Hello - I live in Park City, Utah where we are currently at risk of losing much of our public land in the Wasatch Mountains to development. The battle cry of the developers is that we have to “be world-class, just like Europe” so I figured this would be a good forum to ask some Euro questions in.
The central Wasatch mountains where the seven major resorts are all located (Deer Valley, Park City, Canyons, Brighton, Solitude, Alta & Snowbird)is such a tiny range that all of it would fit inside of Zermatt, Chamonix or Whistler Blackcomb. We also have 2 million people living right at the base of the range, so it is heavily used.
1) Does Europe allow uphill traffic (skinning) at or through the ski resorts?
Utah does not, so when a new lift is put in, it not only knocks out more terrain, but it also eliminates access.
2) No trespassing. I’ve heard that although you can own private property in European mountains, you can not prohibit people from crossing over it (skiing, hiking, etc.). ???
3) Cutting runs
From my European skiing experience, it seems like a majority of the skiing is above tree-line, so cutting runs through the trees is not as common as it is in the U.S., where it standard. True? False?
4) Endless, uncontested resort development in Europe.
Proponents of U.S. resort development often say things like “If this was Europe, there would be trams and lifts connecting everything and no one has a problem with it.” Is that really the case? I’ve heard recent rumblings about developing resorts in the Tirol. Are Europeans totally on board with resort expansion?
5) Public transportation
From my European skiing experience, it seems like once your plane lands, you can get to/from any of the major resorts by public transportation and don’t need a car. (By contrast, renting a car is almost mandatory in Utah, which creates all sorts of expense, traffic and parking problems.)
My understanding of heliskiing in places like Chamonix and Zermatt is that they can only take off, land and operate in a few designated spots. True?
My understanding of snowmobiles in Europe is that they are heavily regulated and there is very little, if any, sport riding where you can take a snowmobile out and blast around in the mountains.
8) Annual skier visits at Chamonix?
I know it is a large area with many different mountains, but does anyone know how many skiers/riders Chamonix gets in a year?
9) Declining skier days
It is very difficult to get accurate numbers on the number of US skier days (because they are reported by the resorts, who like to play with their statistics), but places like Whistler Blackcomb clearly show a decline in skier visits over the last 5 years. Any idea if skier days are down in European resorts? If so, why? Ticket prices?
10) Losing snow
One of the reasons US resorts in general, and Utah resorts in particular, are so hell-bent on expanding is that they claim they are trying to capture the world-wide market on skiing, which is supposedly shifting from Europe due to general warming conditions.
11) Real Estate vs. Skiing
In Utah, skiing has become a marketing tool for real estate development and the resorts are more about filling beds than filling chairlifts. Is this similar in Europe?
12) Company towns
Places like Vail, Whistler Blackcomb and now Park City are all becoming company towns where a major corporation owns all the land not only in the resorts, but the town as well, which means all of the shops, theaters, bars, etc.. have the resort as a landlord. Is this common in Europe, or does the local bakery/bar own their building, land and business?
Thanks for any insights!