Trying to take in Alta and Snowbird, for the first time, and on the same day sounds like a stretch. Katie and I skied a lot of terrain at each area and oohed and ahhed at a lot more terrain we did not ski and probably won't ever ski. When I see ski tracks on snow where I would think no man (or woman) could have gone before I tip my helmet.
At Alta, the sun was barely over the surrounding peaks when we were queued up at the Collins lift with Alta passholder and volunteer guide for the day, Gary Marcoccia. Gary runs an Alta community site, writes a blog mostly focused on Alta, and also is involved in an affiliate network, AvantLink, with some outdoor merchants you might want to check out. Being a passholder means, in general, the cheapest way to ski the most at a place you like. Here at Alta it means a lot more - at Alta it means you are family.
Cannons on the Mountain
Gary knows most patrollers, liftees, instructors, and it seemed many, if not most, of the skiers by name, but most importantly Gary knows and loves Alta. As we rode the chairs around the mountain (it took Katie awhile to get used to chairs with no bar and footrest) Gary pointed out landmarks where some memorable skiing was videoed or was just memorialized from legend. He also pointed out snowmarks where the Alta artillerymen (patrollers) fire a genuine Howitzer cannon to stir up possible avalanches.
You Are What You Ski
Here at Alta you are what you ski. The Alta community knows each other and Gary can pretty much tell you who was laying the tracks in some wild terrain. That's not to say you or I aren't welcome. Everybody's friendly - ski what you can, where you can, then stop and watch some of the best "unknown" and known skiing talent in the world. Gary took Katie and I on a whole mountain tour, and believe me there is skiing and terrain here for every ability and majestic scenery for everybody.
Alf's High Rustler
Gary has a favorite run he takes religiously every day he skis here. He has several lines through the trees and outcroppings on High Rustler that he loves to bomb on those bluebird powder days. But when it hasn't snow in a few days and 'High Boy' looks a little gnarly and scraped Gary makes a point to ski it anyway. You see, Gary loves Alta and High Rustler when it's all pretty and powdered up, but he makes a point to kiss it goodnight even without the makeup.
Thanks for the tour Gary - I hope we can do again soon.