Chris McCandless grew up in Little Cottonwood Canyon, dropping powder lines as a kid and hiking Mt. Superior in the summertime. It’s a place near and dear to his heart. Amidst a discussion on mountain transportation today, he has a vision - for a high speed gondola to whisk skiers up the canyon and help alleviate traffic on the dangerous canyon road below. Last Chair talks to Chris about his passion for Little Cottonwood and his concept for the future.
(As a kid) I lived in Sandy. Me and my friend, we'd go up there every weekend and build jumps on the rope tow. We'd wear out so many pairs of gloves and make my mom crazy. We would take shovels, build great jumps, try to impress people. I don't think we impressed anybody, but we thought we did. And that was the fun part of it with our amazing prowess and ski jumping. And it just led from there and never gave up. I'm still skiing as much as I possibly can. And it's been a great experience. The hope is that we can help perpetuate this experience into the future for all of the generations yet to come.
"People want something to happen. They want it to happen now. We've talked about this for decades. Let's get something done now to solve the transportation problem." Chris McCandless
A lot of projects came across our desk at Sandy City at the time. It was fulfilling. I was part of the solution and I enjoyed that. I don't regret a single day of service. And that helped me formulate where we are today with trying to figure out a solution for the transportation problems that plague the south end of the valley as it relates to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Two to five hour transit transit times to get into and out of the canyon doesn't work. We're ruining our asset.
The gondola has the capacity of about 4,000 people per hour, which is a peak hour need. If you're taking that number of people up the canyon, you eliminate 1,800 cars an hour out of that canyon. You have decreased the congestion. You've increased the enjoyment of not having to deal with the 'red snake,' as they call it, going either up or down the canyon. It's pretty brutal sometimes.
One of the parts that I really like is our trail systems going into the base station. We want to extend the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and bring trails in from Sandy and Cottonwood Heights and from our immediate neighbors and put it right through a project so people can ride their bicycle to the gondola station or just walk. It'll be an absolutely staggeringly beautiful walk just to get the gondola base station and then take that up the canyon. Quite a date night, I would say. But, you know, I'm a romantic at heart!
- What does he share in common with the lead character in Jon Kraukauer's Into the Wild?
- How did he get up Little Cottonwood as a kid?
- Why did he steal his brother's bindings?
- His favorite line off the tram on a powder morning and why you want to be on first tram.
- His favorite old guy rock band?
- Gondola Car: Doppelmayr 3S, 28-passengers
- Base Station: Le Caille (restaurant) with underground parking and bus interchange
- 28 minutes to Snowbird
- 35 minutes to Alta
- Flies over 64 active avalanche paths
- 57% of the nine miles of SR210 is threatened by avalanche paths
- Helps mitigate the up to 7,000 cars a day in Little Cottonwood Canyon
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