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Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Tatiana Lawson of Alta Ski Patrol skis down Gunsight at Alta last Friday.
Week 4 of series on Utah's signature ski runs

Signature run

Alf's High Rustler — This is without question the most famous run in Utah. It has received worldwide attention and is listed among several publications and writers as one of the top 10 runs in the country. It is an advanced run that drops 1,200 vertical feet. The run starts with a narrow entrance at the top and descends down the front side of Alta to a wide conclusion at the base. It is accessible from the top of the Collins Lift and has a 38 to 45 degree slope. It is named after the legendary Alf Engen, who was director of the Alf Engen Ski School at Alta for 40 years and is recognized as the "father of modern powder skiing."

Another reason it is recognized as the resort's signature run is because it is the first run skiers see when they arrive at the area. Also, it commands respect because of its location, it has a perfect fall line, runs from top to bottom in a straight line and is a challenge many skiers aspire to.

To access the run requires some work. Veer east from the top of the lift and traverse along the mountainside out to the top of the run.

No. 1 Run

Gunsight —This, too, is an advanced run that is accessible off the Collins Lift. It is 880

vertical feet and has a slope of between 39 and 44 degrees. This run, too, has a narrow entrance and descent, then slowly opens into a beautiful bowl.

Top 10

1. Gunsight is an advanced run accessible off the Collins Lift; 2. Eagles Nest is an advanced run also accessible off the top of Collins and has a variety of terrain and offers gladed skiing; 3. Devils Castle is an advanced run accessible off the Sugarloaf Lift and is a glacier-carved bowl beneath steep cliffs; 4. Catherines is an advanced run accessible off the Supreme Lift and features varying terrain, gladed skiing and an open bowl; 5. Westward Ho is an advanced run accessible off the Wildcat Lift and offers a mix of moguls, powder, trees and terrain changes; 6. Ball Room is an intermediate run accessible off the Collins Lift and is a large, open bowl at the base of Mt. Baldy; 7. So Long is an intermediate run reached off the Supreme Lift and is noted for its rolling terrain; 8. Rock N Roll is an intermediate run accessible off the Supreme Lift and is a run that is popular because it offers intermediate skiers a chance to ski moderate powder terrain; 9. Devils Elbow is an intermediate run accessed off the Sugarloaf Lift and offers varying terrain and pitches; 10. Crooked Mile is a beginners run accessible off the Sunnyside Lift and is a milelong run that is wide open and meanders down Albion Basin.


Alta's history goes back much further than when it started its first lift in 1937. Before there were skiers, there were miners. It was back in 1864 that silver was discovered in the canyon by soldiers from Fort Douglas. By 1872, there were several thousand miners living in the town of Alta, serviced by several hotels, restaurants, billiard halls, a Chinese laundry, 26 saloons and a number of brothels. It was in 1935 that legendary skier/ski jumper Alf Engen stepped into what was then a dusty bowl and proclaimed that this would become one of the greatest ski areas in the world. Two years later, Alta opened with what was then the second operational chairlift in the world. The first lift was discovered and developed in Sun Valley. Alta would go on to become recognized as having some of the best powder skiing in the world.