Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A complicated first step...

Last evening, I attended a meeting about the newly proposed connection between Canyons Resort and Solitude, another Utah mountain resort located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the adjoining valley to Park City. Talisker, the recent new owner of Canyons announced the plan sometime this summer. Since Park City Mountain Resort seems to be against the idea of connecting with their neighbor to the West as it (wrongly) fears a hemorrhage of skiers and riders to their struggling competitor, Canyons decided to jump over to the next canyon by just proposing a “people mover” under the form of a 8-passenger gondola that would go from the middle of their resort (around where the Dreamscape lift is located) up to the ridge and down into Solitude's base area.
The ride would take about 11 minutes. There would be no unloading at the top; this would strictly be a “people-mover” to deflect criticism from environmental activist groups like “Save our Canyons.” At first, the lift would be used for winter operations only. A combined day lift ticket (Canyons-Solitude and perhaps Canyons-Solbright) would be offered and a surcharge would apply to season pass owners who wish to ski the “other side.” If successful, the plan would be implemented for the 2013-2014 ski season, if Canyons is able to jump through the environmental hoops and other hearings that promise to be be quite formidable.

For that, Ted Wilson who for decades has been a leading champion of environmental causes in the Wasatch, served twice as the Mayor of Salt Lake City, and more recently was Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's senior environmental advisor, has just been hired as the environmental point-man for Talisker so he can better deflect the environmentalist pressures against the idea.

To me, this is a step in the right direction, albeit a very complicated one, that may serve as a catalyst to get Park City Mountain Resort out of its apparent lethargy, but true inertia and obstructionism, on that entire issue. If and when that first “connection” is achieved, the dominoes will start falling and the Utah Interconnect may slowly become a reality. Wouldn't that be nice in the country that put a man on the moon, invented the GPS, the Internet and the iPhone, to see that we're finally able to catch up – 45 years later – with the French Alps!

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