Future Plans Underway for Double Black Diamond Runs

Mount Washington Alpine Resort will develop new black diamond and double-black diamond terrain in the MacKay Lake area – but not this year, says General Manager Peter Gibson.

Photo Courtesy of Mount WashingtonDespite recording their second-biggest year ever in the books, Gibson said it will be status quo at the Resort for the 2003-04 season. Then they’ll look at building a new chairlift and breaking new terrain. “The game plan has always been to get into MacKay Lake as soon as we can,” he said. “However, we will not be putting a new lift in this year.”

Gibson said the Resort will spend an unspecified amount of money prepping the area for new terrain: most of the trees are already cut for the lift line, in an area that had already been partially logged by TimberWest. The Resort must still complete a site survey and avalanche study at the proposed tower site, to get things ready for a lift. “The lift profile is steeper than the Peak Chair at Whistler,” he said.

There are two or three options for a chairlift. One is to build a lift from MacKay Lake to one peak below the west peak. Another option would be to build a lift to the peak and a T-bar surface lift.

The third option would be to build an over-and-back lift so that it could load at both ends – over the peak from MacKay Lake down to the Hawk unloading area.

“Right now we’re going through the options … getting prices, getting quotes,” he said, adding that the Resort hopes to make a decision by late summer on what type of lift to install. Then it will depend on what type of winter Mount Washington has next year.

The new terrain will be called The Outback. “The terrain in there is all black diamond and double black diamond, and will really round out the package at the high end,” he said.

“We do recognize the need for people to experience double black diamond terrain,” Resort Public Relations Director Dave Hampshire added. Hampshire said that despite ropes and signs indicating Resort boundaries there is a steady stream of people skiing out of bounds in the MacKay Lake area.

Mount Washington is also contemplating an upgrade for the Sunrise Quad, which opened in the early ‘90s. They’re examining their options, Gibson said, but that’s all right now.

“To do Sunrise the way we’d like to, which is to go high-speed, is just not in the plans,” he said. “MacKay Lake will come first.”

Gibson said they would likely have to tie in any Sunrise upgrade with land development, such as commercial real estate, within the Resort’s existing boundaries.

Other future development proposals include increasing land holdings to the east and angling a chairlift that way, and negotiating with a developer to make the concept of a core village become a reality, Hampshire said.
“It’s very exciting, but in the initial stages right now,” he said.

Waiting – and patience — is not such a bad thing when it comes to future development on the mountain, Gibson said. “It takes time. We pay as we go, and if we don’t have the money we don’t borrow. We want to be careful; if we have a good year, we build.”