Bridger Bowl is creating a first-rate learning center this fall, with four new lifts under construction to serve exclusively green terrain. Following years of attendance records and upper mountain expansion, the move is similar to what Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole, Taos and the Yellowstone Club did recently combining short gondolas, new chairlifts and/or covered carpets to create dedicated teaching hubs away from facilities for other guests. At Bridger, the Snowflake lift is being moved away from conflicting skier traffic to a completely new area, the Virginia City double replaced with a Skytrac triple chair with loading carpet and two new SunKid conveyors added. An addition to the Saddle Peak Lodge and new Snowflake Hut cap this major investment by the Bridger Bowl Association, the mountain’s nonprofit owner for the past 63 years. Impressively, the entire expansion is being paid for with cash reserves.
Bridger Bowl’s redevelopment over the last two decades is a model for nonprofit community ski areas everywhere. At the turn of the millennium, the mountain ran one modern quad chair and five Riblet doubles built between 1964 and 1978. Every lift was subsequently replaced with new fixed grip triples and quads with loading carpets from Garaventa CTEC, Doppelmayr CTEC and now Skytrac. With six Chairkit systems, Bridger Bowl is the largest operator of loading carpets in North America. “The conveyors are very effective in reducing mis-loads and allow the lifts to be operated closer to full speeds,” Four Mountain Advisors noted in the mountain’s master plan. “This helps maintain lift capacity without the added costs of a high-speed lift.” While at one point Bridger operated two mile-long doubles, the new strategy relies on a larger number of shorter, well-placed fixed-grip triples and quads. Virginia City and Snowflake are the fifth and sixth modern lift replacements in new alignments.