Canyon Blog had intended to post this month on the ski conditions and early season to instill jealousy in readers from distant lands. Sadly, such is not the case. The snow gods are punishing Little Cottonwood Canyon (and more importantly and deservedly, Park City) for some as yet to be revealed infraction.
Instead, your correspondent took the opportunity to sit down with Alta’s new General Manager, Mike Maughan, in his corner office. The idle Collins and Wildcat chairlifts tantalizingly close yet forlorn through the window.
Canyon Blog: Everyone in Little Cottonwood has a tale regarding their journey, tell us a bit about yours.
Mike Maughan: Well, twenty-seven years ago Alta was trying to incorporate their first computer into their accounting procedures but weren’t having much luck. I worked for Ernst and Young at the time and was sent to fix their problems, which I did. At the end, Onno Wieringa asked if there were “any way to convince me to stay.” I’ve been here ever since.
CB: How do you see Alta as a resort and community?
MM: For us, it’s a matter of maintaining the heart and soul of Alta in the face of increasing numbers while adding to the skier experience.
CB: Speaking of skier experience, how is the Supreme lift project going to change Albion Basin?
MM: We’re excited about the addition. Supreme is going to reduce chair time while providing a consistent loading experience. The moving carpet is gone and there’s no center pole. In terms of terrain it opens more of Katherine’s to skiers.
CB: The lift itself is something of an engineering feat is it not?
MM: Yes. The new lift’s alignment crosses a wetland and we needed to accommodate that. We worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service and Salt Lake City Watershed to comply with their 3:1-foot replacement to impact requirement. Our commitment is actually 5:1, it’s part of our culture and we’re proud of that. To minimize impact we had do incorporate unprecedented engineering into the design and construction. It’s remarkable.
CB: Tell me about other changes you see in Alta’s future.
MM: Our stewardship of the environment is important to us and is in the forefront of our minds when we plan for the future. In addition to Supreme, there are some trail improvements we hope to make. Parking and traffic are two other areas we hope to improve, the lot here (Goldminers) and adjacent to Snowpine Lodge. We hope to put a lift in to replace the Snowpine rope tow.
CB: Given the snow, or lack thereof, outside your window this morning, do you have a prayer to appease the snow gods?
MM: I don’t, but encourage our employees and skiers to say them or practice any rituals that will get us there.
Spoken like a man used to dealing with journalists and the public. Canyon Blog came away with the impression that Mike is a man who enjoys his job and our venerated Alta remains in good hands. Lifts are scheduled to open December 1st, prayers willing…