Nordic Valley Envisions Expanding with a 4.3 Mile Gondola

Nordic Valley lies northeast of Salt Lake City, near much larger Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Photo credit: Ski Utah

The new operator of Utah’s Nordic Valley, Mountain Capital Partners, has high hopes for what is currently the littlest ski resort in Utah.  MCP is the fast-growing Durango, Colorado-based outfit led by James Coleman that now operates six ski resorts in the four corners region.  Less than three years after acquiring Purgatory and Arizona Snowbowl, Mr. Coleman entered into an operating agreement with Nordic Valley’s owners in April.  Now we know one of the reasons why he went to Utah.

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The centerpiece of master plan released this month is a 4.3 mile gondola stretching from North Ogden to a summit elevation of 8,100′ before descending into Nordic Valley’s base area near Eden.  It would be the third longest gondola system in the world and some 6,000 feet longer than anything in the United States today.  “In addition to offering direct-to-resort access in a scenic 12-minute ride, the gondola will also help cut down on canyon traffic and vehicle emissions,” notes the recently-launched nordicvalleyproject.com website.  A similar gondola was once eyed to connect Ogden to Snowbasin and the proposal reminds me in some ways of the successful Silver Mountain Gondola project which transformed Kellogg, Idaho.

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Nordic Valley currently has three fixed grip chairlifts with a vertical rise of 1,110 feet.

Nordic Valley has attempted to expand upward and outward multiple times over its 50 year history but never before had access to the kind of capital needed to undertake what is now mapped.  The plan includes nine new chairlifts surrounding the new gondola, which would likely be built in two sections.  “We’re passionate about the ski industry, and about giving families and individuals the freedom and opportunity to experience the outdoors,” MCP notes.  “With an improved guest experience, the new Nordic Valley will be better positioned to grow the ski industry, compete with other area resorts, and bolster Ogden’s status as a first-rate recreation destination.”

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Last season’s Nordic Valley trail map.

Still, there are many possible roadblocks.  Much of the land needed is in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which Nordic Valley would need a new special use permit to operate in.  Some of the required lands are designated by the USFS as roadless. “It’s going to be a tough road, that’s really all I can say,” Ogden District Ranger Sean Harwood said in an interview with the local paper following the news.  “The most important thing is the public’s participation in this — the buy in from the different communities. Roadless areas, in a lot of peoples’ minds, is the next thing to wilderness.”  The western terminus of the gondola would sit on land currently owned by the City of North Ogden, which has not yet received a formal proposal.

If there’s anyone who could navigate his way to approval, it’s Mr. Coleman and his partners, who have spent more than $40 million on improvements including five new lifts in three years at resorts which once struggled to survive at all.  The Nordic Valley project website proclaims if the environmental review process is successful, the new gondola could spin as early as December 2020.

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33 thoughts on “Nordic Valley Envisions Expanding with a 4.3 Mile Gondola

  1. Ryan June 25, 2018 / 6:20 pm

    While a Gondola from Ogden over to Nordic Valley would no doubt help dramatically increase skier visits to NV & Powder Mountain, I for one hope it doesn’t happen. Only because I love the Ogden Valley area (Eden & Liberty) the way it is. My ancestors settled that area. And I love the small country feel. if anything i figured it would be Ogden to Snowbasin. But oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Collin June 25, 2018 / 6:51 pm

    Would this be a monocable or 3s? Must be a 3s at that length and with only a 12 minute ride time.

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    • Peter Landsman June 25, 2018 / 7:01 pm

      I think 12 minutes is North Ogden to the top of the expanded ski area, not the entire length of the gondola.

      Like

    • Thomas Jett June 25, 2018 / 7:11 pm

      And that first section is about 3,900m long. This means that it would take 13 minutes at the standard 5m/s, and 10 minutes 50 seconds at 6m/s.

      Like

  3. Thomas Jett June 25, 2018 / 7:02 pm

    Hey Peter, do you have a link to the full master plan?

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  4. dhowe June 25, 2018 / 7:06 pm

    I wonder how MCP keeps the bull wheels turning with so many smaller, and probably barely (or non) profitable, ski areas (Hesperus, pajarito, etc.). I’m sure Purgatory and Snow Bowl make some money but they would probably be better off investing in a real profit machine to keep their bank balances healthy. That’s what the other operators such as Power, Boyne, Vail do. Maybe Coleman’s house building business is funding the ski business. A merger with Snow Basin/Sun Valley or Telluride would give them bankable skier visits and some more geographic diversity away from the drought-prone southwest

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    • Misha Flynn June 25, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      I was thinking that they should invest in some ski areas in the Northwest like 49* North, Bluewood, and White Pass. If they wanted to be bold they could finish that expansion that was planned for Teton Pass, MT (rip).

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      • Peter Landsman June 25, 2018 / 9:20 pm

        Other potentially more sound places to invest this kind of money are Stagecoach, CO; Tamarack, ID; Saddleback, ME and Jay Peak, VT.

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      • Thomas Jett June 25, 2018 / 10:43 pm

        Are Tamarack and Stagecoach really all that sound? They’re kinda infamous to a layman like me as spectacular failures. Unless you’re being sarcastic.

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      • D howe June 25, 2018 / 11:51 pm

        I skied at tamarack two winters ago. Fun hill but they basically run it out of tents. Tattered insulation on the unfinished village center buildings flaps in the breeze. It’s basically a homeowners association amenity now. I have to wonder how much market potential existed with an established resort (brundage) 25 miles up the road

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        • Peter Landsman June 26, 2018 / 5:45 am

          I wasn’t being sarcastic. Boise is the single fastest growing metro area in the US at over 3 percent a year. The skiing is excellent at Tamarack and I still see a ton of potential there with all the natural snow they get and major summer traffic at nearby lakes. Tamarack simply came about at the wrong time trying to do too much too quickly.

          I am not as well versed in the Stagecoach story but it also strikes me as a viable location in terms of population, snow and terrain.

          What all of the resorts I listed have in common is they are either on private land or are already permitted to operate on public land. Nordic Valley is basically starting from scratch. If ever there was a time to try though, it’s the Trump era.

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      • Thomas Jett June 26, 2018 / 7:12 pm

        Of course there’s potential at places like Tamarack and Stagecoach for good skiing, but it doesn’t seem like there’s the market. While Boise may be one of the fastest growing urban areas ptoportionally, the low numbers mean that it’s only gaining around 10,000 people a year. That’s only around ~20% of the absolute growth of, say, Denver.

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    • Cameron Halmrast June 26, 2018 / 9:49 am

      The story behind Stagecoach is that it went under during the oil crises of the early 1970s. In bankruptcy, a local real estate agent bough the mountain and simply sat on it for 40 years and did nothing with it. It will be interesting to see what happens to it in the coming years. However, I think it will continue to sit as no recent news has come about the new operator. Two new Doppelmayr HSQs were planned to go in this summer at Stagecoach.

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      • Thomas Jett June 27, 2018 / 12:53 am

        Huh. I didn’t know that their collapse was tied to the oil crisis. In truth, I should have been a bit more fair to Stagecoach than I was to Tamarack. It’s in Steamboat, so it really could have been treated as an Aspen/Snowmass kind of thing. If it hadn’t failed when it did, they could have maybe even built Catamount for a third mountain.

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  5. Joe Blake June 25, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    Hopefully this never happens. Lewis Peak is quiet, a bit of a respite from the noise of the Wasatch Front. I spent two years living a half mile down the street from the proposed western terminus, and believe me, getting out of the noise of that seemingly sleepy suburb is necessary for sanity. Nordic Valley is a cool little joint, but it is too low in elevation for any future low-tide winter, and the North Ogden side is even lower than the Eden side.

    Like

  6. Peter K June 26, 2018 / 9:14 am

    Really bad idea. The base is already too low in elevation for current climate conditions, often below the snow line, even mid-winter. The proposed summit, at 8K is OK now, but will be marginal in 10 years. It would be waste of money and will be non-viable within a decade.

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  7. Jeremy June 26, 2018 / 9:21 pm

    Talk about keeping up with the Joneses.. if u look at some of the facts, the mountain is the smallest of the peaks in the area 8013FT , you have 2 already established and much larger parks down the road who mind you have higher elevation runs. the mountain is part of the Great north western trail system, and a island for animals to pass between the peaks,, the sky line would change and not for the better.
    More people with both sides already growing, in a low snow year water will become a issue when they need to make snow, with the ski resort expansion comes its rules, more bike traffic, no more horse or dirt bike, and hunting will probably become a odd thing. I could make a list as long as the trails on that mountain :P but reality is it needs to stay wild.

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    • Ryan June 26, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Amen.

      Like

  8. Larry June 27, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    This would be amazing. Hope it happens soon so we can ski this area and avoid traffic in the Canyon. Today very few are enjoying this mountain. Tomorrow hopefully more. With the growing community on the Ogden/North Ogden side, this is more than needed. Ski on one side and mountain bike on the other side, at the same time. Great opportunity for the kids of all ages….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Peter Landsman July 5, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    It sounds like the proposed gondola would be a 3S rather than monocable.

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    • Andy July 6, 2018 / 7:34 am

      A 3S in that location is the right way to go to minimize the number of towers, but it won’t be cheap. Whistler Blackcomb’s 3S in 2008 was $50 million. WB’s 3S is 2.7miles long. The proposed 3S from Ogden North to Nordic Valley is 4.3 miles long. . On the other hand it may be cheaper to build because there is no huge valley to span over. James Coleman and Mountain Capital Partners must be counting a huge number of tourists / non skiers year round because skiing will never pay for this thing alone. I wonder what he knows about WB’s revenue stream on Peak to Peak. Just saying.

      Like

  10. Stev July 11, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    Maybe this author could tell the audience specifically, with facts (positive, if any), how the Silver Mountain Gondola was “successful” and what did it “transform”? Ya, it might be have been built – was that the success? Did mother nature suddenly provide more snow to the mountain – was that the success? Those are general, loose, misleading words.

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    • Thomas Jett July 11, 2018 / 7:20 pm

      To be equally condescending, a business is more successful when more people pay for its services. I’d imaging that Peter is strongly hinting that more people are visiting Silver Star because of the gondola.

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    • Peter Landsman July 11, 2018 / 7:58 pm

      Thomas, Stev is referring to the Silver Mountain Gondola in Kellogg, Idaho, which I brought up in the above post. SilverStar’s new gondola opens on Saturday up in British Columbia.

      In the years since the Kellogg community voted by an 87 percent margin to build the record-setting gondola, one of the largest EPA Superfund cleanup sites in the country has been redeveloped into the Silver Mountain Village, a ski resort with five new lifts, a golf course and indoor waterpark. Silver Mountain Resort does 170,000 skier visits, employs 275 people and generates annual revenues of over $20 million. As for the snow issue, Silver was open November 19th through May 13th this year. The year before they closed May 27th. The gondola is now the symbol of Kellogg and I see it as a success even if the profit margin is thin. Silver Mountain was recently sold to a Seattle businessman so at least one other person agrees with me.

      https://www.epa.gov/superfund-redevelopment-initiative/superfund-sites-reuse-idaho#bunkerhill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thomas Jett July 12, 2018 / 12:48 am

        Well, I feel like an idiot. My apologies.

        Like

  11. D Malan December 3, 2018 / 9:26 pm

    Is there a pro gondola group being spearheaded? It seemed like at the meeting this evening at the North Ogden Senior Center the anti No-Gondola naysayers were volatile and seemed to silence a larger part of the attendees who I think may have been pro gondola.

    Like

    • Peter Landsman December 3, 2018 / 10:58 pm

      Sounds like the public meetings I’ve attended regarding Snow King’s proposed gondola.

      Like

  12. snowbasinlocal12894 December 4, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    I went to the meeting at snowcrest and they said that the gondola will have a angle station split into 2 sections like whistlers. Both sides can run independently or can run together. I dont think its gonna be a 3S and I suspect 10 passengers. Both drives at the summit and the returns with tensioning. Im not 100% sure though.

    Like

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