Park City Looks Ahead to Bounce-Back For The 2022 Ski Season

The good old days were supposed to return to the mountains of Park City last winter, but the Greek alphabet wouldn’t quite relent. First Delta and then Omicron came along, bringing staffing issues which were compounded by a publicly contentious labor negotiation between the Ski Patrol union and Park City Mountain (PCMR). Most of that likely could have been managed if not for abysmal snowfall—the 56-day stretch of high pressure in early 2022 was equal parts record-breaking and soul-crushing—leading to “character building” conditions, lift closures and frayed nerves throughout the community. We’ll euphemistically call the season “challenging” and look ahead to the upcoming 2022/2023 winter where everyone—resorts, locals and visitors alike—are hoping for a bounce back.

Let’s break tradition and start with the good news first. Vail Resorts, which owns PCMR, is raising starting pay for all hourly employees to $20-per-hour, a significant increase from the previous $15-per-hour wage. Of note, jobs that require specific certification such as ski patrol, will start at $21-per-hour. Setting aside the fact a $20-per-hour wage can hardly be considered livable in the face of skyrocketing resort town housing costs, the move is an admittedly sizable investment and an admirable attempt to address some of the previous season’s staffing shortages that rankled skiers and snowboarders of all stripes.

While the investment in employees will hopefully be noticeable in an improved on-mountain experience, a more visible planned investment in new chairlifts is on hold for now. PCMR planned to upgrade the Eagle and Silverlode lifts with high-speed six-and-eight person chairs respectively to help alleviate crowding at base area and mid-mountain choke points. The upgrades were planned as part of the 1998 development agreement with the town but were put on hold after the planning commission granted an appeal of the administrative conditional-use permit brought by four citizens: Clive Bush, Angela Moschetta, Deborah Rentfrow and Mark Stemler.

The appeal essentially says Planning Director Gretchen Milliken is not authorized to grant the permit to PCMR, and the majority of planning commissioners agreed the project did not meet the requirements for staff-level approval. At primary issue are lingering questions about whether the upgrades will cause the resort to exceed its comfortable carrying capacity and whether the proposed parking mitigation plan was sufficient.

“One thing is clear—we will not be able to move forwards with these two lift upgrades for the 22/23 winter season, and that should be a disappointing outcome to anyone who loves to ski and ride at Park City Mountain,” PCMR’s new Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dierdra Walsh said in a prepared statement. PCMR’s next steps are unclear, but in the meantime we’re all praying for snow and hoping $20-per-hour is enough to staff lifts this winter. Fingers crossed.

Park City Ski Season 2022
Photo by Adam Finkle

What’s the PCMR Parking Situation for 22/23? 

PCMR had planned to implement a paid-parking system for the Park City base area to alleviate parking demand that exceeded capacity as many as 68 times last winter. Part of PCMR’s obligation for the now-delayed lift upgrades would have used net revenue from parking to reinvest in transit and parking measures at the resort and in nearby neighborhoods. Those plans, along with an online reservation system face an uncertain immediate future. 

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Tony Gill
Tony Gill
Tony Gill is the outdoor and Park City editor for Salt Lake Magazine and previously toiled as editor-in-chief of Telemark Skier Magazine. Most of his time ignoring emails is spent aboard an under-geared single-speed on the trails above his home.

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