The 2018-19 ski season is upon us, so check out all the resort enhancements waiting for you! A travel industry publication Travel Weekly posted a front page article by Robert Silk this week. Read on for all the juicy details! You will experience more lifts, gondolas and terrain than ever before.
From New York to Washington “big, robust, state-of-the-art machines” will be added, according to the data from NSAA (the National Ski Areas Association) including 27 lift and gondola installations. “A combined capacity of 56.000 people per hour will ascend a combined 23,500 feet.” NSAA also shared that 16 of these will replace older lifts, nine will be additions, and two are relocations of retired lifts.
These improvements will be “robust” in their capacity, speed and energy efficiency. Among the resorts taking the lead is Big Sky, MT, touting their new Ramcharger 8 lift as “the most technologically advanced lift ever built.” Now that’s a lift I would love to experience! It has 8 seats at 15 feet wide, with heating elements and a weather-proof bubble. A loading conveyor will assist skiers to loading point, and its motor only turns at 12-13 revolutions per minute compared to the typical 1,700 rpm of the traditional lift. It will transfer up to 3,200 passengers per hour up to the mid-mountain lodge.
Winter Park, CO has upgraded it’s capacity considerably at its main base with a new $16.2 million, 10 seat gondola with a capacity of 3,600 passengers per hour. They predict it will reduce wait times in peak season about 15 minutes. That’s significant for hard core ski enthusiasts!
One reason for the robust improvements at resorts this year, according to Mike Lane, the NSAA’s technical services director, is that tax cuts went into effect. Industry consolidation is also likely a contributing factor and may continue to be in the coming years.
Alterra Mountain Co., operating 14 North American resorts with 10 in the US, is emerging as a challenger to Vail Resorts. This year they will sell an all-mountain IKON Pass to compete with Vail’s Epic Pass. They also plan to spend $500 million over the next five years on infrastructure improvements.
Here are a few of the other improvements you may choose to take advantage of this year:
Hunter Mountain, about 3 hours northwest of NYC, is adding a high-speed 6-seater and is opening access to 80 new acres, including five new trails. They are adding a new base area as well as more intermediate and tree terrain.
Arapahoe Basin, CO, boasting the longest ski season in Colorado and especially popular with expert skiers, will have a new four seat Beavers lift that will access 339 acres of new terrain. It will have two groomed intermediate runs, open bowls, and what A-Basin calls “some of the best tree skiing in Colorado.” They are also opening 129 acres of expert-only trails called Steep Gullies, which will increase skiable terrain to 1,248 acres.
Mount Spokane, WA A new triple chair opens a new backside with 279 acres of terrain, including 80 acres of trails and seven runs. Triple Chair 6, which will “climb 1,428 feet over the course of a nine-minute ride, is slated for completion this month. “its opening will mark the end of a 15 year saga for Mount Spokane, which included 14 years of regulatory and legal challenges.”
Ready to ski? Here’s a link to freshen your wardrobe and equipment, should you need some new gear. Enjoy your preparations, and let me know if you would like some assistance in booking your flights and lodging package. www.Ski.com is a wonderful partner of mine; please know that choosing to use me will NOT change your package price at all! Then I can help with all those little additional needs…like travel insurance!