What is stopping new ski areas from being built?

Discussion in 'General Skiing' started by Miller, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. Miller

    Miller Booting up Skier

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    The Breckenridge hit and run thread got me thinking. There seems to be a disconnect between "facts".

    The ski areas are more crowded than ever.

    Overall skier visits are down.

    Which on is true? Both? Neither?

    I ski locally in the Mid Atlantic, but also ski across the US. Locally, I feel like the hills are as crowded as ever. What is stopping new ski areas from being built?
     
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  2. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    just because a resort is crowded when you are there, doesnt mean they made money.
     
  3. Coach13

    Coach13 Out on the slopes Skier

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    True. I sure the operating costs for resorts is huge. And in the Mid-Atlantic we are definitely dealing with a shorter ski season than just 8-10 years ago. We used to hope the resorts would get open by Thanksgiving and skied thru St. Patrick’s day. Now we are happy if things are open by Christmas/New Year and we are playing golf in early March.
     
  4. Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

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    I think there is a difference between crowds at the resort/area and on the hill itself. High speed lifts get more people on the hill faster even if there are fewer people at the area.

    As to new areas I'm guessing cost and finding a place that has adequate space, terrain, access, nearby infrastructure, etc. is tough.
     
  5. Mike Thomas

    Mike Thomas Whiteroom Pugski Sponsor

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    Viable locations would be the number one limit to new ski area development. You need a lot of land on a mountain that gets reliable winter weather with good access that is close enough to major population bases... land like that is usually already owned by someone. My question is- why aren't any 'lost' ski areas returning? Well, other than they became 'lost' for a reason.
     


  6. Scrundy

    Scrundy I like beer Skier

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    I would assume for people who got that kind of money have more reliable places to put their money
     
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  7. headybrew

    headybrew surrender to the flow Skier

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    They've been trying to reopen Stagecoach mountain here in CO for a while. In all honesty I don't think new ski areas with built up bases and multiple lifts makes much sense right now, you would need to invest 50-100 million just to get rolling hoping you could turn a profit in 5 years. Good luck finding that funding. And people are entitled and expect to be pampered, it reminds me of the asshole in the Denver Post who said something like "now that Winter Park has a gondola it's like a real ski resort" I wonder if he realized he was insulting generations of people who poured their heart and soul into the place?


    What I think makes much more sense especially for a place like Stagecoach would be to follow the Silverton model. Put in 1 used ski lift and cater to the up and coming "ski touring" industry. Sell a limited number of unguided day passes AVY gear required and then sell guided tours and lessons to everyone else. A fraction of the profits but a fraction of the costs to get up and running.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
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  8. New2

    New2 Getting on the lift Skier

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    Destination ski demand remains inexplicably lumpy. The combination of cheap airfare and strong brand names means that Breck and its neighbors (kind of) near Denver are very crowded. But there is already more than enough lift-served destination skiing around western North America (most notably British Columbia and Idaho) that those crowds could easily be dispersed if people chose different destinations. Overall, the demand just isn't there... but there is demand in Colorado's front range.

    As others have mentioned, finding suitable terrain and high startup costs are real obstacles. The Environmental Impact Statement review process and general environmental/land use laws for anything sizable on US federally-managed land is also daunting, and the Feds control a big chunk of potential ski terrain. But there's also plenty of potential ski terrain on private, tribal, or local-government-owned land that isn't being developed. I think the root cause comes down to soft demand.

    The 'lost' Squaw Pass ski area reopened as Echo Mountain and has operated at least some recent seasons (not sure of current status).
    The 'lost' Elk Meadows/Mt. Holly reopened in 2010 as Eagle Point.
    The 'lost' Tamarack (also the newest destination ski resort in the US) reopened in 2010.
    The 'lost' Antelope Butte has recently reopened after 15 years (though the main lift can't open until the government is un-shut-down).
    The 'lost' Parleys Summit is on track to have lift-served skiing as Woodward Park City by next ski season.
    Efforts to revive the 25-year-lost Stagecoach were attracting a bunch of coverage a couple years ago, but seems like things have since gone quiet.

    So lost ski areas are returning, slowly, but certainly not at a rate that is going to have any noticeable impact on crowding at Breck :ogcool:
     
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  9. Cameron

    Cameron Booting up Skier

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    I think the single biggest barrier to creating a new resorts or ski areas in regulation. The permitting alone can take many years and cost truck loads of money and there is no guarantee a project will get approved.
     
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  10. Jack skis

    Jack skis Ex 207cm VR17 Skier Skier

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    Economic realty.
     
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  11. SpikeDog

    SpikeDog You want Big Air, kid? Skier

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    I'd second this as far as opening a NEW area.

    I think economics is the main driver for REOPENING old ski areas. White Pine in Pinedale, WY reopened around 2000 and closed in 2010, reopened a year later, and has had several owners including a local committee (the same fate as Soldier Mtn in Idaho after Bruce Willis gave it away for nothing). Nobody is getting rich running these little places.
     
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  12. x10003q

    x10003q Getting off the lift Skier

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    It cost too much money to open and operate a ski area.
    The season is too short and too weather dependent.
    There are lots of land use regulations.
    There is too much liability.
    It seems for smaller areas, it becomes a labor of love for the owners. They are willing to work crazy, long hours for not much return. Here on the east coast snowmaking is the only way you can operate, and then it rains for 2 days and washes your snowmaking back into the reservior.

    What a crap business.
     
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  13. Average Joe

    Average Joe Getting on the lift Skier

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    Forest Service land leasing, or the lack of it, is why we have not had a major ski area built in the western US in over 30 years. There is no shortage of viable terrain available. Most of it is on government owned land, the privately owned land is usually limited to the bottom lands.

    Almost all of the lift serviced high altitude skiing that we enjoy and take for granted today is a direct result of policies that encouraged development for the common good of all the people - development of the National Park System, and the public use concepts of the National Forest lands .
    Back then, development was encouraged as a way to draw people to public lands, who would add additional political support when they went back home. The public leasing of Forest Service lands for recreation was a less destructive use than mining, or railroads, and was seen to benefit more people.

    We live in a different country today than 1945 - 1965. The land for expansion (like the new lift at A Basin) is probably limited to existing permitted areas with additional permitting for the lifts. Building a new resort, complete with roads, power utilities, buildings, lifts, wastewater treatment facilities????.....:)
     
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  14. headybrew

    headybrew surrender to the flow Skier

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    Can you imagine the public backlash if someone tried to reopen Berthoud Pass Ski Area and close it to the public during operating hours? There would be 10,000 front range Coloradans with pitchforks and torches looking to murder that person. Personally I'd love to see it a ski area again and not a backcountry area.
     
  15. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    I'll add to @New2 's list and point out that, within OP's drive zone, Laurel Mountain is back!
     
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  16. Ken_R

    Ken_R Living the Dream Skier

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    I like it like it is now. The area is not big enough to make a significant impact in reducing front range crowds at the other resorts and it is one of the main backcountry zones in Colorado. It does get a lot of snow :D

    Also, a LOT of the terrain available at most resorts doesnt get skied that much. Most people stick to the main runs. If you explore you generally find peace and quiet even at a place like Vail. Same in Breck, you rarely if ever see mayhem in the Alpine at Breck, most people cant ski that stuff anyway.
     
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  17. GinBuck

    GinBuck What's a mogul? Skier

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    I thought of a Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka meme "Please tell me how you need millions for business only open 5 months, requires horrific amounts of water, and is weather dependent."
     
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  18. SSSdave

    SSSdave life is short precious ...don't waste it Skier

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    As New2 related, there is considerable variation between resorts on how crowded they are. And in some regions like Tahoe where significant urban populations are nearby, it varies greatly between weekends when 8-5 m-f working people ski and midweek. At resorts dependent on destination visitors, skier numbers are more constant across a week. Generally the big famous resorts near popular mountain towns are more crowded than more remote resorts in same regions because people find those towns more fun beyond just their ski days. Resorts out in remote areas are rarely crowded even if they have superb terrain. So those and other factors. Almost all mountain resort towns had ski areas built decades ago. Building more resorts beyond them in remote areas wouldn't change their attraction. If someone does their homework, it is easy to find smaller more remote resorts that won't be crowded and lift ticket prices are likely to be lower too.

    Want to ski a few big mountain resorts with a vast array of skis slopes, a fun town, without crowds? Try mid week at South Lake Tahoe with Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Sierra-at-Tahoe. Although lift ticket prices via liftopia dot com will be only modestly below average for this era, one can save much on cheap lodging costs at less than half weekend rates, Sunday through Thursday because the huge lodging base supports large numbers of weekend casino gamblers from urban California regions that leave the town and slopes uncrowded during work weeks.

    Reasons why building new resorts is difficult and very costly again varies much regionally. Here in California there are strong environmental, cultural, and political forces against even slightly expanding any of the resorts we have. Any mention of even cutting a few trees on ski slopes brings out a ready army of entrenched resort skiing haters armed with salivating lawyers eager to monkeywrench and punish.
     
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  19. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

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    Would you put millions of your own dollars into a ski area? I would rather buy a ticket, thank you very much.
     
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  20. graham418

    graham418 Out on the slopes Skier

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    How to become a millionaire:
    Start with 100 million
    Open ski resort.
     
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