New Plan Lays Out Grand Targhee Growth

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The Caribou-Targhee National Forest recently accepted an updated road map for Grand Targhee Resort, which could eventually result in the western Teton mountain operating as many lifts as the more famous one to the east.  The 2018 Master Development Plan serves as a guide for what could change over the following decades and includes a whopping five new fixed grip chairlifts, four detachable quads and three additional surface lifts.

Like its two Grand Teton neighbors, Targhee is owned by a wealthy family with decades of experience across multiple businesses.  CEO Geordie Gillett is the son of George Gillett, who owned Vail Associates from 1985 until it went public in 1997.  The family went on to create Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which bought Targhee along with seven other resorts coast to coast in the late 1990s.  Booth Creek continues to operate Sierra at Tahoe, California while Mr. Gillett independently operates Grand Targhee, Wyoming.

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Peaked Mountain features one high speed quad today and hopefully will sport a new one soon.

Already analyzed and approved is a Peaked lift servicing terrain above the current Sacajawea detachable quad.  The new high speed lift would rise a respectable 1,829 vertical feet with a capacity of 2,000 skiers per hour, topping out at almost 9,700 feet in elevation.  To me, Peaked Mountain has always felt like an expansion yet to be completed with a lift that ends below some of its best terrain.

Another proposed project within Targhee’s existing permit boundary is the 4,300′ North Boundary fixed grip triple, which would service six gladed trails beyond the new Blackfoot lift.  A second short chairlift called Rick’s Basin would provide access to the North Boundary pod, giving guests a much needed option other than Shoshone on a stormy day.  “This lift will provide better utilization of the terrain at the far north edge of the resort, as well as providing access to intermediate and advanced terrain that is currently not lift-accessed,” notes the plan.

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Speaking of Shoshone, it may be relocated and realigned to load lower.  The rebuilt version would likely go detachable to improve the learning experience and follow a trend set by many other mountains.  A new platter called Palmer is envisioned as a dedicated race training lift to separate competitors from the general public and provide quicker repeat laps for athletes.

The final lift project within the current permit area is a Crazy Horse high speed quad, which would service the upper reaches of Fred’s Mountain south of Dreamcatcher.  This 1,800 passenger per hour lift would allow skiers to avoid a long run out to the congested base area from trails like Wild Willie and Crazy Horse Woods.

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The new and most ambitious part of the plan is located south of Peaked Mountain towards the Grand Teton itself.  The South Bowl could see up to three lifts in what was once envisioned as cat skiing terrain.  “As a skier I want to get out there and I think other people want to as well,” Mr. Gillett recently told the Teton Valley News. “That area provides a really nice range of skiing, the views are amazing, and it’s high enough that the snow stays good even though its south-facing.”  Two fixed grip quads would stretch 3,800 linear feet apiece while a third would provide two-way connectivity between them.

Another boundary extension could result in a lift southwest of Sacajawea called Mono Trees.  Five new trails would offer skiers a respite from Grand Targhee’s visibility and wind challenges on bad weather days.  This area would be serviced by yet another 1,800 pph high speed quad.  All told, Targhee’s skiable area could surge by 1,200 acres.

With the exception of the approved Peaked project, each of these lifts will require individual analysis before construction.  Even with the support of the Forest Service, it’s going to take a significant increase in skier visits and a lot of capital investment to happen.  “With the growth and development of communities in the Teton Basin and the resort’s close proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Grand Targhee Resort is expected to see increases in visitation from both winter and summer recreational enthusiasts,” the plan states optimistically.  Targhee is an incredibly fun mountain to ski and I look forward to following its next phase of growth, however long it may take.

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14 thoughts on “New Plan Lays Out Grand Targhee Growth

  1. Gavin April 24, 2019 / 5:13 pm

    Hope for a peaked mountain express 2020

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  2. Somebody April 24, 2019 / 7:58 pm

    Targhee’s biggest weakness is that it only really has 2 pods (arguably 3). The peaked mountain lift will be huge, anything else after that is a bonus.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Paul Manafort April 24, 2019 / 9:02 pm

    The nice thing about Targhee is that it will be less negatively affected by global warming because of its high elevation and distance from the oceans.

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  4. Mike B April 24, 2019 / 9:48 pm

    Love most of these ideas – Peaked, North Boundary and Mono are all obvious enhancements for different reasons. I’ll be surprised if South Bowl ever happens and, even if it did, their plan is confusing to me. Not sure I understand the need to spend money on a connector lift when they could just site the base of both South Bowl lifts on the same plateau where the bottom of the western lift is supposed to be located. It would be easy to run the eastern lift up to the same terminus and you would just need to sacrifice a couple hundred vertical feet for some of the runs in that pod. Seems like a good trade off if the alternative is a few million bucks of capital and guess annoyance for being forced to ride a useless connector lift.

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  5. tokarski23 April 25, 2019 / 12:51 pm

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for dream catcher to be converted to a high speed quad, because this lift is main out of the base and instead make the peaked lift a fixed grip or relocate the old dream catcher to somewhere else

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  6. Ski Targhee April 27, 2019 / 9:57 am

    Build the Peaked chair now. Every year we hear that the chair is coming. Every year it becomes more expense to build. We can talk about the other lifts after Peaked is built put Targhee on the map as a major resort.

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  7. Cameron Halmrast April 27, 2019 / 1:20 pm

    The biggest challenge I foresee with Grand Targhee is that those who go to Jackson Hole to ski will stay there. I find this the norm at several ski resorts where I visit where people go to a destination resort and refuse to drive any amount of time to ski other areas in the vicinity. For instance, when Moonlight Basin opened, that place was a ghost town and it shared the same slopes at Big Sky. I honestly think when I was there in 2004, there were 36 people on the entire mountain. The same thing kind of applies to Aspen Highlands. An amazing ski area, but people who go ski Aspen stick to either Aspen Mountain or Snowmass and don’t venture.

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    • skitheeast April 27, 2019 / 1:53 pm

      To be honest, the best way for Grand Targhee to increase skier visits at the moment would be to join Ikon or Epic, that’s just the world we live in. Jackson Hole will always be more popular being closer to the airport and having the brand name. For reference, Jackson Hole gets more than 3.5x as many skier visits as Grand Targhee. I’m not saying that they should strive to match Jackson Hole’s numbers, but they do need to increase numbers substantially for this plan to make sense.

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    • I think in defense of Aspen Highlands, it’s a primarily experts mountain (and the non-expert terrain is limited). As for people sticking to Snowmass, well, I don’t blame them when Snowmass has more terrain than the other three areas in the Aspen ski complex combined.

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  8. I think they should also have a fixed grip quad installed from the bottom of the proposed Crazy Horse HSQ to the top of Sacajawea, and decommission the Mill Creek Traverse.

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    • snowyferries April 28, 2019 / 12:08 pm

      I’m curious as to why you think that. Mill Creek Traverse connects Sacajawea with the main base area, allowing one to access Sac without having to ride Dreamcatcher. Decommissioning the Mill Creek Traverse would eliminate this direct connection, forcing one to ride Dreamcatcher and and the fixed grip quad to get to Peaked Mountain, and Dreamcatcher is not a fun lift to ride in bad weather. If Mill Creek Traverse were to be decommissioned, it would leave DC and your proposed FGQ as the only point of access to Peaked Mountain, and if either of those lifts were to be closed by weather or mechanical issues, it would leave no way to get to Peaked Mountain.

      Like

    • Ryan Murphy April 28, 2019 / 7:12 pm

      Mill Creek is sort of a real run too. It’s fine as is, imo. Plus, there’s a benefit to less lifts at smaller mountains.

      Like

  9. Bob Loblaw April 29, 2019 / 10:57 am

    The peaked, north boundary and mono trees are phenomenal ideas for lifts. As is, the main problem with sacajawea is you can’t ride the south side without a painful traverse through thick trees. Black foot has a similar problem, minus the trees. Those two lifts will be a huge help to making the current mountain ski way better.

    Peaked will be really cool as it will open a lot of great terrain and provide easier access to the steep north facing stuff that rides into the waterfall area. I still feel like the south bowl lifts are a pipe dream, but it would be fun if they happened.

    Liked by 1 person

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