Comparable Ski Area Size

Nathanvg

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Over the years, I have noticed huge variation in ski area size measurements due to different measurement approaches. I gathered the below measurements to have comparable stats and figure others may find this interesting. All major western North American ski areas are included (see attached text file for full list).

For those interested in measurement approach details:
  • Measurements include all area within the ski area's boundary subtracting any large "closed areas" if applicable. Treed areas are included. Ski areas that have villages inside the ski area has that land excluded. Hike to ski area is typically included (see notes for each ski area)
  • Measurements are made with DraftLogic's "Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." This tool accurately calculates acres based on the standard surveying method which ignores vertical differences. It is quite complex to calculate the more complex "ground surface" area. Ground surface of a steep ski area (30 degrees, steeper than Snowbird's tram) would add about 15% more area than flat. A much less steep area (18 degrees) would add about 5%. However, steep ski areas often have unskiable (rocky) areas so that would reduce the gap.

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Posaune

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Interesting numbers. You state that all major North American ski areas are included, and we could quibble about the definition of "major," but I missed statistics on White Pass, 49 Degrees North, and Mount Spokane in Washington. Since you included Mt. Baker and Hoodoo it seems reasonable. Maybe next time?

Minor quibble, but it's Stevens Pass, not "Steven's". The pass did not belong to Steven, it was named after a guy with the last name Stevens. People mess it up all the time.
 

crgildart

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Ya gotta limit it to "lift served skiable acres" or we would have to include every North American mountain park including Mt Washintgon/Tuckermans. These lists often assume nobody skis east of New Mexico.. Stowe and quite a few others out east are bigger than some on this list of west places. Heck, Mt Bohemia in UP MI has more than 500 skiable acres. This list isn't even 1/10 of the North American ski resorts over 200 acres regardless of how you measure it. Back to the drawing board.. with more complete data.
 
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Nathanvg

Nathanvg

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Interesting numbers. You state that all major North American ski areas are included, and we could quibble about the definition of "major," but I missed statistics on White Pass, 49 Degrees North, and Mount Spokane in Washington. Since you included Mt. Baker and Hoodoo it seems reasonable. Maybe next time?

Minor quibble, but it's Stevens Pass, not "Steven's". The pass did not belong to Steven, it was named after a guy with the last name Stevens. People mess it up all the time.
FYI 49 Degrees is on there. I may add more in the future but "major western North American ski areas" is a loose definition.

Ya gotta limit it to "lift served skiable acres" or we would have to include every North American mountain park including Mt Washintgon/Tuckermans. These lists often assume nobody skis east of New Mexico.. Stowe and quite a few others out east are bigger than some on this list of west places. Heck, Mt Bohemia in UP MI has more than 500 skiable acres. This list isn't even 1/10 of the North American ski resorts over 200 acres regardless of how you measure it. Back to the drawing board.. with more complete data.
yeah, only lift served are included. I'd like to add the east at some point. I measured a few and saw that eastern number had an even larger variance.
 

Sibhusky

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What's the source for the "ski area boundary"?

I'm trying to decide if there's a permit area vs a patrol area area difference for Whitefish.

I started wondering about this when we added Flower Point, they said they'd added 200-whatever lift served acres, and the number of acres didn't go up. I found a permit map finally, below, but it's not GIS, it's just in a PDF. The second image shows where the cut trails are. There's a vast area off Hellroaring Peak that is in the permit area, and skied, but NOT IN THE PATROL AREA. Basically, it's outside the posted boundaries. Now Flower Point was not outside those boundaries before the lift went in, and it was skied, with a certain amount of effort required. Hellroaring, you do pass a rope to get to.
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Screenshot_20170924-135649.png

Some of the used acreage is resort-acreage outside the permit area.
 
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Nathanvg

Nathanvg

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What's the source for the "ski area boundary"?

I'm trying to decide if there's a permit area vs a patrol area area difference for Whitefish
Patrol area based on trail map,other available maps and first hand experience.
 

Bigtinnie

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Interesting. I always thought Lake Louise felt smaller than they claim and Snowmass bigger.
 

skibob

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Northstar is an interesting case. THat 770 acres is a ridgeline and slope that is not currently serviced by lifts. I've heard that its occasionally open for hiking and skinning, but I've never specifically been aware of it opening. It IS including in N* master plan and I am aware of actual plans to install lifts and open it. I'm not saying that makes it ok or not ok to claim it. Just elaborating on what it actually is.
 

dbostedo

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Interesting idea. I'm curious about the ones that are drastically off, especially those I'm familiar with. What are you counting that Vail or Snowmass isn't, for instance? Can you show the map of the difference?
 

scott43

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I suspect there is some inconsistency in accounting for what "area" comprises. For instance, Pow Mountain in Utah has lift-served terrain and then piles of cat and non-lift area. I'm not sure the fine tooth comb method here is that useful.
 

Tony

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Northstar is an interesting case. THat 770 acres is a ridgeline and slope that is not currently serviced by lifts. I've heard that its occasionally open for hiking and skinning, but I've never specifically been aware of it opening. It IS including in N* master plan and I am aware of actual plans to install lifts and open it. I'm not saying that makes it ok or not ok to claim it. Just elaborating on what it actually is.
This page on Northstar's website says "Gate-Accessed Advanced Terrain: 347 acres (Sawtooth Ridge, White Rabbit)*"
The page does not explain what the asterisk means. I skied two laps into Sawtooth Ridge one day in late March 2016. It was about a 10 minute boot pack and only about 5 people were out there ahead of us on our first lap. Since Backside chair had a bigger line than my friend and I liked on a weekday, I talked him into a second lap where we pushed a little farther and I found a long stretch of N-facing untracked trees that were better than our E-facing first lap.

I know a lot of people question Heavenly's claim to being the biggest area at Tahoe with 4800 acres, but my first measurement of it using tool on my tablet was over 6,000 acres. I did include a lot of the gated back country between the tram and the casinos as I skied some of it last winter as I have in previous good winters. There is also a lot of in-bounds at Heavenly that is ski-able, but not marked as a run. Unless the OP provides maps he used to get his acreages (which seems like a lot of work), it's hard to tell how accurate his numbers are.
 
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New2

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I think this is helpful, and as long as the methodology is internally consistent, gives better means for cross-resort comparison than other numbers available. I spot-checked a few resorts and my numbers came in very close. A few other larger areas that I estimated... White Pass at 950 acres; Powderhorn at 800 acres; China Peak at 750 acres.
 

Tricia

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Northstar is an interesting case. THat 770 acres is a ridgeline and slope that is not currently serviced by lifts. I've heard that its occasionally open for hiking and skinning, but I've never specifically been aware of it opening. It IS including in N* master plan and I am aware of actual plans to install lifts and open it. I'm not saying that makes it ok or not ok to claim it. Just elaborating on what it actually is.
I've been there when its open.
Though I've never done it because its usually on a powder day and I find it opened after I'm exhausted.
 

Tricia

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Just read through your metrics and list. This is interesting. Its making me think.
 

Bad Bob

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Did not read the article. Are they measuring acreage, on the flat, or on the slant?
 

Tricia

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Did not read the article. Are they measuring acreage, on the flat, or on the slant?
According to the OP.
Measurements are made with DraftLogic's "Google Maps Area Calculator Tool." This tool accurately calculates acres based on the standard surveying method which ignores vertical differences.
 

StuckonI70

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Random thoughts:
Park City - there are many private lots in the Colony. That is not a small development. I'd bet that's where your difference comes from.
Powder Mtn - cat ski/ tour areas vs lift served area.
Beaver Creek - see Park City. Lots of intermingled private land near Bachelor Gulch and the main base.
Copper - some permanently closed terrain, or terrain that never has enough snow coverage is included, particularly on Tucker Mtn and Copper Peak.
Winter Park - see notes on Copper. Most of the Cirque drainage is in the ropes, but permanently closed.

I'd be more interested in talking about places that ski "bigger" or "smaller" than their stated acreage.
Bigger... Crested Butte
Smaller... Monarch
 
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