Arrival

Welcome to my blog. Here I will attempt to document and interpret my life at the Alta Peruvian resort throughout the 2009/10 winter season.

I anticipate forming my own opinion of this world, but until then I rely on the “brochure“ version of this area. The Alta Ski area (base elevation of 8500ft) is one of the oldest downhill skiing resorts in America, opening its first lift in 1939. The area receive over 500 inches of snow annually, the quality of which is revered worldwide. Alta’s reputation is that of a quite, no frills mountain that only permits skiiers on the slopes. Alta is only one of two other resorts in the nation that prohibits snowboarders.

The high annual snowfall makes for legendary deep powder skiing, but also creates dangerous avalance conditions. State Highway 210, the only road leading out to Altah, holds the highest avalanche hazard rating index of any major road in America.

At any moment during extreme storm cycles, the town of Alta may enter an interlodge alert. During an interlodge alert, the risk of avalance is exceedingly high. All occupants must go inside a building (and stay) until the warning is over. The alerts can last anywhere from a few hours up to a number of days.

Yet, the heavy snow is celebrated in this area. People wake up before dawn in anticipation of making the first tracks down the slope. The term “life-changing skiing” is thrown around. Others have referred to barreling down the slopes, in chest deep snow, as a “spritual experience”. In short, the handful of lifts in the dramatic Wasatch Mountain range that comprise Alta are highly reverred in the skiing culture. I hope to discover the appeal and mystique for myself.

I enter this environment as a flatlander from North Dakota, having spent much of my life on the Great Plains. My skiing experience is limited to a few short days at Huff Hills, Red Lodge, and Lutsen Mountain. Outside the window, as I write this, there are steep and sinister looking peeks, capped in snow, that look impossible to ski down. However, those peaks provide just a few of the hundreds of runs here.

Im excited for the next six months and what it entails. For me this is a dramatic change of lifestyle. I’ve left the comfort of my parent’s house in exchange for a dorm room. Employment wise, I’ve traded a fine job as a digital printer for, well, I’m not even sure yet. The title of my position is “maintanence crew”. What this entails could mean anything. Two things are certain however: I will be driving around large, unmanageable vehicles through mountain roads with names like Hellsgate, ands I will be physically moving masses of snow. I get to do both of these tasks in an area that gets barraged with a belligerant amount of snow each winter.

Yet, as crazy as it sounds, this is all the experience I’ve anticipated for awhile.  I’m waking up everyday in the mountains, working outside, meeting new people, and discovering the ski culture.  Wish me luck.

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