Outdoors

Northwest ski areas upgrading for 2016-17 season

A large umbrella capable of covering more than 150 seats is a new addition to the day lodge sundeck at Crystal Mountain Resort.
A large umbrella capable of covering more than 150 seats is a new addition to the day lodge sundeck at Crystal Mountain Resort. Courtesy

From a new high-speed chairlift to new and remodeled lodges, there will be plenty new this winter at ski areas around the Northwest.

Here are some highlights:

CRYSTAL IS COVERED

A large umbrella capable of covering more than 150 seats is a new addition to the day lodge sundeck at Crystal Mountain Resort. Heaters will also be added. The ski area also added heated pavers and metal grate stairs around the day lodge and the upper plaza.

The RV lot now has 72 electrical hookups, thanks to the addition of 30 new outlets. Crystal now has eight snow-making guns with the recent addition of one $30,000 gun for the Discovery Meadow area. The resort also updated its rental equipment.

PARKING UPGRADES AT STEVENS

Finding parking on weekends at Stevens Pass can be more challenging than skiing its famous double-diamond runs.

In an attempt to improve parking, the resort spent $1.9 million on upgrades that include a new 250-car lot. Excavated materials from the lot (on the north side of state Route 2) were used to add about 90 spots to current lots.

Stevens Pass also added two snow-making guns.

SUMMIT MAGIC CARPET RIDES

The Summit at Snoqualmie is adding two new magic carpet lifts to assist new skiers and a tubers. One of the conveyor lifts is in the Summit West learning zone and the other replaces the handle tow at the tubing center.

At Summit Central, the restaurant level in the lodge was remodeled to include a food court with new menu options.

Additional light towers were added at Alpental to improve night skiing.

In March, Boyne Properties, the company that manages the Summit, purchased from The Mountaineers a 77-acre parcel that was once home to a small private ski hill. The acquisition could mean improved trails between Summit Central and Summit West.

MOUNT BACHELOR’S CLOUDCHASER

Mount Bachelor expects to have its new Cloudchaser chairlift operating by the holidays. Located on the east side of the stratovolcano, Cloudchaser is a $6 million high-speed detachable quad that adds 635 lift-serviced acres to the resort.

Bachelor also shortened its Rainbow lift to keep it entirely in the protection of the trees. This change could allow the lift to operate in harsher weather and make it available to a wider range of abilities.

MOUNT HOOD UPGRADES

A new vehicle-maintenance facility is designed to help Mt. Hood Meadows improve grooming and guest shuttling. The ski area plans to expand its beginner terrain with a new 60-foot conveyer lift. The rental facility has also upgraded its gear.

At Mount Hood Skibowl, is adding a second conveyor lift to its tubing hill and is bolstering its snowmaking capabilities.

At historic Timberline Lodge, the Wy’East Day Lodge remodel is expected to be complete in time for winter operations. The remodel includes an overhaul all of the bar and new kitchen. Highlights of the remodel include a photo mural and large TVs. Timberline also upgraded its rental gear.

WHISTLER IMPROVEMENTS

Whistler Blackcomb spent $3.3 million (Canadian) to upgrade a grooming fleet that manicures 1,300 acres per day. The resort added seven Piston Bully grooming cats. Whistler also spent $2.4 million to improve its learning center. Between the two mountains, it added 45 new snow guns to bring its massive snowmaking arsenal to 315 guns.

MORE GROWTH AT 49

49 Degrees North, located north of Spokane, made infrastructure improvements over the summer. Included are three new unisex bathrooms and the first of several planned ski-under bridges. A condo unit, townhouse and single family home were constructed. The ski area also upgraded its rental gear.

MOUNT SPOKANE’S REMODEL

Mount Spokane’s lodge installed new windows, siding and interior touches, thanks to a grant. The ski area also upgraded Chair 1 with future summer operations in mind. The rental shop has new gear and the maintenance crew has new brush-cutting equipment. Cutting back vegetation allows the ski area to open with less snow.

SCHWEITZER’S NEW LODGE

A new 9,000-square-foot summit lodge opens this season after more than a year of construction. The $3.8 million lodge has restaurant and cafeteria-style dining and a bar. While skiers relax they can take in a view that includes Lake Pend Oreille and parts of Idaho, Montana, Washington and British Columbia.

The ski area also spent more than $900,000 upgrading food and beverage service, rental gear and grooming equipment.

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