Mountain Design

Chasing down one of the designers of the Peak 2 Peak gondola linkage for Whistler, we stumbled upon Ecosign. They have certainly carved a niche in ski resort planning, or what they call "mountain design." Obviously a misnomer, mountain design sounds inverse to what actually takes place in their design process. Through a rigorous analysis of sun angles, prevailing winds, and topography they arrive at some kind of idealized clearings for the pleasure of downhill maneuvering, the mountain proper remains untouched.

These guys are the double-diamond of the industry. They have designed "350 resort development projects in over 32 countries spanning 6 continents as well as the design of 4 Winter Olympic Games and several World Alpine Championships venues." They have been mogul-making since 1975.

The possibilities for bifurcating runs and slopes is a little underexplored in their 30+ year history. What is needed in an exercise like this? And what should it address? The networks of routes mark the speed of mountains, and are then ranked according to difficulty. In addition, routes expand and contract according to popularity or some pachinko logic of converging skiers. There is room for rethinking the simplified independence of a skiers energy and a chairlift, or the organicist criss-crossing routes relationship to difficulty ratings. Like a net cast over a peak, the infrastructures supporting this sport have a Benton MacKaye logic of geotechnics using ridge lines, transects, and cross grain topos.

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