An Advanced Guide to Alf’s High Rustler at Alta

In the world of skiing, maybe no run is as iconic as Alf’s High Rustler at Alta.

It’s arguably Alta’s marquee run. For advanced-expert skiers visiting Alta, it’s a rite of passage like few other notable runs in the world.

If you’re looking to cross off the bucket list item, here is everything you need to know about the legendary High Rustler at Alta!

What is Alf’s High Rustler?

alf's high rustler
Alf’s High Rustler looming over Alta’s frontside

Alf’s High Rustler (the locals call it High Boy) is probably the quintessential Alta run. For a few reasons:

  1. It’s steep
  2. It’s long
  3. And it’s really hard to get to.

At a mountain where most of the best runs are hidden, High Rustler stares every visitor directly in the face. Whether you’re parking in the Wildcat lot, grabbing lift tickets from the office, loading the popular Collins chair lift, or grabbing an apres drink at Goldminer’s Daughter ski lodge, The High Rustler looms directly above, at all time. Like a beacon, it tempts advanced and expert skiers with its perfect pitch and (as is usually the case at Alta) wonderful snow.

The image looks like it belongs in a skiing magazine, and that’s because it does!

The History of Alf’s High Rustler

alfs high rustler history
Figure 8s on Alf’s High Rustler – one of the most iconic photos in skiing history. [Photo Credit: Alan Engen Ski History Museum]
Alf’s High Rustler is named after Alta legend, Alf Engen. Alf is considered THE pioneer of powder skiing, so it’s only fitting that he’d be memorialized on a run with some of the best powder skiing on a mountain known for powder skiing!

Legend has it, Alf himself used to straight line this run’s insane steeps in nothing more than the leather boots and antiquated wooden skis of the mid-1900s.

A Skier’s Guide to High Boy

Technically, High Boy is split into two runs, Alf’s High Rustler and Lower Rustler. Or at least, that’s how it appears on the trail map.

In reality, the run is one continuous, open shot of steeps that stretches the entire frontside of Alta.

How steep is Alf’s High Rustler?

Alf’s High Rustler has an insane pitch that’s consistently measured between 31-39 degrees steep. That makes it one of the steepest runs at Alta, which naturally makes it one of the steepest in-bounds runs in the world.

(Measurements according to my favorite source of detailed statistics about pitch and steepness,

Alta’s official materials claim the run is 45 degrees steep, which may be possible at certain points. That said, steepness measurements are notoriously tricky, and depend mostly on how you measure them, so we’re probably splitting hairs.

The short answer? Alf’s is insanely steep!

How long is Alf’s High Rustler?

Alf’s is 0.23 miles long. But more importantly, it has a staggering vertical drop of 892 feet.

This is the second longest continuous vertical of any advanced run at Alta. (Topped only by Eddie’s High Nowhere – 1,132 ft.)

Those numbers only tell half the story, though.

Combine that length and vertical with Alf’s insane steepness, and this is without question one of the longest, steepest runs you will ever find.

Stats source: Jollyturns

How difficult is Alf’s High Rustler?

Pretty difficult!

Alta’s Trail Map has High Rustler labeled as a black diamond. But remember, Alta doesn’t differentiate between single black and double black diamonds.

At any other mountain, this run would definitely be rated a double black. And it’s a legitimate double black, at that!

To put it simply, you need to be a confident advanced skier to tackle this one.

Like anything, the exact difficulty will vary widely with the conditions. If there’s been a drought (unlikely at Alta, but it does happen…) then High Rustler can turn into nearly 1,000 feet of steep, icy bumps. But when the conditions are perfect, oh man… what an experience!

Interestingly, the most difficult part about this run is a very sketchy entrance, including actually finding the thing! Speaking of which…

How to get to Alta’s High Rustler

alfs high ruslter map

Ready to tackle this iconic run?

Start traversing!

For a run that’s so visible from all over the mountain, High Rustler’s entrance is one of the mountain’s most hidden. That’s because the High Boy sits at the very end of the road of Alta’s legendary High Traverse.

Trust me… finding the right entrance is much more difficult than it looks from the trail map. Because of this, most locals suggest you try to find a guide. (Either via a friendly local, Alta’s ski school, or an organized mountain tour.)

But if you do insist on searching for yourself, here are some directions. Just know that at this point, you should feel confident skiing the entire mountain, since an early drop in or single wrong turn can quickly have you committed to run you may not have been planning. You’ve been warned!

Detailed Directions

Take the High Traverse for 5+ minutes until you reach its end. Speed is your friend!

Once you near Greeley Bowl, stay high and head skiers left.

There’s then two entrances to Alf’s:

  1. Option one is the steep slope directly in front of you. You’ll probably see folks side stepping into this, since the entrance is usually sketchy and rocky.
  2. Option two is to continue a very short traverse to the right, about 15 feet, until you see tracks curving back towards the base of the mountain, between some tight trees.

In either case, once you see things open up to the base, you’re on the legendary High Rustler!