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Last updated: 6:00AM 12/10/2019

Alta Blog

"Let's Go Skiing!" — Remembering Michael "Alti" Altman

"Let's Go Skiing!" — Remembering Michael "Alti" Altman

| 4 Comments | September 3rd, 2019 | By Guest Blogger

So many of us wind our way up Little Cottonwood Canyon to get a taste of Alta’s legendary powder. While the snow and the spectacular mountain views have served as a magnet for skiers over the last 81 years, it is the people and tight-knit community that draw so many of us back to Alta, winter after winter. 

Last week, Alta lost a beloved employee from our tight-knit community. We lost a mustachioed gentleman who had boundless energy, a giant smile and truly, a genuine interest in welcoming each and every skier to Alta.

Alti, or Micheal Altman, you will be dearly missed by your Alta family. His personality was larger than life, and while his passing is very sad, the sphere of his influence will continue to live on.

Michael "Alti" Altman

Thank you, Alti, for your 24 years as an Alta Liftie.

Thank you for your love and welcoming arms to all skiers, young and old. Alti once said that “I try to make every person here my friend.”

Thank you for your infectious love for the sport. And yes, infectious is a poignant superlative because, in 2014, he was recognized by KRCL radio and Discrete as ‘Liftie of the Week.'

Thank you for taking younger lifties under your wings.

Thank you for your kindness.

And finally, thank you for making Alta a better place.

Alti, rest assured that we will keep your voice alive for future generations of skiers as Alta lifties will continue to call out

“Front row, let’s go skiing!”

Here’s an article from a decade ago interviewing Alti. If you have Alti stories to share, please add them to the comments section below. 

Posted in: #PeopleOfAlta

Brian Smart September 4, 2019 Reply to Post

I will forever remember my first year as a liftie. Hell, I’ll always remember my first day. Alti walked across that stinky locker room in old Buckhorn & stuck his hand out. He was aggressively kind & it took me a little off guard, but he quickly gained my respect & friendship. Such a good soul! Let’s Go Skiing!

John quinn September 4, 2019 Reply to Post

RIP Alti. Yo go ahead of us to know the heaven you are entering. Maybe it was a slice of heaven you left behind.

Andy fleming September 5, 2019 Reply to Post

Thanks Alti for keeping me alive on the 3rd.floor

Mark Laytham October 15, 2019 Reply to Post

Saying goodbye to a legend, saying goodbye to your best friend.

The 10+ inches of rain that St. Louis has received over the last few nights, can't compete with the deluge of tears that run down my face as I write this post. As many of you already know, on August 20th 2019 we lost one of Alta's legends, Michael (Alti of Alta) Altman. As Alti's longest term best friend I am writing this to document the day we said our final goodbye's to this iconic man.

Thursday August 29th 2019 Alti was laid to rest at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Chesterfield. Officiating the ceremony was Rabbi Neil Rose from the B’nai Amoona congregation. With the ceremony slated to begin at 2:00 we arrived at 1:45. Present were Alti's mother Jan and her long time significant other Jay Burns. Also Alti's father Martin and his wife Carolyn. Sharyn, Alti's sister and her friends Lori and Stephanie. Besides myself Jim Grant and Tim Ball also stood by for the ceremony. As well as approximately 30 family friends.

As the ceremony started a low thunder could be heard. The sky was overcast put not a thundercloud could be seen, so this seemed as if God decided he would be the one to get the ball rolling. Rabbi Rose then chanted a Psalm in Hebrew and performed a ritual tearing of the garments. Sharyn had asked me the day before if I would be willing to be the first speaker. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what to say. This was Alti, my best friend I wanted to deliver a speech that would let all present know what we had lost. Rabbi Rose called me to the mic and I proceeded to deliver my speech with authority, pausing occasionally to recompose and let the tears from my eye's clear. When I finished I don't think there was a dry eye in the house, so I'm pretty sure my message came through. Following is a transcript of my speech:

Hello, my name is Mark Laytham. I first met Michael in 1974 in 7th grade. Within a few years we would become best friends. The first time I met his father Martin, little did I know how intertwined our lives would become. As it turns out my grandfather hired Marty for his first job at the Missouri Highway department. By the time we entered Highschool we had formed a tight group of friends formed of: myself, Steve Ryberg, Jim Grant, Paul Vazopolos, Todd Lewis and of course Mike, or as we knew him “Alti”.

If I had to surmise Alti's most defining traits I would say they would be, Passion and Compassion, both to his credit and detriment. Everything that Mike did in life, he did with passion. Anyone that worked with Mike always would be amazed how dedicated and hard working he would be. Music, Cooking, Skiing whatever it was Michael would put his heart into it. The first time I came down with cancer during our Senior year of high school Mike cried and told me “We'll get through this” letting me know I would not face this alone. The second time cancer revisited me 16 years later, Michael again cried and said “we did it before and we'll do it again”.

Alti did not seek financial wealth in life. Instead, he valued experiences and friendship, realizing that money would be worthless in death. As king Solomon said “Go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart,for it is now that God favors what you do.” Solomon also said “For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Alti truly lived a life with the philosophy of Solomon, one of the wisest men of all time.

In 1995 Alti and his other best friend Mike Roberts, together, move to Salt Lake City Utah to work at Alta Ski lifts. Here he made a name for himself that now has become legendary. The outpouring of sentiment to the passing of this man, is a testament to his passion for life. And although Mike Roberts could not be here today, he wanted me to express to Alti and all present that he is honored to have experienced all the time they spent together in Utah. Now as we say goodbye to Michael and put him to rest in St. Louis his spirit will forever be in his beloved Alta.

This is the point at which I intended to close my speech. However, God wasn't finished. After I woke up this morning, I went to look out in our back yard as I do every morning. Seeing nothing unusual I said a prayer asking God to give me a sign that Alti would be ok. Doreen and I sat down to breakfast and discussed the day. I noticed my cat staring intently out the rear window, which isn't unusual. However he usually is asleep at this time. After breakfast I went back to see what my cat was staring at and what I saw I KNEW was God's answer. We have 2 water lilies in our pond, both had bloomed with a large pure white bloom on the surface and right next to it a smaller purple bloom held high above the white one. Now, this isn't normal. The white lily is a day bloomer and usually is in full bloom by 8:00 and the purple one is a night blooming species that typically doesn't bloom till later around 5:00. Not only that, they are planted in the pond so that when they bloom they are 3-4 feet apart. Also the 2 plants stems had intertwined and they both bloomed at the same time. In researching Solomon for quotes the other night, I had left out part of one of King Solomons quote that read “Always cloth yourself in white and anoint your head with oil.” This was God telling me that Michael is with him and he has dressed Alti in white and he has anointed him with oil from the purple lily

An unnamed person wrote “ The road to heaven is paved with powder” to that I say “Alti, save me some fresh tracks”

Now to most folks you would think this would be the end, God however, had not finished. My wife Doreen had also prayed to God to give her a sign. During the ceremony there had been 4 black dragonfly’s buzzing around. Doreen pointed out that she was wearing her dragonfly earrings. A few months ago Doreens father had passed away and God had given us a sign via the dragonfly. Minus Alti my ski crew is now a group of 4.

After a while everyone had left the cemetery and the cemetery workers had torn down the tent and taken away all the fixtures. I and the grave digger were the only one's left. I was waiting for him to cover Alti's grave. My intent was to leave the vase of flowers that Alta Ski Lifts had sent, on Alti's grave. As he finished I approached the grave and he told me I couldn't leave the glass vase but I could leave the flowers. He came to me took the vase, pulled out the flowers and put them on the grave. Then he looks at the vase, which resembles a large Pilsner glass and say's to me “Do you want to keep this, it looks like it would be good for drinking beer”. I smiled to him and said yes,..... I knew that was the final sign. As he drove away on the bobcat there I stood........ just me and Alti.


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