The Great Alta Debate

Alta filed a motion to dismiss the case against its skiers-only policy. But that doesn't mean snowboarders are out.

Skiers rise out of the base of Alta on the Wildcat lift. Alta responded in March to a lawsuit brought on by a group of Snowboarders, and dismissed the case entirely. But whether the mountain allows snowboarders or not in the future is still to be seen. PHOTO: Jim Harris

First chair on Alta’s Wildcat lift. Whether snowboarders will ride this lift in the near future is still to be seen. PHOTO: Jim Harris

It seemed like a long time coming, but Alta’s “skiers versus snowboarders” quarrel finally boiled over from barroom to courtroom this January, when a group of snowboarders filed a formal complaint in federal court alleging the Utah resort’s no-snowboarders policy violates their Constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

After months of silence, a stoic Alta finally spoke its piece at the end of March, and did so emphatically, filing a motion to dismiss the case entirely. The snowboarder’s argument, according to the mountain, would never hold up in court, didn’t deserve a trial, and was a gross misinterpretation of the law.

Said Alta’s lawyers in their most recent court filing: “It demeans the Constitution to suggest that the amendment that protected the interests of former slaves during Reconstruction…must be expanded to protect the interests of those who engage in a particularized winter sport.”

Working in conjunction with snowsports advocacy group Wasatch Equality, snowboarders Rick Alden, Drew Hicken, Richard Varga, and Bjorn Leines had originally claimed that Alta’s no-snowboarders policy—a policy dating back to the 1980s—was discriminatory by nature and should not be allowed on the public land that Alta leases from the United States Forest Service. The group maintained that snowboarders were being kept from public land unlawfully, and that they were being denied access to that land because of a general dislike, or animus, by the Alta organization and community—a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The Equal Protection Clause is meant to protect groups of people against harmful bias, in this case a bias that Wasatch Equality’s lawyer Jon Schofield feels has kept snowboarders from gaining legal access to the resort’s terrain.

“They are perpetuating this ‘hate snowboarders’ attitude,” claims Hicken, one of the four longtime snowboarders involved in the suit. “When Baldy access was opened from the Snowbird side two seasons ago, we were heckled by skiers at the top, near the exit of the lift station, and again in the parking lot. You can get a sense of how the people [at Alta] think.”

Yet, according to Bill Gilbert, a third party discrimination lawyer from Seattle, that doesn’t constitute a successful discrimination claim.

“Snowboarders, I don’t care how they spin it in the lawsuit, are not a protected class,” says Gilbert. “They are trying to make a push to be considered a protected class by saying that they are treated like they are different, and I think that will get thrown out in court.”

This would be one of many reasons why snowboarders want access to Alta. Ingrid Backstrom in the white room at the skiers-only playground. PHOTO: Adam Clark

This would be one of many reasons why snowboarders want access to Alta. Ingrid Backstrom in the white room at the skiers-only playground. PHOTO: Adam Clark

However, Gilbert thinks that snowboarders may have a case in the long run, arguing that Alta’s federal land lease holds the key. Of the three remaining U.S. ski areas that don’t allow snowboarders (Alta, Deer Valley, and Mad River Glen), only Alta leases its land from the government. Gilbert maintains that a decision may come down to the lease document between Alta and the United States Forest Service, a document revised in 2002 and created nearly 50 years before the advent of snowboarding.

“The argument is going to come down to that agreement between Alta and the U.S. Government over the lease for that ground,” explains Gilbert. “If they’re given the power to restrict use on that ground in the lease, then they can restrict use.”

Though there are a series of rebuttals that likely won’t get sorted out until May, it appears that Alta may indeed have that authority. In their initial defense, they indicate that the USFS, “has not required that Alta prohibit the use of snowboards,” giving the resort the ability to regulate uphill and downhill travel on its own “to promote safety of employees and persons on the mountain.” The USFS has since supported that claim, backing Alta in the case.


But where Alta has the means to restrict, they also have the power to loosen, and even if they have the right moves to shut down current legal action, snowboarders may have started their rallying cry at the right time.

In mid-March, Ski Utah announced ONE Wasatch, an idea that proposes connecting the seven Wasatch resorts as a feasible option. All resorts, including Alta, supported the idea, which brings up the interesting hypothetical: Will Alta retain its skiers-only stance if all of the resorts are connected? Alta’s boundary forms the bridge between Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyons, meaning that in order for a true connection to exist, Alta would have to consider allowing boarders.

“As the plan gets more refined, that will be one of the things that will be addressed,” noted Alta General Manager Onno Weiringa in a ONE Wasatch press conference.

A similar situation played out in Aspen over 10 years ago when Ajax was the lone Aspen area to prohibit snowboarding. A group of snowboarders brought a discrimination complaint to the USFS who in turn put pressure on Ajax. The mountain successfully argued that their lease with the USFS gave them the right to manage who used the terrain, yet the argument initiated momentum that eventually led to Ajax opening their slopes to boarders in 2001.

“During this public argument, we were already having a vigorous private argument about allowing snowboarders on the mountain,” says John Norton, a former SkiCo executive. “Ultimately, the pro-snowboard argument won. We had a need to reposition the Aspen experience as super fun for younger mountain athletes and disallowing snowboards made that job harder than it needed to be.”

Alta doesn’t exactly need to reposition—they have built a strong following as a skiers-only mountain—but the pressure to “play ball” from the other Wasatch resorts presents a unique problem: Does Alta hold true to its mantra, or does it evolve with the proposed future of the Wasatch?

“Alta was one of the first ski areas in the country that actually had snowboarders back in the late ’70s and early ’80s,” says Dave Van Dame, a longtime Alta skier known to most as Farmer Dave. “It didn’t mix…If snowboarders are taking off their boards and post-holing our traverses to get to good terrain, that really doesn’t work.”

Norton admits that, despite his allegiances, allowing snowboards has been a good thing for Aspen. Yet is it the right call for Alta—the most famous skiers-only location in the world? True, at the moment it looks like the resort has its legal bases covered, but now the resort is presented with an even tougher task: planning towards the future.

Add a comment

  • Rodd

    Alta should be aloud to do as the see fit. I agree this is an abuse of the constitution and should be thrown out.

    • soyAnarchisto

      If alta owned the land they could do as they see fit – unfortunately we the public own the land – and when you use public land you gotta be careful about who you exclude and for what reason – picking 1 plank to exclude while allowing 2 planks – that’s dubious – for safety? – double dubious – don’t worry though even if alta opens the slopes – the local a-holes will continue their idiotic diatribes – I’m a skier btw – and alta has great terrain but the lifts were laid out by morons – those traverses will keep the snowboarders away anyway – the locals with the “my wave” mentality keeps everyone else away – alta – for the hyper aggro

      • Grumpy Alum

        soyAnarchisto – The extreme tenuousness of the plaintiffs’ case is that anyone complaining about not being allowed to play with one plank on the land could choose to come back on two planks that afternoon and would be welcomed immediately. Therefore there is no discrimination against any individual or class of individuals. Arguments against this I’ve heard include charges of class discrimination on the grounds that skiing is more expensive than snowboarding, but IMHO these aren’t likely to carry much legal clout. Also as you note, Alta has legitimate practical reasons to point to behind the ban – e.g. the resort’s reliance on traverses that are decidedly snowboarder-unfriendly (except for split boards) to access the majority of the best terrain on the mountain.

        • Frank_Elways

          I think he is making a policy based argument–not a constitutional rights based one–that the federal government should not limit access to public lands based on the biases of its tenants. A fairly legitimate one at that.

    • Provotrout

      So requesting fair access to public land that’s consistent with USFS land-use guidance constitutes an “abuse of the constitution”?

      What about using lies, smoke and mirrors, and a palpable degree of local bigotry to unfairly constrain access to public lands? In my world that is a far greater evil than the former.

    • Jimbo

      Learn to spell and maybe your opinion will carry some weight.

  • ImSmarterThenYou

    Fuck Alta.

    • PhuckHyu

      Cool. Stay away then.

      • erly

        Sausage fest douchebro parties for dayyyyyyssssss

    • Jimbo

      Oh, such a well thought out intelligent, literate comment. But then you can’t even spell your own name. It should be “than” not “then”. These comments could be good, but since anyone is allowed to post with no moderation, quality takes a holiday. Sigh.

      • yeah right

        comment boards are to get a point across, not be English essays.
        Your a douche if that’s all you can comments on.

  • Russel

    Alta isn’t going to allow snowboarders. The only thing this lawsuit was successful in was giving Alta more publicity. It doesn’t seem to me that Alta is run by a bunch of pretentious skiers who are stuck in the old fashioned mindset of hating snowboarders, but rather they discovered it was lucrative to market to those types of people. This situation just gives those types of people another opportunity to talk, and makes them want to go to Alta to do it.

    • thosewhocamebefore

      Let me tell you something sonnyboy. Alta ticket sales were in the toilet until snowboarding saved Alta. If it wernt fur dem knuckledraggers you would still be skiing on little toothpicks and skiing would not be cool. Furthermore, Alta will indeed allow snowboarders when the political cards align themselves into a winning hand.

  • LobRobster

    I don’t think alta went far enough. They are totally within their rights to limit subarus or any other car costing less than $80,000 from entering their parking lot because they do not have as advanced 4wd as a Land Rover, which is totally required for accessing their gnarlier than thou gnar. It’s not discrimination to require this, because if you can’t afford the proper equipment to come to Alta you should f’off and die.

    • PhuckHyu

      You R a fing dooshbag loser.

    • erly

      Yeah! Except maybe we should set the bar at Unimogs, so then all the Griswalds keep out of the way. If you don’t have the most advanced equipment and tenacity to get there without paved roads, eat a D.

    • modestsnowboarder

      have you been to that parking lot? it’s not at all like that. you are dumb. learn to ski and you can see this mountain.

    • nitro4life


  • philadendron

    “It didn’t mix…If snowboarders are taking off their boards and post-holing our traverses to get to good terrain, that really doesn’t work.”

    Really, so all the hundreds of other resorts in the country that allow snowboarding “don’t work”? Also, the percentage of snowboarders even willing to post-hole traverses is very small. Your precious traverses will largely stay intact.

    Overall, not a huge deal, since there’s plenty of terrain for me elsewhere.

  • 1 track mind

    Discrimination by eliteist crusty pinhead skier assholes will end soon.
    Utah is the most wack state ever run by Mormon crazy lunatics.
    Times are changing, gays can marry and you can buy a drink at a bar without
    having to join a club. Love the tshirt…God Loves Snowboarers, Alta doesnt.
    Fuck Alta. Even when it opens I will never pay to ride there but support all the efforts to end their absurd ban.

  • Provotrout

    So where is the statistical evidence that allowing snowboarding threatens the safety of skiers at Alta? That is the language in Alta’s USFS lease, but Alta has continually failed to provide a rational explanation for why it views snowboarding as patently unsafe.

    Thanks for ignoring the most salient detail of the Alta lawsuit. Nice work Powder.

  • Matt

    Start a Snowboard Only Hill…and I am sure skiers would not care…in fact…I support it. It is nice to have the option to enjoy the Alta experience.

    • Matt

      Oh yea…they did it is called Boreal…the jib capitol of the world…

    • Provotrout

      Go to DV.

  • dom

    it will be a cold day in hell…

    • EFR

      I agree dom……
      Snowboarding: Not a bad way to start, until you are good enough to have one one each foot.
      I’d join the fray more but there are so many here that just don’t get it:
      ALTA IS FOR SKIERS!!!!!!

      • EFR

        Some cannot even understand something as straight forward as the post-holing problem. How about the “blindside” problem that exists at every resort that allows blindsiders and will be a problem even at a blindsiders only resort! (probably can’t understand that either)

        • Richard

          How many skiers look uphill when they merge onto a trail? It’s completely possible for a snowboarder to check their blind spot, just like you do in a car. Just because some people ride in a dangerous manner doesn’t mean it is inherent to the sport; rather, it’s just bad technique. I’ve seen park rats on two planks cause more terrible accidents than boarders. You guys rage all you want, but utah is not exactly known as a progressive place and it shows in this situation. Oh, and before you cuss me out about being a dumbass knuckledragger, I ski. And I *worked at Alta.* Great terrain if you know where to look but fuck most of the people that ski there.

  • F.ALTA

    I live in Vermont the most liberal state and we have the NIMBY, NAZI Mad River
    country club for white eliteist assholes. I saw a car with a COEXIST sticker and a Ski Mad River sticker! Discriminating dick heads dont always realize how irrational their stance is until someone calls them out on it. Im surprised it took Alden so long to bring this lawsuit that they WILL WIN!. Fuck Alta and you whiny ass pinheads. Oh, dont ruin my traverse…..Ill posthole your skull you douche!

    • PhuckHyu

      Ha ha. Thanks for posting king of the gaper Vermont postholers. Please abide by your gaper words and DON’T come to Alta. You won’t be missed, and if you do I’ll gladly push your gaper ass off the traverse.

    • AltoidsUck

      Amen F.ALTA

  • Mont

    I rarely, if ever, skied Alta while I lived there as it was usually full on combat skiing every time it snowed. If they were to allow snowboarding (and they probably should) it wouldn’t make one iota of difference to me but it will turn what is already a shit show into an unbelievable shit show. The snowboarders will be post holing out the traverses while skiers try to push them off, just like they try to push slower hiking skiers off too. There will be an insane amount of heckling and badgering as snowboarders cut low to try to avoid the traverses and all of it would be hilarious to me. There would be a steep curve as regular Alta skiers and the newly added snowboarders learn to co-exist but it should be done, it’s been done pretty much every place else and everybody lived. If I was a snowboarder I’d fight tooth and nail until permission to ride Alta was granted and then I’d never go there…screw ‘em they can have it.

  • Trenton Heisel

    So what is their position on split boards then? If the only major argument against snowboards is post-holing traverses then allow split boarding and see how that turns out! But then they would realize their argument is invalid and would have to open the flood gates all the way and allow snowboarding all together! With any mountain you are going to have areas that get flooded with kids and people who don’t know how to work the terrain, whether they ski or board. I currently shred Bridger Bowl here in Bozeman and I cannot tell you how many kids I see trying to shred the ridge that don’t know what they’re doing. But isn’t that the point of skiing/boarding? Exploring your limits and pushing yourself for bigger and gnarlier terrain? To me, this sounds less of a Skier vs. Snowboarder, but a fear of “Upper Class” vs. “Lower Class” mountain.

  • Chris

    If our own President doesn’t follow the Constitution — or even acknowledge that we have one — why should Alta have to, not that these snowboarders should even be bringing the Constitution into it. I agree Alta should be able to do what they want.

    Also, maybe if snowboarders were a little more aware on the slopes and showed the same decorum and etiquette on the slopes as we skiers do, people wouldn’t be so averse to letting you ski in their “areas.” I’ve been skiing since 2nd grade and am now in my 40s, and my experience with watching snowboarders, when they came along, has been ridiculous. I’ve seen them run into people on the slopes, get way too close to people, in one instance, knocking someone down, and the list goes on.

    Hold your ground, Alta!

    • Jacko

      That is just ridiculous Chris. If you have been riding for 40 years you would have seen skiers as well as snowboarders being reckless. I work at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort an we saw a skier hit a worker who was walking across a slow area at the base of the mountain. That employee had to go to hospital. So don’t generalise the behavior of snowboarders. As skiers too are known for bad behavior at mountains. Ducking under lift headtraps and ignoring slope etiquette and safety can be seen by both 1 and 2 plank riders. It is the person riding not what they are riding.

    • mike n.

      Just a matter of time before this became Obama’s fault.

  • WileEDingo

    When I first started riding almost 20 years ago at Red Mt. there were still some snobby old farts who would complain about snowboarders. But as more and more of their friends and kids took up boarding, they gradually became more accepting. Still, a few exist. I say let them have their own place so that those diehards can go feel comfortable with their overblown sense of self, and we in turn won’t have to listen to them. In my experience every definable group has its share of impolite, self-absorbed, inconsiderate jerks, and that includes skiers. Maybe snowboarders just need to be told that skiers require a lot more room to safely pick their way down the hill. :)

    • mike n.

      Replace the word snowboarding with gays, blacks, etc, Alta with Mississippi, the Congo or some other backwards place. In 30 years I’ll be telling my grand kids that there used to be places that didn’t allow snowboarding, the same way I will tell my kids soon that once people drank from different water fountains. It’s ridiculous and honestly pathetic how fragile skiers are. You never hear snowboarders complain about skiers, but my father and all his friends still think they are a menace. Meanwhile they’ve all had colllisions with other skiers but convenientlly forget about that.

  • climbthebuddha

    1 – it is a business decision. If the operators of Alta decide that Alta Ski Lifts can meet its financial objectives by limiting access to skiers and not allowing snowboarders, it should be within their purview to do so. Ajax made a decision to allow boarders because they felt it was necessary to meet their objectives. And they probably don’t know how many people have decided to take their vacations at Alta since, but I am sure the number is greater than zero.

    2 – the argument “well but it’s public land so they can’t restrict access” is ridiculous. A reasonable argument can be made for allowing access to the lifts to only certain activities. It is no different than a lake on public lands not allowing power boats because it interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of the lake by other users.

    3 – Alta Ski Lifts does not discriminate, and as the article mentions, snowboarders are not a protected class anyway. How the Alta patrons feel about snowboarders is irrelevant with respect to whether or not Alta Ski Lifts has a right to determine what activity they will allow by providing access on their lifts.

    4 – There is a clear safety issue. Snowboarders have a blind spot – the way they are positioned on the board, they can’t see anything behind them (half of the run they are on). Anyone who watched Boarder Cross in the Olympics saw what can happen when some of the most capable snowboarders in the world get into a situation where another rider facing in the opposite direction is going for the same piece of real estate. They run into each other, because neither can see the other. And it should not be the sole responsibility of the skier to avoid the snowboarder that can’t see them coming up on their blind spot.

    5 – Snowboarders cut the mountain differently. You can do a simple comparison by skiing Alta one day and Snowbird the next (or vice versa). Generally the same terrain and obviously the same weather. And there is no doubt that for skiers, the snow holds up better at Alta because skiers do not push the snow down the mountain and do not scape all the snow off, creating patches of ice. You can go any time during the season, and I guarantee you will find more ice conditions at Snowbird, and there is only one difference (relative the snow sliding activities) between the two mountains. And again, if Alta Ski Lifts determines that for the patrons it wants to serve, that snow quality factor is an important differentiation, they should have the right to make that business decision.

    6 – The notion that snowboarding “saved” skiing and the implication that Alta should welcome snowboarders with open arms because it saved them from extinction is also ridiculous. Snowboards clearly woke the ski industry from its slumber and forced it to innovate to stay relevant and attractive to a younger generation. But Shane McConkey, Mike Douglas and other pioneers of the fat ski revolution had much more to do with fostering the revival in skiing that has occurred over the past 15 – 20 years.

    I’ll refrain from ad hominem attacks on Rick Alden and his motivations for the lawsuit. Or any other person who says they support the lawsuit but would never pay Alta Ski Lifts a dime even if it was required to allow snowboarder access to the lifts.

    • Frank_Elways

      #2. The environmental impact of snowboarding vs. skier is minimal at best. Allowing canoes versus allowing power boats is not a good analogy to this issue. If I was the USFS, I would think twice before allowing outdoor recreational access to be limited on public land.

      #3. They do discriminate, its just not illegal discrimination.

    • shreddawgger

      I ski and snowboard and enjoy both, but I mostly snowboard.

      Inexperienced snowboarders AND skiers side slip steep terrain, scraping snow off of the mountain. You should know this.

      And, all uphill riders are responsible for avoiding those downhill from them. That means that, yes, it IS your sole responsibility to safely pass that person, whether they are skiing or snowboarding.

      Skiers blind spots are also one half of the run. They cannot see anything uphill from them. When I snowboard, I constantly scan the hill around me, including my blind spot, AND back up the hill. In fact, I would argue that snowboarders see more of what is around them than skiers do. When I ski, I hardly ever look back uphill.

      You seem like a smart guy, but you also seem like you have never snowboarded in you life.

      Alta is awesome. Just learn how to ski if you want to go there, because skiing is awesome too. Shred at other mountains. No big deal. Or get a split and go hike grizzly and the surrounding area. It’s bad ass.

      • mikegno

        snow boarders are unpredictable which can make it difficult to get around them and snow boarders ruin powder much faster than skiers…Alta needs to fight this and snow boarders need to deal with reality

    • shreddawgger

      BTW, comparing hyper-aggressive competition riding like olympic snowboard cross to recreational weekend shredding is ridiculous. Come on now. You act like there were no crashes in ski cross hahaha…

    • PhuckHyu

      Spot on.

    • AltoidsUck

      Your argument is flawed:
      Point #2. Alta operates under a lease agreement based upon a special uses permit. The special uses permits that are issued are based upon highest and best use of the land. Is the highest and best use for a skiers only resort or a mountain resort. Mark my words, the next time USFS does a field survey for the lease renewal, the highest and best use will include snowboarders being permitted access to the land.

  • flowski

    I have been a ski bum since 1981 when I moved from Chicago burbs to Colorado to ski. I lived 12 years at Vail, 4 seasons at Breck, 6 at Jackson Hole, 1 at Targhee, 2 at Sierra at Tahoe, several at Heavenly, 5 at Kirkwood, 1 at Brighton UT, and I spent 4 full seasons at Alta. I am a skier and have no prejudice against snowboarding, many really good friends are snowboarders, I tried it too.

    Snowboarding is awesome but I must agree that it’s not a good fit for Alta. It would actually be dangerous. Snowboarders cannot traverse across a slope like skiers, after a certain point they must remove the board and walk. They leave post holes on the traverse where their legs sink into the soft snow. This is where the problem is, Alta has traverses like nowhere I have been, skinny, long, dangerous, narrow traverses with potentially fatal consequences if you fall, seriously, have you people ever skied Alta? It’s gnarly!

    This is not a matter of prejudice it’s a safety factor. If a skier is zipping along down the traverse to access a powder bowl and a snowboarder is postholing alond where’s the skier going to go to avoid the snowboarder off the side of the mountain to the rocky cliffs below? Before you get all righteous look at the Alta terrain and decide on that alone.

    Brandon Baumgarten

    This quote say’s it all:

    “Alta was one of the first ski areas in the country that actually had
    snowboarders back in the late ’70s and early ’80s,” says Dave Van Dame, a
    longtime Alta skier known to most as Farmer Dave. “It didn’t mix…If
    snowboarders are taking off their boards and post-holing our traverses
    to get to good terrain, that really doesn’t work.”

    • Frank_Elways

      So are fat people banned at Alta too? Where I ski, its the out of shape weekend warriors (on skis) who bog down traverses.

      • Michael Davidson

        not banned… unable to enjoy an appreciate the goods

    • Dr. Nick

      Flow ski and climbthebuddha———you guys really summed it up. There are big problems with mixing skis and boards at Alta, not to mention their right to limit use. I don’t know why boarders would want to even deal w/ the traverses. And Flowski— your resume is killing me !!!!

    • Michael Davidson

      no they haven’t skied it they are butt hurt boarders….. lol
      my theory 2 legs 2 feet 2 planks….
      that being said my best riding friends are boarders and i wouldn’t want to go to alta with them and wait all day to boot pack gunsight or the BC…. each place has it’s own feel and ALTA won’t work with boards, at least not for the good parts….
      ps Liftee during olympics and this is my favorite place on earth

      • erly

        Has no one ever heard of splitboards? My word, you infidels.

      • nitro4life

        2-Planks… Just like when you waterski? 2 legs… 2 waterskis… and a great looking orange PFD. You are a man of style for sure.

    • PhuckHyu

      Nice resume. Now stay the phuck away from Alta.

    • Pablo Crusie

      This is a good point, however the fundamental reason that Alta should remain the last ski only “big” mountian in the country is to preserve the pure clean lines that make Alta great. Snowboards create different line, as an example have you ever tried to ski a bump run at any other resort . It is not the same, the scrape the sown sideways and ruin moguls, steeps and anything but groomers. Alta is the minority, hold out and keep it pure for , there should be one place in the country with real moguls, clean traverses and no snowboards.

      • Mjski

        They ruin the groomers too. Scraping them off until they are sheer ice!

      • nitro4life

        This is another 30 year old argument… the weakness here is that snowboarders DON’T RIDE BUMPS. You never see snowboarders in the bumps because they hate them. There is no problem riding bumps on a snowboard, but snowboards just don’t like them, so they ride everywhere else. There actually used to be pro-snowboard bump contests, but none of the pros liked the event so the last contest was in 1987. Trust me… all the snowboarders will leave you and your sacred bump lines alone. Check.

    • Kalev

      Using a 40 year old argument is ridiculous. Snowboarding has changed enormously since then (skiing has as well).

      If a snowboarder doesn’t like to traverse, then they simply won’t go to Alta. I hate to bruise your skier ego, but there are anowboaders who can traverse better than skiers – deal with it.

      To limit access has nothing to do with a rational argument however – it is simply an archaic, elitist attitude and anyone who tries to claim otherwiseis an idiot.

      • flowski

        What’s ridiculous is you challenging an argument that has stood the test of 40 years time. Gravity has not changed, it causes feet to sink into soft snow creating post holes which can be dangerous in the wrong situation. This doubter is the situation. Put some N.A.S’s on your feet and go check out these spots for yourself.

    • Atlas_Smoked

      So Snowboarders can ride Everest but not Alta. Got it.

      • flowski

        That is true, snowboarders can ride Everest and lots of places, but not Alta, you got it…

    • Nitro4Life

      Do you really believe Alta has traverses and terrain found at no other ski resort on earth? Alta has terrain better than Chamonix? Niseko? Jackson Hole? Trust me… there is NOTHING on that mountain that is not instantly handled by any average skilled snowboarder.

  • WileEDingo

    flowski and climbthebuddha: thanks for the perspective. I have a better understanding of the issues. I tend to avoid certain traverses for the exact reason you brought up. My earlier comment was more of a response to the previous commenter.

  • Clarity

    This isn’t discrimination. “Snowboarder” is not an ethnicity or religion – the discrimination isn’t against a person but a piece of equipment. While a ski resort is idiotic to exclude a HUGE portion of snowsports enthusiasts, it certainly isn’t a human rights issue. Not sure why someone would want to recreate where they aren’t welcome, anyway.

    • erly

      But, snowboarding is my religion… a day on the mountain is a day in church.

  • mike n.

    what’s great about this is that this all started because snowboarders were thought of as jerks. its not about post holing, that affects no one. I’ve skied my whole life, never heard anyone talk about this and never was affected. My skis can just go over the holes and if yours don’t you can’t ski. snowboarders were young hippies who the older skiers found to be rude and crazy. now snowboarders are getting older, young people are taking up twin tip skiing. Alta messed up, if they wanted to keep out a certain element it shouldn’t have been about the equipment, it should have been based on age. make minimum age for Alta 40 and they’ll get what they want. DV already does this, not on purpose, they just groom everything and the mountain isn’t much fun so its fan base is like 65 years and up. Alta does have a great mountain though which is why they’ve gotten away with this for years. A worse mountain would have had to allow snowboarding just based on money. The fact that they have managed to disciminate against such a large group of people and not charge alot and survive should make all snowboarders learn to ski.

    • flowski

      You obviously have not skied Alta, enough said.

      • mike n.

        You’re right, I gave this whole endorsement to a place I never skied. So what’s your deal, you hate Alta? Fine, to each their own. I’m not going to argue about which mountain is best, save that for some ski magazine poll. I lived in SLC for 6 years. Skied Alta, hiked Alta, spent probably a hundred days there over the last 20 years. I don’t see how snowboarding will ruin this mountain when it hasn’t ruined others, that’s my point.

        • flowski

          I love Alta, I’m 54 now and spent 4 seasons at Alta after a season at Brighton and Solitude. I worked at a local excavation company during the summer and was laid off in Nov. each season till May. I skied over 100 days a year at Alta. I have lived at Vail, Breck, Jackson Hole, Kirkwood, Sierra at Tahoe, Heavenly. I never said it would ruin the mountain, but unless they do some work on the traverses it could get dangerous on some of the traverses over to certain terrain.

          • mike n.

            They’ll adapt, everyone else did. I doubt we’ll be seeing the headline, “Snowboarders create dangerous traverses killing 2 skiers and injuring 6 more”. But most likely we’ll never know.

  • B.C.

    Screw Alta, just go to Snowbird, it’s better anyways. We shred way harder at the Bird.

    • flowski

      Your most certainly are a snowboarder that has NOT skied Alta, otherwise you’d know how much better Alta is way sicker on powder day’s. I skied the bird many times, problem is it’s lame on pow days because the don’t open the good terrain like Alta does. The Alta patrol rocks they get that terrain open, you couldn’t keep up with them on a snow board. Stay at Snowbird where you belong dude.

      • freealta

        Typical loca’s only bullshit atitude. Alta sucks anyway and their old mind group of skiers. When Alta get broke and will happen soon, business will prevail and after that let’s see what happens. Ski it is cool, people like YOU make it SUCKS!!!

        • flowski

          I live in Breck dude, I have an EPIC pass so I ski Canyons now out there when visiting. BTW – Alta is keepin’ it real at $70 per full day lift ticket, can your resort compare to that? Alta is cool like that. It just so happens to be financially stable, not going broke, sorry to bum you out. I think the best bet is the One Wasatch concept which would connect 7 Utah resorts including Alta. To make it work they’d almost have to allow snowboarders. So never say never.

          Ultimately I’d like to see Alta allow snowboarders, I want to bring a few close friends who board to shred the mountain. Maybe close off access of any problem areas, or better yet work on them to widen the traverse trail and make it safer for everyone. Most of the mountain snowboarders would not be an issue, there’s just a couple of spots that need work.

          • PhuckHyu

            Stay in Breck, DUDE. Keep your gaper boarder buddies there with you, too.

          • flowski

            PhuckHyu, No can do, me and my friends travel a lot douche bag. But at least when I’m home I can run to the store and get a phat sack of herb anytime! I love Colorado…

          • erly

            *Cough* $70?! I will take Baker over that noise any day. More bang for your buck, and fewer sticks up asses.

          • flowski

            Mt. Baker is totally cool. Have you been to Alta? I think not…

          • erly

            And I have 0 desire to take my money and touring skis there. Seems like a waste of money to spend to ski with self-righteous asshats. I’ll keep my WA and BC back country thanks.

          • smolgarf

            shut up erly. don’t need any more immigrants clogging up the slopes in WA and complaining about how heavy the snow is the whole time. stay at alta, home of the greatest snow on earth or whatever.

  • pjy

    IF, in fact, younger persons tend to choose snowboards over skis: therein lies
    the problem. The socio-economic reality of raising kids during the past few decades has changed dramatically. Both parents working has resulted in both
    parents depending on ” WHO IS TEACHING MY KIDS RIGHT FROM WRONG ”
    surrogates. Day care centres do not and cannot do the job.
    The snowboarder that hit me (02 April ’14) assured me that he would get ski patrol help immediately. As a fairly good judge of character, I knew that this young man’s promise was hollow. It turned out I was right – he bolted ASAP.
    The maneuver he was attempting and where he was trying it clearly tells me he has no mental ability to know right from wrong.
    This is the third time in one year that this has occurred. The worst crash involving
    my friend Steve L – sat out the entire season due to injuries. The boarder bolted.
    As of last Wednesday my respect for snowboarders is no more. I will not ride the same chair until boarders radically change their ways.
    Deep down I know 50% of you are responsible, I just don’t know which 50%.

    • shreddawgger

      You’re probably talking about younger people–teenagers and people in there very young 20′s, both of which lack mature judgement making abilities. I bet anything that the person that hit you was about 19 years old. Don’t blame the equipment, blame the person. I got crushed by a skier hitting me from behind while I was teaching a lesson the other day. Guess what? He was about 16 years old.

    • erly

      I had a big skier dude grab me (100 lb girl) and dislocate my shoulder in the lift line while I was standing with my snowskate, waiting to be scanned. See, I have anecdotal evidence too! Those skiers, they will have your way with you and you will pay the price! Total monsters, the lot of them.
      One skier is totally representative of the entire group.

  • Frank_Elways

    Seems like a dated policy. The biggest “wrong element” (as James Watt would say) at Squaw are the skittle thugs on twin tips. If Alta wanted to eliminate “that kind” just ban wearing beanies under your helmet.

  • Dave K

    Alta is owned & run by Mozilla? JK Settle down. Ha, ha.

    • PhuckHyu

      Nope. Alta allows fags, just not snowboarders or snowboarding fags.

  • Martin Johnson

    Ugly Americans assert themselves wherever they see fit and impose upon other cultures.
    Why not respect local culture?

  • Pablo Schornack

    Getting to the good stuff @ Alta would pretty much suck on a snowboard

  • Nobody

    I think its sad that skiers need alta too feel like they are better. Kinda pathetic really. Whatever. Let them have it. Its all they got. Smug?

    • flowski

      Thank you…

  • DPar

    Although the powerboat/quiet use of a lake analogy might not work, what of the golf course that leases public land? Can the golf course then be forced to allow mountain biking through the property just because it is public land? Both are sports equipment. How about forcing the golf course to allow cross country skiing in the winter just because they are not currently using it?
    The leasehold has already sided with Alta. The political will has spoken. If you want to get this changed, you have to make it an election issue.

    Good luck with that one…

    • flowski

      Good point. Will sledders or tobogganers sue for access? How about those bicycle ski rigs? Where does it end? It is not uncommon to have separate areas reserved for specific recreational activities on National Forest Property. There are certain areas or trails designated for ATV use where 4X4′s and jeeps are restricted and vice versa.

    • Frank_Elways

      Golf courses are not suitable for mountain biking, and their access would cause the golfers’ experience to suffer, objectively. Ski hills, as proven by 99% of the mountains in America, are suitable for snowboarders, and do not cause skiers any depravation of their own experience, except elitist butt hurt.

  • Rob K

    I agree with the fact that the average snowboarder can’t handle Alta’s traverses. I’m a snowboarder and live in Bozeman, MT and ride Bridger Bowl, where there is a very similar situation. Many people try to compare it to Little Cottonwood Canyon. The difference is that we don’t have the population (yet) to have many issues arise if a snowboarder wants to struggle through a traverse. There is certain areas I just can’t go on super deep days because I know I will hold people up and don’t really feel like postholing my way through anyways. I have a sense of ETIQUETTE that skiers and riders alike should have. Some skiers just don’t like snowboards and it is going to be that way as long as there is snow to ski. There is even certain patrol who have it out for snowboarders in Montana. With that being said, I rip gnarlier lines than a lot of skiers and regularly take exposed traverses most snowboarders wouldn’t touch. I take pride in being fast and efficient on traverses. I ride primarily with skiers! Many of whom respect the fact that I want to work a little harder just to ride the same line as them. I’ve ridden my whole life. I understand that I could simply strap on a pair of skis and have access to all of Alta, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Any true snowboarder knows what I mean.

    You’ve just got to level with us slowboarders a little bit, because there is a lot of us who could handle Alta just fine. Put yourself in our shoes. How would you feel if there was badass lift accessed terrain that you just weren’t allowed to shred because of what’s on your feet? Believe me, I get it. I wouldn’t want all those SLC hoodrat snowboarders clogging up my traverses either, but there are some snowboarders that deserve the access.

    I agree that these guys don’t have a case, but I can respect what they are trying. All I want is for someone to say, “Man that sucks you guys can’t ride at Alta cus it’s fuckin’ amazing, but oh well, more for us.” I can respect that. But I can’t stand the attitude of many Alta skiers that snowboarders are inferior and shouldn’t be allowed there because of what’s on their feet. All I’m saying is that there are some amazing riders out there that would kill to shred Alta with all their skier homies on a bluebird pow day. But wait.. they’re not allowed.

    It may be righteous discrimination for many, but it’s still discrimination.

    • flowski

      OK, your right.

    • WileEDingo

      You’re right. When you see a beginner skier, they’re on the green runs. After a season they may get on a blue run. Give a beginner boarder a week or two and they’re side-slipping black diamonds. Give the boarder a season or two and they’re ripping down the double blacks faster than any skier and with fewer turns. And they don’t turn perfectly good runs into tedious moguls.

      • PhuckHyu

        On what phukking planet is this?

        • WileEDingo

          The point is all beginners are tragic – they’re out of control, stopping unexpectedly, running into people, etc. Even once they have a bit of control, they still don’t necessarily have the skill and etiquette that is generally expected. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, we (skiers AND boarders) were all there once. What pisses skiers off though, is that instead of being out of the way, confined to the easier runs like new skiers are, any novice boarder can slowly pick their way down a black run, bringing their particular brand of chaos with them. Everyone encounters them, but “experienced” skiers are in general a little less tolerant. In the long run, however, boarding is easier to master, so in no time those novice boarders are ripping it up like everyone else.

  • NBD

    Who cares? I’m a skier and I can say without a doubt that snowbird has waaaaay better terrain than Alta… you guys aren’t missing anything special.

    • flowski

      The terrain is great, it’s just closed on the best powder days because ski patrol won’t get up there and open it.

      • WileEDingo

        Sounds like Alta’s REALLY got their priorities messed up. Why bother?

        • flowski

          The top priority at Alta is powder. Ski patrol is up before the crack of dawn getting slopes ready for us hounds. Unlike most resorts that start avalanche bombing at 9 or 10 am and have the bowls open at 1pm. Their priorities are perfectly in tune with the true powder skier.

          • WileEDingo

            You should come on up to the Kootenays some time if you want powder. We’d welcome you all, skier, boarders, ski bikers, you name it!

          • flowski

            Legendary powder! I tried to get into Canadia ONCE. They hate hippies at the border. Never go through that again.

          • WileEDingo

            Yeah, that can happen in both directions unfortunately. Sort of depends on which border crossing and whether or not the border guard is hating life at that particular moment in time. I knew someone who got turned back due to a DUI from the 70s. I’ve also been turned back by the US (didn’t like our looks, or something). The Metaline Falls crossing seems pretty laid back. It’s sort of due north of Spokane and is the closest crossing to get to Whitewater Ski Resort. You would stay in nearby Nelson (BC’s hippie central) which was co-winner of Best Ski Town last year (along with nearby Rossland (Red Mt. Ski Resort)). Great place, good people. Don’t try to cross the border with anything you shouldn’t, you can always get that in Nelson. And … if you can’t get across the border, Schweitzer in Idaho is not far away.

    • PhuckHyu

      For sure. Please stay away from Alta. Tell all yer buddies too.

  • Michael Davidson

    the land is national forest….
    the lifts are owned by a private company…..
    they can do what they want with their property ‘lifts’ as long as they are not impeding the public with the use of land….. use the land snowboarders, you just can’t use the lifts…….. not a case at all sry boot pack somewhere else than the high traverse one plankers ;)

  • PhuckHyu

    Please, please, please tell all your gaper buddies Alta sucks and stay the f#ck away. More pow pow for me.

  • bakerboy

    Let everybody who wants to pay for a pass or ticket access to the mountain. Then pay for an on-mountain LEO to be stationed there full-time while the local skiers physically evict the tourist boarders from the traverses. Maybe One Wasatch can funnel some of the inevitable rate increases into some cross-hill magic carpet stupidity. I mean, it’s not like punching a hole thru a peak.

  • Tom Conroy

    Any resort could prohibit skiing and only allow snowboarding. It probably wouldn’t make economic sense, but it would be permissible. Or perhaps one or two snowboard-only mountains would thrive like Alta and Deer Valley, attracting some boarders precisely because skiing was not allowed.

  • NicoParco

    The big problem with Alta is that their skiers (& fans) can’t differentiate between themselves and the terrain. Yes, we know that Alta’s terrain is Special. But obviously, Alta skiers themselves are not!! Open to the snowboarding, Terrain stays the same. Alta skiers could use some humility.

  • rookie dragger

    Just saying , that if there was a place that was as gnarly and good as Alta but was a “SnowboardersOnly” mountain there would be hell to pay and skiers would be doing the same thing that the boarders are doing now to ride at Alta.

  • FaceOnMars

    Even if the “letter of the law” (or agreement) between Alta and the NFS is being adhered to with respect to latitude of permitted uses, I still believe the spirit of “equal and fair access” to public lands by the general public is being violated … as the essential nature of skiing and snowboarding are equivalent if not “kissing cousins”. Skiers and snowboarders have successfully shared the vast majority of ski areas in a safe manner for a sufficiently long time. Cohabitation has been demonstrated to be safe and inclusive. It is my belief the NFS ought to compel Alta to make such an allowance.

  • kevinish

    The original argument against snowboarders wrecking the terrain pretty much died with the advent of the clown shoes skiers use these days, so in most cases, not permitting snowboarding is simple discrimination. However, in Alta’s case, allowing snowboarding would require making some areas off-limits, which would then need to be monitored; and that’s not practical. Either way, not everybody is going to be satisfied with the way this turns out.

  • skiareas4skiers

    It’s not called a ski area for any old reason. Snowboarders can go snowboard at a snowboard area….leave ski areas to skiers. Same thing goes for any chump on snowshoes, snowmobile, ice skates, or an ATV..go someplace else. Nobody cares if you don’t ski.

  • Dave Rothman

    There are two arguments here: the ethical and the legal. Ethically one can argue either way…I can see both sides. But legally, the plaintiffs’ case looks weak. First, the prohibition is not against people, but against behavior, rendering 14th Amendment appeals questionable. Second USFS obviously allows all sorts of other such prohibitions on its land. There are all sorts of activities one can’t do at Alta or on other USFS land, e. g. snowmobiling, hang gliding, biathlon, squirrel suiting, etc. Further, they close all sorts of terrain to all uses, e.g. Snakepit, and can close part or all of the hill at any time for avvy work, for a comp., or simply because it’s 4 pm. So — plaintiff case looks weak to me…

  • Public land advocate

    Not that it matters, there are enough ski areas and backcountry to go around but since Alta is on Forest Service land it’s ridiculous that only skiers can go there. Alta should be skiers only if Alta antes up to buy all the property that they operate on. Otherwise, it’s public land and should be open to everyone.

  • mailman

    Alts is not discriminating any person. They simply state the type of equipment required. The choice an individual makes to ski, board or do both is an individual choice and each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. If you show up at restaurant that has a jackets required policy, you need a jacket, plain and simple. Some will even provide you one. Come to Alta with a board and you are welcome but leave it in the car and rent some skis. You are more than welcome but you just need to meet the equipment requirements. As for the USFS, they should not need to be involved because no one is denied access to the land. If it were unfettered access then why can’s snowmobiles just tool around the trails? Obvious reach but again it goes to the issue of what can be done on the mountain, not who is doing it.

    Side note: To any one who has seen the work of Farmer Dave you can attest to the fact that it is the most beautiful piece of art on snow you could ever see.

  • Randal Whisenant

    I’m super excited for the snowboarding suit to win, as I am a competitive speed sledder and I would love to hit the trails at alta with my custom sled or, if it’s empty, an inner tube! Go knuckledraggers!

    • caskier

      caskier; Skiers did the all the ground work a long time ago for your dumb ass snowboarders! With all the other places in the country to take your stupid snowboard, your gonna cry over one place? What bunch of CRY BABYS!!! You can’t have everything!!!

  • GregFun

    Seems pretty simple to me…Everyone is allowed to play at Alta…You just have to bring skis. Cafeteria trays are really fun, but you can’t take them on the lift. The reality is that Alta’s lift system unloads on the low spots on the ridges, requiring uphill traverses to access the best terrain. Not exactly ideal for snowboarding. The uphill traverses are a frenzy on powder days, and postholing foot traffic will destroy the flow. Anyone guilty of a downhill traverse will be heckled regardless of their choice of equipment; telemark, alpine, or snowlerblade. Skiing etiquette and the laws of powder conservation dictate traversing to the highest point of powder and making fall line turns.

  • Toad

    I think they can do whatever they would like! I have been skiing for 40 years & snowboarding for 28 years. I live in SLC so I have many resorts to choose from. I love all of Utahs SKI RESORTS. I LOVE THE IDEA OF CONNECTING THE WASATCH FRONT RESORTS. ONE WASATCH. Finally!!!! After many many years of talking. So with this, I think Alta should finally give in. To help make linking these resorts together for a ONE WASATCH pass happen.
    Let it snow!

  • Some call me Tim

    Quite simply, Alta is on Public Land, but the lifts are privately owned. That to me is the main reason that this frivolous and futile lawsuit was a complete joke – glad they simply dismissed it out of the courts before any more taxpayer moolah was wasted. The debate is played out (like 10 years ago) and it’s strictly up to Alta as to who they let on their lifts. That being said, I believe that all the terrain is open to all to ride – from top to bottom anyhoo – and that’s the only hint I’ll give in that regard.

    For the record, I am a skier, but take my runs with snowboarders more often these days. Luckily we’ve had two great seasons at Mt Bohemia, so I haven’t had to run for the powder out west at all, but allow me to spin a yarn here as everyone seems to have a lot of breath left on the issue. 3 years ago was a different story and I had to make the run around st. pattys day – got hammered w/ about 7 feet of wasatch gold the first part of the week, but the storm puked it all out by Monday night / Tues morning. Had nothing but bluebird the rest of the week. Decided to splurge and stay in LCC at snowbird. Hit the check in about 9 on Tuesday and made the rope drop in mineral basin by around 10 – followed some patrollers (skiers) through the gates all the way out to sugar cliffs for one of the best white-room runs in my life – the whole storm was sitting there in the corner just waiting. Spent most of that day in the basin. When I got back to the front side for the rest of the day, I was aghast at how tracked out it was already – on a Tuesday. Wednesday made it even worse and, for the first time in my life really (I’m pretty chill) I found myself cussing out a LOT of sideways riding boarders on the blacks AND the blues – point that thing downhill or stay on the green circles!. By the end of the second day, Thunder bowl was the only spot left with anything fresh (hearty thanks to the skier who gave me the friendly ‘follow me’ as we proceeded to drop a bunch of boarders and shoot up through those gates!!). Don’t get me wrong, it was great to be at the bird again, but tragic to see the bird gettin beat on like that.

    Thursday and Friday were decidedly for Alta, and thanks goodness it exists just as it does. Fresh tracks all over the place, all day long, 3 and 4 days after a storm and the ensuing SLC area feeding frenzy! And all ‘good’ tracks really too – no 5 foot wide swaths taken out of the trees bowls and chutes top to bottom like I was seeing all over the place at the bird the days before. Sure Friday you had to pick at it a bit more (dude camped out with a shovel on high T keeping it going was great!), but if you were willing to traverse or hike just a bit, the rewards were still there.

    Ah well the boss just showed up. Suffice to end with this. I left back for home on Saturday fully convinced that Alta’s skiers only policy was about the best thing in the world, or at least in the wasatch. No offense, not being elitist or anything, just stating the facts ma’am.

    Hope to see you next season Alta – but only if I gotta. Gotta pack for another weekend at BO

  • Ski Bum

    I’m hoping those boarders win so all users can file a case based on their precedent. Frankly I’m tired of being discriminated against and am looking forward to throttling my sled straight up Alta. On those days when I need more exercise I think I’ll skin or snowshoe up. Saving on a lift ticket will be the coup de grace. That place ain’t cheap anymore.

  • Bob

    Brighton should become a snowboard only resort. Problem solved.

    Alta please give boarders a chance so all us white rich folks can get along.

  • whatever

    why not have Alta stay the way it is and have Brighton become a boarder only resort and call it even. there are many choices in town. if you want to board in LCC go to the bird. if you want to ski in BCC go to solitude.

  • JonD

    I ski, skied Alta once, but not again until they allow boarders.There are plenty of places surrounding the Salt Lake Area that offer terrain just as good, or better, and they are not asshole ski snobs. Well, except for Deer Valley of course, but if you want to associate with Deer Valley then more power to you.The whole argument against snowboarders is antiquated. The safety argument is about as foolish as the 14th Amendment violation for snowboarders. If you’re an asshole ski snob then just admit that you’re blatantly prejudice against snowboarders, you think you are better than them, and that is the sole reason you don’t want them at Alta. When they open up to boarders I’ll be the guy traversing and using my pole to pull along my boarder brethren.

  • PayneTrain

    They aren’t discriminating against a people, they are prohibiting an activity. Get over it. If you wanna enjoy all that Alta has to offer, learn to ski. Case closed.

  • deaverdan

    If skiing was easy they would call it snowboarding. I used to tree ski on pow days and could hit un-tracked all day, but now snow boarders chew it up in an hour with their trench makers. I’m a Mammoth skier and I’m sick of them. They need to be controlled and regulated or they will ruin Alta

  • Skierguy

    Alta is one of the only resorts where fresh snow can be ripped days after a storm. They have uniquely designed it to limit access to major points on the Mountain. This then requires a person to traverse and hike out further each run to reach the untracked snow. If snowboarder get there way Alta could have to add access to all points of the mountain like most all other resorts tracking up the freshee’s only hours after a storm. Other wise as mentioned you will have post holing, and slide for lifer’s! Let’s not risk this! Boarders have access to all other resorts and if they want the Alta experience, join in as a wanker 2 planker’s! Let’s keep Alta special, Don’t mess a good thing up!

Updates and Social Media

Latest News Facebook
Twitter Mtnadvisor