Amy Roberts: The same, but different
Since moving to Park City a number of years ago, I have never really had a burning desire to ski outside of Utah. To me, it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to drop a bunch of cash to ski in a different mountain town in another state. When you live within five minutes of three world-class resorts and an hour’s drive from several more, a change in location isn’t really worth the change in my pocket.
Maybe that’s small-minded of me, but here I have a pass, a place to sleep and a pretty good feel for each resort, so for the most part, I’m happy right where I am.
But sometimes, the snow trumps all reason.
As was the case last weekend when I found myself heading to Jackson Hole with a friend. Considering they’re pushing close to 300 inches of snow on the season, while we’ve just barely made our way into triple digits, I figured it would be worth the investment.
While it’s not the type of trip I take often, I do enjoy comparing Park City to other mountain towns. It’s fun to see the clever ways others have managed to pay homage to their town’s past while still preparing for the future.
Jackson’s hardscrabble, Western roots mirror our own, as does its quaint and charming main square. Similar to our Main Street, it’s lined with overpriced restaurants, souvenir shops and art galleries. Of course, the skiing is excellent as well. And both towns cater to tourists, trying to make it easy to get around offering a citywide bus system.
But there are definitely differences — which, at least this season, seem to have paid off in terms of snowfall. For example, at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, parking is a minimum of $10, unless you carpool with three or more people. This encourages people to use the bus, or at least, not to have everyone drive separately. It takes cars off the roads, reducing CO2 emissions.
On every lift, there are signs touting the resort’s commitment to supporting renewable energy. The resort brags it has purchased a combination of wind, biomass, small hydro and geothermal energy credits, which offsets 100 percent of its lift energy usage.
For the last 10 years, the resort has used biodiesel for its vehicles, including trucks, groomers and other heavy equipment. Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources. It’s better for the environment because it is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions compared to petroleum diesel.
You can’t make a turn without skiing by an on-mountain recycling container. In fact, the resort boasts it recycles about 64 tons of waste each year.
Jackson Hole has gone as far as to make sure its printers use only non-chlorine bleached paper with post-consumer content to print trail maps and brochures. And, to reduce toxins and keep the water supply pure, the resort uses natural, plant-based cleaners. Further, its on-mountain restaurants are members of One Percent for the Planet and ensure the majority of their ingredients come from a 250-mile radius, their menus change seasonally to reduce carbon footprint and they source as much as possible from local farmer’s markets and ranches.
And that’s just what I had time to read while on the lift.
I love skiing the Park City resorts and they will always be home to me. And I know all three of them have made significant changes over the years to offset their carbon footprints and preserve the snowfall.
But it never hurts to look at your competition and see what it’s doing right. The programs Jackson Hole has implemented might seem like a lot of little things, but they all add up. And this year, they’ve added up to about 185 more inches of snow.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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