Flagstaff Letter Writing Campaign – Part II

| May 4, 2009

(continued from previous Alta history posting)

In the current scheme of ski resorts, ASA has done a great job of improving their existing facilities instead of going on a manifest destiny land-grab like Snowbird, The Canyons and Vail. But times may be changing.  After serving as Alta Town Mayor for 34 years, Bill Levitt retired in 2004 and was replaced by Tom Pollard.  At the same time, rumor has it that ASA, a privately held company, is being passed on to a younger and more profit-minded generation.  In 1872, Alta had 8,000 seasonal residents (versus 370 full-time now). For better or worse, times change and they could change back.

During the initial planning for the first public Friends of Flagstaff meeting at REI, there was some concern that a 150 seat venue may be too big for the 50 or so people who were expected to attend.  However, on the night of the meeting, the venue was filled to standing-room only before the meeting even started and an equal number of people were turned away at the door.  All of the organizers were impressed (and grateful) for the strong turn out, as was Mayor Pollard, who was hearing many of these issues for the first time.

I know Mayor Pollard’s son is a backcountry skier, but don’t know if he is himself.  As such, he may have no idea of how important the Wasatch backcountry is to skiers, both local and worldwide.  PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT AND WRITE MAYOR POLLARD A LETTER VOICING YOUR OPIONION ABOUT THE PROPOSED FLAGSTAFF CHAIRLIFT.  It doesn’t have to be worthy of Hemingway, and at this stage, volume matters as much as content.  As of his last update, he had received 1 (one) letter in opposition to the proposed lift.  A postcard, email or detailed manuscript is fine – what matters is that our voices are heard, so it is not a case of “Gee, I had no idea people felt this way before we okay’d the lift – too late now.”  If you oppose the idea of this lift and are wondering what you can do about it, this is it!

Mayor Tom Pollard

Alta Mayor Tom Pollard’s contact info:

email: tjp@townofalta.com

Mayor Tom Pollard
Alta Town Offices
P.O. Box 8016
Alta, UT 84092


Some optional letter writing points from The Friends of Flagstaff.

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Category: Announcements

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (18)

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  1. Sean says:

    Thanks Andrew for making it easier to express our outrage. I’ve emailed the Alta mayor.

  2. wasatch surf says:

    letter in the mail

  3. Ken Mckean says:

    Andrew- Before I write the mayor could you clarify why they want to put a lift in. It is my understanding that the stated reason is that there is no more ammo available for the current cannon that is used for avalanche control and the Dept of Homeland Security is having a hard time approving an upgrade. So in order to faciltate avy control a lift is needed to get patrolers up on the ridge and that if as a byproduct it is a means to increase revenue for the ski company… such is life. I think it is important to stress the overall negative effects on the overall poulation of SLC if any futher development of LCC is allowed and play down the effect it will have on a select few (in relative terms)back country enthusiasts. Any suggestions you have in finding a less costly (both monetarily and eviromentally)means of avy control would be welcome as it would negate the veiled argument of installing a lift. Thanks Ken

  4. OMR says:

    Seems that ASA is posturing for more commercial space, using avalanche control as the red-herring. If not, why wouldn’t they use an alternatvie such as the AVA-Whoomper? (or whatever it’s called) Simialr to what Brighton installed ringing the face of Millicent. Yeah, they’re ugly, looking like oversized out-house vents, but far less intrusive than a ski lift.

    Thanks Andrew – for organizing this campaign. Letter is on the way.

  5. keither says:


  6. Andrew says:

    Thanks everyone!

  7. Mark D. says:

    Sent an e-mail to the Mayor today!

  8. Mark D. says:

    Here’s something else that I’ve been thinking about. The skiing quality at Alta isn’t solely based upon location and quantity. Mt. Baker has more quantity, but the quality isn’t there. We all know that the best snow is on the North facing slopes and the basic Alta resort faces North. South-facing slopes provide for poor snow quality and quantity for a majority of the season.

  9. CJ says:

    Huh, you say he received only one letter as of May 4? I know a bunch of people wrote emails over a week ago.

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi CJ – that’s what I had heard, which was probably forth or fifth hand by that point. Hopefully he has had a few more by now.

  11. DougZ says:

    Hmmmmm….one letter? I sent one to him (and Onno) over the summer when you wrote about this on the TTips site. Whatever, I’ll send two more!

  12. Marc says:


    There’s an additional argument against the lift from a different constituency that you need to target.

    I live in San Francisco and make one or two trips to Alta every year. In the process I drop a pretty nice chunk of change in LCC. I make the trip because of the easy BC access. I’m not interested in easy slackcountry access that I can find at tons of ski areas. I want easy, earn-your-turns BC access that gets me the goods a day or two after a storm (OK, it’ll be a bit skied, but good enough for me). The quick BC access up Flagstaff is a big reason I come back to LCC. Put a lift up Flagstaff and that reason is gone. I’d rather take my money to Jackson or even make the trip to Revelstoke. Of course there is still a lot of great access in LCC, but I’m only there for a week. I just want to walk across the road from the Peruvian and go.

    I can’t imagine I’m the only one who falls in this category. If Alta (resort) simply assumes that every tourist wants more lift-accessed terrain they’re wrong. I’ve written Alta (the town and resort) to tell them so. If these efforts are going to succeed I think we’ve got to go beyond the usual locals vs. resort arguments.


  13. Andrew says:

    That’s a good point Marc – thanks. Have you sent that to Mayor Tom Pollard, and if not, do you mind if I do? It is perfect as is.

  14. Marc says:

    A more cleaned up version is already in the envelope and ready to go.

    If anyone wants to use bits and pieces here:

    Dear Mayor Pollard

    I am writing to urge you to preserve backcountry ski access up the Flagstaff area of Alta.

    I live in San Francisco and make one or two week-long trips to Alta every year. In the process I spend quite a bit of money on lodging, food, equipment, instruction, lift-tickets, guide services, and transportation for me and my family in LCC. I make the trip because of the easy backcountry access Alta affords – a rare asset among North American resorts. I am not interested in “sidecountry” access from the resort that is common at many ski areas. I am looking for easy, earn-your-turns backcountry access that lets me ski powder a day or two after a storm. The quick backcountry access up Flagstaff is the reason I continue to come back to LCC. Building a lift up Flagstaff will turn the slopes around it into heavily trafficked sidecountry. I do not need to travel to Alta for that. Rather, I would take my money to Jackson, WY or even make the trip to Revelstoke, BC to find easily accessible backcountry at a resort my family and I can enjoy. Of course LCC would still have a lot of backcountry area. However, I am only visiting for a week and do not have the time that locals do to scout more remote slopes. In its present form, Flagstaff allows me to walk across the road from the Peruvian and go.

    As I am sure you are aware, backcountry skiing is growing rapidly as better equipment and avalanche education lead more skiers beyond the ropes. Alta has so far preserved a unique area that will bring all its businesses a growing number of tourist dollars in the future. I urge you to do everything possible to ensure Flagstaff remains true backcountry.

    Kind Regards

  15. Yail Bloor says:

    Blah blah blah stop ski are expansion within twenty minutes of the largest city in Utah. “I’ll go to Revelstoke or Jackson instead” blah, blah, blah… which are in the middle of nowhere and don’t contribute to the greater regional economy as does SLC ski areas. Backcountry skiers out of SLC deserve anything they desire because… well, you never really state that do you. Oh wait, you do, because you all earn your turns blah, blah, blah. Such an incredible suprise that backcountry skiers feel squeezed out in a micro mountain range on the immediate perimeter of a large city. Christ your bitching gets tired, Andrew.

  16. Andrew says:

    I hear ya Yail. If I had my way, I’d put condos up on every Blue Ribbon trout stream, skyscrapers around the LDS temple (for a better view), turn most of the southern desert into a dirt race track and connect every inch of the Wasatch with chairlifts. Preferably, I’d cash in on it and take my profits and go to a place like Alaska where I could buy up a bunch of property and put up NO TRESSPASSING signs. It’s the American way of life. Profit or die.

  17. dumfuque says:

    Right on Yail! Has anyone looked into reversing the wilderness designation around twin peaks and lone peak? Those are the closest parts of the range to the city, and yet they remain woefully under-developed!!! Bell’s canyon could be home to the sickest alpine slide in the world. And think of how glorified God would be if we could put an LDS Temple in Mill B south, with a spire surpassing the Sundial!!!

  18. simon says:

    Me too: ‘I just wanna walk across the road at the Peruvian lodge and go’.
    Thanks Marc for having caught the point that I feel.
    Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to mayor Tom Pollard three weeks ago:

    Dear Mayor,

    As a backcountry skier and a lover of the Wasatch mountains I’m very worried about the news of the planned chairlift to Flagstaff Ridge.
    Flagstaff is a premier ski terrain for backcountry, providing also access to the fields of Silver fork, Days fork and Cardiff: that’s the heart of the Wasatchs as we love them (I’m italian, live in Italy but the passion for your mountains and its snow is carrying me there every year, to the point that now I’m planning to buy a house in SLC).
    What will remain after? We’ll have either plenty of off-slope ski tracks in those valleys, or the prohibition to walk past the chairlift!
    Alta and Flagstaff ridge won’t be anymore the first aim in a clear sunny morning after a snowstorm, this fear is giving me a lot of sadness.
    I haven’t known Alta before the building of the ski resort, but what I can say is that now the situation looks well balanced: on the right side you have the comfort that the progress has brought us, on the left side the wilderness that every person sometimes looks for.
    If you can stop the project, please do.

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