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News Roundup: Chairless

Arizona Snowbowl Unveils New Master Plan

As if a new Telemix, six pack and two quads weren’t enough, Arizona Snowbowl plans to keep improving. The Forest Service recently accepted the resort’s new Master Development Plan, which outlines projects envisioned to be completed over the next 15 years. It includes not only more chairlifts but also new snowmaking, parking, lodges and summer activities. The upgrade plan would modestly raise the lift/trail network’s comfortable carrying capacity from 3,870 to 4,500 skiers per day. 252 acres of new terrain would be cleared, all located within the existing permit area.

Aspen, the oldest lift on the mountain dating back to the 1960s, would be removed and replaced by a fixed grip quad servicing a few acres of new terrain. This project was previously approved but not yet implemented as other replacements took priority. Aspen 2.0 would more than double uphill capacity of the previous lift and improve the beginner experience. Two conveyor additions have also been approved but not yet implemented.

A second new fixed grip quad chair called Fort Valley Glades would service low intermediate and novice terrain out of a new base area. This would help alleviate congestion surrounding the existing Agassiz and Hart Prairie lodges. This lift would span approximately 2,550 feet with a capacity of 1,500 skiers per hour, unloading near the top of the current Sunset triple.

A fixed grip quad with the working name Hart Prairie II would add even more beginner and intermediate terrain at Snowbowl. This lift would serve 665 vertical feet along the northern edge of the current Special Use Permit boundary.

Other lift-related projects include the replacement of Sunset with updated equipment and final capacity upgrades of both the Arizona Gondola and Grand Canyon Express to 2,400 guests per hour. The Humphreys Peak quad may also be upgraded from 1,000 to 1,500 skiers per hour through the addition of chairs.

There’s good reason to continue investing. Arizona Snowbowl’s attendance has increased an average of 12 percent annually since 2012, in large part thanks to the addition of snowmaking. Snowbowl now sees more guests on peak days than it previously welcomed some seasons reliant on natural snow.

It’s important to remember acceptance of a master plan by the Forest Service does not constitute approval of individual projects. However, the document gives us a good idea of where Mountain Capital Partners would like to take Arizona Snowbowl in the years to come.

News Roundup: Key Weekend

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News Roundup: Good Things

News Roundup: Vail Numbers

  • Vail Resorts has sold 850,000 season passes as of September 18th, an 18 percent increase compared to last year at this time.
  • CEO Rob Katz assures skiers reservations should be widely available for most resorts on most days.
  • Vail lost $153.6 million in the quarter ended July 31st compared with an $89.5 million loss in the same period last year.
  • For the full fiscal year 2020, Vail reported a net income of $98.8 million, a decrease of 67.2 percent.
  • The company also recently cut 410 jobs.
  • Regarding capital projects and the seven lift projects Vail postponed this year, Katz said on the conference call:

“We are of course going to be monitoring the season closely before we come out with any plan for calendar year 2021. We’ll make sure we’re incorporating what happened this year. We will likely still be in a conservative approach though hopefully not as conservative as last year because the environment around Covid and travel has all improved. We will definitely be prioritizing projects that we think will have a significant impact on the guest experience and certainly some of the projects that we deferred from last year will be top of the list.”

News Roundup: Workers