This is old news for some, but it was new to me. Ostensibly due to the need to find a long-term avalanche control solution, Alta Ski Lifts is proposing building a ski lift up to Flagstaff Mountain, the mountain I climb whenever I access Days Fork from the Little Cottonwood side, which is often.
The mountain is currently avalanche controlled by firing a Howitzer at the ridge top. But since they're running out of ammunition for the Howitzer and there's no place to get more, they need an alternative. The lift would allow patrol access to the ridge top in order to drop hand charges; skier compaction would also supposedly reduce the likelihood of slides coming down onto the road and into the already avalanche-proof buildings in the town of Alta.
Along with the loss of backcountry terrain, the proposed lift has the added problem of delivering a whole lot of people who won't have the skills to safely travel in the backcountry right to the top of an avalanche-prone bowl. Sure, they can put signs up warning about safe backcountry travel, but that doesn't seem to make a difference to the idiots at Brighton. And just because they won't have snowboards strapped to their feet doesn't mean Alta doesn't still have idiots.
The thing that really stymies me about all of this, though, is that if the intention here really is avalanche control, there's no way that erecting a ski lift is the most cost-effective approach. To say nothing of the environmental impact. Obviously, expanding terrain has something to do with it. But even then, it makes little sense.
Sure, you could access the goods on the North side of the ridge, but you still have to hike back up. And with the exception of the actual day the storm hits, the skiing on the South face of Flagstaff generally sucks. It gets baked and nasty, and it's survival turns much of the time. I guess you can groom it, but why?
Anyway, enough of my rant. I'm not sure there's a whole lot that can be done, but REI Salt Lake is hosting a community meeting to which they've invited representatives from Alta Ski Lifts and UDOT on March 31 from 6:30 to 8:30. Please visit friendsofflagstaff.com for more information. Oh, and please come. Unless you support the lift, then please stay home and eat pork rinds.
Even if the odds are long, I think spending two hours at the meeting is a bet worth placing. Especially since pretty much any alternative is probably more practical.