Alta, Utah — Best Groomers on the Planet

Post by blogger | February 7, 2012      

Frankly, this ad in a major ski magazine made me laugh outloud, then I cried. Anyone else notice? The red markup was added by me, as were the tear edges. I was thinking of slogans the ad copy writers could have come up with, such as “Alta, where you don’t have to turn on the low angled groom, and you can point at the imaginary untracked powder above.” Perhaps the distant tracked up powder simply didn’t resolve in the ad when it was printed? Or only the Photoshopper knows for sure? Or everything at Alta was closed when they took the photo — except for that strip of corduroy?

Alta, where nobody skis powder, they just stay on the groom and point at it. (Image used in derivative work, to illustrate opinion writing.)

Alta, where nobody skis powder, they just stay on the groom and point at it. (Image used in derivative work, to illustrate opinion writing.)

The two figures are of course taken from a historical photo that shows two skiers at Alta pointing up at High Rustler.

High Rustler at Alta, 1940s.

Clyde Anderson 1940s photo the figures above were pulled from, markup by me on the derivative work, to compare the advertisement with the original image, for opinion writing, educational purposes, and reporting.

I love the Wasatch and I love Alta (the fluffy Alta, anyway), sorry to see this desecration.


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26 Responses to “Alta, Utah — Best Groomers on the Planet”

  1. Rich February 7th, 2012 9:11 am

    The black and white figures are an obvious addition. But the skier on the groom below the untracked is almost certainly real. The untracked area is Devil’s Castle, which often sits for days if not weeks before being opened by patrol after a storm.

  2. Lou February 7th, 2012 10:07 am

    Thanks Rich, every time I’ve been there it’s been totally tracked up… plus tracks all over the place to the left. The way it looks in the photo is unreal, don’t you think? I don’t think anyone has seen Alta with zero tracks in the powder, since perhaps 1910!?

    Another thing cool about the 1940s shot are what look like skin tracks…

  3. Omr February 7th, 2012 10:19 am

    I agree with Lou, there is NO powder if you’re riding lifts! Even at Atla. Five minutes after the ropes are pulled, it is toast! And anything within site of those lifts is endangered and usually gone within hours. Same for any ski area. One must go far and wide to find real powder.

  4. Adam February 7th, 2012 12:03 pm

    It’s really neat to see the orginal photo from 1940’s the trees have grown so much since then. Second season ski bumming at Alta… On a pow day I can get get greats turns until noon then I start hiking… First three are pure bliss for resort skiing 🙂

  5. Steve February 7th, 2012 1:21 pm

    With this season’s crappy snowfall the Castle hasn’t opened yet for a single day, so it’s still untracked even as we speak. Or type.

  6. Gregg C February 7th, 2012 2:04 pm

    Yea…normal skin traks that don’t go straight up the hill.

  7. steveG February 7th, 2012 2:53 pm

    In 1940’s, those lines down the chute would have been made by world class, king of the mountain, hot doggers. Defined back then by as a skier who could go that far and make that many turns without falling. The “skin tracks” were possibly made by mere mortals who skied down in shallow traverses with kick turns at the end. 😉

  8. Pete B February 7th, 2012 6:11 pm

    Looks like the hotdoggers got tired halfway down and just straight-lined it for the GMD.

  9. Eric Steig February 7th, 2012 7:40 pm

    When I lived in France I noticed that at most of the small ski areas, *no one* went off the groomers except me. To many of Alta’s clientele, pretty groomers are exactly what’s appealing, I would guess. You might be under-estimating the advert department’s savvy.

  10. Joe February 7th, 2012 9:09 pm

    Scary to think that in just one season they’re market really wants the “Roy” . Since when did you hear someone say “The groomers were sublime at Alta” I hope the Wasatch hasn’t succumbed to that.

  11. Mark W February 7th, 2012 9:46 pm

    Powder stinks. I say bring back the first generation shaped skis so we can REALLY CARVE those sweet groomers.

  12. Dave W February 7th, 2012 10:50 pm

    Just to show how few people could ski powder that well on 1940s equipment; those tracks were made by Sverre Engen. Both of them. He made a climbing traverse from the top of the original Collins chair, skied, then went back and eighted his own turns.

  13. Matt Kinney February 7th, 2012 11:11 pm

    Where’s Alta? What’s this “groomed.” thing you speak of?

  14. Lou February 8th, 2012 6:16 am

    Sport styles do come in phases and waves…. perhaps powder skiing is becoming a fond memory as we all head back to the resorts and pay them to roll it out?

  15. Andrew February 8th, 2012 10:04 am

    Apparently “The Greatest Snow on Earth” can be improved by spraying man-made over it and grooming it into submission with heavy equipment… until it is just like every other ski area on earth.

  16. Jack February 8th, 2012 10:09 am

    Lou, love the old photos and I get your point…. however (just to lob a bomb) as an eastern skier who has gone from area skiing in blue jeans & a puffy down jacket in the early 1970’s, to tele-only (with a lot of backcountry skiing) from the 1980’s to 2009 (with a year of – gulp, snowboading thrown in, trying to keep pace with my daughter) and then to AT and now back to a lot of lift -serve following my alpine racing son around, I am always amused how we all like to snark on the other genres of skiers (or other sports for that matter). Dicki Hall stated that once you try telemarking you never go back… got news for you Dickie…

    If anyone out there is really trying to improve their skiing technique trying working on actually carving your skis on groomers then proceed to carving on eastern ice.. not so easy, eh? That’s why, when they hang up the racing bibs and head for the backcountry ex- racers are the best skiers. Just a thought for folks to keep in mind…even the Texans flocking to CO on vacation bring something to the table (maybe they even experiencve the pure joy of skiing as much if not more than the rest of us ? – just sayin, and I was a dirt-bag liftie back in the day at Sunlight so I know the drill).

    And if you really get to know your local hill, wether its little Cochrans Ski Area in Richmond, VT or Vail you always can find a powder stash days after a storm..

    Now if you want to make fun of the golfing crowd…..

  17. Lou February 8th, 2012 11:26 am

    Aha, the ultimate sin of the web, snarking! (grin). We’ll, my bias is that ski resorts in general deserve most of the snarking they get… they can handle it, and the feedback is stuff they need to hear. Some are different than others, more or less deserving of snarking. That advertisement deserved some snarking (grin), but in the end, the PR agency is probably celebrating being featured on (grin)!

  18. Phil February 8th, 2012 12:59 pm

    I love the ski resorts, I love the small hills, I love being in the in between place of nature and man made. In each ski run there’s a little of the whooping it up with my Jr. High classmates at Snoqualmie Summit in Washington State, back in the 70s. It’s a playground–wonderful thing. Like Jack, I love good technical skiing based on function not show. I see too many testosteroned dudes who think that wearing a helmet puts them in the same league as Herman Maier. They ski the pow and steeps, but most don’t do it with quality style. And what’s wrong with a little corduroy? Pure pleasure. Though granted, the real skiing is elsewhere. Ech, skiing has become way to devisive (did I spell that right?).

  19. brian h February 8th, 2012 4:09 pm

    Is there an emoticon for sarcasm? ‘Cause I dunno who’s serious here and who aint.

  20. Lou February 8th, 2012 4:55 pm

    Just a big pile of weirdness from us snow starved individuals here in the continental west U.S. Emoticon for sarcasm is probably the wink? 😉

  21. Lou February 8th, 2012 4:58 pm

    BTW, looks like I’m flying over the pond again on the 17th… should find some snow there to blog about, along with espresso and beer sampling and perhaps some interesting culture and gear. Have some other cool plans as well, won’t get into that until it is real. Buried at the moment in trying to put together a complete presentation in a week. Using Open Office, seems to be fine. Thanks to our gust bloggers and Production Assistant Joe, I may be able to appear to do the work of three men (grin). Lou

  22. brian h February 9th, 2012 7:38 am

    Lucky Lou, ‘The Weather Channel’ did a spot this morning on the “dichotomy” of Europe’s winter vs North America. I guess the Siberian express is rollin down the track. Rome got more snow than they’ve seen in a decade!

  23. Jack February 9th, 2012 10:16 am

    Lou, I look forward to pics of some real snow…. well , back to the wind trainer to stay in shape while waiting for snow…..

  24. CJ February 11th, 2012 9:49 am

    Funny photo! How did you ever find the original? Snowpack may have been unstable for the pristine snow on the ridge. Trees in the foreground of the doctored photo still have snow on them.

  25. Lou February 11th, 2012 9:54 am

    DJ,. the older photo is famous, I’d seen it before in a couple places, and also got reminded of the province by some friends. Was easy to find on the web. Lou

  26. Jon February 13th, 2012 10:13 pm

    If you’re willing to do a little hiking you can find little bits of untracked here and there at Alta. Generally speaking though I agree–it gets tracked up fast there.

    This all made me think of a great vid of my friend from Connecticut, Dave Rodney, who always has to ski Alta when he comes out. This was late afternoon but the reason there were no tracks on it were because it flattens out at the bottom and you have to hike. Because there aren’t any tracks he was taken by surprise at the bottom and –poof! a nice face plant. Enjoy:

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