By Michael Bingham
It?s no big secret that the mountains in Utah are one of the state?s biggest attractions. Summers lend themselves to hiking and biking, and winters are all about playing in the snow.
And for those who would rather ski than snowboard, there are still mountains in Utah where skiers can come together without the wild and crazy boarders.
One of four skier-only resorts in the nation, Alta ski resort is providing opportunities for the future X-game contestant generation to catch more air on the mountain, rather than spending half the day sitting in the air on a painfully slow lift. A new high-speed has made this a reality.
Last April, crews began moving and melting snow to clear the way for construction on the new high-speed quad, which broke ground in May. The new lift was intended to be complete for opening day, but early snowstorms delayed its debut until the second week of skiing at Alta.
Getting to the summit was formerly a two-lift process that started on the Collins two-seater that dropped skiers off halfway up the mountain where the Germania lift would then take skiers to their final destination. The new edition of the Collins lift gets visitors up in a single 8-minute ride.
?We have been overwhelmed with the compliments about the new lift, with a few die-hards asking to bring back Germania,? said Tyler Jackson, public relations manager for Alta.
Jackson said the resort is trying to train people to ski the entire mountain and get out of their old routine of avoiding the bottom half of the mountain, especially during the peak ski season when there is plenty of good powder at the base. Alta?s location traditionally tends to receive higher levels of snow than other resorts in the state.
?People did laps on Germainia,? he said. ?When it really starts to get warm, the snow at the bottom half is junk, but for now, the conditions are good.?
The new lift is accessible halfway down the mountain, but skiers are only allowed to hop on when an empty chair is headed their way. Jackson said the relaxed atmosphere and attitude of most of its skiers are making a smooth transition and seeing the advantages of the changes, which include a more accessible loading station at the bottom.
The landscape at Alta?s base has changed since last year?s ski season. During the construction effort, thousands of pounds of dirt were removed, which resulted in the loss of the small mountain that skiers had to climb to reach the chair lift from the parking lot.
?Everyone?s favorite thing about Alta was walking up the little steep hill to get to the lift,? Jackson said sarcastically.
The new lift is one of the new editions at Alta, including a new terrain park for the freestyle skiers. Jackson said the resort plans on having a new administration building and restaurant in the next couple years, which will hopefully give Alta more appeal to the more social skiers who prefer to hang around after skiing.
?We?re looking for skiers who appreciate the fact that we don?t have snowboarders,? Jackson said.
Alta is a piece of paradise for those looking for others who share the same passion for skiing.
?I love Alta,? Alta patron, Kim Morgan said. ?The runs are great, always groomed, and there are no snowboarders. What could be better??