Northstar’s expansion nixes mountain bike park | SierraSun.com

Northstar’s expansion nixes mountain bike park

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

Northstar-at-Tahoe has canceled its mountain bike season this summer to allow for continued construction of the resort’s new village and the addition of several lifts to the mountain.

In past summers, Northstar’s mountain bike park featured two chairlifts to carry bikes to the top of the mountain and more than 100 miles of trails rated from easy to extremely difficult.

Meanwhile, the additional lifts ” including the new Pioneer Chair, a surface lift to take skiers from the Pioneer Chair to Lookout Mountain and a Big Springs lift from the base to mid-mountain ” are just the beginning of a lift expansion that Northstar officials say may add 10 lifts to the resort by 2009.

The 10 planned chairs will add approximately 1,000 acres of lift-accessed terrain to the resort, said Northstar spokeswoman Nicole Klay. Much of the new terrain will be along Sawtooth Ridge, which the resort plans to offer as glade and tree skiing. Sawtooth Ridge is currently accessible by hiking or skiing through a backcountry gate at the resort’s boundary.

“We have tons of terrain back there that will really open up the mountain,” Klay said.

The mountain expansion is meant to keep up with the large-scale condominium and hotel projects at the base of Northstar. The resort will be adding more than 1,500 condos and hotel rooms to the mountain over the next several years.

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“We’re basically keeping up with the bed base,” said Klay. “If we have the people here, we have to fit them on the mountain.”

Next winter, skiers and snowboarders should find a “chondola” ” a six-person chairlift that will also run a gondola cabin every third or fourth chair ” instead of the two-person Pioneer Chairlift, Klay said.

The combination of gondolas and chairlifts will allow Tahoe Mountain Club members to access the Schaeffer’s Camp restaurant without skis, while still providing skiers traditional lift access.

The Big Springs lift, which will leave from the Big Springs housing area and unload at mid-mountain, is a “real estate” lift ” designed to get homeowners and village guests up the mountain from the base, Klay said.

Future plans include three additional lifts on Lookout Mountain, two lifts on Sawtooth Ridge and new lifts on the backside of the mountain.

The Village at Northstar will remain open during the summer, Klay said, although a few shops have the option to close during the spring shoulder season.

While there will be no mountain biking, the resort will continue to operate the skating rink, either as an ice rink or a roller rink, said Klay.

Northstar plans to begin hosting events like movie nights and live music in the village in July, she said.