Region’s slopes add new lifts and lodges
From Whistler’s $18 million in improvements to Stevens’ first new chairlift in 15 years, operators up their game to woo snow lovers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Snow has been falling in the mountains, and resorts have been busy preparing the newest lifts, terrain, lodges and other amenities for the upcoming winter ski and snowboard season.
Whistler Blackcomb Resort in British Columbia — the largest mountain-sports resort in North America — continues to expand at a brisk pace.
Finishing touches on the mega-resort’s $18 million capital expansion include Whistler Mountain’s Harmony high-speed, four-seat lift being replaced with a new Dopplemayr high-speed six-seat chairlift.
The Harmony Six lift is 5,672 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,722 feet, and can move 3,600 skiers uphill per hour compared to 2,400 per hour on the old lift. Harmony will shuttle passengers up the same route covering areas from the Symphony Ampitheatre clear across to Glacier Bowl, which sits adjacent to the Peak-2-Peak Gondola Express.
The new Crystal Ridge Express high-speed, four-seat lift on Blackcomb Mountain will sweep 2,400 skiers per hour uphill, compared to the existing triple-seat chairlift’s 1,800 per hour. It is 5,604 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,755 feet.
The new quad lift’s base is about 518 feet lower than the previous lift, and is located along the Blackcomb Glacier Road ski-out area.
The new base location eliminates use of the Excelerator Express to access the Crystal Zone trails, which includes Ridge Runner, Rock ’N’ Roll, and other gladed trails such as Outer Limits.
The top of the new quad will sit at the same location as the old chair, adjacent to the Crystal Hut. The new quad’s location will provide a faster and easier route to return to the Glacier Express lift to access Horstman Glacier, Spanky’s Ladder and Blackcomb Glacier.
As part of the new Crystal Ridge Express project, the resort also invested $3 million in a new snow-making system in the Crystal Zone.
Washington ski areas
• Stevens Pass Mountain Resort looked for ways to cut down on lift time to the popular Mill Valley terrain, and replaced the Jupiter fixed-grip, four-seat chair with a new high-speed quad, the Jupiter Express.
This is Stevens’ first new chairlift in 15 years, part of the first major capital improvement plan under the new owners and operators, Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC, which acquired the resort in 2011 from Harbor Properties.
The Jupiter Express will cut the ride time in half, from eight minutes and 30 seconds to four minutes and 10 seconds. The lift alignment is the same as the old chair, covering 3,755 feet with a vertical rise of 1,344 feet.
Stevens also added new gladed terrain in the South Park area, which will be accessed via the new lift, and expanded glading in the Corona, Pegasus and Orion areas.
• The second phase of construction on The Summit at Snoqualmie’s 10,000-square-foot Silver Fir Lodge at Summit Central will be complete for the winter opening. The 4,989-square-foot top floor will consist of food and beverage areas. The lower section will house additional space for the retail and rental areas.
• Mount Hood Meadows has redeveloped four acres of terrain to expand its beginner and intermediate area, which is accessed via the Easy Rider lift. This area will be family-friendly, for parents to take young children and boost their skill levels.
•At Mount Hood Ski Bowl the parking lot rope tow is being replaced by a 220-foot-long conveyor lift for new skiers and snowboarders.
• Mount Ashland is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. It has re-contoured the Sonnet beginner slope and added 101 new parking spaces.
• Mount Bachelor Resort began preparation to develop a new Eastside Express lift and associated trails, which is at least a year away. Trees were removed for the new lift line and several trails in the area. This will open up 646 acres of new glades, bowls and natural features. This winter the terrain will be mostly ungroomed and natural, but will take a 20-minute hike-out to the Sunrise base.
• Schweitzer Mountain Resort is celebrating its 50th Anniversary by spending more than $1 million on a new sun deck outside the Taps Lounge in the Lakeview Lodge. The resort cut a new downhill racing course located on Stella by widening the trail shortcut to connect Upper Cathedral Aisle with the lower section of Zip Down. Schweitzer also added a new, larger terrain park called the Southside Progression Park.
• Silver Mountain Resort added two new runs to the Bootlegger Run.
• Red Mountain Resort’s recent expansion to nearby Grey Mountain includes a new fixed-grip Poma quad chair and offers skiing and riding off the mountaintop in all directions. The addition of Grey’s 997 acres brings the total accessible terrain to 2,682 acres.
• Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has enhanced and lengthened the Redemption Ridge Traverse, providing easier access to the ridge. Powder lovers will like the addition of two more chutes off Redemption Ridge into Crystal Bowl.
• Kimberley Alpine Resort will unveil more beginner trails on the lower mountain from the top of Northstar Chair. Skiers and riders can now avoid the lower mountain head wall, which is the steepest pitch on the Main Run, by making their way down the much easier Alpine Slide.
• Fernie Alpine Resort has widened and expanded Kids Trails, Window Chutes, Lower and East Easter, Sun Up, Red Tree and Cedar Ridge. More brush work was done on Boomerang, Morning Glory and the Polar Ridge area, as well as tree removal in the Currie Glades.
Mark Yuasa: email@example.com or 206-464-8780