Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, 16 miles north of Boise, continues to make improvements to maximize its snow coverage.
The ski area conducted an aggressive brush-cutting program during summer and fall. About 350 to 400 acres were cleared in the areas around the Superior and Pine Creek lifts.
“It opens additional expert terrain for skiing and snowboarding,” said John Hart, Bogus Basin’s marketing director.
Social media posts about the project resulted in “tens of thousands of hits,’’ Hart said, suggesting a lot of interest in the newly open terrain.
Fall mowing will make groomed runs easier to maintain with less snow.
Bogus also has two new snow guns to double the mountain’s snow-making capacity. “We plan to blow snow on our sledding hill, lesson area and lift ramps to bring these into earlier and more dependable use in the season,” Hart said.
It’s already cold enough to use the snow guns, which cost $25,000 each and were purchased through a private donation.
Bogus took one of its snow cats and turned it into a dump truck. “It will haul large batches of snow down to areas of high traffic and need, such as near lodges, lifts and where ski lessons are conducted,” Hart said.
Elsewhere, Bogus has taken over the lease on the third-floor restaurant in the Simplot (lower) Lodge.
“We will offer thin crust pizza and great salad options as well as some new ... drink choices,” Hart said. The Drift Bar in Pioneer Lodge will focus on rotating several local and Northwest brews and microbeers.
The ski area also launched a new website. “This new website is much more visual with additional user interaction via social media,” Hart said.
Other improvements include a new snowboard boot fleet, featuring Head Boa 550, and new merchandise at the Black Diamond Sports store.
Bogus also is beefing up its freestyle terrain parks. Crews are hoping to build four terrain parks in the area of Mambo Meadows, including one off the Bitterroot chair.
Brundage Mountain Resort north of McCall is offering free lift tickets for Easy Street, its beginner chairlift, all season to encourage people to try the sport.
“We want to give people a ‘free sample’ of the Brundage Mountain experience because we’re confident that they’ll fall in love with the sports of skiing and snowboarding,” Brundage spokesperson April Whitney said. Children 6 and younger get free all-mountain lift tickets, Whitney said.
The Easy Street area has more to offer than in past years. Crews cleared brush and trimmed back a large tree island to add a groomed forest trail to the terrain garden.
This will give beginner and young skiers a new way to get their first taste of tree skiing and make it easier to ski or ride from side runs to the bottom of the lift, Whitney said.
Brundage added 100 new parking spaces in the lower lot. The terrain around the Centennial parking lot has been reshaped and regraded to create space for the additional vehicles. This will allow easier access for more guests during peak holiday periods, Whitney said.
There was more brush cutting and mowing. The front side runs got a serious trim. Crews mowed 35 acres of groomed runs from mid-mountain down. Thicker brush was cut and cleared from some popular powder runs and skiers and boarders can expect to find more open lines on StairStep, The Face and the ‘triangle’ between Sidewinder and Alpine.
Brundage also finished the half-million dollar expansion of its lodge. The final piece, the lower plaza, was built this summer, completing a 5,000-square-foot tiered patio area at the entrance. A new propane fire pit is the centerpiece of the plaza. Skiers and boarders can get to the fire pit’s lower side on a groomed snow surface.
The plaza was the final piece of a multi-year expansion that added 1,450-square feet of indoor space for ticketing, guest services, rental and retail facilities as well as 1,750 square feet of outdoor deck space adjacent to Smoky’s Bar & Grill.
The Brundage Ski & Ride School will offer lessons at the Activity Barn in McCall. A 600-foot Sun Kid conveyer (commonly known as a magic carpet) will transport those learning to ski to the top of the hill in less than three minutes. Current lift capacity will be tripled to 600 people per hour.
The Activity Barn is investing in an additional 100 tubes, boosting tube capacity to 250 to cut down on delays on high-volume days. Crews plan to build up to six 800-foot tubing lanes during the winter season.
Skiers and snowboarders can use the new conveyor to take advantage of a new rail park, too.
The Brundage Mountain Ski & Ride School will provide beginner ski lessons on gentle, groomed slopes at the Activity Barn on weekends, holidays and by reservation.
“Our goal is to strengthen the strong family environment that already exists at The Activity Barn,” said Bob Looper, Brundage Mountain president and managing director.
Plans include the construction of a second warming yurt, a new ticketing facility and a parking lot expansion that will double the amount of spaces.
New snow-making equipment will enable crews to cover the entire six-acre site in time for Thanksgiving weekend, if temperatures permit.
Several new developments have taken place on and off the mountain at Sun Valley, which starts its 80th winter season.
Sun Valley Lodge, an icon since 1936, has been redesigned to maintain the character of the original building yet features modern amenities.
The lodge offers more spacious guest rooms, 65 of which have fireplaces, and five luxury suites named after some of the famous names associated with the resort (including Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe and Clint Eastwood).
Sun Valley invested in more snow-making technology and sustainability. As part of its Healthy Forest Initiative, a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Ketchum Ranger District, another 50 acres of glade skiing in the Frenchman’s area of Bald Mountain was added over the past two years.
The resort’s snow-making gun conversion program has replaced 35 guns with more efficient versions. Sun Valley is the first resort in North America to use Prinoth Leitwolf groomers that emit 90 percent fewer emissions than previous models.
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Tamarack Resort, about 90 miles north of Boise near Donnelly, will reopen its Wildwood trail system for skiers and riders as “hike-to” terrain.
This series of trails in the northern-most section of the resort’s boundary includes 100 acres of slopes. Skiers and boarders will have the ability to ski the trails with a short hike in and out of the trail system. The Wildwood area was closed in 2009 when a lift was removed.
Skiers and riders now will access this trail system by skiing to the top of a trail called Enigma, then take a 5-minute hike to the top of Wildwood. From there, they can ski approximately halfway down the trails before being directed back to the resort’s main trail system with a short hike. From there, they can ski back to the established lift network on the Waltz trail.
“The Wildwood trails have been mostly untouched by skiers and riders for nearly six years. Reopening this terrain to guests willing to take the short hike and earn their turns is a great way to create a new ski experience that is unique to Tamarack,” said Brad Larsen, Tamarack’s general manager.
The addition offers an area for the alpine touring segment of downhill skiing, which is gaining in popularity. It’s a part of downhill skiing in which skiers use flexible bindings that allow them to hike to areas not served by lifts. From there, they can lock their heels down in the bindings and ski downhill.
Tamarack completed several months of construction to expand its snow-making system with an additional 1,840 feet of new pipe and five hydrant locations on the Waltz trail. It’s an important trail for skiers and riders of all ability levels because it is a major route from the top of the Tamarack Express chairlift. The snow-making system pumps 1,150 gallons of water per minute across the resort to 14 mobile snow guns.
“The snow guns are working great,” said Brian Amundson, the snow-making and grooming manager at Tamarack. “With cold temperatures and a little help from Mother Nature, we hope to be open by Friday, Dec. 11.”
Tamarack improved its expert terrain, too. Crews cleared brush from the Blaze, Pursuit, Staircase and Tango trails, improving access and extending runs to later in the season.
The resort is also using a new wireless technology that provides a customized ticketing option. New software and an Express Card will allow guests to skip the lift ticket window and go directly to the chairlift. When the card is scanned at the chairlift, guests’ credit cards will be charged, which eliminates waiting in line to purchase a ticket.