(Photo by Ryan Freitas)
It’s been bantered about since the demise of SkiLink and today, SkiUtah, shouldered by the managers of the seven Wasatch ski resorts, is poised to make the idea official. A press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. to announce a lift-served interconnect set to rival anything in the U.S. ski industry.
The big downfall to SkiLink– a concept to connect Canyons and Solitude resorts via a cablecar – was that it would have traversed public lands; a plan that instigated an immediate uproar from the politically active backcountry brigade. This time around it seems the plan to link resorts from Snowbird to Deer Valley will involve a series of chairlifts on private lands.
It’s not like the route doesn’t already exist. The SkiUtah Interconnect Tour has guided riders from Snowbird to Alta to Brighton to Solitude to Park City to Deer Valley for more than 20 years. But it usually involves a lot of pushing and hiking. Locals are speculating over the kind of lift alignment that might skirt public lands, offer skiers a ‘connected’ experience like they have in Europe (and without the effort of backcountry hiking/avalanche expertise), not encroach on backcountry enthusiasts’ scene, and what kind of lift ticket would be sold for such day.
The Utah ski industry has long rallied that to stay relevant and competitive, Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Canyons, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, must share skiable borders.
Colorado and California attract three times the riders we have on Utah’s slopes but Ski Utah has said that they could close that gap with an interconnected system.
Save Our Canyons Executive Director Carl Fisher told the Salt Lake Tribune last night that he doubted the links could be made without touching public lands. If they did, it would mean years of environmental impact studies by the U.S. Forest Service.
He also said that if it smells like resort expansion the public would react negatively. More details to come after the conference!