ALTA: Steeped in Tradition
CLIENT // ALTA SKI AREA
YEAR: 2018 - PRESENT
As one of North America's most venerable and hallowed mountains, Alta Ski Area has been spinning chairlifts since December of 1939. The stories, legends, and lore stashed amongst the lofty crags of Little Cottonwood are nearly endless. No self-respecting skier is complete without a pilgrimage to Alta, where the essence and history of skiing can still be uncovered and savored.
Since 2018 Sweetgrass has been slowly unfurling the many facets of Alta in the "Steeped in Tradition" series. Directed and edited by Michael Brown, Steeped in Tradition captures the essence of what Alta is all about and the special place it occupies in thousands of hearts across the world.
Nobody’s getting rich doing this job, they’re getting paid in powder.
- DAVE RICHARDS
The day begins in the stormy murk before dawn, accompanied by the familiar squeak of the chairlift's sheave wheels. For over 80 years, Alta's Ski Patrol has waged war against the onslaught of avalanches that plague the steep terrain of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Hewn from granite by glaciers, over 75% of the town of Alta lies in the maw of avalanche slide paths. With annual snowfall topping 500 inches, Alta served as the birthplace of modern avalanche mitigation in North America. Alta's Ski Patrol faces the daunting task of keeping the town and ski resort safe while enjoying a multitude of powder turns along the voyage.
WHERE I SKI IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD
- DAVID VAN DAME
“Farming is a term that’s been used when people cultivate a resource in order to reach its full potential. I try to do the same thing with a field of snow.”
For 48 years and into his seventies, skier David Van Dame methodically etched furrows of powder tracks all across the flanks of Alta Ski Area. In snow or shine while decked in his worn red coat, Van Dame spent decades leaving his mark on Alta’s slopes. Farmer Dave’s unmistakable snow signatures were a physical meditation on his lifelong love affair with powder snow. A humble artist with a mountain for a canvas and skis for a paintbrush, the Farmer’s furrows glittering in the snow were a poignant reminder of the value in cultivating experiences in place of possessions. The tracks he left behind with a smile beneath his frosted beard were a manifesto to his unwavering commitment to life’s simplest pleasures.
Though Farmer Dave’s powder fields grace the slopes of Alta no more, his legacy and story live on in this Steeped in Tradition episode.
Critical Accalaim FOr THE FARMER
THROUGH THE MURK OF DEEP NIGHT, ALTA NEVER SLEEPS...
For our first ever "Steeped in Tradition" Episode, we pulled an all-nighter to illuminate the secretive world of Alta's nightshifts. It takes a great deal of effort to run a world-class ski resort and much of this work takes place under the cover of night. There's an undeniable beauty in Alta's darkest hours. To witness this work feels as though you're part of something special. Hop in, take a ride through The Nightshift.
Under the Alta town ordinance 571, violating Interlodge is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 6 months in jail
Town of Alta Ordinance 5-4-1 allows the marshal of the Town of Alta, Utah to enact Interlodge Travel Restrictions, forbidding outdoor travel during periods of intense snowfall or high avalanche hazard.
Monday, February 15, 2021: A fearsome storm cycle crawls up Little Cottonwood Canyon ushering in a historical and record-breaking 60-hour Interlodge event. The tempest howled for days, burying Alta in over 63 inches of snowfall atop the three feet of fresh snow that had accumulated throughout the prior weekend. Hours and days melted and melded as Alta’s residents and guests witnessed biblical amounts of snow swirl down from the safety of the great indoors while employees and canyon personnel waged a historical battle against fearsome avalanches and mounting danger outdoors.
Was skiing one hundred inches of snow worth the 60-hour wait when the sun finally reemerged on Thursday?
We are beyond grateful to have worked side-by-side with Sweetgrass Productions for the last decade. As the principal camera for Alta Ski Area, Sweetgrass has embraced 60-hour Interlodge events, frigid temps, and countless early mornings—all of which helped to capture the heart of our story. In turn, these stories come to life through beautiful cinematography, character development, and lots of editing. Sweetgrass's mountain of effort and talent has produced the award-winning series, "Steeped in Tradition."
Brandon Ott / ALTA MARKETING DIRECTOR
To view Alta's entire "Steeped in Tradition" series, click the button below.