News Roundup: Alterra

  • Neighbors aren’t happy about light and noise from Woodward Park City, though the new area was able to turn down the start alarm on the Hot Laps chairlift.
  • Mt. Baldy in Thunder Bay, Ontario plans to buy a new quad chair for next season.
  • The City of Durango considers whether building a new chairlift at Chapman Hill makes sense at an increasingly marginal elevation for natural snow.
  • Spout Springs will remain closed this season and is still for sale.
  • Mexico City begins work on Cablebús Line 2, a Leitner system with 7 stations, 308 cabins and 59 towers.  (Line 1 is Doppelmayr and already under construction.)
  • Seven people are injured and a gas station destroyed when a gondola haul rope being installed in Medellín, Colombia lets loose.
  • Alterra closes on Sugarbush and Win Smith transitions from owner to employee.
  • A French paraglider is lucky to survive being caught in a platter lift‘s haul rope.
  • To address crowding concerns, Crystal Mountain eliminates walk up lift ticket sales on weekends and holidays, effective immediately.  The resort will also no longer offer group discounts, gift card ticket redemptions or rental/ticket packages on weekends and holidays.
  • New York State opens its newest gondola in Lake Placid, called the SkyRide.
  • Geyser Holdings offers $4 million for the Hermitage Club and Boyne Resorts separately bids $3.6 million for the Barnstormer lift.  An auction could be held next month.
  • Skytrac’s Hilltrac people movers now feature Sigma cabins.
  • Montana Snowbowl opens its Snow Park expansion for the first time.
  • The owners of Perfect North Slopes plan to build at least one new top-to-bottom lift at newly-acquired Timberline, West Virginia this summer.
  • The State of Maine postpones a decision on a loan guarantee related to the sale of Saddleback Mountain.
  • A creditor claiming to be owed $62 million files to foreclose on Granby Ranch.
  • Edmonton urban gondola backers release robust ridership projections.
  • A gondola from Boise to Bogus Basin would be too long and cost too much to be practical.



20 thoughts on “News Roundup: Alterra

  1. Will January 17, 2020 / 8:36 am

    Could someone screenshot the page about Spout Springs not opening this year? Facebook doesn’t work for those without accounts.


  2. DANIEL BUND January 17, 2020 / 10:27 am

    It looks like Spout Springs is listed as ‘In Escrow’ which means someone is trying to buy it and has put money down. So stay tuned on that front.


  3. powderforever45 January 17, 2020 / 1:44 pm

    Peter you have to get the double at Thunder Bay before it gets replaced with a quad. It was built in 1953.


    • Peter Landsman January 17, 2020 / 1:47 pm

      Sounds like it has already been removed. Just the T-Bar and snowmobiles this season.


      • reaperskier January 17, 2020 / 2:58 pm

        Is the quad at baldy going to be new or used?


        • Andy January 22, 2020 / 2:57 pm

          The wildcard currently in play is that the Doppelmayr Quad from Val Neigette got sold a few winters ago, and word at the time was that it was bought by an Ontario Resort. Seems that Dagmar is now off the list of 2020 resorts getting lifts installed. Maybe Dagmar is doing a self install on a Quad? or maybe the Val Neigette Quad will find its way to Mt Baldy in Thunder Bay?


  4. Carleton January 17, 2020 / 2:41 pm

    I wonder if Boyne wants the Barnstormer for Sugarloaf. They mentioned wanting a ‘signature’ lift there…


    • Max Hart January 17, 2020 / 3:13 pm

      I’m thinking it’s more likely to end up as the new Barker at Sunday River, but should it go to the loaf, the only lift that is in the right size range and up for replacement is Timberline, which would also be a good place for a HS6.


  5. Brendan January 17, 2020 / 8:06 pm

    That bogus basin post has me cracking up. Maybe a light rail system or larger offsite parking close by and a short gondola from there?

    Really REALLY interested to see how the crystal mountain move shakes out to the rest of the industry. Also, the jaded person in me says is this really a move they though was necessary or did they finally have public opinion on their side to force more pre-season revenue and become less snow dependent?

    Can’t see this working at larger resorts like colorado i70 resorts or salt lake resorts where you have plenty of last minute demand from spontaneous skiers. Thoughts anyone?


    • Erik Blazing January 17, 2020 / 11:21 pm

      Crystal’s traffic/parking issues are definitely worse this year than in recent memory; they’re not making that up.

      To me, several factors came together at once to make this happen: it was a near-record low tide through Nov & Dec, so there was a ton of pent-up demand. This is especially true for all the new Ikon pass holders this year (they sold a ton of them, probably because Ikon is a great deal compared to Crystal’s old season pass). Also, Snoqualmie, which absorbs some of the casual skier demand in the region, was barely open through the holidays- Alpy didn’t open at all until Jan 10. Stevens wasn’t a lot better off, and has had some road closure issues too.

      So everyone, ikon or not, decided to go to Crystal once conditions got good (and they’ve been good… 111” so far this month.)

      Very curious to see whether this move makes any difference. Parking has always been a cluster on Saturdays during ski school season, so I’m skeptical in the short-term. But this storm cycle will (sadly) end at some point, and the other areas are up & running now with fantastic conditions. That ought to help.

      To your other point, I don’t think this is a cynical attempt to sell more season passes. They already have a ton of customers who’ve pre-purchased skiing (passes, day tickets, lessons) but haven’t been able to access it due to parking constraints and traffic jams. Those people are angry and Crystal is trying to save face. I have 2 friends who are first-time passholders that are freaking out because they’ve only made it to Crystal once out of 4 attempts so far. They won’t be repeat Ikon customers if things don’t improve, or if they have to leave their house at 5am in order to get a parking spot (7am used to be fine). Crystal & Alterra realize that this is damaging their brand.


    • Che Guevara January 18, 2020 / 10:00 am

      The issue is lack of parking, pure and simple. It’s always been a constraint at crystal since it’s on a dead end road in a steep sided valley. This year it’s worse because the competing ski areas in the area were closed. My question is why they limited lift tickets instead of creating parking passes and limiting those instead since that’s the choke point. Also, by limiting parking passes they would incentivize car pooling and shuttle buses from Enumclaw (which is what they’ve been trying to do). They could even issue shuttle bus passes. So their response seems counter productive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brendan January 18, 2020 / 4:55 pm

        Erik, appreciate the insight! So, both you and che seemed to single out parking as the largest issue. I’ve never had the pleasure of skiing crystal mountain (it’s on the list for a pnw trip.) Is there room for parking solutions like an underground garage or is it gonna have to be bussing in like Che said?

        Living in summit county, I’ve seen the fruits of A-basin trying to cut down on parking issues by leaving the epic pass and it honestly is still a problem for them. Especially if they want to expand again.


        • Che Guevara January 18, 2020 / 9:07 pm

          If you do ski Crystal, do as the other commenter suggested and ski it midweek. On a nice day late in the season you can park close to the lift base. On a pow weekend in january you won’t get close to the place. Parking issues are endemic to Seattle skiing. Stevens pass regularly turns away customers when their lots fill up on the weekend. I’ve never heard of cars being turned away up at Snoqualmie but it can be hectic there on ski school weekends. The outlying resorts like mission ridge or baker aren’t as impacted


      • Erik Blazing January 18, 2020 / 7:43 pm

        Che, I totally agree- some version of paid or reserved parking is probably in our future, and it’s the only real solution to this. I’d imagine those kinds of programs take some time to implement, whereas shutting down ticket sales is something they could do quickly. I think something like the app-based carpool solution they have in the Cottonwoods could be helpful. More weekend shuttles from Enumclaw are definitely part of the solution.

        Brendan- parking is THE issue, that and the miles-long traffic jam that parking slowness causes. Crystal is at the end of a long, dead-end, two-lane road, which doesn’t help. Parking garages are prohibitively expensive for a place like this… it’s really only a problem maybe 20 days/yr. It’s not a town with year-round parking needs, for example… and weekdays are never a problem.

        The good thing is that even when the lots are full, the lift lines are never that bad- parking is the constraint at Crystal (unless you ski into Northway ~30-60mins after the rope drops… that’s a mistake you only make once). Try to time your visit to ski on weekdays and you’ll have a great experience- it’s typically pretty deserted compared to I-70 resorts.


    • Joe Blake January 20, 2020 / 5:57 pm

      Bogus only has parking problems a couple days a year. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful, incredible chalk skiing on all aspects, on a holiday weekend directly after a good storm cycle, and lots were probably 80%. There is a complex patchwork of private inholding and various public agencies overseeing the land, and a fairly vocal outdoor community who understand that one use does not trump all others. Skiing is rad, but so is hiking through subalpine meadow rather than an 8th lot. Yes, we have 7 lots already). Now if Doppelmayr could stop having customers beta-test their new software. . .


  6. David January 19, 2020 / 11:29 am

    The Crystal decision is interesting..Whitetail was preselling tickets in 92 – before there was an internet. Not selling ANY walk up tickets will be a gamble based on perceived conditions, one of which is parking etc.
    It seems more areas disregard the Comforable Carrying Capacity of the facility to the detriment of the experience every year.
    The hill I’ve spent the last 28 seasons on sold 11,000 season passes this year and finally realizes that it had a parking problem. The traffic congestion on any day with fresh snow now produces what approaches small town gridlock….


  7. Ryan Murphy January 19, 2020 / 8:34 pm

    I’m wondering why the Jackson solution isn’t more popular? Free bus, from offsite parking, and disincentivize parking at the mountain. Don’t know if paid parking fits Crystal’s vibe, but there has to be another solution.


  8. pbropetech January 20, 2020 / 11:38 am

    Crystal had paid parking in the early 90s (I had the displeasure of being the spot seller/lot attendant back then). I’m not sure if they still do. It definitely didn’t fit the vibe then, but It may be a necessity now. Here at Copper we routinely fill our paid lots, and unlike our neighbouring resorts we tend to have a lot more day skiers. So I see that as a short-term solution at best. Crystal has always had a loyal season-pass base, so perhaps restricting weekend day passes will work for them. I dont see that as a solution for too many places though. Growing up skiing at Crystal, and then working there for half a dozen years, I never once saw the amount of skiers the place how has. The market has boomed up there for sure. My personal favourite idea for easing crowding in the PNW is to build another ski area- or, say, resurrect Mt Pilchuck.


    • Joe Blake January 20, 2020 / 5:42 pm

      According to a disgruntled former passholder, all of A lot is paid on at least weekends. She also sold her Tacoma Teachers bunk and bought a Baker pass. Her take is Frank and the Alterra clones are a bag of d!%$#@!s. In truth, it’s the market expansion and not the Ikon Pass or the Alterra ownership that is the cause, internet grouches’ vitriol to the contrary.. It seems like Frank and crew are reacting quickly and doing what they can. Free buses from the Fairgrounds, warning customers repeatedly that 7.30 in Enumclaw is already too late, that sorta thing. As far as expanding options. . .good luck. Never mind that Pilchuck would be rad. White barely got the Hogsback expansion and Mt A never got theirs, and it’s the same folks with the same deep pockets and lawyers fighting these projects. Puget Sound (or insert any hip locale you wish) is simply at capacity and as Americans, we seem to be unwilling to address it as the problem it is or even admit it is a problem.


      • pbropetech January 21, 2020 / 11:29 am

        New places are usually a pipe dream, I know. I remember White Pass’s expansion being on the map in the late 70s and it took them almost forty years to do it. I skied Pilchuck via hiking once, and I was bummed I never skied it back in the day (it shut down when I was 4 or 5).
        It’s appropriate that Crystal has the shuttles picking up at the fairgrounds; that’s where we’d get on the employee bus when they used to run it.


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