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: No Reservations

News Roundup: Sunshine

  • The Summit at Snoqualmie shuts Hidden Valley for the season due to an “unusual mechanical problem.”
  • Sugarloaf closes King Pine due to a sheave assembly issue.
  • Dave Brownlie, former head of Whistler Blackcomb and current Revelstoke President, weighs in on the state of the British Columbia ski industry and his company’s plans for Grouse Mountain.
  • The Colorado Sun interviews three Colorado resort pioneers about industry trends and challenges.
  • As the gondola at Mont-Sainte-Anne reopens, the resort says an external power issue caused last month’s sudden stop.  A lawsuit has been filed and the power company denies responsibility.
  • Just the Leitner portion of Mexico City’s new urban gondola network will feature seven stations and 300 cabins.
  • Experienced resort executives Andy and Jace Wirth may take over operations at Granby Ranch.
  • Limited Ikon/Mountain Collective visits to Arapahoe Basin are 69 percent lower than unlimited Epic visits last year and the “experience is way up,” says Al Henceroth.
  • Another informative podcast from Stuart Winchester features an executive from Mountain Creek and Big Snow talking about the next new lift and a possible Big Snow Miami.
  • Smugglers’ Notch has no intentions of losing its independence or ditching its fleet of fixed grip double chairs.
  • Whitefish will begin work in Hellroaring Basin this summer and move the current Hellroaring triple to a new alignment in 2021.

Snoqualmie Announces Holiday Quad Project

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This 1975 double at Summit Central is being retired in favor of a modern quad chair.

The Summit at Snoqualmie, operated by Boyne Resorts, is getting in on the new lift action.  One of eleven Riblets still operating at Washington’s most-visited resort will be replaced with a fixed grip quad over the summer.  The Holiday Quad will feature a height adjustable loading carpet and more than double hourly capacity on this section of Summit Central, which caters to beginners.  The 1,380 foot lift will rise 260 feet at a maximum speed of 450 feet per minute.  The most recent Summit master plan contemplated removing the Gallery lift alongside this project.

Trail Map inside

Notably, of the more than 35 chairlifts built at Snoqualmie over the decades, Holiday will be the first supplied by Doppelmayr.  “Going from a two-person to four-person chair and adding the easy loading conveyor will be a true game changer for Summit Central, particularly for our first-timers and kids,” stated Guy Lawrence, President & General Manager at The Summit in an online announcement.  Construction will begin in June and wrap up prior to the 2019-20 season.

Instagram Tuesday: Mystery

Every Tuesday, I feature my favorite Instagram photos from around the lift world.

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News Roundup: $4.6 Billion

Big Changes Coming to The Summit at Snoqualmie

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The Summit at Snoqualmie still operates eleven Riblet doubles dating as far back as 1967.

The Summit at Snoqualmie sits just 45 minutes from downtown Seattle, the 4th fastest-growing major city in America.  With 20 lifts spread across four ski areas, the resort hosts nearly 700,000 skier visits in a good snow year, placing it among the top 15 most-visited resorts nationwide (in a bad snow year, it barely opens.)  Three of The Summit’s areas – Summit East, Summit Central and Summit West are connected by ski trails while Alpental stands alone on the opposite side of I-90.

The Pacific Northwest region (Alaska, Washington, Oregon) saw a stunning increase of 142 percent in skier visits  last year, more than double the two million visits from the year before.  That fact, coupled with an aging lift system means The Summit is primed for major upgrades.  The resort still has four Riblets dating from the 1960s and seven from the 1970s.

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In 1996, The Summit had even more lifts than today – 25 total.  Photo credit: Skimap.org

The Summit at Snoqualmie Master Plan approved in 2008 authorizes replacement of 11 lifts and construction of nine new ones with just six lifts remaining in their current state. The first of these projects have already completed, including all new lifts at Summit East/Hyak and the replacement of Silver Fir with a Leitner-Poma high speed quad.  That leaves eleven lift projects planned for the next decade or two at Summit Central, Summit West and Alpental.

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News Roundup: Expansions

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Apologies for the lack of posts this week, I’m on a ski vacation.

  • Snowbird granted unanimous approval to build two chairlifts, a new gondola and upgrade the Mineral Basin Express.  A zip line will share towers with the gondola in Mary Ellen Gulch.
  • Boyne Resorts buys 77 acres on Snoqualmie Pass for an improved connection between Summit Central and Summit West that could someday include a new chairlift.
  • Okemo Mountain Resort files for permit to build a fixed-grip beginner quad chair at Jackson Gore.
  • In other Snowbird news, the two-month project to replace the Aerial Tram’s track ropes begins April 18th.
  • Big Snow America is the latest incarnation of the snow dome at New Jersey’s Meadowlands hoping to be the United States’ first indoor ski slope.  The latest plan pegs an opening next year.  Doppelmayr CTEC completed two lifts for the project – a quad chair and a platter – back in 2008 that have yet to carry any skiers.