Snow Zone

Rocky developments

A new ski season means new upgrades and new terrain for area resorts


Expansion in the Rockies never seems to slow down; every year we get more
runs, more lifts, more resorts, more appalling price tags, and more pissed
off with the traffic. Cruising down the parkway and witnessing the side
effects of the exploitation of the park can be depressing; but like it or
not, this will likely be another big year in the Rockies. There will be
hordes of tourists, crappy, trendy cafés and gift shops selling
postcards of men’s asses lined up on the hill, mooning the yellow sun
and blue sky from their neon ski suits. But if the humidity that drenched us
through the year continues, it will be more tempting than ever to head into
the mountains to shralp some of the deep snow and fluffy powder that keep the
Rockies famous. It will also be an attractive time to check out the new lifts
and terrain that sprouted up this year. To keep a positive outlook on the
goings-on in the sweet Rockies, here are few new developments that took place
this year that might be of interest to the skiers and riders.

During the past summer, Jasper’s Marmot Basin completed the third and
final phase of their Eagle Ridge expansion. This year’s development
sees the opening of two new bowls: the Sugar Bowl and the Birthday Bowl. Both
were accessible in previous years by riding out-of-bounds, but the two bowls
have undergone “selective and extensive glading” and are now patrolled and
marked in-bounds. And you Aspen wannabes will be pleased to hear that Marmot
Basin has joined the Starbucks army.

Rolling a little further down the Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise is also
buzzing. Louise purchased a gondola from Squaw Valley and they are assembling
it to move riders from the base area to the top of Eagle Ridge. That’s
huge. The new gondola will open up the nice steep terrain to the east of the
Top of the World chair. That area was previously very difficult to access by
anything other than an arduous hike. The high-speed six-passenger gondola
will also allow more direct access to many of the back bowls filled with
steep chutes. It’ll climb over some permanently closed terrain during
its ascent, but Lake Louise staff maintain that this area is an avalanche
hazard and will remain closed.
Moving a bit closer to Banff, Sunshine Village has more good news for
advanced riders. They’re opening new special conditions terrain that
will be open to the public, pending snow conditions. Riders in these areas
will be required to carry a shovel and a transceiver and must be accompanied
by at least one other person. The Wild West will join Delirium Dive as
Sunshine’s second area of lift-accessed special conditions

The obscenely expensive Whistler Blackcomb resort has also put some of their
revenue to work—this huge mountain claims to have invested $14.2
million in new parks and terrain this year. More than 1,100 acres in new
terrain have been added: many new beginner and intermediate runs as well as
significant advanced terrain. Included in the latter category is the new
Flute Bowl, enticingly described by Whistler’s marketing department as
an “in-bounds backcountry experience.” Access to Flute Bowl will require a
short hike, which will likely keep the area sparsely populated enough to
ensure fresh lines are available to the powder junkies who commit to the
quick hike. Whistler’s also added a new Superpipe that will be lit for
nighttime sessions, and they’re juicing up the terrain park to the tune
of $40,000, which they say will be spent on upgrading rails and creating new,
progressive rail shapes. Whistler has also added a new pedestrian-only base
area. Even so, an adult lift ticket rings in at just under $100.

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