Plans by Vail Resorts to create the biggest ski area in the US in Utah from next season have been approved by the local government Planning Commission in time for construction to begin.
The $50m plan involves creating as lift and piste connection between neighbouring Canyons and Park City Mountain Resorts (PCMR), the latter acquired by Vail last autumn in an acrimonious legal battle with the former owners.
The combined area would offer more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain, overtaking the current largest US ski area, Big Sky at Montana with 5,750 acres, and placing it second in North America behind Whistler Blackcomb in Canada which has more than 8,000 acres.
The crucial link between the two areas will be made possible by the Interconnect Gondola, an eight-passenger, high-speed two-way gondola from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons.
The gondola will also have an unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge to allow skiers and riders the opportunity to ski into Thaynes Canyons at PCMR via gated ski access or to the Iron Mountain area at Canyons through new trails that will be created from Pine Cone Ridge. This will mark the first gondola at Park City Mountain Resort since “The Gondola” was dismantled in 1997.
In addition two Park City lifts will be upgraded. The King Con Lift will be upgraded from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed detachable chairlift increasing capacity and the Motherlode Lift will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a four-person, high-speed detachable chairlift, also increasing lift capacity. Both upgrades are designed to reduce crowding and lift queues.
Money will also go on on-mountain dining and snowmaking improvement.
Vail Resorts have also implied that extra money needs to be spent because of under investment by the previous operators of PCMR, saying is a statement,
“The plan also includes almost $5 million of “catch up” maintenance and upgrades at Park City, given the lack of spending at the resort over the past few years. This “catch up” maintenance spending is in addition to the normal annual maintenance capital for the two resorts of $5 million, which will be undertaken this year as well.”