Gray Butte – Mt. Shasta, CA This lift services a 200+ acre expansion on Gray Butte. As of opening for the 2022-23 season, accessing this lift requires a short hike or backcountry ski. View leaving the bottom terminal. Riding up the lift line. Upper lift line. This is by far the largest lift at Mt. Shasta with 134 chairs and 14 towers. Arriving at the top, just shy of the Gray Butte true summit. Unloading area. Fixed return top terminal. View from the summit. Looking up at the breakover. Tower 12. View down the lift line. One of two combo towers on the line. Tower 9. Looking up the line. Another view down. View up at tower 8. Lower lift line. Tower 4. Tristar drive station. View riding up the top half of the line. Side view of the return station. Another view of the line. A support tower. To access this terrain without hiking, skiers must backcountry ski down the backside of Coyote Butte, center. Middle part of the lift line. Tower 3. View up from the bottom terminal. Loading area and tower 1. Loading station overview. Side view of tower 10. Tower head and EJ chair. Unloading ramp with a chair. Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading...
But the access issue is just bizarre. The backcountry approach looks like it’s right around 30 degrees in slope. And it looks like it’s not private land, but US Forest Service. Why on earth would they prefer people constantly cutting across steep, unmanaged terrain instead of coming up with some sort of intensive use agreement? The ski area has more than enough unused land below the Douglas chair that they could swap for this.
They got a USFS permit for the work road / exit trail. I’m not sure why the USFS granted that without a suitable way to the lift. The whole expansion makes little sense.
I think this, along with parking lot expansion, is about all they can get away with using existing authorizations and rights-of-way and categorical exclusions. Further changes on USFS land (or a land exchange) is going to require a full NEPA review process. Which is time-consuming and expensive. And it’s probably going to have to happen in the coming years, but this way they get the terrain open earlier, and they get it baked into the status quo ante once they start in on the Environmental Impact Statement.
Why doesn’t this lift go to the top of the butte?