One Wasatch: One horrible plan for the Wasatch Mountains

We just got back from the One Wasatch press event. Almost weren’t allowed in, but cooler heads prevailed after agreeing not to speak unless spoken to. So, what is the hubbub? What is “One Wasatch?” You can go to their website, or read on… we’ll spare you the pitch.

One Wasatch is a concept driven by Ski Utah, supported by the seven central Wasatch Resorts. Their goal, to interconnect all seven resorts with three or so lifts, offering one lift pass to ski between all seven resorts. They have stated that they hope to align all these lifts on private land. It should be noted that the Wasatch, will not be One Wasatch for snowboarders as 2 of the 7 resorts will continue to prohibit snowboarding. At the press event, it was also stated that SkiLink has been taken off the table, but that the Canyons Resort feels it is still a viable connection between the resorts so it is not “off the table.”

Before we continue, here’s what you can do. First, please sign our petition to Stop Interconnect/One Wasatch by clicking here. Second, the Mountain Accord is a public process grappling with issues like this. Go there and make a public comment. The public comment period CLOSES March 28th!

One thing that Ski Utah and the resorts got right is that, there is only One Wasatch. Kudos for recognizing that. We only have one; One Watershed, One for year round recreation, One Viewshed, one Wasatch for a growing population of nearly 2 million people. And since we only have one Wasatch, we need to share it. One Wasatch fails to do that and represents the defacto expansion of 7 Wasatch ski areas. It should be noted that recent Ski Utah studies found that 5% of the Utah population ski.

We found it ironic that while describing the need for interconnect, Ski Utah President, Nathan Rafferty, talked about how he skied from Park City Mountain Resort’s Legacy Lodge at 9:30am last weekend, skied to Snowbird, and was back to Park City by lunch (1:30pm). What a wonderful experience! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sounds like the only thing standing in the way of an interconnect is a cost sharing structure amongst the resorts. They can sell the experience without building more lifts, lodges, condos, and restaurants.

We’d like to know what it is that the resorts [think they] need. One reason we had interest in participating in the Mountain Accord, was that we felt there was a way to get resorts the visitors they are interested in via transportation improvements. What was stated at today’s event, was that they want both — transit and lifts. This is too much!

The Wasatch Mountains are a finite resource — the ski areas proved our concerns of over 4 decades that their desire to infinitely expand has no end in sight. At what point is enough, enough! Last year was SkiLink, this year One Wasatch, what scheme is next? The resorts are asking for compromise, we feel that we compromised when these resorts were established. The Wasatch is compromised enough, the appropriate balance exists.

Last, on the issue of private land. It might be possible for them to build the lifts on private land, but the terrain they will be skiing on will surely encompass public lands. But because they didn’t identify alignments, there is no way of knowing exactly how much. You can view our prior post on interconnect and look at our interactive map to learn more about rumored links.

The Wasatch is too amazing of a place to be lost for a marketing ploy by the ski industry. We hope that you’ll get engaged, bring your friends and join Save Our Canyons to stop interconnect… for the umpteenth time! It was a bad idea 30 years ago, a bad idea 20 years ago, a bad idea 10… 5… 3… and 2 years ago.

We only have One Wasatch – let’s fight to protect it!

21 responses to “One Wasatch: One horrible plan for the Wasatch Mountains

  1. One wasatch requires at least 6 new lifts and at least 1000 new acres according to the faq. That’s equivalent to adding another Brighton.

  2. What are you guys okay with? All I hear is no, no, no… No does not shape the result. Why not prioritize the assets you want to protect and focus your efforts on shaping a solution around the most valuable areas.

    • We support implementing transportation solutions that will protect our watershed, environment, economy and way of life for all visitors for decades to come. Their is overwhelming support for a transportation solution from the public and SOC members. Moving visitors to the forest up and down the canyons, to and from dispersed recreation locations and resorts. Additionally, we have worked for over two years with all interested entities including the ski resorts to address the multitude of issues that face the Wasatch range and have come up with a comprehensive wilderness bill that will accomplish our mission to protect and preserve the Wasatch Mountains.

      • please keep your hands off Wasatch its a beautiful place lets leave it like that we don’t need to expand everywhere

  3. I appreciate your dislike for this plan, but most of what you said what enough is enough and it needs to stop. It sounds like an awesome idea to me, what biological/environmental aspect will this negatively affect?

    You mentioned water shed… I am not sure that is a valid argument. The snow is going to sit up there whether there is a ski resort or not, and it will come down.

    Pollution to the water… Possible. how much, who knows. There would probably be more detritus from skiers and snowboarders. That is bad. I can see issues with logging, but out forests throughout most of the united states are actually too thick and create huge fire hazards.

    I did not see one real valid argument for this to stop besides saying water shed. If you have any additional details on the matter, write about it.

  4. Sounds like if you have it all figured out you should have that up here. Not just a bunch of “we don’t want this or that” without any solution mentioned. But I definitely think that more traffic and cars is dumb idea. The canyons are crowded enough with cars. And there’s a reason its ever expanding, you said it yourself. . . . 2mil people and 5% skiing is the ESA center at each resort DAILY and GROWING. Duh. There’s a reason Ogden has the reputation it does. There once was a mayor that wanted nothing to change and every city around grew while theirs stood still. So start posting solutions for growth and revenue to keep our city the great city it is or. . . . . . Move to Ogden. . . . But either way. . . . None of this matters! If it’s lucrative it’ll go no matter what signatures you have or how many websites. Because 5% of 2mil is pretty big head start. Also, it’s great you think you guys ended or helped end Skilink ha ha ha ha

  5. Pingback: One Wasatch, Biggest Ski Resort in North America, Proposed in Utah - TIME·

  6. As a person who lives right smack at the bottom of the BCC/LCC canyons, with every molecule of my being, I do NOT want to see this happen. Every year we’ve had to hike higher and higher to access snow in the backcountry. Lately we’ve finished a few two hour hikes up BCC only to have our coveted line centerpunched by someone skiing off the top of a lift at Park City or Canyons. But that’s just one problem….

    The traffic up those canyons is something we witness as we go about our daily lives, which don’t always involve skiing. Sometimes we’re on our way out to shop for food or run errands and the line of traffic on Wasatch Blvd leading up to the canyons (especially LCC) is stretched out for a mile or more. Add to that the haze of bad air that hangs over the valley, (which is not really all cars, it’s the refineries, but that’s a whole other argument), and we have a problem. And adding three lifts is not going to solve it. If they are built, their access still involves driving up a canyon. I highly doubt that anyone is going to drive from Salt Lake all the way to Park City to access Alta, Brighton, Solitude or Snowbird. And vice versa. So it solves no transportation issue, and if it were to draw more skiers it could exacerbate the problem. I don’t actually think it is going to draw anyone.

    If anything, the term “barely profitable” should be used on this endeavor. Let’s imagine it happens. What will be the price of a day pass? Deer Valley currently charges $108 for a day pass with very few opportunities for discounts. There is no way that DV is going to want that One Pass to be less expensive – because duh! So it will have to be more than that. Now, for less than that a person can currently purchase an Alta/Snowbird day pass or a Brighton/Solitude pass. One rope drop and Deer Valley and Park City are already adjacent and navigable. I have to ask, are there that many people visiting (many who are from sea level and out of shape to boot) who can ski more than two resorts in one day? The type of person who comes to the Wasatch to ski is someone who wants to ski (because the social options are very limited). The resorts are so close together, that for a much cheaper pass and more ski hours (less lift riding) you can ski one resort every day for seven days and never ski the same place twice, all within about 30 miles. So I can’t understand, except for maybe once out of novelty, why anyone in their right mind would pay more for that than to just ski one place (or two).

    Last, but certainly not least, I would love to see an independent survey of visitors to ski resorts all over the country. Because currently the Colorado resorts are not connected, the California ones either. And Canada has at least Whistler/Blackcomb, which I heard didn’t really gain them much. But nobody is interconnected, and Europe is, but let’s just say the liability laws are a little different and it is huge. So why is it that people choose or don’t choose to ski in Utah? I doubt they are holding out for an interconnect. I would put money on the fact that, although not really true, there is an overall perception in the rest of the country that Utah is dry. Yup, most people think you can’t get a drink. Those who are in the know still get sick and tired of all the rules – no full strength tap beer, one ounce shots, Zion curtains, pubs vs. restaurants, worrying about whether or not a restaurant even has a license, etc. Navigating those rules is a chore that someone on vacation doesn’t want to handle. They are, after all, on vacation.

    So there you have it. And for those of us who actually drink the water in this watershed, we don’t want any more stuff up there at all. As was the original agreement. No more. The folks who live over in Park City/Summit county really don’t have anything to lose because they don’t drink that water. They want to build lifts over the top into our watershed.

  7. I would love to know more about the detailed issues at play here, and I am afraid that this posting does nothing to explain why I should be opposed. Yes there is one Wasatch, but what is problematic with the proposal? Yes public lands may well be skied on that are not at the moment, why is that a problem? The director can presently ski from Park City to Snowbird, but only by skinning up and hiking, why do we want to deny others this experience? What is the watershed issue? This document assumes we all know these issues–I don’t and I spend a lot of time in LCC! All I can gleen is that some bits of the back/side country will now become lift accessible. Again, there may well be very good objections, but this document only alludes to them, please state them so those of us concerned with the health of the Wasatch can make an informed decision!

    • Mr. Lewis,

      SOC and its members have been advocating for no further ski resort expansion since the early 70’s. We are of the mind that we have already given much to the ski resorts so that they can run their businesses and provide a world class service for those able and willing to pay for said service. Being able to ski between the 7 resorts and 3 canyons is an amazing opportunity that anyone with the skill and means to do so can already do through SkiUtah’s (human powered) “ski connect.” Providing this type of opportunity creates a unique user experience as well as a great marketing and business opportunity for the resorts all while preserving the lands and watershed, limiting the negative impacts to wildlife, view shed and visitors and local users that comes from more lift lines.

      Here is a link to an article written 9/13 about the past, present and future concepts and impacts of more resort expansion in the Wasatch Mountains.

      While the alignments and information presented there are not the exact alignments of One Wasatch, which we are still waiting to see, they represent years of conversations with resort managers about their desires for future development. Only time will tell what the One Wasatch project alignments are and until that time we are not able to raise comprehensive concerns as to the effects to the watershed, view shed, flora and fauna and dispersed recreation.

  8. Pingback: Forget the Alps: 100-Lift, 18,000-Acre Mega Ski Resort Planned in Utah | Stovech ID·

  9. Doesn’t building a lift between Park City and the Cottonwoods alleviate traffic on Rt. 190 & 210? Since only 5% of Utahn’s ski, this is primarily directed at tourists. For example, when a ski tourist comes to Utah and stays in Park City, they have a choice: shuttle or rent a car. If they choose shuttle, great, but what if they want to visit the Cottonwoods? Well, there is a shuttle for that too, but now that I am adding a second shuttle to my itinerary, isn’t it more cost effective for me to rent a car, drive to Park City, then drive to the Cottonwoods? In this scenario there is an economic reason to add more vehicular traffic in the canyons. But what if there is a lift from PC to the Cottonwoods, what then? Well, no need for the car because I can base out of PC and get to BCC & LCC with ease! Additionally, this concept of interconnected resorts spanning different peaks and valleys is commonplace in Europe, a place where I think transportation solutions are years ahead of ours in the US, so if this setup works in Europe, why not here?

  10. I grew up in Utah skiing the backcountry of the Wasatch; granted that was 20 years ago. Since then, I have lived all over the world including a recent stint in Europe. Europe has been able to harmonize backcountry skiing and interconnected resorts. I was able to ski from village to village, then skin up to an isolated hut. It worked and it was marvelous. To Europeans, living in and sharing the mountains was a way of life. It was both social and sport. Far greater than 5% participated. I used to be part of the exclusivity of no more, don’t share – I want it all for myself. Now, I see that sharing with the ever-growing population and providing more access for the every man is okay. I have skied Three Valleys, St. Arlberg, and the Super Dolomiti; there is nothing to compare the village to village interconnected resorts; it would bring in more tourist and dollars; but I am sure SOC is against that. I, however, have change and am 100% for the One Wasatch concept.

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