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Skiing Snowbird and Alta

Listed under Skiing in Mountain States, United States.

  • Photo of Skiing Snowbird and Alta
  • Photo of Skiing Snowbird and Alta
Photo of Skiing Snowbird and Alta
Photo by flickr user SPM435
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Snowbird, the brash, jet-set destination, and Alta, Utah’s “grande dame” resort, are strange bedfellows. Only a mile of Little Cottonwood Canyon road separates them, yet although linked, they remain very different animals. But the skiing is equally exciting. Their combined terrain has created one of the most exciting prospects in the Rockies: the dryness and quantity of Utah’s snow is so celebrated that the state proclaims it ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’ on car licence plates, and it is claimed that 500 inches falls each winter. The link between the two resorts was achieved thanks to the construction of lifts in Mineral Basin, a large bowl owned at the back of Snowbird's Hidden Peak and Alta's Sugarloaf mountains. Alta, once a busy mining community, opened its first lift as long ago as January 1939. There is no doubt that Alta's best terrain is more suitable for strong skiers. The area is dotted with all kinds of gullies, chutes and cruising runs – some not on the trail map. Snowbird’s ‘tram’ (cable car) – one coloured blue, the other red – takes 125 skiers and boarders quickly to the top of Hidden Peak, at 3,352m (11,000ft). There is one fairly easy way down: Chip’s Run, which returns all the way to the base - a fairly accommodating blue. Big Emma is one of the finest – and widest – upper beginner/intermediate trails in the Rockies. A new high-speed quad, the Peruvian Express, carries skiers and riders to the top of Peruvian Gulch, emerging next to the bottom of the steep Chip’s switchbacks. After offloading, skiers and boarders can now hop on a conveyor belt travelling to Mineral Basin through a new 600ft tunnel. Some 12ft wide and 15ft high, the tunnel is claimed to be the first of its kind in a US ski area.

Written by  Arnie Wilson.

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