SALT LAKE COUNTY — Developers are planning to build a tram over the crest of the Wasatch Mountains — the first ski facility ever to cross the divide between the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back.
The companies involved expect to announce the plan at a news conference in the next two weeks. But KSL News has learned exclusive details about the planned lift, which is already causing controversy.
The proposed tram would connect The Canyons Ski Resort to Solitude Mountain Resort
Two resorts are working together on the project. They may scale it back to a chairlift, but the expected plan is a tram. The main argument in favor is that it would give skiers a new way to get into Big Cottonwood Canyon without driving up the highway.
The main player is the company that owns The Canyons Ski Resort near Park City. Somewhere up near the top of their lifts, they want to build a tram that would climb out of Summit County, cross the Wasatch Divide, and plunge down into Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The destination for skiers coming from Summit County? Solitude Mountain Resort, which is partnering with The Canyons resort. The two resorts would have a reciprocal ski pass agreement.
Representatives from The Canyons and Solitude argue there's a big public benefit: reduced congestion by giving skiers a new way to reach Solitude.
"We have 5,000 to 8,000 cars going to Big Cottonwood Canyon on the big weekends," said Ted Wilson, spokesman for the Canyons, "and we believe that we could save up to a million miles of car traffic on the Big Cottonwood side."
Tonight on KSL News at 6:30pm:
More information about the project, including a live discussion with Ted Wilson and Carl Fisher.
Proponents have been meeting quietly with groups representing skiers, environmentalists and the U.S. Forest Service.
But the group called Save Our Canyons is opposing the pan, arguing it will inevitably open up more terrain adjacent to Solitude for downhill skiers.
"The Wasatch is becoming a very, very crowded place, and there's a bunch of different uses that take place in this area," said Carl Fisher, executive director of Save Our Canyons.
More information about the project, including a live discussion with Ted Wilson and Carl Fisher, can be seen tonight on KSL News at 6:30.