Chris: Where you guys from, and what are your backgrounds?
Amy: We’re from a little town on the Monterrey Peninsula of California called Pacific Grove. I was a teacher before I retired. I taught elementary school when we first visited Alta, eventually became an elementary school principal…
Carl: …I was an engineer when I first started coming to Alta. I worked for an aerospace company in southern California. Then I got a Ph.D. in economics and I taught at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterrey, and worked for the Department of Defense specifically for the Navy.
Chris: And when did you first make it to Alta?
Carl: Thanksgiving of 1958 was my first time. I came with three guys from work; we drove up from southern California and it was a classic whirlwind trip, a long four-day weekend crammed in between days at work. When we showed up, we couldn’t find lodging until we went up to the Snowpine Lodge, which at that time was very low-key. I remember the bunk room we stayed in having what seemed like a mine-shaft door on the front of it. Amy didn’t come to Alta until Easter of 1962…
Amy: …prior to that, we skied mostly at Mammoth, because we lived in Los Angeles. As we grew up and became more able to travel, we would save up money and plan our vacations around trips to Alta. At first we would drive…
Carl: …and Interstate 80 wasn’t what it is today. Mostly it was state and county roads, and one trip it was so cold that we had to pull over in Battle Mountain, Nevada because the oil in our old car was literally freezing. But we would suffer through it because we just needed to be in Alta! Eventually, when we could afford it, we started flying out of San Jose and that just makes it so easy.
Chris: So when did you start coming to the Rustler Lodge?
Carl: I think it was two years after Snowbird started operating, which was in 1971. At that time, we were really into skiing at Snowbird because it was new, and it turned out the Rustler had a really cushy shuttle service that departed from the Rustler lodge, and we could always arrange for a ride from Snowbird in the afternoon.
Amy: We have a membership in a clubhouse in Truckee California, near Lake Tahoe, but we haven’t used it in at least a decade because it’s just so much easier to come to Alta. The travel is easier, and the snow is so much more reliable than anywhere else.
Chris: We hear that from a lot of people; that Alta’s accessibility is what keeps people coming back. But what about the skiing?
Amy: Well, the snow is the best. It’s that simple. And although I do continue to split time between Alta and Snowbird, Alta has better snow than Snowbird…
Carl: …the bottom couple hundred feet of Snowbird are low enough that it can rain at the base or get really really warm, and the top couple hundred feet, which are higher up than the top of the lifts at Alta, are high enough that the snow can be wind-affected.
Chris: And you guys spend a lot of time in Alta every winter, right?
Amy: We come five times a year for two weeks at a time, starting in December and finishing in April.
Carl: We usually try to skip the busier periods, but it generally works out for us to spend two weeks at home and two weeks in Alta, all winter.
Chris: What’s your favorite run in Alta?
Amy: Well I really like to ski off-trail. On the Sugarloaf side, I like to ski in between Roller Coaster and Devil’s Elbow, because there are so many little hidden bowls and treed areas that people don’t find for hours after opening. On the Collins side, I like the trees on either side of Mambo, and then traversing over to Blitz and Taint. I also like to ski Aggy’s Ally, Blitz, and Johnson’s Warm-Up off the Wildcat lift because again, they’re overlooked by lots of skiers on powder days.
Chris: Carl, what’s your favorite?
Carl: I don’t think I have one! I just love being here. It’s so easy to enjoy skiing at Alta. We do like to poke around the nose of Vail Ridge on Sunnyside, which actually provides a pretty long shot of untracked snow on a powder day. Did you know that Vail Ridge used to be called “Never-Sweat Ridge” after the silver mine that operated in the area prior to the ski area opening?
Chris: No but that’s a great piece of history. How much is it going to snow this winter?
Amy: It’s been such a good early winter; when it snows as much as it has by now this season, it almost matters less whether it snows a lot later in the winter because we hold our base snowpack so well in Alta. But I also think that winters that start well usually end well too. So yeah, I think it’s going to be a great winter.
Chris: So in closing, what has kept you guys coming back to Alta decade after decade?
Amy: Well Carl and I have always agreed that the reason Alta people become so attached to the place is that the businesses in Alta, especially at Alta’s Rustler Lodge, are service-oriented, and they stick around for years. I have personal friendships with staff at the Rustler, from the dining room staff to the management; we even consider the owner a friend at this point. Alta has been our second home for years now, and that keeps us coming here just as much as the amount that it snows in a given winter.