I used to live and ski at Alta. Need proof? I just told you. Anyway, like any former ski bum who now sits at a desk, I check the Alta forecast. A lot. In fact, Google shames me whenever I search for the NOAA forecast. “You have visited this page often,” it tells me. Thanks for that.
This week was no different. From my southern California desk, the 60 inches and counting that NOAA predicted gave me a mix of stoke and longing. I can’t be there this week, but if you can, get there. Now. Make the pilgrimage to Mecca this week for me, and I’ll give you a few suggestions of where to eat, drink, and sleep.
First thing’s first, you’ll need lift tickets. If you’re not on the Ikon Pass or Mountain Collective, grab a Ski City Super Pass, which will give you discounted and flexible day passes for Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude, as well as bus passes and discounted rental gear.
It’s likely too late to stay up-canyon, in Alta or Snowbird, as those lodges book much of their season in advance, but there are plenty of affordablemotels down in Sandy that are close to the UTA ski bus lot. Take the bus.
However, if you choose to be one of the many headlights that make up LCC’s red snake, the name for the line of brake lights that twists up the canyon, you would do well to leave at zero dark thirty—the parking lots fill up quickly. Find your breakfast at Alta Java. Pick up a Morning After Burrito and Susie’s Special—a dirty chai latte—to start your morning right. If you’re really in the hole and need something to drag you out, get an Alta Bomb (a double shot of espresso dropped into a pint of PBR) at the Goldminer’s Daughter’s Slopeside Café.
The Collins line will be curving all the way back to the ticket office. Skate past it and hop on Wildcat. Go to Westward Ho first, romping through the trees and rollers all the way down to the Alta Peruvian. If you’re feeling bold, huck off Punk Rock and ski down Chocolate Hill toward the big Hollywood kicker under the Collins lift. Give the people a show. Go to Collins after it chills out a little and hike Gunsight to find some still-fresh snow. A few more High Traverse laps and you’ll start to get hungry again.
If you’ve timed it all right, you’ll be at the top of Wildcat just before noon, when patrol is dropping the rope to Keyhole. Ski the run of your life down to the Forklift at the Snowbird base and grab yourself a Forklift burger before you hop on the tram. From the top, head over toward the cirque and drop Great Scott. Located right under the tram, you’ll need to be on your game to navigate the often-dicey entrance. Skiing Snowbird top-to-bottom should help you digest that burger.
Catch the bus—or better yet, hike the Baldy traverse—back to Alta and get some Eagle’s Nest and Westward Ho laps in before it’s time to call it quits. The Collins lift is open latest, until 4:30 p.m. so make your last lap count and hit High Boy, known on the trail map as Alf’s High Rustler. Bash the bumps all the way down and catch the sunset on the GMD patio.
From here you have three for après choices: The P-Dawg, the Tram Club, or the Sitzmark Club. Located in Alta’s Peruvian, the P-Dawg is the rowdier choice. With live music, free popcorn, and a well-used shot ski, you’ll find the bar packed with locals. The Tram Club is more of a sports bar, and is good if you’re in the Las-Vegas-shut-out-the-sun-and-erase-time mood. For a more classic vibe hit up the Sitz in the historic Alta Lodge.
This Sitz is the quintessential ski bar. Dark wood and a roaring brick fireplace complement the views of High Boy and Mount Superior. Order a hot toddy and chat with the employees who hang out in the pit, a little corner tucked away down by the bar. At the end of the evening, you can make your way downstairs to the dining room—The Alta Lodge has the best dinner in the canyon.
One thing to note for all the dirtbags out there: There is overnight parking up-canyon; you can leave your car there if you’ve pulled the aforementioned “Screw it, I’m never leaving” card during après, but under no circumstances should you sleep there. Why? Because it’s illegal. Why is it illegal? Because it’s pretty common for avalanches to hit these parking lots. Anyone sleeping in their car runs the risk of being buried, and that’s dangerous to the people and rescue workers who have to dig them out. There are Wal-Mart parking lots down the hill.
Enjoy all that snow—I’ll be refreshing Google. Again. I know I visit this page often. I used to live and ski at Alta.
This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.
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