Ski News #12 - Published 17 November 1996
Greetings from THE COLORADO SKIER
This is part of a series on Ski Area News. It is posted separately from our companion series on "LOST SKI AREAS", "THE COLORADO SKIER - TRIVIA", and "TCS LISTS". Check 'em out.
A. It seems like the right time of year to do a "Ski News" edition. Time to remind you about what you might find out there. Actually we have been doing "ski news" tid-bits for several issues and this will be a recapitulation (huh?) of the major news items.
B. Many thanks to JEFF STRAIT, of Williamstown, MA, for sending a brochure/trail map for the MT. GREYLOCK SKI CLUB (MA) ski area.
C. TCS Newsletters have a new Web address. See Section 9.
1A. SKI AREA NEWS - GET YOUR KICKS IN 96
a. KILLINGTON, VT - Is replacing the Ramshead double with a HS Quad and is adding a cross-peak access chair.
b. TENNEY MOUNTAIN, NH - Closed in 1990 but re-opened under a new owner as LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN for 3 more seasons to 1993. It did not operate the last 3 seasons. Now the condo owners at the base have made an offer to buy and reopen the ski area. No current status.
c. MAGIC MOUNTAIN, VT - Has a new owner and was planning to re-open this December. However, some environmental cleanup delayed the startup. Things still look good for next year, however.
d. PICO, VT has declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy - the banks own it. This is very sad. PICO is one of the oldest ski areas in the country. They opened about 1936 with rope tows and added the first T-bar built in the U.S. (a Constam) in 1938. The area was run by the MEAD family and daughter Andrea Mead became a successful and famous ski racer.
a. WINTER PARK, CO - Is replacing Colorado's slowest chairlift, "Olympia", with a HS Quad. It's about time.
b. LOVELAND VALLEY, CO - Is replacing their main doublechair with a fixed grip quad - no new terrain.
c. VAIL, CO - New larger base lodge at Golden Peak. HS Quad from there to the base of Chair 11. New 12 passenger gondola at Lionshead. No way the lodge or gondola will be ready by opening day (IMHO). [Latest guess for the gondola is 28 Nov. VAIL opened on 8 Nov.]
d. BEAVER CREEK, CO - Has added a HS Quad and several trails in the "Bachelor Gulch" terrain. This will allow the interconnection of ARROWHEAD and BEAVER CREEK (this season).
e. BRECKENRIDGE, CO - Is building an "access-only" doublechair. It will run from the Kings Crown condo area (near the bottom of "Four O'clock run") to a ridge between Peaks 8 and 9. There will be skier facilities and a bus stop, but no skier parking. The chairlift will have a 45 degree turn - most of any fixed grip chairlift in the world.
f. KEYSTONE, CO - Allows snowboards this season. They have added a halfpipe and terrain garden (with night lighting). That will leave ASPEN MTN as the only ski area in Colorado banning snowboards. BTW, the snowboard park is called "Area 51". Cute.
g. COPPER MTN, CO - Is adding another double chair (the old "I" lift) in the (new last year) "Copper Bowl" terrain.
h. STEAMBOAT, CO - Is adding new terrain ("Morningside Park", behind Storm Peak) with a triple chair and several new trails.
i. TELLURIDE, CO - Will "finally" open the town-to-mountain village gondola. This will be the fourth year in a row that we have announced this gondola opening. :-) [Fact: We first saw it in Sep, 1993]
j. CUCHARA VALLEY, CO - Is for sale and the current owners have decided NOT to operate for the 96/97 season, sans sale. We noticed that the "Public Relations Director" from last season is now billed as the "Area Manager". She is probably the only employee left!
a. RED LODGE, MT - Is expanding into the "Cole Creek" terrain this season with two HS quads and several runs.
b. BIG SKY, MT - Is replacing one of their two ancient gondolas with a Doppelmayr HS Quad.
c. DEER VALLEY, UT - The "Wasatch" double becomes a HS Quad.
d. PARK CITY, UT - Is replacing a Yan Quad ("Prospector") with a "Six-Pack", and will allow snowboards.
e. WOLF MOUNTAIN, UT - Has announced 96/97 "plans" to add two new Quads and new terrain. Does anyone know if it happened?
f. JACKSON HOLE, WY - Replaces the Teewinot double with a HS Quad.
g. GRAND TARGHEE, WY - Is upgrading the "Bannock" double to a HS Quad and the "Shoshone" double to a FG quad.
h. SKI RIO, NM - Has declared bankruptcy, once again. This is a really neat area in terms of vertical, terrain, and lifts, but is just too far away from population and transportation centers.
a. ALPINE MEADOWS, CA - Will replace a Yan HS Quad ("Summit") with a Six-Pack, and will allow snowboards.
b. MOUNT SHASTA SKI PARK, CA - Is adding a 3rd triple chair.
c. MT BACHELOR, OR - Is opening the long planned "Northwest Passage" terrain with 468 new acres served by a HS quad.
d. TIMBERLINE, OR - Is replacing the "Palmer Chair" with a quad. The chairlift will serve the Palmer Snowfield in the spring and summer and maybe some times in the winter (during the rare times of light winds and good visibility).
e. MT. HOOD MEADOWS, OR - A new chair in the Andromeda Bowl.
a. WHISTLER, BC - Is replacing the "Quicksilver" HS Quad with a six- place gondola. That was the Yan chair that failed last season, killing two skiers, and injuring several more.
b. APEX, BC - Reader JACK (WA) reports that the BC Provincial Government has "called" a major loan that Apex can't afford to pay off. Their upcoming season is at the mercy of the Government.
c. SUNSHINE, ALB - Is adding another HS quad.
1B. SKI AREA NEWS - LONG RANGE EXPANSION PLANS
a. VAIL - Has received "final" permission from the Forest Service to do the CAT III expansion which includes north facing bowls out past the current back bowls. The FS chopped them back from 1000 to 850 acres and from 4 to 3 lifts. Vail is tinkled pink and plans to start work next summer and open in 1998.
b. TELLURIDE - Received FS permission to add several lifts and expand onto several new peaks, including Gold Hill and Palmyra Peak. Plans are long-range. (Millennium unknown)
c. STEAMBOAT - Will expand along "Pioneer Ridge", which is to the left of the existing ski area as you look up from town. Snowcat tours this season.
d. STAGECOACH (near Steamboat, CO), which folded back in 1974, has been obtained from the creditor and will open this year as a cross- country area with snowcat tours. There are plans for adding lifts.
e. CATAMOUNT, a planned NEW area near STAGECOACH, was proceeding nicely thru the permit process when the principal investor withdrew. The owners of OKEMO (VT) [Diane and Tim Mueller] came to see the "area" this summer and late word is that they have decided to invest, as part of a diversified investment group. (Catamount lives!)
f. BERTHOUD PASS, CO - Has been closed for several seasons, but now has a new owner and will re-open next season. Of the three new lifts installed by BORVIG a few years back, two still remain, plus the base lodge. BORIS reports that there is already repair work being done on the base lodge - probably to secure it for the winter.
g. CRESTED BUTTE, CO - In a rare move for a ski area, has canceled plans for expansion onto "Snodgrass Mountain" (name change in order?). Seems that the locals don't want the expansion. Not for environmental reasons, but just because they don't want growth. Affordable housing, cheap beer, and all that.
h. SOLDIER MOUNTAIN, ID - Actor BRUCE WILLIS and his family live in Hailey, Idaho (near SUN VALLEY). He is busy taking over and remaking that town. Now Bruce has purchased the SOLDIER MTN ski area (near Hailey) and plans to spend big bucks on expansion. It is a given that all vehicles will be equipped with "Diehards". (Ooh, bad!)
2. SKI AREA NEWS - OTHER
a. EARLY OPENINGS - KILLINGTON opened on 4 Oct. As per usual, they closed four days later. Their openings are more like publicity stunts than real skiing. The cameras were whirring and the wire services were humming. The "Whole New Animal" (a pussycat?) finally reopened on 1 Nov, way back in the pack. SUNDAY RIVER (ME) also opened on 1 Nov.
In Colorado, KEYSTONE led the way with a 21 Oct opening. Not much "skiing", tho. Mostly boarding, or so it seemed. LOVELAND opened on 22 Oct, and BRECKENRIDGE recorded their earliest opening ever, on 25 Oct. Elsewhere, MT HOOD MEADOWS (OR) also achieved their earliest opening ever, on 21 Oct. In Utah, PARK CITY opened early to the huzzahs of the newly enfranchised riding crowd.
b. ASPEN has announced the highest lift ticket price in the country at $56! Only gold cards are accepted - no ordinary cash, please. VAIL lags behind at a paltry $52. We have mentioned in the past that ALTA, UT generally has a lift ticket price which is HALF that at Vail. This year Alta will be at $27 which is close - and is UNDER half of Aspen's price. Only skiing at Alta, tho. No condos or fur coats.
c. WESTERN PACIFIC, the Colorado Springs discount airline, has formed a subsidiary airline called MOUNTAIN AIR EXPRESS (MAX) which will start flying in December to Gunnison (Crested Butte), Montrose (Telluride), Eagle (Vail), Aspen (Aspen), Durango (Purgatory), and Hayden (Steamboat). Advanced purchase prices will be $69 from Colo. Springs. Even better, you can fly from any WestPac city to COS and connect with a MAX flight for only $119 (one way), early on. BTW, the latest WestPac "logo plane" represents PURGATORY/Durango.
d. GEORGE GILLETT - Once owned and ran VAIL. He lost Vail Associates when his meat packing business and TV stations went kaput. This year GILLETT bought MT CRANMORE and WATERVILLE VALLEY (NH), the two ski areas left out of the big American Skiing merger. He also bought 3 ski areas in California (NORTHSTAR, SIERRA-AT-TAHOE, and BEAR MTN) formerly owned by the Fibreboard Corp.
3. LOST SKI AREA FOLLOW-UP
a. To keep loyal reader BILL WALKER (San Diego) amused we try to mention his favorite ski area, GRANLIBAKKEN, in every issue. Recently we stated that the previous name of the ski area was "OLYMPIC HILL". Here is a clarification. "OLYMPIC" HILL (Tahoe Tavern, CA) was started in 1928 by a group that was trying to land the Winter Olympics in 1932, at the same time as L.A. was (successfully) bidding for the Summer Olympics. The bid failed but Olympic Hill continued to be used for ski jumping contests and slalom races. In 1948 it was decided that a bigger hill for recreational skiing was needed. So GRANLIBAKKEN was built NEXT TO Olympic Hill. The latter area was retained for jumping. A closer inspection of our old highway maps reveals the name "Olympic Hill & Granlibakken" rather than "Olympic Hill/Granlibakken". Clear?
b. New reader KEVIN (GA) writes to point out that the correct complement of lifts at the ADDISON PINNACLE (NY) Lost Ski Area is T- bar, Poma, and rope tow. He learned to ski there and now golfs at "Pinnacle". He says that there are still lift remnants.
c. MT GREYLOCK, MA - In response to a reader question we discussed the famous "Thunderbolt Trail" once used for downhill races. We also mentioned a small lift-served area on Mt. Greylock once operated by Williams College, principally for slalom races. That area still operates. New reader JEFF STRAIT, Vice-President of the "MT GREYLOCK SKI CLUB" sent us a brochure/trail map. It indicates an opening date of 1932 making it one of the oldest ski areas in the country. [BTW, hope everyone saw the article on the Thunderbolt Trail in Nov SKI.]
d. TRIVIA IS EVERYWHERE - Recently we found a used book on the flora and fauna of New Mexico. One of those little books with the color drawings that make it easy to determine whether it was a falcon or a hawk that flew off with your cat (!). The copyright date was 1955 and the book also listed ski areas, including a new one to us, "TRES RITOS". Now, there is a town called "Tres Ritos" near the current SIPAPU ski area, which was formerly known as AGUA PIEDRA.
About the same time, we were reading a neat book on the history of TAOS and founder ERNIE BLAKE. The first lift (1955/56) at "TAOS SKI VALLEY" was a German "Ski-Kuli" (?) with 300 feet of vertical. The second year (56/57) they installed a T-bar obtained from the "Tres Ritos Ski Club" which raised the vertical to 900 ft. It seems that the Bolander family who operated TRES RITOS decided to close and move to a better ski area location where SIPAPU is now. A little more checking revealed that it was Tres Ritos, not Sipapu which carried the name "AGUA PIEDRA". We love it when trivia comes together!
A few days later we scored a 1942 highway map of New Mexico. It contained some "lost" areas like Cedar Creek, McGaffery, Hyde State Park, and La Madera. Also, another new one called EL RITO. This one was located a few miles north of the town of El Rito which is about 40 miles west of Taos. The area had a rope tow and no base lodge.
e. SOOOOEY! New reader CHARLES (city unknown) says that he knows of TWO former ski areas in ARKANSAS. You got us by one, slick. We'll show you ours if you show us yours. Ours is:
- MARBLE FALLS (Dog Patch), [closed], Located on Hiway 7 south of
- Harrison. Operated from about 1973 to 1977.
- Vertical Drop: 220 ft Top: 3000 Base: 2780
- Lifts: 1 chairlift, 3 rope tows 100% snowmaking
Note: There is a "WHITEWATER" ski area, but not in Arkansas.
4. BUILDERS EMPORIUM
a. In the interest of fairness and (hopefully) accuracy, here is more on the Yan bullwheels. LIFT ENGINEERING, the manufacturer of Yan ski lifts until 1994 (the company is now under bankruptcy protection), issued a Service Bulletin recommending that all Yan bullwheels be INSPECTED for a faulty weld and that FAULTY welds be replaced, and also that all of the welds be replaced within a "few years". KEYSTONE CHOSE to replace all welds this year. Other ski areas elected to "inspect" the welds (with bullwheels in place) and postpone serious repairs until next summer. One problem which hindered "in-place" inspections was the heavy bracket which keeps bullwheels from falling off their axles. This bracket was added to Yan lifts after a bullwheel fell off a Yan lift at KEYSTONE some years ago (when a different weld failed). BTW, the Colorado inspections revealed faulty bullwheel welds at Keystone, Copper, and Vail. Other states ?????
STEAMBOAT originally planned to just do an "ultrasound" until experts pointed out that that test would only determine the sex of the lift. So, instead, they are doing an MRI, which will not only reveal cracks but will also determine how well the lifts' knees can handle the bumps this season. BTW, we will ride Yan Fixed Grip lifts this season but you won't see us on a Yan Detachable Quad.
b. Hey guys, can we get on the same page? Last year we discussed the "tram" at the MIRAGE Hotel in Vegas and someone asked about the "monorail" at BALLY'S. So this year we checked that out and reported on it. So, of course, this time someone asked about the tram at the Mirage! To review, it is a relatively level-tracked funicular/cable car. One car is drawn back and forth between the two hotels (Mirage and Treasure Island) by cable. No on-board operator, but there are attendants at the loading stations.
c. TALLY-HO? - While we were researching the "Milwaukee Road" ski train to the MILWAUKEE ROAD SKI BOWL (now HYAK) we came across a description of a strange ski lift (in 1946): "The TALLY-HO SKIBOGGAN CHAIR LIFT is an innovation which is creating great comment among all ski enthusiasts. In comparing this revolutionary chair lift with others which normally accommodate 285 people an hour, the Skiboggan will accommodate a capacity of 1440 skiers an hour. This lift may be used by non-skiers, as one may ride down the lift as well as up. .... In addition to this lift, there will be three other ropetows, and a sled tow pulled on a cable, the latter of which will be made accessible from the top of the Skiboggan ...." Is there no end to the supply of STRANGE LIFTS ???
d. BRIDAL VEIL FALLS AERIAL TRAM - This small but steep tourist attraction near Provo, UT was seriously damaged by an avalanche last winter. One of our ace Utah field reporters (ED, who helped us with lost "Cedar Canyon") reports that the tram is still "hors de combat". It seems that the owner had no insurance and can't afford to rebuild.
5. THE SUN VALLEY STORY
Many of you know the story of COUNT FELIX SCHOFFGOTSCH who traveled the West looking for the perfect location for a ski area and discovered the site we now know as SUN VALLEY (ID). One reader asked the trivia question: WHAT LOCATION CAME IN SECOND? Here is what we know: The Count was hired in 1935 by the Union Pacific RR at the request of COB Averill Harriman to find a suitable resort. Harriman wanted the UP to have a destination resort to advertise, much like the Santa Fe RR advertised the Grand Canyon.
The count had four criteria: 1) The usual large vertical and good snow; 2) Close to a UP railhead; 3) Open ski terrain like in Europe rather than the old, narrow, logging road trails common to New England; 4) No existing ski area - so as not to disturb current skiers and to cut down on the likelihood of weekend skiers.
The Count first checked on PARADISE LODGE, on Mt Rainier. It met all criteria except that it had a current ski area. Ironically that area no longer operates. It rained the whole time the Count was in Oregon so he didn't even bother skiing on MT. HOOD. SO. CALIF had insufficient snow and was too close to L.A. The mountains near SALT LAKE CITY had existing ski areas and were too close to SLC. YOSEMITE was all federally owned. One very promising area was JACKSON HOLE. It basically met all the criteria. However, the railhead was on the other (west) side of Teton Pass and the Wyoming Highway Dept. would not promise to keep the pass open in the winter.
In Colorado, the Count declared BERTHOUD PASS too windy, and STEAMBOAT SPRINGS was too remote. While the Count was in CO, his traveling companion, a UP employee, was having a few drinks in Boise with the head of the IDAHO Highway Dept. The latter suggested KETCHUM. Lots of snow, big mountains, and not only a nearby UP main line, but even a branch line into Ketchum. So they called the Count and arranged a car trip to Ketchum. The first day they got stuck in heavy snowdrifts and had to be plowed out. The next day the Count found a big valley, suitable for hotels, golf courses, tennis courts, riding stables, ice rink, etc. And there were small hills for beginner skiing and ski schools. The 3rd day the Count hired a guide and climbed up and skied on the big mountain, Mt. Baldy. He had found nirvana.
That spring (1936), the UP bought 4,000 acres of Ketchum land for about $10.00 an acre. That summer the Lodge was built, and the ski area opened in December, 1936 with the first two chairlifts in the world. The rest, as they say, is history. The answer to the trivia question? We don't know but would have to guess Jackson Hole.
a. SPOOL CHUCKERS OUR KNOT PURR FACT - Last time, in the tag, we meant to say Ten Commandments and said "Ten Commandants" instead. Probably because we had just finished watching "Hogan's Heroes". [Or is that "Kommandant"?] So, ARE there 10 Commandments in the metric system? A reader says "10" IS metric. In British units there are 12.
b. SKI UTAH - Has a billboard west of Denver which says: "If you were in Utah, you'd be skiing by now." This refers to the fact that from the SLC airport to Brighton/Solitude or to Alta/Snowbird it is about 45 minutes, whereas from DIA to Summit County is about 90 minutes. So, how far up I-70 into the mountains is this billboard? Actually it is IN Denver. Think about it. From DIA to I-70, then to East Denver, then downtown, then to West Denver. 45 minutes easy.
c. BILL MAROLT, former AD at CU is now the head of "US Skiing" which controls the US Ski Team. Mr. Marolt is well known in CO. He has a long career as a ski racer, ski coach, and sports administrator. In March 1965, at the 22nd Harriman Cup in Sun Valley, Marolt came in 8th in a downhill race. Significance? A fellow named JEAN CLAUDE KILLY came in 9th in the same race! We bet Bill has the framed race results in his office. [For the record, Karl Schranz won the race.]
d. THE 96 VOTE - Our local school district had a question on the ballot which asked us to raise property taxes to support a bond issue. Taxes were to be raised "... for FIVE years only ... in the 1996-1997 budget year and in each budget year thereafter through and including the 2001-2002 budget year." So? That's SIX budget years! The money was for school buildings. It should have been for math teachers!
e. HILL LIFT or LIFT HILL? - Recently we received a magazine with the picture of a chairlift on the cover. Why unusual? Because this was "RollerCoaster" magazine. The new wooden coaster: "A Great White" at Wildwood, NJ has a chairlift running thru and OVER it (100 feet above the sand). The chair appears to be a Doppelmayr fixed-grip triple. (Kathy D?) According to the text the lift is the "prototype Flying Kites cable-lift ride". It appears that each chair has a (plastic) "kite" attached to the top. The lift ran CCW. [ :-) ]
7. FROM THE MAILBAG
a. MYSTERE - Last time we talked about this great show in Vegas. SKIP (Sunday River) has seen several "Cirque de Soleil" shows including the "new" one QUIDAM. He is impressed, too.
b. HOW MANY COLLEGE SKIERS WILL FIT INTO A GONDOLA-SHAPED PHONEBOOTH? SKIPPY laughed, nay, guffawed when one of our trivia questions listed the 12 passenger gondola at STRATTON. 12!!! he cried incredulously! "Maybe 12 anorexic pygmies in running suits, but not 12 skiers in ski clothes!" He reminds us that WHISTLER uses the identical cars and only claims 10 passengers. [How embarrassing - Our skilift records say (for Whistler) "same as Stratton" and yet we never even thought about 10 vs 12] FWIW, we have climbed inside the new "12 skier" cars at VAIL. They "seat 9 and stand 3". Looks like they can, to us.
Anecdote: We saw the VAIL car at a ski show. We asked the VAIL representative who made the cars. "Doppelmayr?", he ventured. "They make all the quads." We checked the labels: The cars are made by "CWA" (who make all gondola cars these days). The system was built by "Garaventa-CTEC". Perhaps we should volunteer as a docent.
c. DAVE (Troy, NY) says he has hiked the MT RAIMER (NY) ski area and would like to see a trail map. We have none. Actually, the ski area operated under three names (from about 1964 to 1981): PETERSBURG PASS, MT RAIMER, and TACONIC TRAILS. If anyone has a map, please make TWO copies and send them to us and we will send Dave one.
8. CAR TALK - NAME THAT CAR
Do you really know which company built the car you are driving? Many vehicles are built by companies other than the one whose nameplate they carry. Here are some examples:
FORD - What car is more American than the FORD PROBE? Actually the Probe is a joint Ford/Mazda design based on the MAZDA MX-6. It is built of Mazda and Ford components and is assembled in a Mazda plant in Flat Rock, MI.
MERCURY VILLAGER and NISSAN QUEST are twins built in the U.S. jointly by Ford and Nissan.
The FORD ASPIRE is a MAZDA design and is built in Korea by KIA.
The MAZDA NAVAHO is actually a 2-door EXPLORER built by FORD.
The MAZDA B2000 pickup truck is really a FORD RANGER with a Mazda nameplate. This is turnabout, as the original Ford mini-truck, the COURIER, was built by Mazda. Likewise the Courier competitor, the CHEVY LUV, was built by Isuzu as the ISUZU PUP.
GENERAL MOTORS builds all of their own cars, except the small car GEO line. The GEO TRACKER is really the SUZUKI SIDEKICK. The GEO PRIZM started as the CHEVY NOVA and was a clone of the TOYOTA COROLLA. The GEO METRO (formerly CHEVY SPRINT) is also built by Suzuki and is based on the SUZUKI SWIFT. And, the CHEVY CAPRICE is really --- ugly! :-)
The SUZUKI HOMBRE is the CHEVY S pickup, built in Brazil.
CHRYSLER - builds about half of their model line. There is the ubiquitous minivan in its Plymouth, Dodge, and Chrysler versions and the 4-door sedan which, with different sheet metal, becomes a Dodge, Eagle, or Chrysler. The NEON is also U.S. designed/built. However:
The CHRYSLER SEBRING and DODGE AVENGER are coupe versions of the MITSUBISHI GALANT built in Illinois by Mitsubishi. (Note: The SEBRING convertible is a different vehicle, based on the CHRYSLER CIRRUS.)
The EAGLE TALON is built by Mitsubishi as the MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE. The EAGLE SUMMIT is actually the MITSUBISHI MIRAGE (and was previously the DODGE COLT).
The DODGE STEALTH is, of course, the gorgeous MITSUBISHI 3000GT.
The DODGE VIPER is actually a MARTIAN EARTH ROVER. 8-)
JAPANESE inter-island items - The HONDA PASSPORT SUV is actually the ISUZU RODEO, built in the U.S. by Isuzu. Turnabout: The ISUZU OASIS minivan is built by HONDA as the ODYSSEY.
The ACURA SLX is really the ISUKU TROOPER (or as actress Rosie Perez calls hers: the "Eye-Zoo-Zoo Twoopa"!)
The new ultra-luxurious LEXUS LS 450 and INFINITI QX4 SUVs are really the TOYOTA LAND CRUISER and the NISSAN PATHFINDER, respectively.
a. Please provide your city name (and your own name) when FIRST writing to TCS. It makes our statistics more complicated.
Cheers from The Colorado Skier (Member I.S.H.A., AAA, PPRR, YWCA)
"To Infinity and Beyond!" Buzz Lightyear