In a press conference on March 19, Ski Utah President and CEO Nathan Rafferty predicted criticism of the latest plan to unite seven ski resorts. Criticism followed.
Wasatch Backcountry Alliance, Save Our Canyons and backcountry bloggers publically opposed the plans to create the largest continuous ski experience in North America. The dissent followed a press conference that revealed the concept, called ONE Wasatch, which boasts a record 18,000 acres and seven ski resorts all on one pass. Plans of this magnitude have never been completed in America, though they have long been discussed. Meanwhile, resorts joining to combine massive amounts of terrain is a functioning model in Europe.
ONE Wasatch aims to connect Snowbird, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Deer Valley, Park City, and Canyons, using chair lifts and a series of ski runs. Still refered to officially as a concept, ONE Wasatch is not set in stone. The tentative plans have been drawn out, but no dates have been set and the price of the lift ticket has not been announced.
The concept is presented as a winning idea for all involved. Utah sees a boost in tourism by offering skiers a unique opportunity to access more than 700 runs on 18,000 acres and skiers have easier access than ever before. Access to the slopes, bars, resturants, shops and ammenities that each resort offers.
But the dissent isn’t coming from the typical tourist. Backcountry skiers worry that their favored terrain will be compromised, some worry that the lift ticket price will be sky high and others, like Executive Director of Save Our Canyons Carl Fisher, fear resort expansion will never end. He expressed his thoughts in a post titled “One Wasatch: One horrible plan for the Wasatch Mountains.”
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.
As it stands now, snowboarders are banned from two of the seven resorts, Deer Valley and Alta. Deer Valley is on the outskirts of the plan and has stated that snowboarding will not be permitted in the foreseeable future. Alta is toward the middle, which would likely make or break the pass for snowboarders. Alta plans to “address” the snowboarding policy as ONE Wasatch progresses.