Nowhere in that article did they mention fast.

I just re-read it just to make sure I wouldn't make an ass of myself.
post #6 of 26
The article indicates a "detachable lift." I infer (quite reasonably) that this will be a detachable (or "high-speed") quad. The two terms are generally held to be interchangable. Do you deny this?
post #7 of 26
I don't like it.

First, high speed detachable = pow trashed that much faster + more people on the trail at any one given time. That means I'll be dodging more people than today.

I love the slow lifts at Alta. They provide a better mountain experience, at least for me. It's not always about how many runs you ski in a day, but the quality of said runs.........

Why don't they just put a lift straight up High Rus? We wouldn't even have to traverse then, isn't that better?
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
The article indicates a "detachable lift." I infer (quite reasonably) that this will be a detachable (or "high-speed") quad. The two terms are generally held to be interchangable. Do you deny this?
A detachable could also mean a detachable triple, 6 pak, 8 pak.
They currently have a high speed quad lift that they load only people people per chair, and use it for a beginner lift.
Any way about this, your going to see the tree huggers come out of the wood work, and possibly some hardcore Alta lovers. It will be interesting to watch , living here in SLC.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
The article indicates a "detachable lift." I infer (quite reasonably) that this will be a detachable (or "high-speed") quad. The two terms are generally held to be interchangable. Do you deny this?
Yes, I deny this. Look at the new sugarloaf lift. It's a detatchable. They rarely (if ever?) crank it to high speed.

No, the terms are not quite interchangable...
post #10 of 26
This is a terrible idea. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Enough to make me go to this meeting, and possibly, gasp, look for another home resort. Powder Mountain anybody?

One of the reasons why Alta is Alta is because of its slow lifts, many required traverses, and well, to put it simply, its Soul. High speed lifts destroy fresh tracks, and crowd the runs. Where would you rather have the crowd at the lift, or on the hill? Sure it would be nice to have a lift go all the way to the base, but I'm not sure that the benifits outweigh the consequences.

Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
Should be a huge improvement. While Alta is an awesome area (especially since there are no boarders), it lacks consistent vertical. It's an area that is skied on terms of terrain pockets rather than the super long powder runs you get next door at Snowbird. Having one high speed lift in place of the brutally slow Collins and Germania lifts will be a huge improvement. It will allow for better mogul skiing for one. It currently takes two lift rides to access Alf's High Rustler, which to be honest is a pain in the A$$. I don't particularly care that the lift will be fast. I personally don't mind slow lifts as they give me time to catch my breath in between runs, but having one lift instead of two will be immeasureably better. The vertical gain of the two lifts combined is about 1800'. But seperately Collins is only 800', and germania is only 1000'. Is that really enough for a great powder run? Most people (myself included) would argue that it is not. Most people skiing that part of Alta already use the two lifts in tandem. The new lift will be a Godsend.
You are really showing your ignorance about this ski area.

If you want a bump run, go someplace else, I and many of the other Alta regulars do not want you here. If you cannnot get enough continuous vert at Alta to ski a heart pounding powder run, either your Superman, full of crap, or not looking hard enough. If your skiing hard, you are thankful for the long/slow lifts back up, because you need the rest.

Most people that I know, do not use the Collins lift and Germ in tandem.

Sure, I love doing tram laps at the Bird, but when I want to get back to basics, you sill find me next door, at the mountain with a Soul. Hopefully, it doesn't sell out. I'll take a ticket price increase to keep it the way it is. If you want to burn vertical, there are many other mountains that will happily sell you a ticket.

This idea sucks.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
If you want a bump run, go someplace else, I and many of the other Alta regulars do not want you here. If you cannnot get enough continuous vert at Alta to ski a heart pounding powder run, either your Superman, full of crap, or not looking hard enough. If your skiing hard, you are thankful for the long/slow lifts back up, because you need the rest.
I come from New England, where despite smaller mountains (although not smaller than Alta, they're about the same, often bigger) we almost always get long vertical. Alta has 2,020 vertical or something like it, but it's impossible to use more than 1,800 in a single run without hiking (although I don't always mind hiking). Here in the east almost any challenging ski area with 2,000 vertical feet or more uses all of it, every last inch.

I loved Alta, though I loved it more for the lack of Knuckledraggers than the quality of the snow. The fact is, Alta is never crowded, not even on a powder day. Nothing is going to get tracked out. Look next door at snowbird, even there with one of the fastest Trams in the country powder lasts days after a storm, and Snowbird gets a lot more people. The new lift won't make one bit of difference. It'll never run at full capacity, full speed yes, full capacity no. There simply aren't enough people to track out the powder. As to mogul skiers not being welcome, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Alf's High Rustler is renowned throughout the world as one of the great classic mogul runs. You may remove your foot from your mouth now. What do you do when it's not a powder day? Not ski? If that's the case, then you are not a dedicated enough skier to even belong at that meeting. If you were truly dedicated, you would embrace and cherish all conditions, from champagne powder to cobalt blue ice.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
I loved Alta, though I loved it more for the lack of Knuckledraggers than the quality of the snow. The fact is, Alta is never crowded, not even on a powder day. Nothing is going to get tracked out. Look next door at snowbird, even there with one of the fastest Trams in the country powder lasts days after a storm, and Snowbird gets a lot more people. The new lift won't make one bit of difference. It'll never run at full capacity, full speed yes, full capacity no. There simply aren't enough people to track out the powder. As to mogul skiers not being welcome, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Alf's High Rustler is renowned throughout the world as one of the great classic mogul runs. You may remove your foot from your mouth now. What do you do when it's not a powder day? Not ski? If that's the case, then you are not a dedicated enough skier to even belong at that meeting. If you were truly dedicated, you would embrace and cherish all conditions, from champagne powder to cobalt blue ice.
Alta is never crowded compared to the east, I'll agree with that. However, if you really feel that massive increased uphill capacity will not track out snow quicker, your sadly mistaken. There are enough people to track out fresh powder, this is a fact. This lift will run at full capacity. And my major concern with this is not the expert level skiers accessing expert terrain, its the gapers who don't belong there in the first place. Ever come up to a chute to find some moron side slipping it? It sucks.

As for me saying the mogul skiers are not welcome at Alta, well, that was wrong, I'll agree. All are welcome, just pay for your ticket. However, Alta does not get moguls all that often, and therefore, they tend to have poor spacing when compared to the rest of the bump areas. You win, I put my foot in my mouth here.

Now take your foot out of yours. Obivisiouly you have never read any of my posts before. I ski all conditions, from boilerplate to cold smoke. I grew up in Michigan, and yes, I can ski ice. Never question my dedication to the sport. I ski as often as I can, and probably more than I should. Do I ski when there is no powder, yes, I already have many days in this season, and have yet to ski a pow day. Fact is, I've been running bumps all season, with a bit of ice. And if you believe that increased uphill capacity will not hurt the mountain, look at Vail, wait, go to Vail. I prefer a quieter place.

Alta has always been a place that markets the "old school" approach. Slow chairs, good snow, small lodges. What they are planning goes against everything that they have ever stood for. I prefer it that way, not the new and "improved" way.

EDIT: Hit post button to early.

[ December 12, 2002, 11:28 AM: Message edited by: AltaSkier ]
post #13 of 26
I absolutely hate this idea too. Yeah, there are plenty of times that I do laps on Rustler and have to take 2 lifts to do it again - so what? I just brought a friend there this morning for his first trip to Alta and his reaction to the lifts was what a cool atmosphere and great vibe they brought to the mountain.

If you're unhappy with the vert, the layout, or the speed of the lifts - as far as I'm concerned you should go somewhere else. It's crowded enough as it is. And frankly, while my bank account doesn't support this very well - if they keep things the same I'll pay whatever they ask to ski there. If they turn it into freaking Disneyland, you'll find me at Powder Mountain with Altaskier.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by MittersillManiac:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />

The fact is, Alta is never crowded, not even on a powder day. Nothing is going to get tracked out. Look next door at snowbird, even there with one of the fastest Trams in the country powder lasts days after a storm, and Snowbird gets a lot more people. The new lift won't make one bit of difference. It'll never run at full capacity, full speed yes, full capacity no. There simply aren't enough people to track out the powder. </font>[/quote]MittersillMainiac:

We talkin' about the same places? Alta doesn't get tracked out? Powder lasts days after a storm at Snowbird?

You're talking about Alta and Snowbird *Utah*, right? Top of Little Cottonwood Canyon?

When was the last time you skied here? On a weekend powder day, it usually takes the horde just about five hours to track out pretty much everything but isolated little pockets at Snowbird. Alta takes a bit longer, primarily because of the - oh, my heavens! - SLOW LIFTS.

I personally don't care too much about this proposal, mostly because I've never been quite as committed to the Alta bandwagon as many others. I am *far* more concerned about Alta's obvious intentions to put lifts in the Grizzly Gulch/Davenport Hill area, but that's another story. Still, arguing that increased lift capacity won't result in Alta getting skied out faster seems like pretty twisted logic.

Bob
post #15 of 26
Seems to me that if you like skiing a longer day, and having more untracked pow during that day, then Alta's slow chairs are preferable to a fast one. Fast chairs usually mean more people tracking out stashes or crowding runs, & then many of them get burnt & head in by 2:15.

I agree with the post about the 'Bird getting tracked out (seen that happen a few times). Also, I ski Squaw a lot, which has many detachable quads, and you have to be there early too.

BTW: I like the traverse to High Rustler.
post #16 of 26
Personally, I was intrigued about the part, that mentioned the "angle station". The only other lift I can think of out west currently with that sort of setup is the Telluride Gondola, but no chairs. It sounds like the chiefs at Alta are still trying to be "funky" even with this sort of an upgrade.
You know, I still remember the angle station for the old gondola at PC and all the classic stories I heard from friends who worked there... about the people who didn't realize the gondola had a stop mid-way (use your imagination).
I guess we'll just wait and see though, everyone said it wouldn't be the same when Alta got snowmaking, the same when they put in the first detachtable chair and even when the put in the second one!
post #17 of 26
When I ski Alta, I like "doing laps" on Germania, and would hate to have to ski to the bottom every time.
Do you think Alta would sell Germania to Powder Mtn so we could replace the loooow speed Hidden Lake chair?
post #18 of 26
Not only should they replace Germania with a high speed quad they should also extend wildcat up the shoulder another 200' and instead of ending germania at its current location they should shift it up the ridge to the north east. This will even out the distribution of skiers and better utilize the terrain.

I do agree with Bob about Grizzly Gulch. Alta will expand into the gulch and it will not be a good thing for the frontcountry skiers.

Now all of you "Alta Lovers" and "regulars" I hope you took the time to fill out Alta's Customer Questioneer last year or the year before because the questioneer essentially asked if they should run a lift from the base to the top of germania and asked other leading questions about "base facilities". If you didn't see this coming don't blame Alta because you had ample warning.

Tracked out vs not tracked out? Our (utahns) definition of tracked out is not the same as an east coasters definition of tracked out. Think about it.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by duke:
The original Collins was the 2nd ski lift built in the country. I know its not the original but it does hold a place in skiing history.
It's only the second CHAIRLIFT in the country. There were several other lifts built before it, all over the country.
post #20 of 26
i think this brings up another thing...people were saying in another thread that alta is losing alot of money cause they don't allow boarders...but the fact that they are planning to upgrade probably means they aren't doing too shabby [img]smile.gif[/img]

Mello
post #21 of 26
Alta sucks, don't even bother with that place...........
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by blue:
Not only should they replace Germania with a high speed quad they should also extend wildcat up the shoulder another 200' and instead of ending germania at its current location they should shift it up the ridge to the north east. This will even out the distribution of skiers and better utilize the terrain.
They can't do either. The Forest Service's Plan for Wasatch Cache National Forest prohibits ridgeline development. Moving the tops of both lifts would require a major portion of the top shack to be visible from other areas in the canyon. Besides, there is little room on either ridge for a top shack and a cat track for those with less ability to get around the mountain.

I don't think the changes are really all that bad. I would hate to see anymore trees removed from the Collins side of the mountain. I wouls also hate to see too much more pressure put on the road in LCC. The road cannot handle too many more cars. Also, the parking is already maxed out on weekends and holidays. For Alta to increase their uphill capacity (requires a change of permit) they would have to increase parking as well. Which means either serious grading or a parking garage. The parking garage would require serious cash, which means an increase in ticket price.
post #23 of 26
Your right about the Germania Ridge but they can extend Wildcat. There is as much room on the ridge up another 200 ft as there is now and it would be no more visible than it is now. In the questioneer I referred to they specifically asked about extending the Wildcat lift.

Plus...... we could go on and on about how Brighton, Solitude, Park City, Snowbird, sSnowbasin etc have moved/extended/added lifts.
post #24 of 26
Blue: We could go on and on, except you have to exclude PC from that list, because they are on private land and do not need Forest Service approval, only local approval. Brighton was denied a request to expand and add lifts in Snake Creek canyon by the Forest Service about five years ago, one of the reasons was due to the ridgeline placement of the top shack. Both Brighton and Solitude were initially denied a request to build a lift that would connect the two resorts because of the ridgeline development rule. They altered their plan and the lift was approved. Moving the Wildcat lift up the slope further would put the lift out of the Alta's permit area and require a lot of earth moving and tree removal to accomodate top unloading station, a summer road/cattrack, etc. They could look into doing a land swap (like Snowbasin did to enable it to build new lifts, add lodges, etc, but it requires congressional approval) with the Forest Service and then they probably could move the lift and do the required tree removal, road building, etc that would be required.
post #25 of 26
I don t know why they are doing this.

you compete with your strengths & alta's soul is that.

Also, the part I am most concerned about is cost.

New lifts are expensive, very expensive. Construction in this type of environment is also VERY expensive & not very eco-friendly.

In his recent book "Downhill Slide," Hal Clifford argues well that resorts have been expanding at an amazing rate while customer base is not.
Removing the snowboarders ( which you must @ alta) & skiier numbers are down, way down from their peak. Alta's Grizzly Gulch/Davenport Hill expansion may be for real estate ventures & not lift expansion. That is the model many other resorts have taken whe they leveraged themselves to the hilt to build new, expensive lifts. Especially with new expensive snowmaking & water rights recently taxing Alta's budget.

Like I said, market your strengths. If I am going after customers for my SLC hotel, I am not gonna build a dance club & steal party types from Reno. I am going to sell the mountain access & great downtown that is Salt Lake.

Something is going on here & I am not sure what. It just doesn't make sense. : :
post #26 of 26
I don't know. As a long time Alta pass holder I want to see whatever 's best to preserve and protect Alta for the future. If these changes will insure Alta's survival, I'll listen. What I'd hate to see is the base buildings replaced with charmless piles like Alf's on the sugerloaf side. The old Alpenglow was too small, the plumbing stunk(literally) but it had charm and history forever.. this new place looks like a highschool cafeteria. The Wildcat ticket office with it's retro rinky-dink Tyrolian exterior is absolutely beautiful to these eyes. I'd hate to see that feel lost. That's what "core" is. Watson's its falling down. I figured they already wrecked it when they panelled over the skiing kitty-cat mural. The flats under Germ whould be a more logical place for a new Watson's anyway.

Now about the lifts; I never minded the commute from a backside lap much; rope tow, ropetow/herringbone, wildcat lift, race down to Germ, ride up Germ, hike. Hell, there's lots of continous vert at Alta for ambitious people.
I'm a little concerned that this'll track out the goodies even quicker. The odd layout left a lot of stashes. Everyone and his dog tracks out highboy (cool local talk for High Rustler) instantly anyway.
I'll really miss that crazy, barely in control race down warm-up from the top of wildcat to Germania on a powder day. I just hope they don't screw it up.
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