The Snow Report
For two years, downhill skiers have been in a froth over a proposed gondola that would connect Utah's Canyons Resort to nearby Solitude Mountain, linking up 6,250 acres of terrain. Though the project has been slowed by concerns about environmental impacts, odds are that it will eventually get federal approval. Meanwhile, other Utah resort managers have been quietly discussing additional lifts and boundary openings that would bridge seven mountains throughout the Wasatch Range, creating a European-style network offering single-pass access to 17,000 acres. Here's a look at how and when this ambitious project could all come together.
1. SNOWBIRD <-> ALTA
Since 2001, the AltaBird ticket ($99) has allowed skiers to swipe passes at boundary turnstiles.
2. ALTA <-> SOLITUDE
PROPOSAL: A lift from Alta's base up to a cat-ski area known as Twin Lakes Pass, and another short lift from Twin Lakes Pass to the top of Solitude's Summit chairlift.
POLITICS: Alta's lift would be built in Grizzly Gulch, an area currently used for the resort's cat-skiing operation. Management needs to decide if closing that makes fiscal sense.
BONUS: Access to a 45-degree bowl full of open glades, cliffs, gullies, and ridgelines.
3. SOLITUDE <-> CANYONS
PROPOSAL: A gondola from Canyons to Solitude.
POLITICS: Backcountry skiers are upset that the gondola will cut through prime off-piste lines. Environmentalists are concerned that Canyons will develop land adjacent to the new lift, polluting the watershed. Since this is federal land, moving forward requires congressional approval; a bill made it through the House of Representatives and was expected to come up for a Senate vote in late 2012.