A new chairlift at Oregon’s Mount Bachelor leads the list of improvements in advance of the coming skiing and boarding season.

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Skiers and snowboarders are preparing for another winter season, and resorts have been hard at work in the offseason making improvements and upgrades.

Washington ski areas saw no major projects, but a resort to the south has been busy putting the final touches on a new chairlift.

Oregon’s Mount Bachelor Resort, along with Powdr Corporation, based in Park City, Utah, are installing a new high-speed detachable quad chairlift named “Cloudchaser.”

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Whistler Blackcomb Resort has added more outdoor dining seating at its Roundhouse Lodge. (Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb)
Whistler Blackcomb Resort has added more outdoor dining seating at its Roundhouse Lodge. (Courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb)

“We’re on track for opening the new lift by the middle of December, just prior to the holidays,” said Stirling Cobb, marketing and communications manager for Mount Bachelor. “The new lift will help spread out everyone on the hills and alleviate the crowds on busy days.”

The new $6 million lift is the first since the Pine Marten Express replaced a lift in 2006. The new quad opens up 635 additional acres of terrain on Bachelor’s east side, and boosts the groomed runs by 6.2 miles/36 acres.

Towers for the chairlift were installed in late October. In all, the 21 towers and 141 chairs have the capacity to shuttle 2,400 people per hour, with a vertical rise of 1,448 feet and horizontal length of 6,576 feet.

The name Cloudchaser pays tribute to the unique weather patterns of approaching clouds from the west that are known to dissipate and disappear altogether as they wrap around Mount Bachelor’s summit and pass to the resort’s east.

“It is shielded from the weather, and on special days it can be sunny there while it’s socked in at other places,” Cobb said.

Bachelor’s other offseason work was shortening the Rainbow triple chairlift to keep it within the tree line, which makes it more weatherproof and accessible to a wider range of skier levels, including some intermediate groomed runs. The ride used to take 12½ minutes and will now shuttle passengers in 7½ to 8 minutes.

Washington

Crystal Mountain Resort invested more than $2 million in improvements over the summer. A new large umbrella on the sun deck in front of the Day Lodge provides 150 more covered seats with heaters. The RV lot has added 30 new 50/30 amp sites totaling 72 electrical hookups along the southwest bank. Another snow-making gun (bringing the total to eight guns) was added in the Discovery Meadow area up to the merge of the Quicksilver-Tinkerbell runs.

• Parking has always been a major issue at Stevens Pass Mountain Resort. The resort spent $1.9 million on a new lot that holds more than 250 cars on the north side of Highway 2 with easy access to the resort by a pedestrian bridge. Work on existing parking lots opened up an additional 90 spots. Two new snow guns will be used during early season to build learning terrain and ramps to lifts, and fill in low snow areas at the base.

The Summit at Snoqualmie added a new “magic carpet” conveyor lift in the learning zone at Summit West, and another new magic carpet at the Tubing Center, replacing a handle tow. At Summit Central workers completed a remodel of the Central Lodge’s main restaurant level. Additional light towers were installed at Alpental for improved night skiing. The Summit also purchased the Mountaineers property located between Summit West and Central.

• At 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort the base of the Chair 5 Sunrise Quad has been transformed to include a paved Nelson Creek Road out to the yurts, three unisex bathrooms and the completion of the first of several ski-under bridges. New residential structures have been added, as well.

• A grant for Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park has led to the completion of remodel projects to the main lodge. Upgrades for Chair 1 will allow summertime activities in the future.

British Columbia

Whistler Blackcomb Resort, about five hours north of Seattle, added new outdoor patio space to seat 100 at the Roundhouse Lodge. Work at Whistler Mountain’s Olympic Station has opened up more beginner-friendly terrain including two new covered magic-carpet lifts. Read up on the resort’s long-term, $345-million Renaissance Project at seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/outnotes-07/.

• Taynton Bowl (a once heli-ski-only location) at Panorama Mountain Resort can now be accessed by a chairlift ride to the summit. The area with a snowcat-width ridge trail opens up 750 acres, and 4,019 feet of vertical powdery and gladed hillsides. It is patrolled and controlled for avalanches, so skiers and riders don’t need guides or special backcountry equipment.

• A new 80-seat restaurant in the Alpine Lodge at the base area of Mount Washington Alpine Resort on Vancouver Island was part of a $2 million investment that also included three new snowcats and the installation of 10 additional snow-making guns.

Sun Peaks Resort expects to complete a new National Hockey League-regulation-sized outdoor skating rink this winter.

• At Revelstoke Resort skiers and riders can enjoy an additional 50 acres of tree-skiing terrain. The resort has also developed several more acres in the terrain park beneath the Stoke Chairlift.

Oregon

• At Mount Hood Meadows there is a new 60-foot “Sunkid Conveyor” providing a more natural progression for those learning to ski and snowboard from the current Ballroom Carpet in the Fun Zone to the Buttercup lift.

• New at the Mount Hood Skibowl Snow Tube & Adventure Park is a second tube conveyor lift for the main hill that will alleviate long lines. The area has also installed more than 2,000 feet of snow-making piping and several high-pressure hydrant pump locations throughout the base area.

• A second-phase remodel of the Wy’East Day Lodge at Timberline Lodge features a new look to the Y’Bar, and an improved kitchen and food-prep area.

Idaho

• A new 9,000-square-foot lodge is expected to be completed by December on the summit at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Visitors will be able to take in views of Lake Pend Oreille, three states and Canada.

• Phase One of the Lookout Pass Ski Area’s long-range expansion plan was accepted by the U.S. Forest Service. It includes two chairlifts on Eagle Peak — west of the existing ski area — that will add up to 700 acres and 14 new runs, plus gladed areas with a 1,400-foot vertical drop. Final environmental analysis is expected soon with project approval after that. Construction of a new 14,000-square-foot base lodge is projected to start next summer.

• Being eco-friendly is gaining ground at Northwest ski areas, and Sun Valley Resort and the U.S. Forest Service partnered for the “Healthy Forests Initiative” that resulted in an additional 21 acres of gladed terrain on Bald Mountain. It boosts the total gladed areas to 55 acres developed in the past three years of the partnership. Sun Valley also replaced 125 snow-making guns with energy-efficient Rubis Evo snow-making guns, for a total of 207.

Montana

• The second phase of the Summit House remodel at Whitefish Mountain Resort features enlarged kitchen and food-court areas, plus expanded food stations, and new tile work and equipment.