Summer months mean ski resort construction and maintenance |

Summer months mean ski resort construction and maintenance

The Sierra ski season ended months ago, but for area ski resorts summer is a busy time readying for the following winter.

“The way it works in the ski area is: You close the doors in the winter and you start preparing for the next winter,” said General Manager Kent Hoopingarner of Homewood Mountain Resort.

Both Homewood and Squaw Valley are replacing principal chairlifts this off-season, a task that takes months of labor and costs upward of $4 million each.

Squaw Valley is replacing the Shirley Lake quad with a state-of-the-art, high speed, six-pack Doppelmayr, said Squaw Valley spokeswoman Savannah Cowley.

“Shirley is the most-ridden lift because it accesses so much intermediate terrain, and to get to other terrain,” she said.

A helicopter made an appearance Monday to remove the old lift towers.

Homewood Mountain Resort is replacing a 35-year-old, four-person chairlift with a high-speed, detachable lift. The venerable quad was the first one constructed in the United States and services the intermediate runs high on the mountain, Hoopingarner said.

“It’s like if you don’t have [a high-speed lift], you ain’t nothing. Plus the chair was old and really needed to be replaced. It was time,” he said.

The quad will cost $4 million, about $1,000 per foot. And the ride to the top will be slashed from 19 to four minutes, said President Art Chapman of JMA Ventures, the ski area’s owner.

Last winter Homewood brought on four new snowcats, and with a low snowpack this year will essentially have a new fleet for next winter, Hoopingarner said.

In preparation for the 2007-08 ski season, Northstar-at-Tahoe is replacing rental equipment, expanding snowmaking systems, adding four intermediate ski trails and installing a triple chairlift at Overlook Place.

“In addition to the development taking place in the Village at Northstar and around the resort, we are excited about the on-mountain improvements ” the snowmaking improvements and new trails, as well as the new rental equipment we are purchasing,” said Northstar spokeswoman Jessica Van Pernis in an e-mail.

Additionally, East West Partners resumed construction of the Ritz-Carlton, a five-star resort lodge expected to propel Northstar into a top destination.

Alpine Meadows ski area’s sale to Homewood owner JMA Ventures is still pending. The deal should close within 10 days, Chapman said.

Right now the ski resort is conducting summer business as usual maintaining its lifts and equipment.

“I don’t know quite what is in store for capital improvements at this time,” said Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachael Woods. “We’re waiting with an open mind and excited about the future. All we need is snow.”

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