Although the COVID-19 pandemic put a major hold on the 2019-2020 ski season and many future resort projects, some ski areas are forging on with long planned upgrades. Here are the new chairlifts, terrain expansions and resort improvements we are most excited for in the coming season.
Arapahoe Basin: New ‘Pali’ Chair
Celebrated and often listed as one of the greatest chairlifts in the world, Arapahoe Basin’s Pallvicini will end 42 years of service this summer after a historic run. Interestingly enough the lift will be replaced in summer 2020 with another fixed-grip double, not a high speed or detachable lift as many expected. Replacing Pali with a similar chairlift is a sign of A-Basin’s dedication to preserving the legend of this beloved section on the mountain. Parents will enjoy the newly added restraint bars, but otherwise, lift capacity will remain identical. When word was announced the chairlift was to be retired, enthusiastic passholders quickly swooned over how to best acquire one of the famous black 2-seaters. The first chair listed for sale on Ebay fetched an astounding $16,000 (all which benefited local charities).
Arizona Snowbowl: Agassiz Major Upgrade
Following a shocking malfunction back in Mid-January which closed the Agassiz chairlift for a good majority of the season. Arizona Snowbowl is investing heavily in a new combination of gondola/chairlift for the 2020-201 season. The new Agassiz lift will help cut ride time in half to just 7 minutes for 2,000 vertical feet of skiing and riding. The ski area has also hinted at repurposing the old triple chairlift at a new location on the mountain.
Steamboat: Pioneer Ridge Expansion
Heralded as the first terrain expansion at the ‘Boat in 20 years, an additional 355 acres of terrain will be inbounds for Steamboat skiers and riders come next year. A tremendously controversial expansion at Steamboat for many locals, the “new” terrain has been a favorite backcountry stash for decades. The new terrain is primarily advanced tree skiing with roughly 1800 vertical feet of descent off the Pony Express lift. The resort is adding 25 new chairs to the Pony Express lift, helping increase capacity from 1200 to 1800 people per hour. Additionally a new access road will aid the hike-out return back to the chairlift, or allow skiers and riders to hike back onto BC Ski way as has been popular in the past.
Skeetawk (Hatcher Alpine Xperience): Alaska’s Newest Ski Area Debuts
After a long uphill battle to build a ski area on Hatcher Pass, Skeetwak is poised to spin lifts for the first time next season. A community-driven nonprofit, the Hatcher Alpine Xperience is helping bring lift accessed skiing and snowboarding to locals in the Mat-Su valley. After years of donations, volunteer work and some setbacks along the way, the chairlift has been finalized this spring and officials hope to open for public access come 2020-2021. You can learn more about supporting this awesome community-driven project here: https://www.skeetawk.com/