With the start of our Ski season I thought it would be aprapo to have articles about our world class ski resorts. Utah ski resorts has some of the best skiing in the world ask anyone who has been here!

Alta Ski Slopes History

Alta is one of the oldest ski areas in the U.S. The community of Alta was established in 1871 as an offshoot of the silver mining operations in Little Cottonwood Canyon. A fire destroyed most of the town in 1878, then a cataclysmic avalanche in 1885—combined with the decline of mining—heralded a period of dormancy for the town. The area experienced a modest resurgence in mining in the 1900s, but the town declined again shortly thereafter, and was deserted with the exception of a few hardy miners who continued to intermittently prospect the area.

In 1935 the U.S. Forest Service retained the noted skier Alf Engen to hike into the area and determine its potential as a future ski area. Engen’s reports expressed great promise for the area, and recommended the purchase of additional surrounding lands to form the ski area. In 1937 a prominent Salt Lake City lawyer, Joe Quinney, along with other local businessmen, formed the Utah Winter Sports Association to oversee the development of skiing at Alta. In the following year construction began on the original Collins chairlift, then just the third such lift in the United States, after Sun Valley and the Magic Mile at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. Alta opened to skiers for the first time on January 15, 1939, offering a single ride on the chair for 25 cents, or a full day pass for $1.50.


Albion Basin base at Alta ski resort.

The ski area did not install its first triple chair until 1991, when the Germania double chair was upgraded. The resort did not have a developed snowmaking infrastructure until 1996, and the system was not completed until 2000. However, Alta has moved toward snowmaking in order to remain competitive by opening earlier in the season, and retaining good ski able conditions in drier years. The late 1990s and early 2000s were marked with further modernization. In 1999 the Sunnyside lift was replaced with a detachable triple chair, the resort’s first detachable chairlift. Two years later the Supreme chair was upgraded to a triple, and the Sugarloaf chair was replaced with a detachable quad. The most recent lift development was the new Collins chair for the 2004-2005 season, a detachable quad, replacing the old Collins and Germania chairs. Also, during the 2007-2008 season, Alta introduced a new Axess RFID electronic lift ticket system, similar to that of Solitude Ski Resort. Eventually, users will be able to track their vertical and lift ride data online and purchase Alta Cards using “ticket vending machines”. Most recently during the 2008-2009 season Alta added a conveyor system at the start point of the Supreme lift that assists skiers in getting on the fixed-triple lift.

The resort currently has 2 detachable quad chairs, 1 detachable triple chair, 1 triple chair [fixed grip], 3 double chairs, and 5 surface tows. The terrain is classified as 25% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, and 35% Advanced.

Partnership with Snowbird ski resort

Snowbird ski resort is accessible from Mount Baldy at Alta ski resort

Beginning in the winter of 2002, Alta and its neighbor, Snowbird, began offering a joint day pass and a joint season ticket, allowing skiers to fully access all of the terrain on both mountains. The offer coincided with the opening of a new lift in Mineral Basin, a large bowl owned by Snowbird on the back of Snowbird’s Hidden Peak and Alta’s Sugarloaf mountains, this allowed access to Alta from the Basin. Other access points between the two resorts exist as well. The offer is open to skiers only, as a result of Alta’s skiers-only policy. Snowbird is open to both skiers and snowboarders.

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