Your correspondent was standing idly in the lower Alta parking lot packing up his speedwing after flying from Cardiff Peak when Mike Maughan, Alta Ski Lift general manager, drove up to say hello. Thinking quickly, Canyon Blog produced his press credentials (valid only in Little Cottonwood Canyon) and requested a no notice interview. To Mike’s credit (with three days till opening he’s an extremely busy individual) he agreed to meet at his office tantalizingly close to the Collins lift that could be seen running from the far end of the parking lot.
It was then yours truly, using the best in journalistic ambush tactics, sprung his trap. “Wouldn’t it be better to conduct our interview riding up the chairlift? Maybe assess the slopes up close? I just happen to have a pair of skis in the back of the truck…”
What more could be said? In truth, it shouldn’t be hard to talk a man who runs a ski resort into making a pre-season run. So, 15 minutes later we were on Collins headed for the top, no one but a handful of ski patrollers anywhere in sight.
Canyon Blog: “How do you feel about opening day, and I have to say this as a skier, it’s exceptionally cool to be on the lift with not a human in sight.”
Mike Maughan: “We’re excited to be opening and start skiing again obviously. This year looks a lot better than last season’s opening. We’ve put a lot of work into the Collins side of the mountain particularly. We’ve also added several snow makers to the mountain this year.”
CB: “That’s great and you can see a real difference already. What else is new this season?”
MM: “We’ve installed two avalanche exploders to the east side of Baldy so that we can more quickly and safely shut and re open East Baldy Traverse during snow storms.”
There you have it. At the top of Collins there was sunshine, snow and ski patroller Pete. After a few pleasantries, there was nothing left but make a run. It’s a tough job being a member of a free and independent press in this country but Canyon Blog prefers to think of it as a sacrifice made to keep you, the readers of this space, safe.
The final verdict? While the snow fall might not be what we hoped, the slopes look and feel great. Alta’s on schedule to open Friday morning and a major storm is expected to hit on Thanksgiving Day. So cancel those plans for Mexico, toss the skis and wax in a bag, and make those reservations at one of our exclusive properties now. It’s gonna be a great winter. See you on the slopes. NOTE from Dan Schilling: You can check out a video clip of my speedflight and run with Mike at my website https://www.danschillingbooks.com/ by clicking on the link to my FB page. You'll also find information about my forthcoming book, Alone at Dawn, on sale now.