Alta: Sunnyside lift replacement
It’s been an unusually busy summer for the lifts department as they are replacing the current Sunnyside lift with a Leitner-Poma high-speed six-pack lift. The new lift will replace two lifts—the Sunnyside triple and the Albion double.
This upgraded Sunnyside six-pack lift accesses Alta's beginner terrain and will reduce liftlines in the Albion base area while improving access to the Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts.
The original Albion lift was built in 1963 in order to provide lift-accessed skiing in the Albion Basin. The lift was upgraded in 1976 but has remained mostly unchanged for the past five decades. In recent years, Albion has transitioned to a part-time role, running infrequently on weekends and holidays as needed.
The original Sunnyside lift—a fixed-grip double chair—was originally constructed in 1970, in order to double the uphill skier capacity in Alta's beginner terrain. Sunnyside was realigned and upgraded from a double-chair to a detachable triple in 1999.
After 23 seasons of service, the Sunnyside detachable triple has been retired and moved to Red Lodge, Montana. The longer-tenured Albion lift is now considered retired but will hang around until the new Sunnyside lift is working smoothly as we head into the 2022–23 season. The Albion lift will likely be removed after the ski season.
Each offseason, we remove trees that have succumbed to mountain pine beetles or have been knocked loose by winter storms. We also trim, thin, and remove trees to reduce wildfire fuels and to preserve skiing corridors on the mountain. We have also removed a number of trees to accommodate the new Sunnyside lift and terrain improvements in the Sleepy Hollow area. The forest service approves every tree we remove. Downed trees are repurposed into log benches, barricades, trail bridges, boardwalks and campground firewood.
New this summer, we are using a portable lumber mill to repurpose some of the removed trees into lumber for snow fencing and other projects within the ski area.
New signage, ropes and photo pull-outs in the Albion Basin have been appreciated by many of our summer visitors. These are just a few of the steps we have taken to preserve the overloved fields of wildflowers in Alta.
The rerouted Homerun trail now winds its way through the Albion Meadows instead of straight-lining its way down the mountain. Mountain bikers. in particular, are enjoying the new berms.
The Snake Pit trail has been widened and offers some great views while serving as an alternative to the popular Upper Albion Meadows Trail.
Meanwhile, on Mount Baldy, Alta’s Avalanche Office is working to move Alta's avalanche mitigation program into the future.
Alta Ski Area is moving towards Remote Avalanche Control Systems (RACS) and away from the use of military artillery. These RACS will increase the efficiency of avalanche mitigation and reduce risk to our skiers and our employees. RACS are currently in use in East Baldy and East Castle. These tools have proven to be very effective in our ski area and above Highway 210 and the Town of Alta.
The RACS project has created busier skies above Alta this summer as helicopters have been used to access the remote and sensitive locations where the RACS need to be installed. We recognize that the use of helicopters has brought significant noise to a normally quiet and tranquil setting. Please accept our apology for this inconvenience. The use of helicopters allows us to minimize the impact of construction in these remote and sensitive areas of the ski area. Thanks for your understanding and patience as this project nears its completion.
ALTA ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER
The Alta Environmental Center (AEC) has been busy working alongside our trail crew and providing Summer Stewardship and Environmental Education events for our community.
Earlier this summer, the AEC received a delivery of over 9,000 native plant seedlings. These seedlings continue to grow and thrive under close supervision in our Wildcat nursery. Last month, the AEC organized our annual Employee Conservation Day. Alta Ski Area's summer employees enjoyed a great day planting over 500 native plant seedlings on Nina's in Collins Gulch.
By the end of the summer, all 9,000 plants will have found a new home on the slope of Alta.