News Roundup: Hurdles

News Roundup: Fresh Designs

Summit at Snoqualmie Unveils Big Plans

One of Washington’s most-visited resorts today announced Summit 2030, a multi-year capital improvement push to start this summer. Reimagining The Summit is just the latest initiative by Boyne Resorts to bring its ten ski resorts into the modern era. The vision for Snoqualmie includes eight new lifts across all four base areas, enhanced summer operations, expanded snowmaking, new lodges and more. The resort has a lot of work ahead just on lift renewal with 19 chairlifts averaging 35 years old.

To start, Doppelmayr will replace the Hidden Valley double with a triple chair, enhancing capacity on the backside of Hyak for next season. The new lift will feature conveyor loading and transport 1,800 skiers per hour. “Another milestone in our plan to modernize our lift network, the new Hidden Valley Triple provides more capacity, dependability, and greatly improves access to one of most unique areas at The Summit,” said Guy Lawrence, Summit President and General Manager. The mountain also plans to open a bike park at Silver Fir this summer, add more chairs to the Armstrong Express and implement RFID ticketing this offseason.

Many more lift upgrades will follow over the next decade. At Alpental, fixed grip triple chairs are planned to replace both Sessel and Edelweiss. Perhaps most exciting will be construction of the International lift, a project first conceived decades ago. “The long-awaited International Chair at Alpental will be a fixed-grip triple dropping skiers and riders in the best spot for accessing Lower International, Snake Dance, Felson & Back Bowls, providing a whole new way to access some of the most popular terrain at Alpental,” says The Summit. Another key focus at Alpental will be installation of remote-operated avalanche control systems to open terrain faster during storm cycles.

At Summit Central, Boyne plans to replace and realign the Central Express with a larger lift. Nearby, Triple 60 is earmarked for a detachable quad. A brand new lodge, snowmaking and alpine coaster will round out improvements at Central.

Learn to ski hotspot Summit West will see replacements for workhorse lifts like Wildside and Pacific Crest as part of Summit 2030. Wildside will likely be a fixed grip quad and Pacific Crest a detachable six place.

It’s no secret Snoqualmie and other Cascades ski areas attract throngs of skiers at peak times so it’s great to see Boyne committing to major improvements in the Northwest. Not far away, Alterra has announced a similar $100 million plan for Crystal Mountain and Vail Resorts has expansion opportunities at Stevens Pass. Higher capacity lifts and more terrain at Snoqualmie will surely help meet demand for skiing in a booming region with just three ski areas.

News Roundup: Mystery Solved

Mt. Shasta Announces Gray Butte Expansion

Rumors of a major expansion and new lift coming to Mt. Shasta Ski Park were spot on. The Northern California mountain plans to build a Doppelmayr fixed grip quad on Gray Butte, significantly extending the skiable vertical drop with five new intermediate runs. The new lift will rise 1,154 vertical feet along an approximately 4,300 foot run, topping out at 7,500 feet in elevation.

“We are so excited to announce the Gray Butte Lift, which has been a long time in the making,” says a new project webpage. “The new lift will service much higher elevation, epic terrain, and access to our backcountry area.” Gray Butte will be the longest chairlift at Mt. Shasta with 14 towers and a 9.5 minute ride time.

Although the lift line has already been cut, the project has not yet received final approval and the ski area is asking the public to contact the Siskiyou County Planning Commission with support. Planning documents state construction is expected to take place in the fall of 2022 into early 2023. More information on the timeline will be shared at an April 20th public meeting.

New Six Packs Coming to Blue Mountain and Camelback

A report by Ski Area Management reveals new six place chairlifts will be installed at both Camelback Resort and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania this summer. The resorts share common ownership and are located within an hour of each other in the Pocono Mountains, though the lifts will be built by different manufacturers.

At Camelback, Doppelmayr will replace the aging Sullivan Express with a bubble lift named Black Bear 6. The existing high speed quad was the site of a tragic accident a year ago which injured three guests. Black Bear will feature a 667 foot vertical rise, 3,000 passenger per hour capacity and indoor parking for its 50 chairs.

Blue Mountain’s new six pack will replace the Main Street and Burma doubles but start lower on the mountain than the existing lifts. The Leitner-Poma machine will rise 980 vertical feet in under five minutes. “The new lift aims to improve connectivity between Valley Lodge at the base and the Summit Lodge, as well as access to terrain on the western part of the mountain,” reported SAM. The lift will spin at 1,000 feet per minute with 80 carriers.

Both projects are expected to begin construction this month and open for the 2022-23 ski season.

New Quad to Debut at Cypress Mountain

All of Cypress Mountain’s terrain will become accessible by quad chair next season following replacement of the summit lift. Dubbed SkyQuad, the new Doppelmayr fixed grip quad on Mt. Strachan will feature a loading conveyor and move up to 1,800 guests per hour. The lift replaces a 1968 Mueller double relocated from Apex Mountain Resort to Cypress in the late 1980s.

This is the fifth new lift project announced by Boyne Resorts for 2022-23 as part of a major infrastructure push. “With the huge new heated outdoor dining plaza beside the Cypress Creek Lodge, more upgrades to the snowmaking system and now the new loading conveyor equipped SkyQuad chairlift, Cypress Mountain is making great strides in transforming the resort facilities to better accommodate our valued season passholders and four season guests,” said Russell Chamberlain, President of Cypress Mountain Resort. Construction on the new lift will begin in April and be complete before the start of next winter.

Beech Mountain Announces New Chairlift

The third new Doppelmayr quad in four years is coming to North Carolina’s Beech Mountain. The fixed grip quad with loading conveyor will replace the mountain’s oldest chairlift, Lift 1. The beginner-focused double chair was constructed in 1968 and upgraded over the years but has reached the end of its useful life. Upon completion of the project, Beech Mountain will feature six modern Doppelmayr lifts.

Other projects announced for this summer include a new conveyor lift and enhanced snowmaking.

Bromont to Add Detachable Quad in 2023

The Government of Quebec will partner with Bromont to realize CAD$10.2 million in mountain improvements for the 2023-24 season. A new Doppelmayr detachable quad, snowmaking and lighting upgrades will all improve the experience on Mont Spruce. The new lift will replace a Poma Alpha quad relocated to Bromont in 2011.

The Express des Épinettes will become the third Doppelmayr detachable among Bromont’s eight chairlifts. The project is just one component of a CAD$101 million multi-year improvement initiative called Project Altitude.

Alterra Announces $344 Million Capital Plan for 2022

Alterra Mountain Company today affirmed plans to open big new lifts in 2022 and more next year as it increases investment across its 14 resorts. This year’s $344 million plan includes $93 million in increased capacity and terrain expansion, $91 million for skier services upgrades, and $16 million in guest experience technology with a focus on Palisades Tahoe, Steamboat, Crystal Mountain, Mammoth Mountain and Deer Valley.

At Palisades Tahoe, the $65 million Base-to-Base Gondola will be completed this summer after two seasons of construction. The Leitner-Poma gondola will connect the two mountains of the resort for the first time, giving skiers and riders access to a combined 6,000 acres of terrain and making Palisades the third largest resort in North America. The 16 minute gondola ride will take skiers and riders between The Village at Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Lodge, reducing road congestion in the region and making it easier to enjoy both mountains in a single day. It is the first gondola of its kind in North America, with four terminals connecting two base areas via a climb of nearly 2,000 vertical feet.

Winter 2022-23 will also see phase two of Steamboat’s Full Steam Ahead redevelopment completed with $90 million of investment to include the relocation of the lower terminal of the Christie Peak Express and the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, which will take guests to the new Greenhorn Ranch learning center at mid-mountain.

Wild Blue will become the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country. With the lower leg opening in 2022-23, and the upper leg opening in 2023-24, the state-of-the-art Doppelmayr D-Line gondola will feed skiers/riders through a newly created mid-station adjacent to Bashor Bowl with the final destination of Sunshine Peak. It will feature the first Omega V cabins in the United States. At a total length of 3.16 miles, the new gondola will increase the out of base capacity from 6,000 people per hour to 10,000 people per hour, getting skiers from bottom to top in 13 minutes. The recently re-graded Rough Rider/Bashor Basin area will be home to Greenhorn Ranch, an area dedicated to beginner skiers and riders. It will feature progressive terrain-based learning and a dedicated chairlift.

For winter 2023-24, 650 acres of advanced terrain will open on Pioneer Ridge, making Steamboat the second largest ski resort in Colorado. This expert, gladed terrain will be serviced by a new detachable chairlift.

At Washington’s Crystal Mountain, $100 million will be spent over the next five years. The largest investment ever made at Crystal will focus on greater access, more space and significantly enhanced skier services. Work will begin this spring with $25 million for additional parking and a new 25,000 square foot skier services facility called Mountain Commons. No lift projects were announced but Crystal Mountain President Frank DeBerry has made no secret his wish list includes a replacement for the Rainier Express, a new gondola to the summit and relocation of the current Mt. Rainier Gondola to Campbell Basin.

At Mammoth Mountain, summer 2022 will see ground and infrastructure work to facilitate the replacement of the Canyon Express at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express at Main Lodge. Doppelmayr initially planned to build these lifts in 2020 before the Coronavirus pandemic postponed the project. The new high-speed six packs are planned to finally debut in winter 2023-24.

New for winter 2022-23 at Deer Valley, the Burns Express chairlift will debut at the Wide West learning area. This high speed chairlift will connect the Snow Park base area to Little Baldy Mountain, offering ski school access to more beginner teaching terrain and providing an additional option for skiers to navigate out of the main arrival area. The $6 million investment to improve the learning area on Wide West will also include enhancements to the existing Snowflake chairlift, installing and reconfiguring surface lifts and grading beginner terrain.

“This historic investment is clear evidence of our commitment to deliver a premier guest experience at our North American destinations and our engagement towards the long-term future of our mountains,” said Rusty Gregory, CEO of Alterra Mountain Company. “More than ever, we continue to infuse meaningful capital into projects that will transform our base areas while significantly improving our physical and digital on-mountain offerings to ensure that our guests experience the best of the mountains.”

Some previously-approved projects were absent from Alterra’s latest announcement, namely the Red Dog replacement at Palisades, Timber expansion at Tremblant and Pioneer Express upgrade at Winter Park.