There are a lot of iconic lifts at ski areas that most people always remember. The single chair at Mad River Glen, Vermont, Chair 23 at Mammoth, and this one at Snowbasin, Utah among others. Affectionately known as ” The Beer Can”, the Mt.Allen Tram has roughly a 12 person limit depending on the size of the people. I returned to Snowbasin last week with my wife and some good friends, and three of us decided to take a ride in The Beer Can before lunch. There are a lot of folks who take the John Paul chair lift to the John Paul Lodge up top for a scenic ride and view. They have lunch at the John Paul Lodge and then if they are adventurous, they take the Mt. Allen Tram all the way to the top to take in a breathtaking view of Ogden, Utah down to the left and the massive Wasatch Mountains to the right. They then get back in the Beer Can and take their spectator descent back to the base lodge. But for those who choose to ski from the top like the three of us before lunch last week, it is always an interesting experience.
Listening to the Snowbasin guide at the top, she has a document that she reads outlining all the do’s and dont’s of the skiing experience from the top of the Mt. Allen Tram. Don’t ski beyond the ropes as there is no rescue available from the ski patrol. Ski under control and other warnings fitting for what was the top of the Men’s Downhill at the 2002 Olympics. You can see the start house on the right in this photo above. But the interesting descent is a knife edge trail that leads to the slope right below the start house. As the rest of our crew that day went in to have lunch, three of us decided to have a go of the skiing opportunity.
Judy Smith, Ralph Phillips and I ascended the stairs to the tram and joined a bunch of younger “dudes” in the tram and began our ascent. The interesting thing about skiing is that it puts together people of all ages. We could have been the parents of these kids or maybe even the grandparents because I am not sure of age these days. Hard to tell with all the helmets and facemasks but the “dude” this and ” dude” that kind of gave it away. They kind of looked at us like ” what are you old dudes doing with us?” And we looked at them kind of the same way. But again, skiing unites all ages and sometimes people surprise each other. I looked at Ralph and Judy and said, “let’s go before we have to fight these “dudes” for a piece of the narrow trail in front of us.” We were halfway down before they saw us,and it was probably a good thing. Sometimes experience wins the day and maybe they thought that the old dudes and dudette could handle themselves despite their initial reaction to us in the tram.
After a nice lunch together in the John Paul Lodge, our group enjoyed all that Snowbasin had to offer. The views are breathtaking, there is something for everyone including the endless runs off the Strawberry Gondola. At the end of the day, Mike and Judy Smith and I took a few flyers on the Wildflower Downhill which was part of the Women’s Downhill at the 2002 Olympics. Steep and a little ungroomed, it proved a little bit of a challenge but great fun.
I think a lot about that Beer Can though. You can see Austrian Leonhard Stock’s name on the outside of the tram as he was the gold medalist at the 2002 Olympics in the men’s downhill. I think about all those athletes that were transported to the start in the Beer Can and as I always look down from the start, I think about how they hit 60 MPH quickly and then hit a compression at the bottom of that face. Downhillers are fearless and skilled and the Mt. Allen Tram saw the world’s best that day. If you ever get the chance to ski Snowbasin, don’t miss the Mt. Allen tram and don’t miss eating lunch at the John Paul Lodge and take in some truly spectacular scenery. Thanks for reading and think snow. We need it here in the East.