Regarding congestion up Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC), proponents for the gondola talk as if Snowbird and Alta are virtually limitless in size, as if LCC is our own Chamonix. It’s not. Combined, Alta and Snowbird cover a mere 5100 acres. Chamonix valley is more than ten times larger, covering over 60,000 acres under the shadow of Mont Blanc at 15,780′.
Our resorts are quaint in comparison, the Solvang version of winter recreation. Alta’s traditional appeal to many of us has been its quaintness as a small mountain town near Salt Lake City. Snowbird is comparatively small potatoes too.
Who are we trying to fool here? Buyers of Ikon and Epic discount ski passes maybe? Utah taxpayers definitely. Who’s trying to pull the wool over our eyes? If you follow the money, a handful of wealthy people who want to cash in.
Let’s get real for a moment. The canyon is already crammed full on many winter weekends and it’s not just the road and the parking lots. Those occasional epic powder weekends? If you’re lucky enough to get up the canyon to a parking spot and onto the slopes, you’re greeted with long lift lines and quickly skied-out powder.
But perhaps I’m a simpleton and we can shove countless more bodies up there? Maybe we just need the hubris and Yankee innovation to double or triple current visitors? Maybe we need to treat people even more like sardines? Imagine crowds crammed into the gondola cars like see-through sardine tins hanging from a cable. Once at the resorts, people could sit on each others’ laps on the lifts to double up! How about lunch crowds in the resort cafeterias? Already packed, so get rid of the tables and make everyone stand like a rush hour subway in Manhattan.
Grant Sperry, Salt Lake City