Resort connection, long imagined, finally a reality |

Resort connection, long imagined, finally a reality

Mother Nature turned on her charm Friday morning as Park City Mountain Resort and Vail Resorts executives christened the new Quicksilver Gondola. The connection effectively erases the historic boundary between two previously independent resorts and allows skiers and snowboarders to move back and forth across more than 7,000 acres of Wasatch wonderland.

The connection, part of Vail Resorts’ $50 million investment in PCMR over the last year, is a boon for both residents and visitors. Never has so much local terrain been so accessible and affordable.

The connection may also prove to have some beneficial side effects. Guests at the Canyons Village and Basin residents who want to ski their old stomping grounds can park at Canyons and ride the gondola over to the Motherlode and King Con lifts. That could reduce traffic and parking pressure on S.R. 224 and the Park City base area.

A few caveats.

There will likely be a learning curve as winter revelers wander far from their points of origin, but PCMR and others are attempting to anticipate that by establishing an express bus route between the two base areas. And there may be challenges ensuring new backcountry access points along Porcupine Ridge are carefully monitored to keep overly zealous skiers and snowboarders safe.

Inserting more human traffic into the glades and meadows that once separated the two areas, is also of concern. Taken piecemeal, the resort expansions on both sides of the Wasatch may seem innocuous, but collectively they represent a significant loss of untrammeled open space. It is, therefore, incumbent on us all guests and resort operators to tread respectfully into that terrain, once reserved for wildlife habitat, watershed and natural foliage.

Additionally, Park City and Summit County officials, vendors and resort workers have valid concerns about the consolidation of power from three resorts to two in the local market. Deer Valley Resort, PMR and Canyons, while cooperative, also stimulated business by maintaining a healthy sense of competition.

Still, the Quicksilver Gondola is an enormous shot in the arm for the Utah ski industry in general and Park City in particular. A lot of people — from the executive suite to the backhoe driver’s seat — worked hard to turn what was once a skier’s fantasy into reality. It’s time to celebrate.

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