The whole situation is ridiculous. I can't tell you how many people have told me that this is their last year for skiing at Timberline. The resort has some wonderful terrain (perhaps the best in the region next to Blue Knob) and certainly some of the best snow, but the aging infrastructure renders all these advantages moot.
Currently, the ownership is selling very expensive lots in a new area above the mid-station called Winterhaven. It would be nice if it took some of the profits from those sales and invested in the mountain, starting with a real lift upgrade as opposed to what we got with the Silver Queen. I say get rid of Silver Queen altogether and put in an Expert T-Bar--even that solution would be more reliable than what we have now.
Timberline has made a cool 1.45 million in real estate sales this year:
UNDER RESERVATION (.0332 Acres - $200,000); Lot #81 UNDER RESERVATION, .0473 Acres - $250,000; Lot #82 UNDER RESERVATION, .0369 Acres - $250,000; Lot #87 UNDER RESERVATON, .451 Acres - $250,000; #88 UNDER RESERVATION, .444 Acres - $250,000; Lot #89, UNDER RESERVATION .410 Acres - $250,000.
This is in addition to the money they've made selling lots on Northface and Winterset in the past 3 years. 18 new homes have been constructed on North Face alone. Perhaps it is now time to put some money back into the mountain for a change? The profits are clearly being made.
In short, Timberline's pleas of poverty no longer cut the mustard. I was joking about the T-Bar idea. We need a high-speed detachable and we NEED IT YESTERDAY. You can't build a profit base without customers and customers demand better facilities. Snowshoe did more business in March of last year than Timberline and Canaan Valley did for the entire season COMBINED. Go figure.
PS Andy, the last time I was at Snowshoe, I road up on the Western Express with a guy who had one of those altimeter watches. I asked him how much vertical he hoped to bag. His response: 40,000. For every skier who enjoys breaks, there are many others who want to bag big vert. For those who don't, there's always the lodge. They can buy food and drinks to support the resort so serious skiers can keep riding those high speed detachables.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 02-25-2004).]
As a tangent, that's a lot of income (neglecting expenses) coming in for T-Line via real estate. I wonder what sort of ammenities those buyers will be expecting of the mountain?
That said, most of the resorts out west also have alternatives, except for Alta and Powder. High speed quads can be found at Brighton and Snowbasin and of course in Park City, so you at least have the option of, say, riding the Millicent lift (nice bowls over there by the way) screaming "THIS SUCKS!" and skiing over to the Great Western for some sunny runs and fast lifts. If T-line had a high speed quad alternative I don't think anyone would gripe about a 12 or 15 minute ride on the second lift-- more than likely we'd be hearing "man the liftline was so long on the high speed quad I settled for the longer ride on the back-up lift; it was so relaxing!"
The other problem is when lifts stop a lot. Long isn't so bad as the shuffle. A few weeks ago I was at Whitetail and that stupid novice/intermediate quad was stopping every THIRD chair, I kid you not. It's like when you're driving home from work and every single light is red. The stop and go is frustrating and if it's a standard on a lift, you get off the lift. If both of the lifts on a mountain are stopping and starting and occasionally breaking down, you'll get a real frustrated crowd.
Johnfmh the thing I least like about (some of) the real estate at T-line is, yes, it's bringing in money for them but it sure is eating up a lot of hillside. You can't build a ski run through a house lot-- or even when you can, the skiing usually isn't enjoyable. I still rue the fact that they built that housing complex on the next mountain north of there; that would have been some fantastic expansion skiing. But all the focus on real estate and the little focus on infrastructure has brought us back to more basic problems than expansions unfortunately.
[This message has been edited by Roger Z (edited 02-25-2004).]
Some lifts I used this past weekend at Utah:
- Millicent Lift @ Brighton: 1125 ft vert, about 10 minutes
- Hidden Lake @ Powder: 1300 ft vert, 16 minutes per a worker I rode up with. The Paradise Lift is 1600 ft vert, at least 10 minutes.
- The Wildcat Lift @ Alta is also pretty darn slow. Couldn't find any stats on it, but it seemed at least 10 minutes worth of riding.
You could almost view a complete episode of Seinfeld on some of these lifts!
Granted T-Line is not serving up Utah terrain or snow, but it's not too shabby either.
I share your concerns about lack of terrain expansion room at Timberline. This new Winterhaven development will rob the resort of their prime expansion terrain. My bigger concern, however, is what happens when the real estate well runs dry. Skier numbers are declining at Timberline because of the poor infrastructure, so the only way the current ownership makes money is through real estate sales. When that runs out, what will happen then?
In Solitude's defense- and in defense of the resorts out west that have slower lifts- by and large those mountains are much less expensive to ski. So the ticket prices reflect the trade-offs. That's not quite the case at T-line. On the other hand, Solitude does have that high speed quad and the guy I talked to at the real estate shop says they are planning to upgrade first the Moonbeam lift (to help the beginners who keep falling off the chair) and then the other two lifts on the front. They don't want to upgrade with debt though, so the real estate agent was structuring land sales to raise the cash for the high speed quads.
SO... although I have a bias for those chairs at Solitude, it can be said that, unlike Timberline, they are doing something about the slow lifts. Lift tickets will probably go up, but there are still a few resorts around with old dinosaurs that will keep their tickets low.