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a telemark skier in a golden suit enjoys a sunny spring day at Alta Ski Area

The Return
of Spring

By Adam Fehr 03-18-2021

Let’s finish strong and celebrate the spring we didn’t get to enjoy last season.

As we head into the official start of spring—and thus, spring skiing season—it’s worth taking inventory of the past year at Alta Ski Area. While the 2020-21 season got off to an interesting start due to a global pandemic, new COVID-19 guidelines, modified on-mountain operations and below-average snowfall, we’re still skiing and still enjoying the snowy slopes of Alta as an escape from these uncertain times.

February was an incredible month at Alta. We received 162.5 inches of snow—the second-snowiest February in the past 42 years—nearly doubling our season-to-date snowfall in just 28 days. A mid-month storm cycle delivered 103” in just over a week, shutting down Alta Ski Area, Snowbird and Little Cottonwood Canyon for two days. The 60-Hour Interlodge was the longest consecutive Interlodge event in modern Alta history.

March has seen its fair share of spring-like weather with a mix of bluebird spring skiing and powder days. Thus far, we’ve received over 30 inches of snow in March, with more snow on the way this weekend and next week. Alta Ski Patrol has worked to open Devil's Castle, East Castle and Mount Baldy this month. Alta is already approaching 400” on the season and currently sports a 100” base at mid-mountain. It will take a miracle end of March and an amazing April to match Alta’s 42-year average of 540”, but anything is possible in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Spring 2020 | One Year Later

This past week, we celebrated a major milestone at Alta Ski Area. On March 15th, 2021, the lifts turned on and we went skiing. While that sounds rather anticlimactic, it marked the one-year anniversary of Alta’s abrupt closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sunrise on March 15th, 2021 singalled the return of spring skiing at Alta Ski Area

The sunrise on March 15th, 2021 delivered more than just a spring filled with skiing, but a chance for reflection | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

On March 14th, 2020, as the reality of the pandemic began to reach the ski world, Alta made the difficult decision to suspend operations indefinitely to slow the spread and flatten the curve. The lifts sat stationary the rest of the spring, summer and fall. Alta Ski Area went to work developing a plan to open again in the Fall of 2020 and to stay open as long as possible.

One year later, it appears that the procedures and guidelines we put in place are working and we will be able to enjoy spring skiing at Alta Ski Area for the first time since the closing day of the 2018-19 season. Alta Ski Patrol was recently vaccinated and our staff members continue to receive vaccine shots as well. As more and more cross-sections of our society become vaccinated, the more likely it is that we see our way through the season.

Spring 2021 | Let's Finish Strong

Alta is planning to stay open daily through April 18th, then reopen for a bonus weekend April 23rd-25th. We may need a little help from Mother Nature to keep all of the lifts spinning until then, but given everything we’ve endured this past year, that’s a familiar and comforting feeling for Alta skiers.

Unlike past springs, Alta won't have a robust lineup of spring events—demo days, on-mountain festivities, parking lot dance parties, etc—but we'll still be riding lifts and skiing in the sunshine. We can still enjoy a beer and fries on Alf's deck. We can still ski around in those silly costumes that have been collecting dust since Spring 2019.

In order to make it through the end of the season, we still need help from our skiers, employees and the Alta community. Mask-wearing is still mandatory, even on these warm spring days. We all want to work on our goggle tans, but that may have to wait until Spring 2022.

a mom and son wear masks on a spring day at Alta

Alta ticket manager, Christa Pottenger, and her son Kekoa stay masked-up on a spring day | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Those skiers that have been fortunate to receive vaccinations are still required to wear masks. No exceptions. As we’ve emphasized all season long: we’re all in this together. Please continue to mask-up, practice physical distancing and follow Alta’s COVID-19 guidelines that have kept the lifts spinning this season.

Much like skiing out the bottom of a mogul run, don’t lose focus or celebrate your line too soon, that’s usually when you catch an edge and crash. Let’s finish strong and enjoy those spring skiing days that we didn’t get to enjoy last season.

Thanks to all Alta skiers who have joined us for our 83rd winter, a winter that we will never forget.

Spring Skiing Resources

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