New gondola cabins, more snow guns, improved runs and even a thrill-coaster ride await snow lovers at their favorite slopes.
The ski and snowboard season has arrived, and on the minds of many is what’s “new and improved” at their favorite wintertime destinations.
Spotlight on snow sports
Here are some highlights:
• Crystal Mountain Resort has added five gondola cabins, bringing the total to 28.
A $200,000 investment (each gondola has a price tag of $40,000) will allow more riders to take in spectacular views of Mount Rainier and outlying valleys.
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Crystal is also adding 29 snow guns, bringing its arsenal to 37. This increases snow-making by 350 percent, covering terrain equal to 53 football fields.
With the new snow-making capacity, by next year, “We anticipate being able to have a projected opening date each season that doesn’t entirely rely on Mother Nature,” Tiana Anderson, spokeswoman for the resort, said in an email.
This is the first phase of three snow-making upgrades with a price tag of $4.8 million. Phases two and three include extending snow-making up Queens Run to the top of Forest Queen Express, and up Lucky Shot run to the summit.
A $100,000 low-energy induction lighting system for Discovery, Gold Hills and Quicksilver lifts will enable them to stay open longer. The Campbell Basin Lodge will have a new bar and a wood-stone pizza oven.
John Kircher, Crystal’s longtime manager and son of Boyne Resorts’ founder, recently purchased the resort and has additional plans, including a covered magic carpet and rebuilt lifts at Gold Hills and Discovery.
• The Learning Center at the White Pass Ski Area has a new 380-foot surface lift, which is the longest covered magic carpet in the state. Construction on a 4,000-square-foot Ski Patrol Clinic and Operations Building is about halfway finished.
• Mount Hood Meadows Resort, on the mountain’s southeast flank, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by replacing the Buttercup beginner lift — originally installed for the 1979-80 season — with a more efficient SkyTrac fixed-grip quad that doubles capacity.
“This new lift makes the enjoyment of learning and gaining confidence on the hill that much better,” said Dave Tragethon, the resort’s vice president of marketing, who points out rider numbers will increase by more than 70 percent per hour.
Berms and rollers will be added to beginner terrain next to the Ballroom Carpet over the snow conveyor, and around the Buttercup beginner chairlift.
Meadows staff trial-tested terrain learning features at the end of last season, and first-timers raved about how easily they advanced to gliding down the slopes.
• Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, near North Powder, added a new warming yurt at the summit of Rock Garden chairlift, offering a facility for early-morning higher-ground yoga classes.
• Two new dining areas add 1,000 square feet to the main lodge at Mount Ashland Ski Area, at Ashland, providing more seating, a redesigned cafe and renovated “T-bar” lounge. The nearly $2 million investment was made possible from a fundraising campaign last spring.
• Mount Bachelor Resort, near Bend, spent $2.5 million to create wider and smoother runs off Cloudchaser lift by removing trees and stumps, grading terrain and improving transitions between trails.
• Mount Hood Skibowl, at Government Camp, installed more than 2,000 feet of specialized underground snow-making piping and power to 12 hydrant locations, covering the Westside Base Area up to lift tower seven on the Lower Bowl run.
• At Whistler Blackcomb Resort, 78 miles north of Vancouver, guests can take in the scenic views from the new Peak Suspension Bridge and West Ridge Viewpoint on the summit of Whistler Mountain. The bridge is suspended over Whistler Bowl at an elevation of 7,160 feet. Renovation work was also completed on Roundhouse Lodge’s upper terrace and viewing deck.
• An investment of $2 million at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, on Vancouver Island, has opened 40 acres of glade and bowl skiing terrain in the Outback area on the mountain’s backside. It is accessible from Eagle Express or Boomerang chairlifts.
• Whitewater Ski Resort, near the town of Nelson, is replacing the original 41-year-old Summit chairlift with a new Leitner-Poma fixed-grip quad chairlift, set to open in December. It follows the same route, with the same riding time, but makes for smoother loading and unloading. The resort has also renovated the day lodge.
• Looking toward the near future, Silver Star Resort, near Vernon, is celebrating its 60th anniversary — 1958 to 2018 — with construction of a new gondola, to open for summer activities in July 2018.
• Red Mountain Resort, at Rossland, is putting the finishing touches on a new on-mountain, ski-in and ski-out boutique hotel, The Josie, at the base of the resort. It is planned to be completed in late January, with a restaurant, outdoor pool and spa.
• Panorama Mountain Resort, in southeastern B.C., expanded Taynton Bowl by 128 acres to offer skiers and riders more backcountry-style terrain. This is the first phase in the resort’s expansion on Mount Goldie Plateau, creating four new inbounds double-black-diamond trails, including 246 feet of vertical, with the longest run at four-miles.
• Thrill seekers will enjoy the new Glade Runner Mountain Coaster, a 4,100-foot gravity-driven ride with bobsled-like cars on elevated tracks at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, near Boise. The coaster starts at the entrance to Simplot Lodge, winding up through the trees toward Pioneer Lodge before returning on a downhill track to the base area.
To enhance a first-time skier’s or snowboarder’s experience, the EZ Rider Magic Carpet has been relocated, adding two new conveyors in the Simplot Base Area and tripling its capacity.
• Silver Mountain Resort, at Kellogg, added a new intermediate trail “Klondike Express” in the Chair 2 Basin, allowing nonstop top to bottom laps and easy access to the terrain park.
The relocation of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Chair 5 — now named East Rim — from Ptarmigan Bowl to East Rim has created the first lift on the mountain’s east side. Guests can take advantage of early- and late-season conditions found on the upper slopes at North Bowl and East Rim. It also provides an alternative route to north-side terrain, improving access to intermediate and advanced terrain.