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Altaholics Anonymous

Ski photographer Lee Cohen created Altaholics Anonymous in 1983, when Utah's Alta ski resort received 244 inches of snow in one month. He launched a website to sell his goods a few years ago, and he's recently added a few more products. Interview by Caroline Gleich.

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Powder can be addictive, we all know that. But perhaps nobody knows it better than legendary ski photographer Lee Cohen, who formed Altaholics…

Powder can be addictive, we all know that. But perhaps nobody knows it better than legendary ski photographer Lee Cohen, who formed Altaholics Anonymous in 1983 when Alta, Utah, received 244 inches in one month. T-shirts and other merchandise quickly followed so that Alta ski bums could show their fellowship anywhere. Altaholics Anonymous just opened an online store so you don’t have to travel all the way to Utah to get your gear. We caught up with Lee Cohen to get the backstory on his version of AA.

How has Alta changed since you first skied there in 1978?

Not as much as you’d think. Traffic moves a lot quicker since they got the new Collins lift—that’s a big plus. On a stormy day, it’s still pretty much the same as it was 25 years ago. You can still have the same experience—that’s why it’s so good. It seems like Alta makes little concessions to progress slowly even though it’s changing all the time. (Click to the next slide for the next question.)

When and why did you pick up a camera and get behind the lens?I was a total ski bum so I thought I’d just shoot pictures of my friends. I probably…

When and why did you pick up a camera and get behind the lens?

I was a total ski bum so I thought I’d just shoot pictures of my friends. I probably starting shooting pictures in the early 80s.

Out of all the places you’ve traveled for ski photography, could you settle any other place besides Little Cottonwood Canyon?

There are some amazing places out there but I haven’t found any other place that gets the consistent snow that Alta does.

(Click to the next slide for the next question.)

How did you come up with the idea for Altaholics Anonymous? Me and my buddy were just sitting at the bar drinking one night, and we were getting…

How did you come up with the idea for Altaholics Anonymous?

Me and my buddy were just sitting at the bar drinking one night, and we were getting buzzed and we just kind of looked at each and said, “We are such Altaholics.” That’s the way it happened—at the bar at Alta.

What bar?

The Rustler.

(Click to the next slide for the next question.)

What’s your favorite bar at Alta? The Sitzmark. It’s just super cozy and has a lot of personality.And your favorite drink there? Bloody Mary—Sorry,…

What’s your favorite bar at Alta?

The Sitzmark. It’s just super cozy and has a lot of personality.

And your favorite drink there?

Bloody Mary—Sorry, Dan.

Are many Altaholics also alcoholics?

No…I don’t think so.

When did you realize you were addicted to the light, dry powder of Alta?

The first time I skied it. It’s reputation preceded itself and validation of the myth brought on the addiction.

When did you officially start Altaholics Anonymous? I made the first shirts in the winter of 84/85 and sold them at the bars, apres ski. People would…

When did you officially start Altaholics Anonymous?

I made the first shirts in the winter of 84/85 and sold them at the bars, apres ski. People would be waiting at the Peruvian for me to show up. It wasn’t many shirts but people were way into it.

Do you have group meetings?

Group meetings are on the hill, anytime, but especially when it is dumping. Is it dumping yet?

Craziest place you’ve seen Altaholics Anonymous gear?

My buddy sent me a picture of somebody at the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China with Altaholics Anonymous shirts on—two places I’ve yet to travel yet.

New items for the holidays? This year, I added several new items including shot glasses and hats.Where can people purchase Altaholics Anonymous…

New items for the holidays?

This year, I added several new items including shot glasses and hats.

Where can people purchase Altaholics Anonymous merchandise?

At altaholics.com online or almost any retailer at Alta.