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Alta Is For Skiers
Alta Is For Skiers

Johnny B Podcast
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Why Ski Alta?
If you've gotten in line early on a powder day at Alta over the last decade, chances are you've seen Rob runnin' things in the front row. He's the crazy bastard with the Spademan bindings. And if you see Rob in the lift line, you know its probably going to be an epic day, or even days. Johnny B sits down with "Spademan" Rob Rowley to talk shop during one of the sickest storm cycles of the 07-08 season. Note: Johnny also interviewed Rob a couple of years ago for You should listen to that classic as well.

Johnny B: Hello, powder skiers. My name is Johnny B, welcome to Today I'll be chatting with long time Alta skier, Rob Rowley. Hey, Rob! Good to see you. Welcome back.

Rob: Good to be back! How are you doing?

Johnny B: You're back, we've got 100 inch base, what do you know.

Rob: That was a good week last week, 81 inches in 10 days. We're all happy.

Johnny B: Not too bad. Not too bad, huh? So when did you end up in Alta? What year was that?

Rob: Well my first time I skied here was in '77. I came on a school trip for a few days. And then I came periodically when I was in a college, after being a ski bum in Steamboat. I'd come for a couple of weeks and I'd stay at the Super8. And I liked the skiing, but I didn't like the accommodations that much. Then in 1988 as a college graduation present to myself I spent 14 nights at the Peruvian Lodge and I've been hooked on Alta ever since.

Johnny B: So right around the early/late 80's.

Rob: Yeah. I've been here every year since '88.

Johnny B: Started bringing the storms back then and he's been coming ever since. All right, Rob, talk about that first interlodge experience.

Rob: Yeah. Interlodge is a typical part of Alta's storm cycles. Like this last week we interlodged six out of eight days.

Johnny B: It usually means we're getting the goods, right?

Rob: Getting the goods! Now this year we had two interlodges where we were let out of interlodge and the road into Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed. And we call that "Country Club Skiing" and that's every skiers dream. Being at Alta on a powder day with the road closed and just you up there.

Johnny B: Yes. I got another question to ask you. A lot of people want to know this, I want to know it, everybody wants to know it. What's your obsession with getting first chair?

Rob: Well you know, the whole first chair thing is a disease that just kind of grows on you. First I never really cared about first chair. Then I kind of cared about being upfront. Then all of a sudden, once you get addicted to that first chair, you get a real taste of it, then it's almost like you can't stand to have second. And it gets to be an obsession compulsion kind of thing where I wake up and from the minute I wake up on a powder day, I'm obsessed with getting there.

Johnny B: You just got to have it.

Rob: You got to have it. I mean you just get used to it. And now, it doesn't for me make really any sense because I'm not dropping the big game. So I could probably not be first chair but I don't know. You get out there, the camaraderie of the line...

Johnny B: It's like a party.

Rob: A lot also it's just something you get used to. I've been doing this since 1992.

Johnny B: So when you come out for your vacation, you want to get as many first chairs as possible and that's it.

Rob: It's like a job. People go to work. My job is first chair. I look at it as if I didn't get first chair, I didn't do my job.

Johnny B: There you have it folks, Rob Rowley, Mr. First Chair at Alta. Rob, tell me this, what is your favorite run at Alta, of all time!

Rob: My all time favorite run is kind of an odd one. I'm a quality person. So my all time favorite run at Alta, it doesn't have that much vert, takes a lot of side stepping to get to. But in my 20 years, when they opened this run up and you side stepped up that hill and you get to the top. You go a little to the left, there's a shoot down in there that if you ask me, it's where the snow, always at Alta, always is the best. It may only be 20 or 25 turns, but those are 25 turns where I've been drowned in deep so many times I can't even count.

Johnny B: Is it a left side step or a right side step?

Rob: Hey, man! It's up on the shoulder somewhere.

Johnny B:Ha! All right, there you have it. Somewhere up on the shoulder. Rob, I ask everybody this question, I'm going to ask you. What does Alta mean to you?

Rob: Well Alta is like my universe. Though I don't live here and I've never worked here and I've never lived here and I don't really spend, compared to lots of people, that much time here. Everything kind of about how I've set up my life now for the last 15 years is all about having those three months, January to April 1st, really free. So that any time it snows and I'm in Virginia and I'm on my computer, I can get out here and get the goods.

Johnny B: You're on it! You're on it! Rob, before you go any further, I got to stop you. I've asked a lot of people that question and that's one of the greatest answers. "It's my universe!" You heard it right here at This is Johnny B with the legendary Rob Rowley. Rob, thanks for coming in, good to see you.

Rob: Good to see you, Johnny B! Good skiing with you.

Johnny B: Let's go!

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