Terrain, lifts and facilities are upgraded

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

Ski resorts have added lifts and opened up additional runs to lure skiers and snowboarders to "the greatest snow on Earth."

Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

While skiers were out golfing, cutting lawns and looking for a swimming pool to cool down in last summer, ski resort staff were, among other things, setting towers, removing debris from ski runs and ordering very expensive snow-grooming equipment.

All of which ended up costing millions of dollars and yet, in many cases, will likely go unnoticed by skiers.

So, what can skiers expect to find when they visit their favorite resort for the first time this season? Here's a look:

ALTA — Summer work focused on clearing and improving slope conditions for smoother runs.

BEAVER MOUNTAIN — The big push was last year when the resort added two new lifts. This year it concentrated on adding a few of the finishing touches. Like, for example, adjustments were made at the base of Marge's triple lift to make loading, especially for newer skiers, easier. The resort also spent a lot of time and money on improving parking. And, to continue improvements to the on-hill experience, it purchased a new snowcat.

BRIAN HEAD — The big news here is the addition of two new triple, fixed-grip lifts and a bridge. A bridge? This will be a vital connection linking what has been in the past two separate ski areas — Navajo and Giant Step. Skiers will be able to ski over the bridge, which spans the highway, to get to the base lifts of the two areas. The new lifts also opened up roughly 35 acres of new terrain. Planning for the bridge and lifts has been in the works for nearly a decade.

The resort, with perfect timing, also expanded its snowmaking.

BRIGHTON — The big news here is the new Milly Express high-speed quad lift that replaces both the old Millicent lift, built in 1974, and the Evergreen lift, built in 1968. The resort also expanded its terrain park, which now goes from My-O-My all the way down Majestic Face.

THE CANYONS — When the DreamCatcher lift was put in last season, it opened up 200-plus acres of new terrain. This past summer it was fine-tuned and opened up for gladed skiing. Also, two new runs were opened to the south of the lift line. A new terrain park manager has also given its parks a new look.

The resort also replaced the chairs on the Shortcut lift, put in new restroom facilities in the Tombstone area, bought three new grooming machines, one of them being a winch, to expand grooming. It also put in a new control room for its snowmaking.

DEER VALLEY — More than $9 million was spent over the summer in improvements, which included the new Lady Morgan Express high-speed, detachable chairlift. Since 1990, the resort has spent more than $115 million in improvements, which is one reason it is constantly at the top of the "favorite resort" list for skiers.

Along with the lift, located in the Empire Canyon area, the resort also opened nine new runs, which added more than 200 acres of new skiable terrain. Roughly 65 of those acres have been left open to gladed or tree skiing.

The resort also installed a GPS system that will allow staff to determine snow depth on any part of the mountain to aid grooming and snowmaking.

And it purchased 51 new snow guns to expand its already large snowmaking system.

PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT — The resort invested more than $5 million this past summer in upgrades, which include new terrain, a new redesigned trail map, expanded snowmaking and environmental initiatives.

Skiers will notice dramatic chances in the landscape between Single Jack and Sunnyside runs. The new area will be called Motherlode Meadows. Staff also created a new run off McConkey's lift for intermediate skiers.

It also acquired 26 new low-energy tower guns and fan guns to increase snowmaking capabilities. And it purchased a new winch cat, a high-end snowcat, that will enable staff to groom more of the resort's signature runs.

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