Resort Report: 4th stoke, Tamarack repo, Tahoe stats and train war

Ski areas across the Rockies and Pacific Northwest may have finally put the ski season to bed after an epic 4th of July on snow. While in Idaho, Bank of America is getting ready to repo two of Tamarack's lifts, Vail is being directed to start thinning, and Denver's ski train steam into court.
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In bikinis, draped in flags, and dressed up in all sorts of patriotic costumes, from Squaw Valley to Snowbird to Crystal Mountain, thousands of Fourth of July skiers celebrated the continuation of an incredible season in the U.S. Squaw, which was open on the 4th for the second time since 1993 and only the fourth time in its 60-year history, is still enjoying extensive coverage thanks to receiving 164 percent of its average snowpack. According to news reports, in some places on the mountain the snow is still 10 feet deep.

At Crystal Mountain in Washington, the area celebrated only its second ever July 4th opening with about 1,000 skiers and snowboarders who paid $35 apiece for discounted lift tickets. The last time Crystal was open on the 4th was in 1989, when the area received snowfall totaling 598 inches. This year, Crystal got hit with more than 600 inches. Timberline, Mt. Bachelor, Mammoth, Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows and A-Basin also joined the 4th of July on-snow party this season. A-Basin, typically one of the last ski areas to close each season, was open for the 4th for the first time in 14 years. The Colorado also drew about 1,000 guests according to General Manager Alan Henceroth. 

Bank of America to repo two Tamarack lifts

The Associated Press is reporting that Bank of America’s leasing division is filing paperwork with the Idaho State Department of Lands to allow the company to tear out two of Tamarack Resort’s chairlifts. Neither of the chairs were used during the makeshift season that resort homeowners were able to put together this year--one being used primarily to transport homeowners to the hill, and other a high-speed chair accessing terrain on the area’s northern boundary. The ski area ran out of money in 2008, and has defaulted on payments to the bank. According to the Idaho Statesman, resort majority owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug “is on the run from justice and racking up court fines of $5,000 a day after failing to appear last month before an Idaho judge to answer questions about his responsibility to pay for the lifts.”

Tahoe tops off second straight season of growth

Even before many Lake Tahoe ski areas turned the lifts back on for the 4th of July, the region was reporting a second best season ever of more than 3.6 million skiers visits. Ski Lake Tahoe spokesman Eric Doyne said capital improvements and record snowfall helped push the pace. Millions more dollars will be invested in the region in year’s to come, especially following KSL Capital’s acquisition of Squaw Valley, and Vail’s acquisition of Northstar-at-Tahoe.

Ski train dispute tracks its way to court

The Denver Post is reporting that federal jury is hearing a lawsuit over a failed attempt to engineer a comeback for a ski train from Denver to Winter Park. “Iowa Pacific Holdings contends it lost more than $1 million when Amtrak broke a promise to supply a crew so it could revive the train in 2009,” according to the Post, while Amtrak is claiming that Iowa Pacific never obtained the proper insurance coverage. The SIA Snow Show had hoped to be able to use the train to get retailers to the on-snow demo in Winter Park this past January, but the ongoing dispute derailed that plan.

White River directs Vail to cut

White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has directed Vail Ski Area to cut nearly 1,000 acres of lodgepole pines killed by beetles according to the Vail Daily. Fitzwilliams signed a decision outlining plans to remove about 984 acres of the dead trees on Vail Mountain, saying that they posed a public safety threat. Vail management said they would cut about 50 acres of the dead trees each until the quota is met.

Brit ski business tapers off

A national British ski travel survey titled The Crystal Ski Industry Report said that British people are going on ski holiday less often than they did in the past. The report said that while 1.2 million Brits went on ski holiday during the 2007-2008 season, in the past season that number dropped to 910,900. The late Easter and increasing travel costs were cited as the principal cause. Planet Ski Europe, which first published the findings, said that of those Brits who did get their boots on, 4.6 percent came to ski in Canada and the U.S.

In other news…

A major slough on the Campground run at the Snowmass Ski Area has resulted in a roughly 80-foot-wide slide that ran about 200 feet to the edge of the Ditch Trail according to Aspen Ski Co. executives…Ted Wilson, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's senior environmental advisor, will join the Talisker Corporation as the company's director of government relations. Talisker owns The Canyons Ski Resort…A 41-year-old Austrian guide who hoped to ski from the 20,320-foot summit of Mount McKinley has reportedly fallen to his death. The National Park Service reported on June 30, 2011 that they had spotted Juergen Kanzian’s body in a steep couloir known as the “Orient Express.”

--Peter Kray




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