2004 | Souped up for skiers

November 29, 2004 

From Stevens Pass marketing director Lori Vandenbrink’s rejected promotional campaign file: “Stevens Pass, we encourage bad behavior.”

When ski season opens, Stevens Pass will be the first resort in the Cascades to offer wireless Internet access in its lodge.

“So people can come up here and ski and pretend like they’re working,” Vandenbrink said, jokingly. “And we also have special college passes for students, so we might be encouraging them to skip class.”

“But you shouldn’t work all day,” added Vandenbrink, who has a sociology degree from Western Washington University. “You need balance in your life.”

Stevens Pass is just one of the resorts making upgrades ranging from new lodges to improved snowboard terrain in an attempt to encourage you to spend more time in the mountains this winter.

Cascade resorts spent more than $7 million on upgrades this year, and you’ll pay for some of those upgrades at the ticket counter with the average price for a lift ticket rising from $40.50 to $42.30.

An adult lift ticket at White Pass increased by $2 to $40 this year, even though the resort has no major changes.

“We are saving for improvements in the future,” White Pass marketing director Kathleen Goyette said.

Crystal Mountain ($45 for an adult pass) and Snoqualmie ($42) made several upgrades but didn’t raise ticket prices.

Here’s what will be new this year when the resorts open:

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN

The most obvious addition in the mountains this winter will be a $4.1 million lodge at Crystal Mountain, which Skiing Magazine recently rated as the seventh-best ski resort in North America.

The 12,500-square-foot Campbell Basin Lodge is located at the top of the Forest Queen Express lift, but could have a significant impact on many parts of the mountain.

The 500-seat mid-mountain lodge, which will be decorated with the art of ski film icon Warren Miller, is expected to relieve congestion at the Summit House and Main Lodge restaurants. The resort will dedicate the new lodge Dec. 9.

Crystal has also cleared some trees on several runs including Campbell Basin, Kelly’s Gap and Right Angle, making for open skiing, marketing director Stacy Schuster said.

THE SUMMIT AT SNOQUALMIE

The Summit at Snoqualmie spent more than $700,000 on upgrades, with most of the money going to the beginner areas and terrain park.

Two new Bombardier grooming machines have been added and will increase the amount of groomed acreage at the resort. In the terrain park, a variety of new rails and other jib features have been added for different levels of boarding, and more speakers and lights have been added.

A beginner lift similar to a moving sidewalk has been added at Summit Central, and a similar lift at Summit West has been lengthened. A kids’ ski area called the Adventure Zone is also new.

Off the slopes, several restrooms have been remodeled, roofs have been replaced on the lodges, and the ski patrol is now equipped with automated external defibrillators.

The biggest investment for the park was a $90,000 Switzerland-built Zaugg Pipe Monster for grooming Snoqualmie’s superpipe. The superpipe will have walls as high as 18.5 feet.

“The Zaugg will make the time needed to cut our pipe more consistent regardless of snow conditions because of its aggressive design,” said Steve Brockett, Snoqualmie’s grooming manager.

STEVENS PASS

They needed dynamite to overhaul the terrain at Stevens Pass for this season. Workers blew 9,000 cubic yards off the mountainside to regrade the unloading ramp on the Daisy Lift for beginner runs.

“The ramp was steep and short, and you could only go one direction,” Vandenbrink said. “It was like watching ice-skating follies. It was not a good first experience for beginners. But now it’s a big, easy offload.”

The material blasted from the area was used to build a superpipe with 15-foot walls. By building the pipe with earth instead of all snow, Vandenbrink says the 450-foot high-flying zone will open earlier than years past.

MOUNT BAKER

Mount Baker spent more than $2 million on upgrades for this season, most of which was used to replace Chair 6.

At a cost of $1.8 million, the two-seat lift was replaced by a fixed-quad. This change should guarantee shorter lift lines, but the biggest benefit will be noticed when you slide off the lift.

“The unloading ramp is no longer a double diamond,” said Gwyn Howat, Baker’s marketing director.

More rails have been added to Baker’s terrain park. Howat said the resort also spent $250,000 on grooming equipment.

MISSION RIDGE

Mission Ridge will unveil “Quan” this winter. “Quan” is the name of a new intermediate run, the highlight of a series of improvements made by new owner Larry Scrivanich of Woodinville.

Jerri Barkley, the resort’s marketing director, said a small island of trees was removed to make room for the run. New boxes, rails and other features have been added to the terrain park.

The resort is also beefing up its ski school to handle 30 percent more students, and more seating has been added to the lodge.

“I think people will have a great time here this year,” Barkley said, “once it starts snowing.”

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