SkiLink Circle of Trust

| July 3, 2012

If you have read any of the on-line comments in newspapers or skiing forums regarding SkiLink, you undoubtedly are familiar with the prolific pro SkiStink persona known as “itsnowjoke.” Snowjoke moved to Utah about five years ago and has been on Sagebrush Rebellion bender as an effort to take away public lands and convert them into private property at his local ski resort, the Canyons. As part of this effort, he has created a “Circle of Trust” which apparently has a weak link, as I got an invite. The gist of the Circle is to create a secret cabal to send letters of support to newspapers and forums saying “I live in Florida and take a ski trip every year.  If Utah had SkiStink, I would go there.”  It is pretty cloak & dagger stuff and I’m not sure if Talisker signed off on it or not, although the offer has been extended.

If you’d like to be part of the “Circle of Skilink Trust” email him at  His name has been changed to protect his ignorance, and I’ll admit I may have changed the url of a few of the links in his letter below. There is also a supposed pro SkiStink editorial in the works in the upcoming Fall/Winter “Mountain Express” magazine.  Should be scintillating.

Hi Guys,

If you are receiving this letter, it’s because you fall into a special category of persons that I think may be able to assist me. No, I’m not dying yet, and this is not a solicitation for funds! By the time you’ve finished reading this, however, you may have ascertained that (itsnowjoke) has finally gone bat-shit crazy!

Do you remember in the movie “Meet The Parents”, how Robert DeNiro’s character had his “Circle Of Trust”? How you’re either in it or outside of it? Well, for my own admittedly shallow reason, I’m looking to establish such a Circle of Trust. If I chose for you to be a recipient of this letter, it’s because you have qualities which I think will help achieve something that I believe in. You either have middle of the road to far-right conservative qualities, or are a skier, or both. This letter is going out to close friends, family and distant acquaintances alike. The common denominator is that I trust you.

Here’s the deal:

As many of you know, I’m a life-long outdoors type. Since an early age I’ve been camping, hiking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking, etc. And as many of you know, I absolutely love the mountains, ocean, the earth, and appreciate any opportunity to recreate on / in / and above the aforementioned venues. Some of you know that I built a trail in my town of Park City, Utah, and then had the honor of having it named after me. “(itsnowjoke)” translates to “of the woods” in French. Go figure!

I live next to the largest ski resort in Utah, Canyons resort, It is located is the Wasatch Mountains. There are seven major ski resorts in the Wasatch Mountains. They include Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, Park City, and Deer Valley as well as Canyons. All of these resorts are in extremely close proximity to each other; some actually share boundaries while others are separated by a mile or two of terrain, but 35-40 miles of driving.

Up until a few years ago, Canyons was a decrepit, underfunded (bankrupt), mismanaged resort. A Toronto based company -Talisker- bought the resort and last fall, Talisker Corp. proposed the concept of “Skilink”. Skilink is an aerial gondola which will connect Canyons resort to Solute resort, now a 70-80 mile round trip over a high pass and through a narrow canyon. Ultimately –according to Ski Utah and Talisker- Skilink will in part be responsible for linking all seven Wasatch resorts.

Most visitors who come to Utah to ski stay in Park City. They ski the three resorts on our side of the mountain, then drive to the other resorts and back to sample them. By building Skilink tens of thousands of round-trip car trips from Park City to the other resorts will be saved per year. That’s great! However, my pure motivation for seeing Skilink built is that it will result in one of the best skiing experiences on the planet! Pretty deep, huh?

Here are some Skilink specifics, go to for more info.  Skilink will cost approximately 17 million dollars. It will be approximately 3 miles long, and requires a corridor 30 feet wide. It begins in canyons resort, climbs over a 10,000 foot ridge, and descends to the Solitude Ski Resort. The ride will take 11 minutes. Once at Solitude, one will have access to an additional 3000 acres of chairlifts and skiing. Solitude and Brighton resorts are already connected.

“All of this is great (itsnowjoke)”, you say, “but what on earth does this have to do with me”? Well, in order to build Skilink, Talisker needs to buy or lease 30 acres of Forest Service land to come up with the corridor. Forest service leases to ski areas are extremely common. Most ski areas in the US are on or adjacent to forest service land. Utah, being a conservative state, is mostly supporting Skilink. When Talisker went to the local Forest Service office to obtain a lease permit for the land in question, they were basically told, I believe, “no way,-it will take an act of congress”. So Talisker gained the support of the major Utah Senators, and proposed a bill to congress for the sale of the land to Talisker. Many local businesses, mayors, former mayors / and all of the ski areas support this bill and this move.

However, -this is where Team Circle of Trust comes in- there is an extremely well organized, and vocal “environmental” group which vehemently opposes Skilink. To be honest, I never knew that such fringe groups existed. As a group and as individuals they have seemingly no logical or reasoning abilities, nor the ability to compromise. They are passionate and shrill. They would have you believe that I love to club baby seals for fun, and that I would like to tear down the forest and sell it for firewood. Also, evidently I don’t ski and I work for Talisker. How do I know this?

In a nut shell: This small group writes letters to the editor of the local paper, and they also write on a major international online skier forum, where one can post online comments. A wise man –you know who you are!- once told me that perception is reality. If you read the letters to the editor and the comments by these whack-jobs on forums, etc., a casual observer might think that Skilink has no support whatsoever.  Also, the enviro group would have the population believe that many, many horrible things will happen to the environment if the link is built. They present as facts things that simply aren’t true.  When folks go to the online forum to correct these omissions or falsifications, they are surrounded by a pack of verbal wolves and attacked.

The opposition to Skilink is so vociferous, folks are just not commenting, fearing being bullied by these extremists.  But I’m not.

I have wrestled with thoughts of just not commenting, and simply ignoring these cretins. Their comments are so egregious, it often seems like the right thing to do. But I strongly believe that building skilink is the right thing to do as well, so I continue to engage, and attempt to set facts straight.  Social media got Obama elected, it is powerful.

So here’s how I need your help:  As I said, I’d like to form an Inner Circle of Trust. I mean it jokingly, of course, but you’re either in it or outside of it, right? What I would like to do is devise an email list of folks who would like to help me put these mamby-pambly extremist “environmentalists” in their place.

When these guys make comments, I would like your help in shutting them down. For instance, if there is a letter to the editor of a specific paper, I would like to alert you by email so that you can add to the comments the positive aspects of Skilink. At a minimum, you could say something to the effect that you live in Florida or whatever and take an annual ski trip.  You would definitely come to Utah if Skilink was built, etc. Of course, we will never lie. Facts KILL these whacko’s! If you choose to be on my list, I will provide a fact sheet listing pro’s, cons and arguments.

Currently, ther is a major discussion going on at Teton Gravity is the major web-site for skiers. It is viewed all over the world by hundreds of thousands of skiers young and old. I hate to have impressionable young minds infused with the drivel of these ulta-liberal extremists!  For a sample of what you would be up against, go to: / forums / ski-snowboard / the wasatch’s worst enemy = Talisker.

Whether it be letters to the editor or Teton Gravity, one needs to go through an instant, simple, quick, free, anonymous application process in order to comment.

Lastly, as you are aware, I’ve never done anything like this before. I may sound slightly obsessive / crazy to engage with these lunatics. I can assure you that I’m maintaining a sane balance in life, spending time with my family, walking the dog, hiking, biking, tennis, working, etc. If you do slightly fear for my sanity, please, by all means, let my dog know. A man must stand for something, or else he stands for nothing, right?

Thanks for your time. Let me know if you want to be on the list. Otherwise, no hard feelings, thanks for your consideration.



Help support and snuggle up with the ultra-liberal extremists in a Columbia Snuggly Bunny Down Bunting from Click on the photo below…


Category: Commentary

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. chester says:

    what can i do to kill ski link? any websites etc? how about a do this top 5 list. something actionable.

  2. Nate says:

    just for anyone wondering, a quick google search of his email address easily turns up this douchebag’s name.

  3. Brian says:

    At least they have the same fear going on that we do. I wasn’t sure our point of view was being heard. I second coming up with ideas of things we can do, you have a “well organized opposition” that is willing to go to great lengths to stop the ski link. May I suggest a monkey wrench gang type response to taking public lands for private use?! These guys need to know their once a year trip from Florida to Utah is at the expense of locals, and this is one of the foremost breeding grounds for ski mountaineers, not to mention the PC side will be all rain by 2050 before their expenses are recouped anyways

  4. John says:

    This reads like Fox News! It’s full of opinions and distortions disguised as facts. It attempts to sway the uninformed to act against their, and the public’s, own best interests just like most conservative propaganda. It even crosses the line of assertive to aggressive speech with insults. Don’t fall for this or any similar propaganda. Do your own research and form your own opinions. Here’s some of my opinions that are not disguised as facts. ( I’ve been here 35 years ). Five years in P.C. barely qualifies this individual as a local. Listen to those with many times more experience. Ski bums have always respected seniority and experience. It’s what keeps us alive in the backcountry. That, and knowledge, patience, and common sense. There are better ways to link the canyons, in my opinion. Development runs rampant and amok in P.C. So far, much of its spreading has spared the Cottonwood Canyon of this clustering. The Cottonwoods are small in acreage, and couldn’t handle this impact without suffering greatly and changing their identity for the sake of the almighty dollar in some corporation’s pocket.

  5. Elhorrendo says:

    Man, that is really sad. “Hey, friends who don’t care about skilink but might be politically conservative, can you pretend like you are really in favor of skilink because I seem to be the only person who is.” I bet more than one of his real life friends cringed at that.
    I can’t tell if he honestly perceives all opposed to skilink to be a bunch of “fringe” liberal tree-huggers, or if he just uses that term because it will rile up his audience; nor can I decide which possibility is more sad. Is he crazy, or is he just a dishonest jerk?

  6. Dan Gates says:

    Dave Dubois (itsnowjoke) can be contacted via the board of trustees page. I wonder if having a polite phone, email, or letter correspondence with one of us “whack jobs” would be beneficial. I mean why is it so hard for Dave and his buddies to understand why back room politics and private interest being favored over public good would upset a bunch of people? It’s not our fault talisker bought a ski resort on the wrong side of the mountain.

    Ps- for anyone that thinks outing him is bad form it’s all public information and it’s time for people to start standing behind what they say on this issue. If there had been transparency from the start this issue wouldn’t be as big as it is.

  7. pcarborist says:

    I always wonder what that guy in Florida thinks about congress circumventing NEPA and taking away HIS (public)land? I’m still waiting for the Skilink advocates to play their “we need it for the olympics” card like Earl Holding (CEO of Sinclair Oil/owner of Snow Basin) did back in 2002.

  8. FREELANDER says:


  9. Andrew says:

    Hi Chester – I think the #1 thing that concerned citizens can do is to continue to keep SkiStink in the public eye through public meetings, letters to the newspaper, forums, social media or however else. Talisker has hired well paid lobbyists to push this in Washington, DC, as well as local lobbyist like Ted Wilson. These guys, and many more, are doing everything they can behind the scenes to make SkiLink happen and make sure that their spin on the story (save the environment, help the children of Utah, cure cancer, boost the economy, etc..) is what the decision-makers hear. By forcing it as a congressional bill, Talisker has turned a local issue into a political football. In an election year like this, constantly bringing it up makes it more of a hot potato than a football.

  10. elhorrendo says:

    Andrew’s last email highlights the major comedy in this – Talisker’s lobbying efforts are what is behind this. Comments on internet message boards have no effect. I think a lot of us take to the message boards because it is an easy outlet to vent our frustration when we feel like our congressmen have no interest in hearing us. But remember, the only chance to change the course on this boondoggle is to let your representatives know what you think.
    Let Dave Quixote gather his knights and continue his internet crusade.

  11. Bill says:

    You are such an jack @ss Andrew.

    I can see why you are such a jerk. I hope you can’t sleep at night.

  12. GrizzlyAdam says:

    ROFL. The email is awesome.

  13. GrizzlyAdam says:

    This is the letter I wrote to the SL Trib in December:( Now that I look back on it, I think snowjoker has us pinned! I was pretty vociferous and egregious.

  14. Aaron says:

    Kudos to the member of the “Circle of Trust” who forwarded this wonderful email to Andrew.

  15. Andrew says:

    Hi Bill – my lack of sleep has more to do with my two little kids than any feelings of remorse for speaking out against a horrible idea. But thanks for caring.

    ps – Are you from Florida? Would your come to Utah if SkiStink were built?

  16. Reckie4life says:

    Thanks Andrew for keeping us engaged and up to date on the monsters who want to sell our public land. I do believe that a “skier” from Florida would come here to ski if there was more time to be spent on a lift. But who do our senators work for, us who live in UT of the tourist. I know that if more people came to ski it would be better for tourism and more money in our pockets. Its sad to think that our hired/elected officials seem to not hear what their employers have to say. I have personally sent letters to all the congressman a few months ago and got a response from Bishop. I believe the best thing we can do is to form an organization and take it upon our individual selves to write. I believe it easier to dismiss an organized group of people with a common voice verus a huge amount of individuals saying the same thing. WRITE YOUR REPRESENTIVES OFTEN.

  17. Brad says:

    One of the best ways we can make change happen and force corporations to do the right thing is with the power of our wallet. I guess most people on this site don’t go to resorts, however, we can still boycott anything Canyons has to do with. Encourage others to vote with their wallet!

  18. he lost me at “ultra-liberal extremists.” so uncreative!

    also, brevity is not his friend, apparently.

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