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Proposal to Link Utah's Ski Resorts

Discussion in 'Resorts, Conditions & Travel' started by ski diva, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. ski diva

    ski diva Administrator Staff Member

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    Anyone heard about this?

    There's a proposal gaining support in Utah to link its ski resorts:

    Here's an article from Ski Area Management:


     
  2. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    "Ski circus" says it all. Anything that Jake Garn, the Salt Lake Chamber, and Gary Herbert agree on makes me nervous. For these guys, "natural resource" means something to be mined for cash. It's more than likely that their "local approval process" will consist of back room closed door glad-handing and butt-slapping.

    One of the plans is to swap school trust lands for Forest Service lands in the Cottonwoods, which means as much pavement and commercial development as the land will hold, subsidized by my tax dollars and at no cost to the landowners who will reap the benefits and pay not a penny. Oh, and years of lawsuits over land and money. Fun fun fun!
     
  3. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    Oh, and 'school trust lands' are a strange device where small areas of land scattered throughout public lands are reserved for the state; the state is paid some amount for each parcel while it's held by the feds, and the money is supposed to go into a trust to pay for public schools. But there's a practice of trading parcels around to create areas the state can develop commercially, often because someone (and by "someone" I mean a state legislator and/or his campaign contributors) has land nearby and can profit from new state roads and utilities. I don't know all the particulars, just that the State Trust Lands agency is the only government agency I've heard of whose employees make a commission, and a sizable one at that, when their project makes money.
     
  4. vickie

    vickie Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Interesting idea.

    In my brief research into Utah lift tickets, I found little in the way of multi-mountain tickets. I found a couple of passes that cover all 14 mountains, starting at $2500 IIRC. So when I first read SkiDiva's post, I thought, "wow, they may connect the mountains physically before they're even able to come up with a decent program for lift tickets!" Hopefully, if something in Utah becomes my home mountain, I'll find that there really is a pass with some convenience and flexibility to it.

    If they do connect some of the resorts, it'll be interesting to see if/how that affects skier behavior. Do skiers ski at one or two resorts now due to convenience, or due to comfort? If due to comfort, the interconnection may not make as much difference.
     
  5. altagirl

    altagirl Moderator & Angel Diva Staff Member

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    I'm not sure how you define comfort vs. convenience.

    We had dual Alta/Snowbird passes from the first year they offered them - I've only gotten an Alta pass in the last 3 or 4 years, but I just don't ski enough anymore to make it worthwhile. My husband still gets the dual pass - Snowbird is nice if he wants to get a lot of vert in on a weekday - tram laps are good for that, and there is a wide variety of challenging terrain. But he prefers Alta, so the large majority of his ski time is there - doesn't help that I only have an Alta pass so if we ski together it's at Alta.

    I think the interconnection there makes a lot of sense, even if a lot of people don't use it. For passholders at one or the other resort, you can just pay a daily upgrade fee to cross over - it's a cool option to have and helps open up the options to ski with visitors or friends who have passes to the other resort, etc.

    I don't know what they're thinking for lift ticket price structure for it, but I can't see anyone, for instance driving to Park City when Big Cottonwood is closer and then crossing over to BCC. And I also can't see anyone getting all the way up the Canyons and over to Big Cottonwood on a powder day before everything would be tracked out over there. So as far as I can tell it would be more of a novelty, fun way to see more areas for tourists. I think the drama from people at Solitude freaked out that it's going to get tracked out faster is overblown. I could be wrong, but I just think it's going to take too long to get there for that to make sense for many people. True powderhounds are going to drive to the resort they want to get the goods at so they can get to it first.

    We have done interconnect type things in Europe - particularly on days when the skiing was mediocre, but the fun of going from resort to resort (and sometimes crossing borders between countries) is a fun way to explore and we didn't even pay attention to the price. I can see it being a draw for tourists even if the logical/economical thing to do would be one resort per day.

    The interruption of backcountry skiing, etc. and potential development of more houses, etc. through the area is a much bigger concern IMHO.

    Heh, and if School Trust Lands people get commissions off of things, I guess the deals I've worked on aren't big enough for them to care, because in my experience, it's been faster to get things developed on Forest Service or BLM land than it is on School Trust land.
     
  6. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    I agree that the impact of development is more of a concern than anyone's powder. OK, that's heretical, but powder lovers will get up as early as us necessary to beat the masses. And that it would be more of an 'ain't that cool' sort of thing as well a great marketing tool.

    All I know about Trust Lands Administration (finally remembered what they're called) is that a friend who worked there got bonuses when the rest of us state employees hadn't even had cost of living increases for a few years, so it made an impression on me.
     
  7. vickie

    vickie Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Comfort with a certain mountain, maybe due to familiarity ... versus Convenience of the interconnect making it easier to travel between mountains.

    Do people stay at a certain resort for much or all of their trip because they like the mountain, or because it's inconvenient to travel around to other mountains? I'm sure there's a fair amount of each. Just wondering how an interconnect might shift that.
     
  8. skibum4ever

    skibum4ever Angel Diva

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    One of the reasons we chose Summit County over SLC was that SLC lacked a season pass that allowed you to ski multiple areas.
     
  9. Christy

    Christy Angel Diva

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  10. gardenmary

    gardenmary Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    From what I can gather, you'd have to go to the top of the Canyons Resort to then go to Solitude. Unless you could get some kind of fabulous pass deal, I'm not sure I see the point - Canyons is big, and their ski pass is $90 or so. Solitude is not so big; maybe if they had a $20 one-day upgrade that might make sense, but I guess I am puzzled as to why if you're at a 4000-acre-plus resort, you'd need to go to a smaller one. Now, if you were STAYING at one place or the other and just wanted a ticket to ride across and then ski the other resort, that would be different. I don't think the presence of the interconnect would change it so much as what kind of ticket structure and pricing might go along with it. IOW - if you have to buy a full day's pass at BOTH resorts to use the interconnect, then forget it.

    This has been discussed at length on Epic - the general opinion I took from it was that the numbers quoted for potential economic growth were pie-in-the-sky. There were also plenty of opinions offered about Canyons being a more touristy/glitzy resort and Solitude being a more locals resort, as well as the quality of each resort (with plenty of snarkiness!).

    I've never been to any of the BCC/LCC resorts, but the people I know that ski there do so because they don't like the Park City resorts, for a variety of reasons. And I would tend to think that the general demographic of a Park City skier is one for whom the BCC/LCC resorts don't hold much sway. As far as convenience goes, those are the two areas in Utah where you have multiple resorts in close proximity. Snowbasin and Powder Mtn are at opposite ends of the Ogden Valley, but you need a car or shuttle service for each one - no on-mtn lodging at Snowbasin (yet) and PowMow has limited offerings.

    For the record - I am adamantly opposed to anything that threatens the watershed. I live in SoCal and am painfully aware of how precious a resource this is. There's a lot of dollar signs floating around in this thing right now, and in this economy that can lead people to make very rash decisions. JMHO.
     
  11. abc

    abc Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Park City will be the net gainer.

    It has better eatery, more variety of lodging (pricer too, but for tourist that doesn't matter as much). The skiing isn't as diverse at Park City. So adding the Cottonwood mountains to the mix will definitely make PC more attractive as a bed base.

    Currently, a lot of skiers stay at PC and drive over on either a powder day, or just for a change. The former (powder day craze) won't change. Though the latter of just skiing another mountain, will happen more often if it's easier. Cottonwood resorts get a small increase in ticket sale as a result.

    People who wants to ski exclusively the Cottonwood resorts will still stay at Sandy area. They too, can lift/ski over to PC on the day they want to, instead of driving over. Won't change how often they do it, I don't think.

    It would also allow the PC/SLC resorts to claim they're the largest lift-linked area, blah, blah, blah. Environmental impact be aside.
     
  12. altagirl

    altagirl Moderator & Angel Diva Staff Member

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    Well and that's something that depends on what they are really proposing. If they just put in a lift - how much is that really affecting watershed? Not much.

    If they use that as an excuse to build a ton of gigantic homes and condos and whatnot up there? That's a whole different thing. And the problems to backcountry users is a big part of it too.
     
  13. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    I finally remembered that the guy who benefits the most is Earl Holding, who I just found out is the 20th largest landholder in the US. He netted some seriously valuable land during the 2002 Olympics and ended up owning Snowbasin by trading remote overgrazed lands for some of the most valuable property in Utah. He also owns Sun Valley, if that means anything to anyone (it doesn't to me).

    The legislation the article talks about is the same kind of deal Holding made in 2001--trading cheap land for property he can make tons of money from, and he needs it inserted into a federal statute in order to get around environmental impact assessments and Forest Service, environmental, and local opposition.

    Bottom line is that yes, the only reason Holding wants the swap and the gondola is so he can sell property to developers, either on his existing land or on the new swath he stands to win. There's no other reason he'd even think of it.
     
  14. gardenmary

    gardenmary Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Holding bought Snowbasin in 1984 - the 2001 land swap was to get the land at the base area (and a lot beyond that too). I wasn't aware that he had anything to do with the interconnect; he had a very debilitating stroke some years ago and is not in good health.
     
  15. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    Hmm, I'll double check myself tomorrow, but I had the impression he was in on this. I've been wrong before, so I hope I didn't speak too rashly.
     
  16. altagirl

    altagirl Moderator & Angel Diva Staff Member

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    I'm pretty sure Earl Holding has nothing to do with the Canyons. His name was mentioned in the NY Times article, but only in reference to his land swaps at Snowbasin which they were referring to as similar.
     
  17. litterbug

    litterbug Angel Diva

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    I was wrong--this land swap deal involves Talisker Corp, a development company. :rolleyes: My apologies to Earl Holding's operations, I guess.
     
  18. gardenmary

    gardenmary Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Agreed. I think the fear is, will the lift serve as an entre, a slippery slope to rampant development?

    I think I've mentioned it before, but there's a very interesting-sounding book about the Snowbasin land swap called "Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America" by Stephen Trimble. I keep meaning to pick it up at the Barnes & Noble that carries it locally.