A day use ski area in the Cascade Mountains with lifts dating back to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s is one step closer to becoming a regional destination with overnight accommodations. Over the summer, Mission Ridge submitted applications to both the Forest Service and Chelan County seeking to cut new runs, build more lifts, add a second base area and debut cross country ski trails.
Seattleite Larry Scrinavich purchased Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort from Seattle-based Harbor Properties in 2003 and went to work, installing the resort’s first high-speed detachable quad. The Liberator Express, together with big snowmaking investments, took Mission Ridge to the next level. The ski area enjoyed its third best season to date last year, tallying 114,000 skier days.
Following a dozen years of quiet growth, Mr. Scrivanich and his team are ready to elevate Mission Ridge further. “We’re really excited about the Mission Ridge expansion plan,” General Manager Josh Jorgensen says in a launch video. “The ski industry is certainly changing. With Vail Resorts and Alterra purchasing Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain Resort in the last six months, our effort to stay modern, current and relevant in terms of infrastructure is more important than ever.”
Improvements include additional parking, a new lodge and base area, expanded beginner terrain, a Windy Ridge lift and upgrades of current lifts. Mr. Scrivanich bought nearly 800 acres of private land near the resort in 2014, part of which will be used for new skiing and real estate development. In order for the plan to work, 155 acres of public land will need to be added to Mission Ridge’s special use permit. This parcel would include Chair 6, a connector fixed-grip double and a new road to link the two base areas. Some 500 acres of private land could be developed over 20-plus years with up to 870 residential and commercial units. A new Chair 7 would be another fixed-grip double and Chair 8 a beginner fixed quad. More specifics are at MissionRidge.com/expansion.
“Currently, Mission Ridge has limitations that have impeded the ability to provide a full range of services and has put sustainability of the ski area at risk,” the plan notes. Commercial and residential development could raise capital needed to improve the ski experience. “We’ve got chairlifts out there that are five decades old,” Jorgensen told the Wenatchee paper in 2016. “Every season, we keep them running and, for right now, that works. But we can’t do that forever. The Village is an opportunity to transform the resort.” As a Washington native, I always found it remarkable that despite incredible skiing, no destination resort ever developed in the Evergreen State. The aforementioned Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass – plus Mt. Baker, Snoqualmie and White Pass and – are today surrounded by large swaths of public lands that will never see major villages. But with hundreds of acres of private land so close to its already fantastic terrain, Mission Ridge could finally be the one to bring a ski resort experience to the Cascades.