Recently the Canyons and Solitude released a proposal regarding a gondola connecting the Canyons and Solitude resorts. For those not familiar with the Wasatch Range, there are several world-class resorts. However, they reside in three very separated geographic canyons. The range consists of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, and the Wasatch Back. All of which are isolated, unless you feel like traveling in uncontrolled backcountry conditions (which is very dangerous) or driving 30-45 minutes to reach another region. This new connect has been dubbed the ‘SkiLink’.
This move makes perfect sense for the Canyons and Solitude. The Canyons is an up and coming resort with millions of dollars in recent improvements. They are a legitimate contender to become one of the best resorts in the country. Amenities include an abundance of high-speed chairlifts, a first of its kind ‘orange bubble’ lift with heated seats, great terrain parks, and the most skiable acres of any Utah resort. The single major drawback to the Canyons is that its terrain variety is highly criticized as having inferior snow to LCC and BCC options, or its fellow Wasatch Back competitor Deer Valley (perennial #1 ranked resort in the nation). Alta and Snowbird already have a pass which connects both of the areas; at least for skiers. So why not connect a family oriented upscale resort like the Canyons with some classic Wasatch steeps, powder, and cliffs, of Big Cottonwood? Win-win right?
Here is a statement from The Canyons GM Mike Goar. “Connecting the resorts has been discussed for years, but Talisker Mountain Inc. (owner of Canyons) had the vision to link the slopes of the Wasatch Back and Front in the simplest of ways,” said Goar. “Every day during the ski season, out-of-town and local skiers roam between Canyons and the Big Cottonwood Canyon resorts to experience the diversity of terrain each has to offer. Studies have reported that SkiLink would decrease canyon traffic by providing an alternative to the 45-mile drive between the two canyons that can take 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic. Plus, staying on the slopes during your ski day is a whole lot more fun than driving.” Logistics state that the SkiLink would be able to transport 1000 people an hour, and the ride would take only 11 minutes.
Not so fast. Wasatch locals, many of which are backcountry enthusiasts are very opposed to the project. Some say that the plan would destroy the famed backcountry powder and terrain specific to the backcountry. These experienced and skilled skiers and riders are worried that their beloved powder will be polluted by resort expansion. A legitimate concern for those passionate about a sport that provides a reward for earning your turns. In order to address these concerns, the new connect will simply transport skier and riders from one resort to another, with no access to backcountry terrain.
“The SkiLink vision has been in the works for many years and we are glad to be at a point where we can share the details of the proposed project and express our excitement and enthusiasm for the tremendous experience and benefits it offers for Utah and snowsport enthusiasts from around the globe,” said Goar. “We appreciate the efforts, support and assistance of Rep. Bishop, Sen. Hatch, Sen. Lee and Rep. Chaffetz for introducing this legislation that enables the public process to continue. We look forward to the next phases of the process as we work to further support and add to the amazing recreation opportunities our state can offer.”
The SkiLink seems to be a great move that will bring jobs, money, and recreational access to the Canyons and Solitude. More significantly, it allows Utah skiing to compete with Colorado’s mega resorts like Aspen/Snowmass, Vail, etc. Ski Utah!
The official plan can be found here: http://unofficialnetworks.com/gondola-to-connect-canyons-and-solitude-mountain-resort-53850/ Quotes taken from the above source.