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May 2010

Construction Site :: May 2010

New Lodges, lifts and summer attractions for mountain resort guests.

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As part of Keystone’s River Run Gondola upgrade, the resort replaced an old, narrow footbridge with the equivalent of an interstate highway. The new $6 million bridge over the Snake River brings skiers and riders 200 feet closer to the village and to the base of the new gondola itself, vastly improving access for descending snowsliders. The bridge measures 40 feet by 158 feet, not including the earthen approaches; that total assembly measures 280 feet long. Construction began last summer and was completed last fall.

The bridge has opened up the main access off the mountain and improves traffic flow, both for skiers and riders and for those staying in condos across the river from the main village—there’s a separate pedestrian walkway for foot traffic. Also, not having two lifts loading right next to each other—the old gondola base was adjacent to the loading area for a high-speed quad—relieves congestion at the base of both lifts. The net result of the bridge and the gondola extension a year earlier is to vastly improve access between the village and the trail/lift system.

“The future for regional resorts is to create a complete destination with something for every member of the family,” says Allen Kryger, Greek Peak president. To that end, Greek Peak opened the $43 million Hope Lake condo-hotel and waterpark on Dec. 10. The five-story Lodge, built in the Northwoods style, has 106 condo units—many with lockout, so the configuration can rise up to 159 rooms. It’s built to be LEED-certified, with appropriate lighting, energy-efficient RRV heating and cooling, and most materials sourced from within 500 miles. The timber frame lobby incorporates big wood beams, all pegged together, and handmade furniture. There’s a fitness center, and a 5,500-square-foot spa with 12 treatment rooms that have their own showers and fireplaces, making them very private.

By late March, Greek Peak had sold 55 to 60 percent of the quartershares, some as whole ownership. Quartershare prices range from $57,00 for a studio to $189,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bath unit.

The 41,000-square-foot indoor waterpark is also as green as possible: it exchanges the air every eight minutes, and uses an ionization system to keep the air clean and dry. The chlorinated water itself goes through an infrared system for additional cleansing. Features include wave pools, three-story tube slides, wading pools, and hot tubs. Outside, the “waterpark” is Hope Lake itself, along with a large, heated pool that is open year-round. And beyond that are 7,000 acres of state land, laced with bike trails and hiking paths. That should take care of just about every member of the family.

Sauveur installed a $2.5 million Wiegand mountain coaster last fall and began operation in mid-December. The mile-long ride (1,500 feet for the ascent, 3,500 feet on the descent) has a maximum speed of about 25 mph; total ride time is 5 to 6 minutes. Capacity is 1,000 an hour. The Viking runs weekends and holidays in winter, weekends in spring and fall, and every day during the summer season. At $10 a run, with discounts for multiple rides, the coaster is capable of generating significant revenue.

The Viking was built entirely in the woods, following the contours of the land. Access was difficult, so everything had to be transported by small machines and hand. Sauveur didn’t want to use bulldozers, as they would disrupt the ground. Any disturbed area was reclaimed and seeded quickly. The track itself is 3 to 20 feet off the ground, making it possible to operate even when there’s snow on the ground.

For cross-promotional purposes, Sauveur installed the coaster so that it passes a watertube slide, giving coasters a view of the sliders, and vice versa. One unintended result has been to promote winter sports, too. The coaster unexpectedly brought in many non-skiing walk-ins this winter, and with the base of the coaster located near the beginner area, coasters have been lured into snowsliding as well.

The base lodge at Soldier burned to the ground on Mar. 30, 2009—the day after the area had closed for the season. A second building, housing the rental shop, was also destroyed in the fire.

By June, the area had decided how it would replace the 1940s-era lodge, a 3,000-square-foot structure designed when people brought their own sack lunches. The old lodge had been expanded on more than one occasion, but was an inefficient space. The new lodge, 4,500 square feet, puts all services and offices on one level. It has a vastly upgraded heating system and insulation, and the large west-facing windows provide views and passive heat. Facilities include the rental shop, a modern kitchen, plus a ticket booth and the administrative offices, which had been housed in a separate building. That structure has been converted into an employee break room.

Construction began in September, and was finished in late January, in time for the resort to operate for two months last winter. It would have been ready sooner but for some snafus regarding fire suppression requirements . . .

Sugar Bowl’s relocated fixed-grip quad Summit Chair, the former CTEC-built Garaventa Christmas Tree lift at Sugar Bowl, provides access to what was previously hike-to expert skiing and riding in Judah Bowl and points beyond. This area is often wind scoured, so the increase in skier traffic creates a more consistent snowpack. The chair also significantly improves sidecountry access, including the “The Lake Run” down to Donner Lake. This access allowed Sugar Bowl to launch a new Backcountry Adventure Center, in conjunction with Alpine Skills International, to educate skiers and riders on safe backcountry travel practices. To support this, Sugar Bowl added a transceiver checkpoint at the new lift, and a new transceiver training area at the base.

All that results from a fairly small chair: it rises approximately 400 vertical feet, with an hourly capacity of 1,200. It has DC bottom drive and tension. The relocation cost about $600,000, roughly half that of a completely new installation.