written by: Matthew D. LaPlante
By Day Five we were all in a bit of a daze. Tired. Sore. Beat up. But if there’s a resort that will get your mind back into the game, it’s Alta.
In the parking lot, JJ and I slipped back into ski gear. We were both sporting Apex boots. Without the outer chassis, they look a lot like snowboard boots, and I reveled in the looks I got from folks who are very serious about enforcing Alta’s no-boards policy.
At Alta, change happens very slowly. And while I’d like to drop a single plank on its slopes, Alta’s stubborn dedication to the way things have always been isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “There’s something magical here,” said 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 skiing 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 on Earth for nearly 80 years, and Alta adherents know it’s not going anywhere.
We met locals Jeff and Andrea at the base of Gadzoom and asked if we could tag along with them. “Sure,” Andrea said. “If you can keep up.”
They didn’t make it easy. The couple knew every inch of Snowbird. Every pocket. Every turn. Every tree.
“You’re going to come down, then up, right here, and you need to keep your speed and aim for the second tree you see,” Jeff explained as we ducked into a clearing in the evergreens below Gad Valley. “Make sure you turn in front of that tree.”
The exactness of his instructions made sense once I came up over the tree and into a funnel of untouched powder. “See,” he said, “it was just waiting here for us.”
These are the sorts of secrets you learn when you ski in one place 80 to 100 days a year. “My legs are exhausted every day,” Andrea told me. “But that’s OK. You get up and go again the next day.” Along the way, she said, “you get to meet all sorts of interesting people.”
“Yeah,” I said, “and then leave them in your dust.”
“I told you,” she said. And she had.
See more inside our 2018 Jan/Feb Issue.