The Wasatch Anti-Deprivation Society

by John Worlock, Save Our Canyons Trustee
– Air Date April 7, 2013 on KRCL.org
0407 The Wasatch Anti-Deprivation Society-1 – Audio file

We’ll talk this week of the expansionist tendencies of the Wasatch Ski Areas. We are painfully aware of the fact that if they were not controlled and limited, they would expand until their boundaries touched, and there would be no more territory for those who prefer the freedom and the quiet of the uncommercialized back country.

We have begun to think of the ski resorts as what we will call the Wasatch Anti-Deprivation Society. Their arguments in favor of expansion of territory and facilities are more and more couched in the language of Anti-Deprivation: They can’t bear to deprive their clients of the top-notch mountain experience that their expensive lift tickets have paid for. We’ll give you some examples.

As if a beer and a burger at the top of the mountain was/were an important experience, Snowbird wants to build a huge restaurant complex at the top of Hidden Peak. The absence of that culinary experience is portrayed as a deprivation. We personally have always been content with a burger at the bottom, never thinking that we’d been denied something important. We’ve also never felt deprived of a heated mountaintop viewing platform. We’ve been content to take a few minutes to enjoy the view at the top of the lift. But the language of Snowbird’s argument for the Hidden Peak structure suggests that they must provide better facilities, or face the accusation of not caring for the needs of their clients.

Similarly, the neighboring Alta Resort is in campaign mode to upgrade its facilities, with bigger and faster lifts, justified by providing a better skiing experience. Remodeling and expansion of their on-mountain restaurants and a seasonal food and drink Yurt would, as they say, “enhance the mountain experience for our skiers.” Finally they would like to expand northward into Grizzly Gulch, with a lift that they claim will improve avalanche control, but would open new territory, visible from elsewhere in the resort. Just imagine the skier, looking across at that virgin territory, expressing his feeling of deprivation, by asking, “why can’t I ski over there?”

A ski resort will have reach that exceeds its grasp, and that’s why we have rules and laws to limit that grasp within the public domain.

 

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