WNNEROSZHBHZDA5QJU6M5DIVZI A woman looks out from inside one of the Peak 2 Peak gondola cabins that span the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in British Columbia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010. Peak 2 Peak is North America's only tri-cable gondola, capable of spanning long distances and carrying up to 4,000 people an hour. The Utah Department of Transportation commissioned a detailed study of such a gondola for Little Cottonwood Canyon as a way to eliminate gridlock on the highway serving Alta and Snowbird.

Back in 1965, when Snowbird was still a dream coming together in Ted Johnson’s mind, an architect — designing the ski resort secretly taking shape in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains — pondered how to get thousands of skiers up Little Cottonwood Canyon, whose steep and narrow walls were lined with avalanche paths.

Jack Smith figured, presciently it turns out, the winding road would prove inadequate and proposed a tramway from the canyon’s mouth. But Johnson and the resort’s main funder, Dick Bass, were focused on getting a tram up Mount Baldy and the resort open by 1971. Smith’s idea for a six-mile tram connecting the canyon mouth with a 16-story lodge spanning Little Cottonwood never got further than drawings in his notebook, although some of the architect’s vision helped shape the resort.

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