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Originally published Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 4:17 PM

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Two new lifts will benefit skiers at Whistler resort

Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia recently announced an $18 million capital expansion by adding two new lifts.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Extensive development work at Whistler-Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia didn't stop once the Vancouver Winter Olympics ended in 2010.

The mega-resort — the largest winter destination area in North America — recently announced an $18 million capital expansion by adding two new lifts.

Whistler Mountain Resort's Harmony high-speed quad lift will be replaced with a new Dopplemayr high-speed detachable six-pack chairlift.

The new Harmony Six lift is 5,672 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,722 feet, and will be able to shuttle 3,600 skiers uphill per hour compared to the existing lift capacity of 2,400 per hour.

The Harmony Six will cover terrain from the Symphony Ampitheatre to Glacier Bowl, which sits adjacent to the Peak-2-Peak Gondola Express.

The expansive Harmony Zone terrain alone covers a whopping 1,200 acres of both mountain areas' total of 8,171 acres. Harmony offers a wide variety of terrain suited for beginners to experts, and gives way to skiers and snowboarders to spend more time in the alpine powder-covered area that the resort is known for.

The new high-speed quad chair going into a new area of the Crystal Zone on Blackcomb Mountain Resort will be called the Crystal Ridge Express. The capacity of the quad will boost 2,400 skiers per hour compared to the existing lift's 1,450 per hour, and is 5,604 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,755 feet.

The top of the new quad will sit at the same location as the current fixed-grip triple chair adjacent to the Crystal Hut. The aspect of the new lift line is different, and will originate along the Blackcomb Glacier Road.

This bottom terminal location allows for choice access to many Crystal Zone trails, including Ridge Runner, Rock 'N' Roll, and glade trails like Outer Limits without having to return to the Excelerator Express.

The new quad's location will be a quicker and easier route for skiers and riders coming back from Spanky's Ladder and Blackcomb Glacier.

Construction on both lifts will begin this spring, with an expected opening for the 2013-14 winter season.

Once the snow melts, two Washington ski area projects are also expected to be completed by the 2013-14 winter season.

The second phase of construction on The Summit at Snoqualmie's 10,000-square-foot Silver Fir Lodge will begin this spring.

The 4,989-square-foot top floor will consist of food and beverage areas while the bottom level will house the retail and rental space.

The 49 Degrees North Ski Area will begin work this spring on a new mid-mountain 4,000-plus-square-foot, three-level lodge with a rooftop loft.

The new lodge will sit atop Silver Ridge at about the 5,200-foot elevation level and will look over the Pend Oreille River Valley and the beautiful Cabinet Mountain Range of Montana and northern Idaho.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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