By Jill Adler
Photo courtesy Park City Mountain
With one swift smack, two Park City resorts become one. The new Quicksilver Gondola is fully functional, linking Park City to the Canyons and signifying a proverbial -if not literal- end to Vail Resorts’ campaign in Utah. And by “campaign” we mean like in medieval days- a series of inter-related military battles that lasted years and was part of an over-arching strategic plan to conquer a country.
Park City has been conquered and the course of ski history has changed forever. December 18, 2015, ushered in the age of Vail Resorts, giant interconnected skiways, epic prices ($122 for a lift ticket, $10 slices of pizza) and another notch in the One Wasatch belt. Quicksilver not only creates the largest ski resort in North America - connecting the former Canyons Resort to Park City- but it’s an instrumental move in the plan to join all seven Wasatch ski areas using chairlifts and a network of trails. If One Wasatch happens it will create the North American equivalent of a European ski experience with 18,000+ acres of terrain, more than 100 lifts, accessed with one lift ticket.
For now, Quicksilver brings together “just” 7,300 skiable acres, which of course you would never do in a day but it sounds cool. We also hope that means even if skiers and riders flock to Park City in droves, the slopes will never feel crowded. Something tells me, however, it still won’t make a difference at the Red Pine Gondola over MLK (the only way to the base for beginners). “On this historic day for our company, the debut of the Quicksilver Gondola connecting the two mountains brings to life one of the most ambitious capital projects undertaken at any resort in industry history,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, at the christening. VR started the project as soon as the snow melted this year. The 8.5- minute ride over the northern ridge of Park City was part of a $50 million capital improvement design that included leveling the old Snow Hut restaurant and erecting Miners Camp- a modern, wall-to-wall windowed retreat with 500 indoor seats, daily specials, flatbread pizzas, Mediterranean dishes and local drafts on tap ($9!).
With 16-30 inches of snow forecast for this week, riders should be able to enjoy test-driving Quicksilver over the holidays. As for One Wasatch, it could take years for someone to figure out a way to connect Solitude and Alta without pissing off snowboarders and causing another lawsuit.