Dec 1, 2004 | Marmot, Winter 2004

It’s Time to Explore THE OUTBACK

The Boomerang - Mount Washington sets high standards with a new lift and a third more terrain!

The Boomerang will launch Mount Washington into the next level of service for a destination Alpine Resort: the steep and the deep, says Mount Washington Alpine Resort President Peter Gibson.

“For the high-end customer, it’s going to be extremely exciting because this is a first for them,” Gibson said. “We’ve had the powder, the face and the back basin, but we didn’t have the unlimited black diamond and double black diamond.”

The double black diamond territory is called The Outback, and it’s 162 hectares (400 acres) serviced by a new, $3.5 million chairlift, the Boomerang Quad.

The Boomerang is Canada’s first double off load chairlift; the addition of this lift gives riders 1,600 acres in bounds in which to play. It’s also the second major chairlift expansion in two years: the 2003 season saw the Hawk high-speed 6ix Pak lift open up new terrain for the novice and intermediate skiers. Gibson said the buzz is positive for the Outback: early-bird season’s passes were at a record high in early November, “so it’s obviously a good impact.”

Resort representatives are banking on the new double black diamond terrain drawing the customers who traditionally left the Island for the thrill. “It definitely gives us an edge we haven’t had before,” he said.

The new terrain fits in with the Resort’s direction of creating a destination market for people who like to play on snow. In informal customer polls last year the number one item on their wish list was more terrain, and number two was “steep and deep”, Gibson said. “You have to look at number three as planned progression.”

With the progression of lift development — the Eagle and Hawk chairlifts — it allowed more people to get to the top of the mountain. the second upgrade, the Hawk, opened things up to the novice and intermediate.

“This (Boomerang) is the logical next step in looking at the high end.” He said the questions that customers are going to start asking as they consider Mount Washington as a place to come for an extended holiday are: How much acreage? How much powder? How much black diamond terrain? The Resort can now answer those questions with confidence.

The Boomerang will operate at different hours from the Resort’s other lifts: it will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The later opening gives Resort staff time to go into the Outback and stabilize the slopes to minimize any risk of an avalanche. The earlier shut-down time will give staff enough time before daylight wanes to ensure all skiers and boarders get down from the Outback safely.

Gibson reminds skiers that the Outback is aptly named. “It’s not going to get the level of attention that other slopes get with the winch cats and groomers,” he said. “It’s an area you just can’t groom; it’s just too steep. It’s the Outback, and it will be treated that way.”

Gibson added that only 15 per cent of the Resort’s clientele will be able to take advantage of the new Outback terrain, and the Resort has an obligation to make sure its core product is maintained.

Gibson is up front with customers wanting to ride the Boomerang that there will be days the lift won’t open on time. Staff can’t get into the site to blast for avalanche control until daylight. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to make sure we open as often as we can.”

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