FRESH TRACKS – February 23, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Photo: Christina Lustenberger

Expansions and acquisitions in the ski industry. Triumphs and tragedy on Canadian mountains. Opening the door and laying down the law at western resorts. 

End of the Canadian Dream in Colorado

Toronto-based Dream United Corp. has sold Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin to industry heavyweight Alterra Mountain Company. Dream bought the big-mountain destination in 1997 (from dog food maker Ralston Purina) and set about refurbishing every aspect of the resort, recently making the switch to 100% renewable electricity. Arapahoe is now in its 78th year, and current COO, Alan Henceroth has been there for 36 of them. As the unifying force behind the Ikon Pass, Alterra owns 14 other resorts in the U.S., Blue Mountain and Tremblant resorts in Canada as well as CMH and Mike Wiegle heli-skiing in British Columbia. 

Fatality at Sunshine Village

A 15-year-old skier died at Sunshine Village last week following a collision with a signpost. “This was not an incident of a skier venturing out-of-bounds,” reported Staff Sgt. Mike Buxton-Carr, detachment commander of Banff RCMP. The skier was in the Goat’s Eye area of the resort when he hit the wooden post, according to Kendra Scurfield, spokeswoman for Sunshine Village, adding that it’s the first fatal ski or snowboarding accident at Sunshine Village in nearly a decade.

Highest Couloir in the Selkirks Sees First Descent

The highest peak in eastern B.C.’s Selkirk Mountains has had a new line opened up on it by three B.C. skiers. Mount Sir Sandford (3,519m), near Revelstoke, had seen the first descents of its south face 12 years ago. But the South Couloir had rebuffed previous attempts at it until Christina Lusti, Mark Herbison and Joshua Lavigne climbed up and then skied the couloir last week. The 1,000m line ranges upwards of 45 degrees and required a 30m rappel in the middle of it. Lusti called it a “beautiful ribbon of snow guarded by grey marble rock” and an objective she had been eyeing since 2008.

Deer Valley Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Utah’s Deer Valley is about to more than double in size. The addition of 16 new lifts will include a 10-passenger gondola and open up 1,500 hectares of new terrain. The expansion will be serviced by, and support, a new village base area and access point. Construction will proceed over the next three years, with some terrain open in time for the 2025/2026 season.

Welcome to Shames Mountain
Ski Shames Free, Photo: Ian Merringer

Your Pass is Useless? Ain’t That at Shames

With some smaller ski resorts across British Columbia throwing in the towel on a tough season and closing, Shames Mountain ski co-op is softening the blow by welcoming season’s pass holders from closed resorts to ski for free at Shames. It’s not that much of a stretch for the member-owned ski area near Terrace, B.C., where the beginner conveyor lift is always free and which also has a program where skiers can check out day passes from local libraries to hit the slopes for free.

Mammoth Gets Serious

Mammoth Mountain’s ski patrol has seen too many skiers duck under ropes into areas actively under avalanche control and are taking steps to protect skiers from themselves. Ducking a rope at Mammoth now means the loss of a season’s pass for a month. A second infraction means permanent pass revocation and could result in criminal charges.

Norm Lourenco
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