Category Archives: Outdoor News

Vail Resorts California Settlement: What You Need To Know.

Park City A Vail Resorts Company

I got my papers. The ones from Vail Resorts’ attorneys telling all VR employees that we’ve got a settlement on the table for a lawsuit in California. The papers say we get about $80 bucks and all we have to do is sit back and wait for the check. Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, an extra $80 and I don’t have to do anything? Sweet. Vail rocks.” Not so fast.

The Vail Resorts Condensed Settlement History

More than a year ago, four former Vail Resorts employees at Heavenly Valley Resort in California (at separate times) found separate attorneys who would help them in their fight against “unjust enrichment and unpaid work”.

The first two were filed by Anna Gibson and Adam Heggen. Heggen’s, filed in California state court October 2020, alleged that Heggen was not paid for breaks and meals while working as a security guard for the resort.

Gibson filed her case in California Superior Court in April 2021. A third related case, also against Heavenly, was filed by Christopher Hamilton in July 2021. The fourth, from Paul Greg Robards, was filed in December 2021.

Vail had the Heggen, Gibson, Hamilton and Robards cases removed (transferred) to federal California court. Now, if you’re not yet confused, here’s another twist. Vail did not remove a second case filed by Hamilton in California state court based on the same facts. This is the Hamilton v. Vail case that is in front of all us VR employees at the moment. Vail submitted the settlement for approval in California state court and we either opt in or opt out.

All the other cases together allege “Vail violated federal and state wage and hour laws, and several related causes of action” but it’s been ‘stayed’ pending the outcome of the Hamilton case.

Vail Resorts Charges In Detail

In order to release all possible claims against Vail, Hamilton filed an amended complaint in California
state court after the settlement was submitted for approval.*

The Action contains claims against Vail for: (i) unpaid wages (including but not limited to minimum wages, overtime wages, double time wages, and wage premiums) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and/or the laws of the states of California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Utah, Washington, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wyoming (collectively, “Class States”); (ii) failure to authorize, provide or allow proper meal and/or rest periods under the FLSA and/or the laws of the Class States; (iii) failure to pay proper meal and/or rest break premiums under the laws of the Class States; (iv) failure to reimburse expenses, as well as any resulting claims for unpaid wages arising out of such allegations, under the FLSA and/or the laws of the Class States; (v) unlawful deductions, rebates, or refunds from wages, as well as any resulting claims for unpaid wages arising out of such allegations; (vi) breach of contract under the laws of the Class States; (vii) failure to accurately record time or keep accurate records under the FLSA and/or the laws of the Class States; (viii) failure to provide accurate employment records upon request under the laws of the Class States; (xiv) improper or inaccurate wage statements under the laws of the Class States; (xv) failure to pay timely wages during employment under the FLSA and/or laws of the Class States; (xvi) failure to pay timely wages at or after termination under the FLSA and/or laws of the Class States; (xvii) solicitation of employees by misrepresentation under the laws of the Class states; (xviii) fraudulent solicitation of employees under the laws of the Class States; (xix) employment under conditions detrimental to employee health under federal law and/or the laws of the Class States, (xx) unfair business practices under the laws of the Class States ; (xxi) false or deceptive representation or advertisement under the laws of the Class States; (xxii) statutory or civil penalties (including but not limited to those under PAGA); (xxiii) unfair competition under the laws of the Class States; and (xxiv) unjust enrichment under the laws of the Class States. The Action seeks damages for lost wages, interest, penalties, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.

That’s pretty comprehensive. It basically doesn’t leave any room for employment challenges by any current employee in the future.

Is Vail Resorts The Big Bad Wolf?

Ask any ski area employee – from Vail, Alterra, Boyne, anywhere – and they will likely complain about some or all of the above ever since they started their jobs. We love our work but the resorts rarely return the love. I’m pretty sure our ski school director couldn’t put faces to names without the nametag. Ski areas prey on an employee’s passion for the ski industry. They know they can get away with mediocre treatment because defending what’s right is a fast track to unemployment. Plus, where would we go if every resort in our state is no different?

I aggressively asked for help on a private Facebook page about the inability to reach a human being to get my paperwork done and was told if I didn’t like it maybe Deer Valley was hiring. Really? What about listening to your employees and “doing better”?! Oh, and if you post concerns on the private FB page, it gets deleted by admin. It’s safe to say, most resorts don’t want to hear constructive feedback from their employees.

Ski resorts have a funky way of doing business since forever and they act surprised and offended when we speak up. VR even sends out biannual surveys asking for our input yet conveniently words the questions in their favor while excluding places to write in comments.

Think you should be paid while you stand around in your uniform waiting to be assigned a lesson? You usually aren’t. A snowboard instructor I met said, “This is bullshit,” and walked off one day. He never came back. For decades, the only alternative if you didn’t like something, was to leave or be fired.

So, while the California suit was bubbling in 2020 and unbeknownst to anyone outside of the immediate players, two ski instructors and a ticket scanner in a little VR ski area in Colorado called Breckenridge, decided to also go up against their employer.

Quint et al v. Vail Resorts Inc.

Those (2 former and 1 current) Breck employees filed a lawsuit in December 2020 alleging similar claims to the case in Heavenly. But their attorneys Ed Dietrich and Benjamin Galdston didn’t stop at just unpaid meal breaks. They went for the jugular… in federal, not state, court, and covered employees from 18 states instead of just California:

“All current and former Vail Resorts hourly employees who worked in the United States and who
were not compensated for work-related equipment and cell phone costs or “off-the-clock” work
including, but not limited to, travel time, donning and doffing time, and training time during the three
years preceding the filing of this Complaint through judgment (the “FLSA Collective” or the “Hourly
Employees”).” The complaint asserted claims for Vail Resorts’ violations of the federal Fair Labor
Standards Act, (“FLSA”), and the laws of the States of Colorado, California, Utah, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Washington, New York, Vermont and Michigan, and common law. “Through this action,
Plaintiffs seek recompense for unpaid wages, overtime and other benefits wrongly withheld from
them and all other similarly situated current and former Vail Resort employees,” It went on.

The complaint alleged, among other things, that despite representing to job applicants, returning employees and competitors that Vail Resorts pays its employees a set base rate per hour worked, Vail Resorts willfully and systematically fails to pay its hourly employees for all hours worked at the hourly wage specified in employment agreements. For example, pursuant to Company policy, Vail Resorts
generally pays ski and snowboard instructors (“Snow Sport Instructors”) at their regular rate for shifts
of 6.5-7.25 hours per day. However, Vail Resorts supervisors and managers know that Snow Sport
Instructors typically work more than 9 hours per day, including compensable time working while
traveling on Company buses, donning and doffing indispensable uniforms and equipment, training,
and “off the clock” work performed prior to and after shifts.

A Tale of Two Cases

While the California case is trying to settle for $13 million, the Colorado case, Quint et al v. Vail Resorts Inc., which has grown to more than 20 named plaintiffs since it was started, not only seeks far more than that but it also wants policy changes. If it actually had a chance in court, it could potentially signal to every other ski company in the U.S. that if they don’t behave accordingly with their own employees, they too could face sanctions. Just this season employees saw the consequences of the pending lawsuit. Vail began to pay for ‘donning and doffing’ and stopped requiring unpaid training clinics. But there’s nothing that would prevent them reversing these rules once the settlement is reached.

Makes sense that VR would want to quietly settle the California case for a few bucks and no consequences than face a much larger pricetag, and costly employment directives companywide like paid training, gear allowances, paid breaks, etc. that they couldn’t escape.

How to Respond to The Vail Resorts California Settlement

Pay attention to this part, kiddies. IF THE MAJORITY OF VR EMPLOYEES TAKE THAT $80 AND WALK, THERE MAY BE NO CLASS FOR THE COLORADO CASE AND NO OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MORE COMPREHENSIVE ALLEGATIONS TO BE CONSIDERED. There is also nothing in this California settlement that would encourage or direct Vail Resorts to make changes in their employment practices and isn’t that what we want? It’s not about the money. It’s about respect and real change.

[An anonymous VR employee posted this website for further clarification and links to the forms you need to opt out.]

“How can it only be $80 when the settlement is $13 million,” you ask? The breakdown was written in fine print and buried in your settlement docs:

Out of the $13.1 million to “settle all claims” (that means you can never sue for the same claims of unpaid wages EVER), $4.36 million will go to the lawyers. Another $500,000 — 3.9% of the settlement fund — will go to complaints made using the Private Attorneys General Act, and 75% of that ($375,000) will be paid to the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency for “assisting in facilitating that process.” That leaves $8.24 million to be distributed evenly across the 100,000 members of the class. That’s $82 bucks per person.

Except it’s not split evenly. Fulltime Heavenly ski instructors will get more than Vail’s other California employees, and the named plaintiff will also get a bigger chunk for their time and effort they put into the case. You might think, “But maybe a large portion of the 100,000 members will opt out so I will get more of the pie.” Not exactly. Most of the unclaimed leftovers get to go back to Vail!

Dietrich told SPL that his firm is fighting as hard as possible to get people meaningful recovery. He said the settlement notice is misleading and that VR is trying to get all of their liabilities settled in this one case without ever mentioning the Quint v. Vail case.

At the time of the Colorado filing, according to the filings in the Quint case, VR had a duty to disclose the California cases so they both could possibly be joined into one larger class action but VR didn’t say a word until it was too late. Perhaps VR was hoping to settle the California one first and bind all of their employees to it. That $80 bucks would automatically prevent every VR employee from being a part of the Colorado case or any other case suing over similar complaints. EVER.

VR employees

What Happens If You Opt Out

If five percent or more of the employees opt out, then Vail can and probably will reneg on the California settlement. They’re not going to want to pay out on this one and then face another class action later.

By “waiving our rights” to this California settlement, we retain the right to make a change heard ‘round the ski world. What’s a paltry $80 worth if VR and every other resort can continue to abuse the passion we share for the ski industry? By turning down that $80, we can be part of a much broader settlement- the one waged in Colorado; it won’t be just about the money. It will be about change. If it goes to court, it will create laws that protect us; it will level the field and force resorts to treat their employees like any other. When you show up to work, you get paid until you leave. If you need thousands of dollars of equipment to do your job, it’s provided to you. If a smartphone is required for your job, it’s compensated. If training is required to keep your job, it’s provided and the list goes on. Now is not the time to wait for $80 to roll in. It’s the time to opt out, and dream of positive change. 

You might now think, “Oops, I didn’t opt out but I’ll just tear up that check when it comes.”  People, please read your notice again. Consider the wording in those instructions-

You are first told: If you want to participate in the Settlement and receive a monetary payment, there are two ways to do so. First, you can fill out and return the “Consent to Join” Form. Second, you can do nothing, wait to receive a payment, and then cash the check you receive.

HOWEVER, below these instructions it says: If you wish to exclude yourself and do not want to participate in the Settlement, send the Opt-Out Statement to the Settlement Administrator which will remove you from the Action and the Settlement. You will not receive any payment. You will keep your right to sue Vail for the legal claims in this Action. The Settlement will bind all Class Members who do not request exclusion by submitting an Opt-Out Form.

Let’s check out that last sentence again- The Settlement will bind all Class Members who do not request exclusion by submitting an Opt-Out Form.

In other words, if you tear up the check but don’t physically opt-out, you are still bound to the judgment. You just don’t get the $80 bucks. You have waived all your rights to later sue for uncompensated time and other allowances.

Nuts and Bolts

What you choose to do is entirely up to you but it helps to know the background and all the facts and how it impacts you and your love for the ski industry. What they have shared with us is misleading.

Your document says if you opt out, you retain your right to sue. They don’t tell you there’s already another case pending you could join so you don’t have to take on your own legal fight.

Even the opt out form is hard to find. It’s not online. It’s in your settlement packet and if you don’t have the Camscanner app on your phone, they make you think you have to snail mail it in, making you work even harder to stand up for your rights.

If you wish to be excluded from the Settlement, you must submit an Opt-Out Form to the Settlement Administrator on or before May 6, 2022. Did anyone else notice that only the ‘consent to join’ form is available online? If you want the opt out form, use the one that came in the mail or you can download this one, snailmail AND email it to

Make sure that if you are emailing the form, you take a minute to add your two cents. I was told my comments would be forwarded to the settlement administrator and the judge. Let them know how you feel. Maybe it gets passed along to VR.

Not sure what to say? Feel free to quote our anonymous champion at Resort Settlement Opt Out:

  1. The compensation offered to us is grossly insufficient. They offered me less than $100. As a part-timer, I estimate that Vail shorted me over $2000 since 2016. Why does Vail get to keep the rest?
  2. Vail refuses to admit that they didn’t “Do Right.” Yet, this season Vail changed many of the practices described in the complaint. That’s a tacit admission that Vail did not “Do Right” in the past. Remember all that training on Vail’s Core Values?
  3. Vail makes no commitment to “Do Right” in the future. To “Do Right” would mean accurately recording ALL the time we work and paying for it.
  4. The settlement amount is too small to make Vail “Do Right.” The plaintiffs claimed $108,000,000 in damages, then settled for 7.2% of that amount after fees and costs. WTF?

What To Do After You Opt Out

Maybe you didn’t. That’s ok. Maybe you opted out on principle to help other employees you feel were wronged but don’t really care for yourself. For those who did, if you have the time and energy, you could start your own case. With everything that’s going on in this realm, there’s bound to be an attorney at the ready. But maybe you agree that Vail should be forced to make changes but the idea of filing your own lawsuit is crazy.

Did you know you can ‘opt in’ to the Colorado case? Leave a comment below so we can try to help or find them here.

At the end of the day, we just hope you understand the mechanics of these lawsuits and choose the path that’s best for you.


*Most of these “amended” claims were previously alleged in the Quint case in Colorado federal court but not in any of the California cases.


**From the Settlement Notice

The “Class Members” are all non-exempt employees who, at any time during the “Covered Period” worked for and were employed by Vail in the United States and worked primarily at one of its resort locations or mountain facilities. The “Covered Period” starts:

  • For Class Members employed in Wyoming, on October 21, 2010.
  • For Class Members employed in Indiana, Ohio, Washington, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Colorado, on October 21, 2014.
  • For Class Members employed in Missouri, on October 21, 2015.
  • For Class Members employed in California, Pennsylvania, and Utah, on October 21, 2016.
  • For Class Members employed in New Hampshire, on October 21, 2017.
  • For Class Members not employed in one of the above identified states, on October 21, 2016.

The Covered Period ends, for all Class Members employed in California, on December 15, 2021, and for all Class Members employed in states other than California, on October 23, 2021.

Utah Has Shitty Air Quality

Salt Lake City Night Sky

A new report from the American Lung Association has revealed that Salt Lake City and Logan, Utah, rank among the cities with some of the worst air quality nationwide. The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today, shows the two Utah towns are doing better for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone (smog), but not so great overall, ranking 10th in the nation.

Compared to last year’s report, the Salt Lake City region improved slightly from 17th to 20th most polluted for short-term particle pollution and from 8th to 10th most polluted for ozone. Logan-area residents experienced an improvement with fewer unhealthy days of short-term particle pollution spikes. Logan’s ranking improved from 7th to 18th most polluted for short-term particle pollution.

On the brightside, St. George ranked among the country’s cleanest cities, making the lists for both short-term and year-round particle pollution.

The “State of the Air” report is the Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” that tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of smog, soot, and short-term spikes in particle pollution, over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2018-2020. See the full report at

“Despite some recent improvements, the levels of ozone and particle pollution seen in several areas of Utah can still harm the health of all of our residents. But particularly at risk are children, older adults, pregnant people, and those living with chronic disease. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer,” said Nick Torres, advocacy director for the Lung Association.

Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Utah

For the second report in a row, the Salt Lake City metro area experienced fewer unhealthy days of high ozone on average, after having seen several years of increases between the 2017 and 2020 “State of the Air” reports. The region’s weighted average of 21.8 days was still high enough to rank 10th among the nation’s most polluted cities for ozone pollution.

Uintah County and Duchesne County each showed slight improvements over last year’s report, but still earned Fs.

Particle Pollution in Utah

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Short-term particle pollution in the Salt Lake City metro area reached its lowest ever, but the area still ranks 20th among the most-polluted cities nationally in that category. Utah County’s weighted average of 8.0 days is trending in the right direction, down from a high of 31.7 days in the “State of the Air 2006.”

Short-term particle pollution in Logan also showed improvements, but still ranks among the country’s most polluted cities in that category (18th). Compared to last year’s report, Cache County’s weighted average of unhealthy particle pollution days dropped from 12.7 to 9.3 days. Like Utah County, Cache County is also trending in the right direction. The weighted average of 9.3 days in this year’s report still earns an F, but it is significantly down from Cache County’s worst period of 31.8 days in “State of the Air 2008.”

The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Utah were slightly worse overall than in last year’s report, but all counties earned passing grades. The Salt Lake City region maintained the same year-round particle pollution levels as in last year’s report, the area’s best ever.

The report found that nationwide, nearly 9 million more people were impacted by deadly particle pollution than reported last year. It also shows more days with “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality than ever before in the two-decade history of this report. Overall, more than 137 million Americans live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Communities of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air. The report found that people of color were 61% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one pollutant, and 3.6 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three pollutants.

Fortunately, Utahns have several escape-to-clean-air routes. Just head up to the mountains along I-80, Little and Big Cottonwood canyons, out to the Uintas, or up Provo Canyon for fresh breaths.

The addition of 2020 data to the 2022 “State of the Air” report gives a first look at air quality trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of the shutdowns in early 2020, there was no obvious improvement.

The American Lung Association is calling on the Biden administration to strengthen the national limits on both short-term and year-round particulate matter air pollution. See the full report results and sign the petition here.

Vail Resorts To Buy Stake In Swiss Ski Area Andermatt-Sedrun

Andermatt-Sedrun Resort

Today Switzerland, tomorrow the world.

It’s what many locals in Utah, California and British Columbia have feared. Vail Resorts isn’t going away any time soon, instead they are expanding their empire. Mega ski industry leader Vail Resorts announced this week that it plans to purchase a majority stake in Swiss ski resort Andermatt-Sedrun Sport AG and take over operations. This will be their first European installment.

“The base area and the mountain [investments] have created a high-end experience with significant capacity for growth from guests from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe and around the world. We plan to rely heavily on, and learn from, our partners, community members and the Andermatt-Sedrun team as we gain experience and understanding of the resort, its guests and operations,” said Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts, in a statement.

Andermatt-Sedrun Buy-In Brings Back Memories

This deal sounds similar to the one with Talisker Group in Utah back in 2013, where VR took over all resort operations at Canyons and later Park City in 2014, before purchasing the land under PCM outright. VR summarily replaced all department heads with VR’s own personnel shortly after, despite earlier promises to maintain the status quo. Seven years later, VR is still making more enemies than friends in Park City.

“Vail Resorts is the ideal partner for our goal of developing Andermatt into The Prime Alpine Destination,” said Samih Sawiris, majority owner of ASA, about the largest ski resort in Switzerland. “With Vail Resorts’ additional capital investment in the resort, deep expertise in successful operations of integrated mountain destinations, and the company’s impressive marketing capabilities and destination guest reach, Vail Resorts will provide a significant boost to the development of Andermatt-Sedrun.” (Careful what you wish for, ASA!)

What Andermatt-Sedrun Take Over Means For Epic Passholders

On the plus side, Epic Pass, Epic Day Pass (but save your day pass for the US. It will be cheaper to purchase a ticket there) and Epic Local pass holders (5 days) will be able to scoot over to Switzerland and check things out for themselves in the 2022/23 season. The Epic Pass also provides European access to partner resorts including five days at Verbier4Vallées in Switzerland, seven days at Les 3 Vallées in France, seven days at Skirama Dolomiti in Italy and three days at Ski Arlberg in Austria. Find specific details at

Andermatt-Sedrun is located less than 90 minutes from Zurich, Lucerne and Lugano, and roughly two hours from Milan.

What’s New For Ski Areas in 2022/23

Jackson Hole Updates Thunder Lift

Amid crappy snowfall, crowded slopes and customer complaints, the chairs will keep spinning and the resorts will keep investing millions on the dream that the snow will return and skiing will last forever. Here’s what’s new for ski areas in 2022/23!

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to Replace Thunder Quad Chairlift

That slow quad to the top is getting an upgrade. Thunder quad installed in 1994 will be replaced with a new high-speed Leitner-Poma quad this summer. It will transport guests 1,000 feet per minute, 1454 vertical feet, twice the velocity of the original Thunder, and cut riders’ time down to 3.6 minutes. The new lift will have a contour load, similar to the Teton lift, as well as a contour unload.

“The Thunder lift has been the most popular lift on the upper mountain, and it delivers access to some of the legendary terrain JHMR is known for. The new Thunder lift will dramatically cut down on skiers’ and snowboarders’ time spent waiting in line and on the lift,” said JHMR President, Mary Kate Buckley. “This substantial investment is being made to improve lift waiting times and give our guests more time on snow.”

Construction and installation is pending final Forest Service approval but JHMR expects to load test the new Thunder lift in October.

Big Sky Resort

Access to the Lone Peak Tram will still not be included with tickets, Ikon and Mountain Collective Passes, and most season passes. For 22/23, you must do autocharge to ride; no more Access Packs. The lines have just been too long and people have been waiting hours at times. So next season, to ride the Tram on any given day, guests must enable Autocharge on their pass or ticket to be charged when entering the access gate to load the Tram. The price will change depending on the day (holiday, weekend, etc). And once you scan, you are committed to the charge, even if you only get one lap. But hopefully, this sitch is only temporary.

Relief in sight:

Coming by 2025, is an all-new tram that will carry folks from the base, ALL THE WAY to Lone Peak!

Big Sky is replacing the original Explorer double chair with a 10-person, two-stage gondola (ie midstation) that will whisk skiers into Powder Seeker Bowl. At the top, they can transfer to the Lone Peak Tram which will be repositioned next to the gondola station. The new tram breaks ground this summer 2022. This tram won’t just be for winter riders. Foot guests in summer and winter will be able to ride and experience the panoramic views from an all-glass viewing platform at the Peak.

Big Sky skiers will finally have on-mountain dining as well. A new food and beverage hub will be located at the connection point between the gondola and tram; the mid-station of the new gondola will house an the Big Sky Mountain Sports School, dining area, magic carpets, and rentals.


Snowbird is replacing old red and old blue this summer. After 50 years of busting millions of skiers and snowboarders to 11,000-foot Hidden Peak, the resort’s iconic aerial cabins are getting an upgrade. After two years of planning with The Doppelmayr Group, the new Tram cabins are making their way from Olten, Switzerland, to the Wasatch and will be ready for pedestrian transport this summer.

Floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop balcony for summer foot passengers and three glass floor panels in each cabin. The summertime rooftop deck will be the first of its kind in the United States, allowing 15 guests to enjoy unobstructed 360-degree views of Peruvian Gulch, Mount Superior and more as an upgrade to their scenic Tram ride. Finally, the Tram drive system will receive a complete technological upgrade. 

“As Snowbird celebrates its 50th Anniversary, we are recognizing both our storied past and making a thrilling upgrade to our iconic Aerial Tram,” said Snowbird President and General Manager Dave Fields.

Epic Resorts’ Plans

We’ve already mentioned what Alterra is doing. Well, here’s what Vail Resorts has planned for 22/23. It’s a given to say that these lift ‘upgrades’ are meant to ease the stress on lines and crowds their areas saw this season.

Keystone‘s Bergman Bowl will get 16 new trails, a ski patrol facility, snowmaking infrastructure, and a new high-speed 6-person chairlift. The Outpost restaurant is adding 300 more indoor seats and 75 more outdoor seats for guests.

Whistler Blackcomb will upgrade the 6-person Creekside Gondola to a high-speed 10-person gondola and replace the Big Red Express with a high-speed 6-person chair.

Northstar’s Comstock Lift becomes a new high-speed 6-person chair.

Heavenly‘s North Bowl Lift will become a high-speed quad.

Vail will introduce the Sun Down Lift, a new high-speed quad to reduce wait times at Chair 5, and the lift in Game Creek Bowl will be upgraded to a new high-speed 6-person lift.

Breckenridge’s Rip’s Ride goes from a fixed-grop double to a high-speed quad at Peak 8.

Over at Park City, the Silverlode Express goes from a 6-pack to a high-speed 8-person chair and the Eagle Lift will turn into a high-speed 6 pack chair with a new alignment and mid-station, replacing the existing lift and hopefully making it easier for guests to access the mountain from the base area.

Stowe is adding a high-speed 6-person Mountain Lift to replace a fixed-grip triple and eliminate the steep hike to the current lift.

Mount Snow will replace two fixed-grip triples, the Sundance and Tumbleweed lifts, with a new high-speed 6-person lift and upgrading the Sunbrook Lift to a high-speed 4-person chair.

Attitash is replacing the East & West Double-Double with a fixed-grip quad chair.

Jack Frost and Big Boulder, PA, are getting five lift upgrades. Three new fixed-grip 4-person chairs at Frost (one to replace the B & C lifts, another to replace the E & F lifts, and the third to replace the East 1&2 doubles), and two fixed-grip 4-person chairs to replace the Merry Widow 1 & 1 doubles and the Edelweiss Triple at BB. 

Boston Mills and Brandywine in Ohio also get some love. BM will get a new fixed-grip 4-person chair replacing the Lift 5 double. At Brandywine, a new fixed-grip 4-person chair will replace the Lift 3 triple.

Alterra Mountain Company Announces Plans for Deer Valley, Mammoth and More

Alterra Deer Valley Base Area

While Vail Resorts’ plans for next season may be a bit delayed as they deal with the great Epic Pass backlash of 21/22, Alterra Mountain Company announces plans to move full steam ahead. They recently announced plans to spend $344 million in “capital improvements” to its 15 North American resorts for 2022/23, all in the name of guest experience. The largest focus of the annual investment will support its five major destinations- Steamboat in Colorado, Palisades Tahoe (aka Squaw Valley) and Mammoth Mountain in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington and Deer Valley Resort in Utah.

“We are thrilled to dedicate a significant investment to Deer Valley,” said Mark Brownlie in an interview with KSL in Salt Lake City. The chief operating officer for Alterra Mountain Company is also serving as the resort’s interim president after the then-president left in a flash at the start of the 21/22 season. “Given Deer Valley’s existing legacy and exceptional reputation for its unparalleled guest service, we look forward to unveiling these innovative developments and reimagined spaces for visitors to enjoy for years to come,” he added. 

Plans get rolling this summer when contractors etch out more mountain biking trails on Deer Valley’s lower mountain—Bald Eagle. Riders will get a new intermediate flow trail and more expert trails between Snow Park and Silver Lake areas. The big redesign of Snow Park Lodge is set to break ground in 2023; however, it’s likely pushback from angry locals tired of endless traffic and congestion in the resort town, might delay this new plaza and its “premiere arrival experience.”

The original master plan was approved in 1977 but they say things have changed since then. “Lower Deer Valley and surrounding neighborhoods have grown and changed significantly in the 45 years since approval. We now have thousands more residents, houses, condos and vehicles. We also have a road system that is limited and stressed with traffic and we probably will be asked to ration water in the near future,” said DV resident Jerry Nolan in his Park Record OpEd piece. In addition to changes in parking and traffic, the new base area would offer new food and beverage options, retail, and an expansive ski beach. 

The on-hill renovations like turning the Burns chairlift into a high speed quad should go more smoothly.

Alterra Mountain Company Announces Plans For Its Other Resorts

Palisades Tahoe, California

Alterra hit a major roadblock last summer in their Tahoe expansion plans when Sierra Watch, a conservation advocacy group, won a legal battle to stop them from building a series of high-rise condo hotels, a 90,000 square-foot indoor waterpark, and a rollercoaster. While that project has pressed pause, the highly anticipated $65 million Base-to-Base Gondola should be ready for the 22/23 winter season. The gondola will connect Palisades and Alpine Meadows for the first time. The combined 6000 acres will make Palisades Tahoe the third-largest ski area in North America. The 16-minute ride will make four stops as it takes riders between the two base areas and climb 2000 vertical feet. Just imagine the views! It should also alleviate road congestion in the region.

Mammoth Mountain, California

The ground and infrastructure work starts this summer to replace Canyon Express (Chair 16) at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express (Chair 1) at Main Lodge. They’re going from quads to new high-speed six-pack lifts for winter 23/24. Mammoth will also be expanding, and lengthening the tube runs at Woolly’s Adventure Summit and installing a summer tubing surface for year-round fun. Future phases will include the installation of one of the longest mountain coasters in North America and the addition of an adventure ropes courses and a permanent base lodge with food and beverage services. When complete, Woolly’s will become a year-round adventure center for kids of all ages. Also planned for this summer is the expansion of indoor dining at Mill Café. 

If this season in the west has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t count on Mother Nature. To that end, Mammoth will begin a multi-year snowmaking enhancement program that includes higher efficiency equipment to open more terrain faster, early.  Finally, Mammoth Mountain continues to work on the planning and entitlement process for the eventual redevelopment of the Main Lodge and Mammoth Mountain Inn.

Crystal Mountain, Washington

Alterra is dedicating $100 million into Crystal Mountain’s infrastructure over the next five years. The base will be enhanced for greater access, more space, and skier services. They’ll spend $25 million this spring on additional parking and a new 25,000 sq. ft. skier services lodge called Mountain Commons. The two-story building will replace the existing skier services building and include a new guest services and ticketing experience, retail, dining, and an expanded slope-side beach area. The project is expected to break ground this month and open for the 23/24 winter season. The Washington resort will also be adding a summer aerial adventure park, replacing lifts and increasing summer activities. 

Phase two will add a new summit lodge and 100-room hotel at the base. But there’s no particular timeline for these projects. Check out the video announcement and photos below-

Steamboat, Colorado

Phase 2 begins with the relocation of the lower terminal of the Christie Peak Express lift and the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, which will take guests to the new Greenhorn Ranch learning center at mid-mountain. A redesigned Bashor learning area will be accessed by the first leg of the Wild Blue Gondola. Steamboat Square will get The Range Food Hall, Skeeters Ice Rink, and slope-side guest amenities, including new and expanded restrooms, lockers, and more. If Alterra gets the approval they need, Pioneer Ridge terrain could see an expansion of 650 acres and making it the second largest ski area in Colorado.  For a complete timeline of Full Steam Ahead projects, visit

1 2 3 4 5 34