It's the last day of the 1999-2000 season at Alta, and all the weirdos are out. The ridged summit of High Rustler looks like a gigantic New Delhi city bus during rush hour, with about 400 people dripping off the top and down the sides. They appear to cling precariously, although in their squeeze, there is somehow room to stumble, flirt mercilessly, and drink copious amounts of alcohol.
It's a young crowd, mostly 20s and early 30s, and not at all what you'd expect from a resort so rich in history and soul. The revelers throw firecrackers and say "dude" about once per sentence. A few of them are famous skilebrities; most wear wild costumes, with beer stains down the front. Look, there's a shivering Wonder Woman with goose bumps, a hockey player swinging a stick instead of ski poles, and a guy named Brother Love dressed like a 10-foot-tall Native American.
Alta's renowned older skier-gods, the black sheep anticorporate types who have created the soul for which Alta is so well known, sit in a smaller group higher on the ridge. These are the heroes the partiers below revered while growing up. About 20 of them look down on the noisy spectacle and have their quiet end-of-season séance. How did the new school so thoroughly overtake Alta? And what do these older skiers think of all this, of the dudes and dudettes below talking about the misty flips and double backs they hurled all winter off the Stadium Jump in Devil's Castle or Kicker World in Grizzly Gulch, or the big GS turns down Eddie's when they killed 1,500 vertical feet of powder chop in three turns?
So, what do you think? SHOULD ALTA ACCEPT THIS NEW-SCHOOL MENTALITY AND LEGALIZE SNOWBOARDING? Tell us what you think via e-mail or in our forums for a chance to win... a shiny new skiingmag.com sticker.
To read more of Alta Ego, check out the January issue of SKIING Magazine, on newsstands now. Or subscribe to SKIING by clicking on the Subscription link at left.