Caberfae Peaks, MI

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31 thoughts on “Caberfae Peaks, MI

  1. New England Chairlifts & Skiing February 5, 2020 / 6:15 pm

    We’re you able to get what’s left of clubhouse?

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      • New England Chairlifts & Skiing February 6, 2020 / 8:56 am

        Ah. If you have several, you should make a page of them.

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  2. afski722 February 5, 2020 / 7:46 pm

    Man, I haven’t skied Caberfae in over to 20 years now. Not too long after they did the big North Peak earthmoving project.

    Any reason why they left the Clubhouse towers out there despite it being taken out of service in 2016?

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    • hillorstream March 1, 2021 / 11:34 pm

      Looks like they might be bringing back Bo Buck? They were supposed to be moving Club somewhere.

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      • hillorstream March 1, 2021 / 11:40 pm

        I have some photos if I can figure out how to post them.

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  3. Nathan March 21, 2020 / 11:05 am

    Caberfae is one of the most confusing ski areas to document the history on due to lots of lift relocations and even a big earth moving project on North Peak. I don’t know how to fix the table on this page but a few things to consider;

    The lift labeled Clubhouse and Shelter in the table on this page was originally installed as “#1 double chair” and as “Bo Buck” respectively. The stats in the table correspond to their original installation.

    A lot happened in the late 80’s and 90’s and I’m not 100% sure of every detail but I think the following is accurate. A big earth moving project happened, I think in 1992*. #1 double had to be taken down and replaced a rope tow known as Shelter. Confusingly this new lift was known as First Peak before being called Shelter again a few years later. Bo Buck may have survived the earth move or possibly been moved slightly but it was moved to replace the “Instructor tows” and renamed Clubhouse by the mid 90’s.

    Regarding a 82-92 Riblet North Peak lift, I don’t think this lift ever existed at Caberfae. Certainly not a 137′ vertical version. A trail map dated 1985 shows the old #1 Double still there without any quad. A 87 maps also does not show a quad* A 88 map shows a quad though so either a lift got installed for just a few years or the date is off a few years. (a quad was definitely installed in 92)

    Lastly, there were so many t bar and rope tows over the years and many moved from place to place, tracking the history of those is probably impossible.

    Historical maps: https://skimap.org/SkiAreas/view/404
    *Another source confirming many of the dates above: https://www.michiganskier.com/caberfaehistory/

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    • SpartySki August 18, 2020 / 8:42 pm

      BO Buck wasn’t moved. The drive terminal is still in place with half the chairs lined up on the ground in front of it. At the top, just north of the north peak there is a clearing and you will see several towers and more chairs. I think Clubhouse was a used lift from another hill somewhere else. I always wondered what happened to the Mt Maria Hall double. Maybe this was it. There were so many Hall doubles out there. I would bet in the 80’s and 90’s they were available quite often used.

      I never skied Caberfae prior to the North Peak being built up. I agree that the Riblet quad was never installed. It could have been planned then canceled and instead they decided to build up the North Peak which was probably a better decision.

      Many parts and pieces to the old rope rows and bar lifts are still in place. Always have wanted to hike around the old slopes in the Summer and see what I can find. I have heard from a few people while skiing there that they have done it.

      Caberfae is the closest “decent” vertical for those in southern Michigan. It is reasonable in price and very laid back compared to their competition further to the north. I hope they take on an expansion project in the future to ease some of the congestion that can occur.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nathan August 23, 2020 / 12:38 pm

        BO Buck was a lot longer than the “instructor tows” so it’s possible that many parts were reused and others left on the ground. It would be odd to shut a lift down and buy a second lift of the same type rather than reuse some of it but it’s possible. It’s pretty unreal that BO Buck parts have been sitting on the ground for 30 years.

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    • HillOrStream February 19, 2021 / 7:59 pm

      That is not correct. Shelter Club and Bo Buck were all built at the same time (+/-), with three separate Hall doubles. No.1 was removed at that time. The ruins of the BoBuck base station are near the old Star lodge in the Backcountry. It looks to me that they are getting ready to bring back BoBuck after several decades of absence They built up earth forming a ridge on the far edge of the now super widened Smiling Irishman looks like a location for the BoBuck line top station, the old location underground now. And way down to the side and behind of this new spot they are building up a larger pad with the dirt from the old West Ridge in the backcountry.

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      • hillorstream March 1, 2021 / 11:27 pm

        Shelter in ’91, and Clubhouse in ’92. Bo Buck was much older, ’67. Was there ever a double chair also at Bullnose or Tournament? So maybe parts of it were used elsewhere…

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      • hillorstream March 2, 2021 / 8:13 pm

        Following the stakes and marked trees, below and through the Mountain Slayer run, it looks like the base station for this top station location will be right to the left of Shelter, not the old Bo Buck base station.

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        • hillorstream March 24, 2021 / 10:36 pm

          Looks like they are planning on the new lift taking Shelter’s base location, so Shelter will be pulled out Summer of ’22

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  4. Lawrence Wistinghausen August 2, 2020 / 10:11 am

    Number one chair was move and call the club chair. There was not a Riblet on north peak

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  5. HillOrStream February 19, 2021 / 9:03 pm

    Club and Shelter were new lifts put in at the same time. Trying to re-find the reference for that… Bo Buck may have been earlier but they were all similar Hall Doubles.

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    • hillorstream March 1, 2021 / 11:31 pm

      Probably Clubhouse and Shelter were made of older lifts. They couldn’t have been new as Hall became part of Van Roll in ’82.

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  6. Utah Powder Skier June 15, 2021 / 3:36 pm

    Is there a reason why this area abandoned 2/3 of it’s terrain? It would be one thing if it was either south or west facing terrain, but most of it was north facing. Was it too costly to operate that many rope tows and T-bars?

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    • hillorstream June 15, 2021 / 5:00 pm

      Probably that plus the snowmaking. Also, the hill was even more limited in challenge than it is now, so the investments went into the “Peaks”. I’d call it 3/5 abandoned though the “Backcountry” gives back a fifth. Most days they can run the whole place on just three chairs and a magic carpet, and a fourth quad they run on heavy days and weekends, And with the new lift they will take out Shelter so the count will be the same. The only downside is it will be a little more intimidating to beginners on a bigger and longer lift. Everyone else will love getting to the extended top of the North Peak in one ride, and being the first chair people see, will be a lot more impressive than the little Hall double. Eventually, there are plans for a lift in the Backcountry but little word and major earthmoving.

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      • Utah Powder Skier June 15, 2021 / 5:44 pm

        Is a lift really needed for the backcountry? It looks like it can be accessed from the two North Peak lifts and Shelter. Couldn’t they also do the Shelter replacement and the backcountry lift with one new lift with a small amount of earth moving?

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        • hillorstream June 15, 2021 / 9:22 pm

          Hard to guess at what they are planing but possibly a lift could go back into some of the 2/5 of the old territory that is no longer accessible. They built up a ridge on Smiling Irishman to receive this lift, but alongside this, they are slowly building up a large pad toward the backside. The dirt is coming from a long ridge that used to have a T bar. They have carved a large pass through the middle of that ridge. The area that T-bar would have accessed is one of the inaccessible fifths, the other fifth would be the backside of that.
          They have parts from two Hall doubles and soon a third. I had thought they were bringing back the Bo Buck lift but now I see it makes more sense to get rid of Shelter at the same time, installing a new Doppelmyr Quad at that prime spot.
          You can’t practically get into the backcountry from Shelter, it is entered from Smiling Irishman uphill. Currently, if you stay close in the backcountry and you’re careful you can make it to Shelter (via the end of Mountain Slayer) without walking, but most of it is walk-out. On skis, one can bypass the Shelter lift at the bottom by skating uphill a bit beside Arlo’s Deck to make it to the trail to the North Peak lifts.

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        • Spartyboy11 June 16, 2021 / 8:01 am

          Eliminating all of that backcountry terrain is likely the only reason Caberfae is still around. Caberfae has a history of financial problems but over the last 20-30 years they have been able to turn themselves into one of the best ski areas in Michigan. Eliminating terrain and focusing on building up the North peak has greatly improved the overall skiing there. Focusing the finances for snow making and lift upgrades in just the prime areas has allowed them to bring those areas up to a much higher standard. A lot of the old terrain was sacrificed for the North Peak. The highest elevation in the now abandoned areas is only a 200 foot vertical and most of it is less. Not a lot of elevation to really warrant a major investment. Just North and East of the North Peak is another Summit that Could be, should be, the future expansion plan if there is a desire to expand. 1490′ down to 1200′ at the base of the Shelter chair. A little earth moving and contour work and there would be over 300 feet of vertical and might be worth it if the need is there.

          Getting rid of the current Shelter chair is a must. Long lines on weekends and a very old lift that isn’t worth improving. A new quad would provide 40+ years of service and would really only leave them with 1 older lift that is on South Peak which isn’t as critical. Shelter is the main artery out of the base. Once that improvement is done and now that they have increased their snowmaking capacity with plumbing upgrades and a new pump, I think they are set to either pull back and let the business make money for a while or start in on a new peak. The new peak should be planned to allow for slope side lodging as this is lacking at Caberfae and is something lots of families are looking for.

          I would love to see a new peak. I think it may happen as long as enough people continue to fill the slopes. Would also like to see the North Peak Quad move and replace the South Peak Triple and see a HSQ or HS6 on the North Peak. The North Peak Triple could be used in an expansion plan as that lift is new. With a HS lift of any kind on North Peak Caberfae would be maxed out in terms of improvements it could make with current terrain besides maybe some snow making improvements but Caberfae has a solid snow making set up already. Snow making is where most resorts spend their money in the Midwest. The speed and efficiency for which you can make snow separates the money making resorts from the money losing resorts.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Mi_skier December 2, 2021 / 5:16 pm

          I agree that an expansion would be nice but I don’t think they should go detachable. Caberfae is probably the most affordable ski area besides hickory and holiday, both of which are much smaller, one is just tows and the other is two ancient lifts. a detach would put them on the same path as Boyne, charging a lot because they have a lot more luxuries (Boyne already charges $100 for weekend passes with 400 acres and 500′ vertical, and I can’t imagine what will happen when they put in an 8 pack next year). I’d say replace South Peak with another triple or quad and then move that lift to the expansion you mentioned.

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  7. hillorstream June 16, 2021 / 6:17 pm

    The Hall doubles are really not bad lifts, far more advanced with less maintenance than the old Riblet. But yeah, a double isn’t enough. They were going to move the Club lift to more parallel Shelter but go further up, but a new quad is less staff than two doubles.
    I pretty much stay on the dark side of South Peak till I’m bored or exhausted, then do a last couple runs in the backcountry. There are several interesting areas to explore BC.

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  8. Dan O August 6, 2021 / 12:15 pm

    I started skiing at a very young age in the 1960s, my parents and us kids had season passes going back to 1962, yikes!! In the mid 1960s, my parents would give me a couple of dollars for food and I would ski by myself the entire day. I was the 5th wheel. My brother and sister skied together and so did my parents. But I didn’t care, I just loved it. I loved skiing North Ridge (which is now considered back country) As I got older in the 1970s I stopped going to Caberfae and went further north to they Boyne’s. And then out west with my buddies. But I will never forget Caberfae, such wonderful memories. Skiing right to 4:30 and then going back to the car and the ride back to Muskegon. The rope tows in those days as a kid were a blast and they kept you warm on a cold day.
    I recently listen to a podcast from one of the owners of Caberfae, I was interested to hear what he had to say. His name Tim Meyer and his brother run it now. Anyway Tim said the Caberfae expansion would be called East Peak with a chairlift. He suggested it’s elevation would not be as tall as the other peaks but would add to capacity. He brought up the old North Ridge and said without snowmaking and the short runs (and rope tows), nobody wanted that anymore. They changed with the times. If you want to listen to it here is the site: https://www.stormskiing.com/p/podcast-50-caberfae-peaks-michigan

    As I got married and raised kids, we ended up skiing at Crystal and still do today. But I still think of Caberfae and all the wonderful memories. It was fun! I still can remember all the runs back on North Ridge, about 3 rope tows and a T-Bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hillorstream January 17, 2022 / 12:58 pm

    The podcast above is great, worth a couple listens. The Shelter replacement and the new East Peak lift are one and the same, a Doppelmayr fixed triple to be delivered to the hill in March. Tim fails to correct the interviewer, the Club base WAS removed along with the little tow rope to allow easy passage from the lodges to the North Peak lifts. Looks like East Peak is slowly growing towards a distant peak that used to be skied. they will probably build it halfway there and then start building up that peak for an eventual chairlift. It could take decades, hope I’m still around to see it!

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  10. Utah Lost Ski Area Project January 18, 2022 / 10:44 am

    I may have figured out how to fix the spreadsheet. It does not help that Caberfae had a lot of lifts before various consolidations in the 80s. Keep in mind that most of this was drafted before the recent Storm Skiing podcast, so I probably made some mistakes here.

    Starting chronologically, Caberfae’s first aerial lift was a Ramsey chain double bought from Mount Snow, VT, built in 1957. It is unclear if it was a new installation or a relocation. I would guess it was a new installation because the earliest Ramsey lift removed from Mount Snow was in the 60s (South Bowl double). The lift was removed in 1960 after only a few years in operation.

    A trail map from the 80s shows Caberfae having six T-bars (#1, Stags Head, West Ridge, Tournament, Bullnose, and #6). I have only found three installations on record, which are the two you have in the spreadsheet (1975 Hall, and 1963 Doppelmayr). Milsap lists a 1959 Doppelmayr T-bar with a length of 1250 feet. A trail map from the 60s from Michiganskier shows five of the six T-bars were around in the 1960s, missing T-bar #6. T-bar #6 was probably the 1975 Hall T-bar, there are photos of the lift in operation where the towers look like normal Hall T-bar towers. West Ridge T-bar, which ran parallel on a longer alignment to #6, had 1960s Doppelmayr T-bar towers. West Ridge could be either the 1959 or the 1963 Doppelmayr T-bar (there could be more installations that we don’t know of yet). The length of the 1959 T-bar matches up well with West Ridge and it would make sense for Caberfae to upgrade one of its longest rope tows to a T-bar first.

    Tournament T-bar also had those 1960s era Doppelmayr towers, so it would be safe to assume that it could be the 1963 Doppelmayr T-bar. #1 T-bar ran up the exact alignment as the original Ramsey double, so it would seem plausible that it may have been modified. Despine Michiganskier saying that the Ramsey double was sent back to the manufacturer from parts not working, Caberfae may have kept some of the towers and modified them to be a T-bar. Mount Snow converted one of its Ramsey doubles into a T-bar, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Caberfae to have reused what they could.

    This leaves Stags head and Bullnose T-bars for lifts we don’t have on record. They could have easily been relocated from another mountain, or on lift installation surveys prior to 1963. Any information on these lifts would be greatly appreciated.

    Caferbae’s chairlift era came in 1967 with the installations of #1 chair and Bo Buck, both of which have been removed. From the mid 80s to the early 90s, Caberfae started to consolidate what it had, removing, replacing, and abandoning the many surface lifts they operated. By 1985, the only rope tows on the mountain were the instructor tows and the Shelter tow. The South Peak triple had replaced the Stags Head T-bar in 1985.

    1992 was the year of the large earth moving project and many lift removals and relocations. Tournament, #1 and Bullnose T-bars were removed, along with Lift #1 being relocated to Shelter. The existing North Peak Quad was installed on a built up North Peak. Bo Buck survived 1992, along with West Ridge and #6 T-bars. After only 3 years later, all three of these lifts were gone with Clubhouse double installed.

    This brings up the question of if Clubhouse was a relocation from Bo Buck or relocated from another area. It wouldn’t make sense for Caberfae to buy and relocate a similar lift from another area, only to remove Bo Buck a few years later. I wonder if most of Bo Buck’s parts were used for Clubhouse, but for some reason Caberfae wanted a newer drive/tension terminal.

    Hope this helps clear up the confusion in the spreadsheet Feel free to correct me if I did get anything wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hillorstream June 19, 2022 / 8:42 am

      I sent the above to Tim Meyer ahead of an interview I had scheduled with him. I had posted his response and corrections but don’t see them now. If you were unable to see them let me know I will try and find and repost. Here is the interview:

      .

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  11. hillorstream June 19, 2022 / 9:24 am

    This is the path of the new lift.

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  12. Mi_skier August 3, 2022 / 4:51 pm

    looks like the haul rope is already on and spliced according to their webcam (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ7srsr7M9A). looks like East Peak will be one of the first if not the first 2022 lift to be completed, assuming everything else goes normally

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