MY MOUNTAIN: ANDREW POLLARD TELLS TALES FROM ALTA, UTAH

PRO FREESKIER ANDREW POLLARD HAS BEEN HITTING THE SLOPES OF ALTA SINCE HE WAS TWO….

FACTION SKIS

How many years have you been skiing? 

I’ve been skiing since I was two years old. My parents were always busy managing a lodge in Alta, and so skiing was how they kept us occupied. They would send us out on the ski hill every day while they were working. It was lucky that I fell in love with it because that we really had no choice in the matter. I really had just one option, but luckily skiing is a great option and became my passion.  

Why base yourself in Alta? 

I choose to base myself in Alta 1. For the snow and 2. For the people. It’s obviously really good to be skiing powder snow, but it’s also really important to be skiing that good snow with good friends. I like skiing up at Alta because it really is the culmination of those two things.  

We generally tend to get a lot of good snow (except for this winter). But even when the snow is bad, there’s always good people to go skiing. I get inspired by all sorts of different people at Alta. From the 50-year-old snowblader to the 12-year-old ripper who’s just learning how to do a 360 – it’s such a power spot with a real range of people.  

Tell us about your first skiing experience here… 

Growing up here at Alta, we were all about the early TGR movies like Tangerine Dream etc. And those films had at least 3x prominent Alta segments with skiers like Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Dave McReynolds and Will Burks. We would always see them skiing around Alta and that would inspire you to following their footsteps. You could literally go watch them ski something and then get yourself fired up to go ski it later. I always loved riding the chairlift with those guys, that was always a cool experience as a kid.  

Tell us about your best day ever skiing Alta… 

Interlodge Days. I’ve had only a couple of these sacred days. If the road closes due to avalanche danger and you’re stuck up there, they’ll sometimes keep spinning the lifts just for those staying in Alta’s lodges. Those days are really special because you’re skiing the best pow ever and no-one can get up from the valley. This is why you try to get a lodge reservation up in Alta, then you don’t have to deal with the junk show of Utah traffic and then you’re right where you need to be if it does snow and the road closes.  

Favourite funny crash story from Alta? 

What’s funny about Alta is that you do crash or slam, someone else is always watching. It’s a very interactive ski resort so a lot of times, if you slam it tends to be under the chairlift and everyone’s gonna see it. Crashing is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just taking your turn.  

Have you ever been banned or chased by patrol? 

No – and I plan to keep it that way. Alta ski patrollers are pretty cool and support a lot of the freeride skiing in our community. They are pretty much our number 1 fans and they probably rip hard than you do. It’s important to say what’s up to ski patrol and say thanks because they’re working hard so that you can ski without a backpack (avalanche gear).  

*Editor’s note – this answer underlines the assertion that Andrew Pollard is the nicest skier on the planet.  

Which is your favourite Alta ski lift and why? 

Wildcat. This is a fixed grip, double chairlift and I believe it’s the only lift that’s been running at Alta since I was a little kid. It’s my favorite chairlift because for me, it’s super nostalgic and it feels like home when I sit on it.  

Tell us something we don’t know about Alta… 

Most people don’t know that it’s a mining town first and foremost. A lot of Alta’s terrain features are formed by the old mine. For example, all the little cool undulations in the slope that create the jumps we all love have been created by are old mine tailings piles.  That’s why Alta still skis so well on low snow years.  

What’s good to eat in Alta? 

The Goldminers Daughter – better known as the GMD – is your best slopeside grub spot. If you’re looking for a quick bite for lunch from pizza, to nachos and beer, the GMD is your go-to.  

Favourite après bar in Alta? 

The Peruvian Bar has music and is the spot for all of your grungy Cottonwood Canyon folk. This is pretty much the only bar on the hill. The delicacies include a bunch of different IPA’s, some crusty local jam band, some popcorn and perhaps some trailmix. It’s pretty simple.   

** If you’re looking to enjoy a luxury resort experience, then Alta is probably not for you. But if you want to ski and experience an authentic ski culture and fifty-year-old skiers that rip way harder than you do, then come on up.  

Best local superstition? 

Alta is almost definitely haunted because it’s riddled with dead miners. In terms of skiing superstition, DON’T talk about the storm until the storm happens. The way that storms work in Alta is that they either underperform or over perform, there’s no real in between. I’m very superstitious about people posting the forecast before it happens – that’s bad luck.  

Is there anywhere we should avoid? 

The aforementioned beta on getting a slopeside accommodation. If you’re trying to ski powder, stay up at one of the lodges rather than trying to deal with the road in the morning. That road can be a nightmare. On powder days it can take 3 hours to drive the 8 miles up the road – you don’t need that stress!  

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