Winter Wonderland

The Pacific Northwest gears up for another ski and snowboard season

By: By Marty Wentzel


49° North
Crystal Mountain
Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort
Mount Bachelor
Mount Baker Ski Area
Mount Hood Meadows
Mount Hood Skibowl Winter Resort
Mount Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Stevens Pass
The Summit at Snoqualmie
Timberline Lodge and Ski Area

Schweitzer Mountain Resort (pictured here) is using new technology to keep guests up-to-speed on its trails. // (c) Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer Mountain Resort (pictured here) is using new technology to keep guests up-to-speed on its trails.

While clients spent summer swimming, golfing and hiking, Northwest ski resort operators were investing in their facilities. Thanks to this flurry of enhancements and improvements, schussers and snowplowers alike can expect an upcoming season of superior skiing.

In Washington, the staff at 49° North designed new alpine trails and gladed descents on Angel Peak. The resort will build these trails and glades during the next three summers in combination with the construction of additional surface parking.

By installing a new drain field, Crystal Mountain completed its renovation of Summit House Restaurant.

Improving access to the ski area and overall parking capacity was the focus of Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort’s plan. The resort also announced an initiative to extend SkiLink Bus transit privileges to all Mission Ridge season-pass holders free of charge.

Mount Baker Ski Area upgraded Chair One to a fixed-grip quad lift, nearly doubling uphill lift capacity and completing its goal of turning all of its lifts into quads.

Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park completed an extensive remodel of its lodge’s kitchen and concessions area. It purchased a Prinoth BR 350 grooming vehicle, which will allow the ski area to prepare the slopes faster and save considerably on fuel.

Stevens Pass Resort is launching the first resort-wide use of a new integrated ticketing system for guest services. It is also featuring hands-free lift access for its guests and direct lift access for Advantage Card and season-pass holders.

The Summit at Snoqualmie purchased a $4.5 million high-speed quad chairlift to replace the popular Silver Fir triple chairlift. The new Silver Fir Express shortens ride time to about four minutes while increasing uphill capacity to 2,400 guests per hour.

In Oregon, Mount Bachelor added 150 acres of skiable terrain. It invested in its lift network — including $500,000 in proactive lift maintenance and repair — and improved access to the ski area with a new Park-N-Ride facility in nearby Bend, an additional shuttle bus and a new heated walkway at Sunrise Lodge. Its three new snowcats have enhanced its snow-grooming operation, and a $505,000 snow blower is improving snow removal in parking lots and on roadways.

Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort constructed a new medical clinic and ski patrol headquarters building in its base area and replaced its Fun Zone rope tow with a 280-foot enclosed SunKid Wonder Carpet conveyor. It remodeled the North and South lodges, creating more attractive restrooms in the North Lodge and modernizing the South Lodge’s Schuss Grill. It also bought three state-of-the-art snowcats and replaced one-third of its rental skis and boards.

Mount Hood Skibowl Winter Resort & Summer Action Park picked up two new snowcats. It doubled the restroom capacity of its Skibowl West’s Starlight Lodge and added a ticket window to the outside sales facility. Skibowl West’s retail shop has been relocated to the lodge space below the Beer Stube. This new retail space can also accommodate the resort’s season pass and group sales functions. Mount Hood Skibowl also graded its snow tubing facility and added several new lanes to enhance the tube riding
experience. This year, the resort’s horse-drawn sleigh rides are operating out of nearby Collins Lake Resort.

Timberline Lodge and Ski Area has refined its eight new Still Creek Basin trails with improved signage, trail enhancement and more milling space at the lower terminal of the Jeff Flood Express Chairlift. It also improved its beginner hill, which has been outfitted with a Magic Carpet Ski Lifts conveyor.

In Idaho, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is making the most of cutting-edge technology to enhance guest services and communication. A new interactive trail map on its Web site allows clients to view photos and videos depicting particular runs by clicking on trail map icons from the comfort of home. Users can also choose customized criteria, which allows them to view and print out maps tailored to their skill level.

"We’re excited to offer our guests this important new technology," said Schweitzer marketing manager Patrick Sande. "Whether someone is planning a day trip or a vacation, they can get a sense of what to expect ahead of time."