January 15, 2013: The sun had dipped well below the horizon, plunging Little Cottonwood Canyon into near darkness. Guests, employees, and locals alike crowded in front of available south-facing windows throughout the Lodge, eager to reserve a position for optimal viewing of Alta’s 75th anniversary torchlight ceremony. In unison, five dozen neon red torches came to life. Hundreds of pairs of eyes gazed up to Alta’s high rustler as a giant, glowing “75” formed atop the famous ski run.
On Sunday, January 15, 75 years ago, Alta Ski Area opened its slopes to the public, unveiling a newly constructed single Collins Chairlift. On opening day, a day pass cost $1.50, a single chair ride 25 cents. The chairlift was constructed out of a refurbished formed mining tram and was the second chairlift to debut in the U.S., opening within a year after Timberline’s groundbreaking “Magic Mile”.
As Alta commemorates the 75th season, it is important to appreciate what has and has not changed about this place we love. Alta has kept up with advances in chairlift technology, upgrading outdated chairlifts and expanding into new terrain to enhance our skiing experience. Likewise, Alta has embraced grooming technology, providing skiers with fresh corduroy to complement its plethora of off-piste terrain.
But what makes Alta so special, so unique is that it has been able to upgrade and enhance the skiing experience without sacrificing its soul. No, there is no “ski-village”, no expanse of looming condos or elaborate private homes in Albion Basin. And yes, if you want to access some of North America’s best terrain, you will have to traverse and maybe even side-step to it.
Happy 75th Anniversary, Alta! To 75 more amazing years.