Let’s Explore: Which Ski Area Projects Would You Most Like to See Next?
Lifts, terrain expansions, base villages, and more
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Spend enough time sorting through skiing’s vast online archives, and you’ll come across some pretty interesting stuff. Check out the lift and trails far looker’s left on this 1989 Peek’N Peak trailmap:
Today, they’re long gone, and Willie Wynkin Woodlands makes up the ski area border (the old trails are blocked off, but still there and skiable – I played around over there in January):
Elsewhere, you’ll find odd and amazing lift systems, like Mountain Creek pre-Intrawest:
In a single summer in 1998, Intrawest stripped a dozen chairlifts off the mountain and built five new ones, three of them detachables (I discussed this remarkable project with current Hermitage Club General Manager Bill Benneyan, who worked at Mountain Creek that year, in a 2020 podcast). Here the ski area is today:
But by far the most intriguing trailmap finds are the “future lift/expansion” projects that never happened, like this 1980 trailmap of Snow Valley, California, showing a whole network of lifts looker’s right that were never built:
Here’s Snow Valley today:
The world of lift-served skiing is littered with unfilled masterplans, some formal, some rumored, some suggested, like those on Ragged Mountain’s trailmap from a few years back:
So, here’s today’s exercise: which ski area projects would you most like to see actualized? These could be master plans that disappeared into the ether, promised or suggested lifts that never appeared, or potential pedestrian base villages that are now parking lots. But let’s reach, too, into the realm of the possible, or even the absurd. Which projects would you like to see built, or at least explored by the operators of your favorite ski area? This could be simple chairlift upgrades (hello, Attitash triple), but let’s get ambitious. When I hosted Summit at Snoqualmie General Manager Guy Lawrence on the podcast last month, I asked him, somewhat cheekily, if the resort had ever considered a gondola connection between Alpental and the Summit ski areas. Because why the hell not at least talk about it, as a thought exercise? (He obliged.) Similarly, in March, I asked Beaver Creek COO Nadia Guerriero about one of my favorite proposals: the long-discussed Vail-to-Beaver-Creek gondola connection.
So, hit me with your questions and ideas. I’ll choose a handful and reach out to the ski areas to see what I can find out, then I’ll devote a future newsletter to their exploration. Just reply to this email or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your questions, ideas, or your own versions of your local ski area’s master plans (I know you have one). This should be fun.