Building a chairlift to prevent avalanches? That’s the idea being floated by a group called "Friends of Flagstaff Mountain" who would like to see a ski lift up Flagstaff Mountain in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon, north of Alta. Little Cottonwood Canyon and avalanches go hand-in-hand, and the ability to mitigate the danger by building a chairlift in the area may sound bizarre at first, but the reasoning appears sound. Last night both Alta General Manager Onno Wieringa and Liam Fitzgerald, who oversees avalanche control in the Cottonwood canyons for the Utah Department of Transportation, suggested a lift up Flagstaff Mountain would reduce the avalanche threat. A lift would allow patrollers to reach ridges where they could use hand charges, as UDOT continues in its efforts to reduce the use of artillery shells. And of course, skiers are one of the best avalanche mitigators, packing the snow pack with no work and all fun.
On the other side of the issue are backcountry skiers and boarders, who’ve enjoyed the area for years and argue that other avalanche control measures are available.
photo: backcountry skies atop Flagstaff Mountain