The proposal is not new, and the debate is as hot as ever. Talisker Mountain Incorporated, the parent company of Canyons Resort in Park City, has proposed another plan for connecting Canyons Resort across the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, to Solitude Mountain Resort.
Canyons spokesman Ted Wilson stated that the proposed lift’s main purpose would be to ease the traffic congestion in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and allow skiers and boarders to reach Solitude more easily.
The concept has been used before, at European mega-resorts, and recently in California with the merger of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. However, skeptics, snow purists, and environmentalists are not eager to board this particular tram.
The response of the public to the proposal has been decidedly lukewarm. Although most die-hard skiers relish the idea of more access to more terrain, there are aspects of this proposal that don’t connect.
The idea that Salt Lake City skiers will make the longer drive up to the Canyons, then ride approximately four lifts to the connecting tram (or chair), and then ride that lift to Solitude is, frankly, extremely unlikely.
The lift rides, alone, will take an estimated 90 minutes to transport a skier who boards at Canyons, to Solitude. Even then, the skier will arrive at the bottom of Solitude – which means yet another ride before getting to take a run.
On the other hand, a skier who moves from Solitude to Canyons arrives at the top of the mountain; an infinitely more attractive proposition. Of course, the skier would still have to use up 90 minutes of their ski day, just to get back to Solitude.
A 90-minute lift ride is a hefty chunk of your slope time. Most skiers prefer to spend less time on sitting their tush, and more time perfecting their schuss.
At the same time, most of the traffic congestion in Big Cottonwood Canyon is not caused by folks from Park City driving to Solitude. Tourists who stay in Park City, tend to ski in Park City.
The inter-connection idea is even less likely to be a hit with Solitude regulars. Most of Solitude’s clientele have fallen in love with Solitude because of its… solitude. Lift lines are rare and crowded runs even more rare. Adding more skiers from the Canyons could change the essence of Solitude’s attraction, into something much less attractive.
So, it’s unlikely that the proposed connection would do much to either reduce the traffic problems in Big Cottonwood Canyon, or improve the skiing experience. For our mountains and Utah skiers, the benefits of connecting the two resorts seem pretty slushy.