Quantcast

The demise of the Snoqualmie Pass lift served

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
Does anyone have the background info on why Snoqualimie Pass closed the lift served riding in the summers? I heard it was due to a frivolous lawsuit by a rider.

Is anyone posting here a former employee of the North Bend shop known as CyclePath?

I used to be an apprentice mountain guide for Martin @ ProSki across the street in case you are wondering who I am.
 

iridebikes

Monkey
Jan 31, 2004
960
0
seattle
well, i don't know if you know this or not... but the US government and private land owners are not very freindly to us bikers. I wish that they would open back up again, but the best we have is the shore and whistler. Canadians are much more open to extreme sports where Americans are much more open to extreme lawsuites... bastards...
The fact that so many people are sue happy, and that liability has become such an issue results in us not being able to ride and trails being shut down(i.e. 38 and 27).
It does suck, and it makes me want to move to Canada, where the riding is better, and people seem to be more accepting towards riders. I mean heck, Canada is the only place where I've seen people comuting around on big bikes. Here in Seattle, you get exited when you see a big bike! It's quite sad how the American culture doesn't care about sports where you get out into nature and enjoy what is around us. Instead you have to be siting at home on the couch with beer in hand watching monday night football to be considered a true sports fan.
The American culture is just not accepting to what we have to offer... Lance isn't doing his job!!! Roadies dont' help build trails...
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
When I am physically located in North America I do live/travel in British Columbia and Alberta about 4-6 months out of the year. I own a home in Washington and a townhome @ Snoqualmie Pass. So I do know a bit about some of the things that are going down around the area. I was just curious to see if Aaron, Coulter or any of the boyz were still around, and what exactly happened to the lift served op they were promoting there for awhile. I never rode the lift served there, but I would like to know the background before pursuing another lift served business opportunity in Washington State.
 

MMike

A fowl peckerwood.
Sep 5, 2001
18,222
86
just sittin' here drinkin' scotch
trailhacker is likely the best guy to answer this....but pretty much the company that owns Snoq...some...Colorado based company I think, just didn't see it as a money maker. The insurance, running the lift... all expensive...and Snoq was really only servicing....what 150, maybe 200 people? It was the same 200 every week, and I guess it wasn't covering expenses.

As near as I know it was purely a money thing. I never heard of any lawsuit.
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
The guy that owns SingleTrack cycles was telling my riding partner something about the lawsuit, and he passed it on to me. I can think of some better mountains to get a lift served riding park going on. Ahem...Crystal Mountain.
 

geargrrl

Turbo Monkey
May 2, 2002
2,379
1
pnw -dry side
move to Idaho - you've got lift serve biking at Silver, Scweitzer, Tamarack, Brundage and Sun Valley... there might be more but that's all I can think of at the moment.

gg
 

Borneo

Turbo Monkey
Mar 22, 2004
1,011
0
Duvall
I never heard anything about a lawsuit. I've been a long time seasonal emp up there and depite the fact that Booth Creek runs a park at Northstar, which they also own, they decided that there was not enough money to be made at Snoqualmie Pass. Same few people every week. No growth after a few seasons open. Yes, they did a horrible job marketing it. There was also at least one World Cup or NORBA DH race there too.
Crystal had lift served for a few years as well. I heard that they also closed for low attendance.(No money being made...)
There's a high percentage of gravity junkies here on the PNW list. But, I assume that # is still really low as a percentage of all mountain bikers in the area. There have also been some attempts to work with Booth Creek to get it reopened. But, so far, neither Snoq or Crystal have seen the numbers that would justify it. IMHO
I still think they could open Snoqualmie and run weeknight race series like the City League racing in the winter. Build a dual course and go for it...
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
Washington has always been conservative, despite a large amount of natural recreational resources. I grew up in the front range of Colorado, and believe me, we don't think like Washingtonians when it comes to land. Recreation opportunities should exist for everyone.

I believe in Washington the conservatism emenates from various groups dating back into the 50's who set the tone for recreational land usage (Mountaineers, Alpine Lakes coalition, Sierra Club, tree huggers statewide). An attitude that needs to be stomped into the past where it belongs.

For example, if existing land borders were peeled back, or even nullified altogether, a ho-hum ski area like Alpental (sorry, I know Alpentalics will take offense at that) could put a gondola on the top of Snoqualmie mountain opening up a huge amount of terrain. With one single development tiny Alpental would become de-facto the best ski area south of Whistler. It would eclipse Crystal with one Gondola. That will probably never happen. Not until Washington's economy begins to collapse and eco-tourism becomes a major bread winner.

However, if that same thought process was applied to a bike park on the Kendall clearcut across the road from summit central (a misplanted tree farm) an amazing lift served park with 2200 ft of vertical could be opened up within an hour of Seattle. It was previously shuttled by locals before the road was shut down by a tank trap. This is just an example.

I'm not sure what the demographics of the posters in this forum are, but if anyone here with time, money, experience, and connections is interested in seeing this happen contact me via PM.
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
Once again I see the cheapness of paying for lift service as kind of a "Washington Thing". I've climbed in BC and Washington for 10 years, and been immersed in that culture till I could puke. There was a time when I seriously looked down my nose at anything that assisted me gravity wise up a hill. I know for a fact there are a lot out there who share that feeling.

However, lift served is one of those things where you don't knock it till you try it. After being buried in 2 avalanches backcountry skiing. Hell YA. I'll ride the lift, give ME a helo ride to the top. Gondola? Heck yeah...look at Chamonix...alpine playground.

I've climbed thousands of feet on my bike up roads, trails, pushing, pulling cursing...all for like a 45 minute descent. Worth it? Sometimes, I'll do it again and again. However, I LOVE options, and with the price of gas climbing who wants to shuttle when you can ride chairs.
 

trailhacker

Turbo Monkey
Jan 6, 2003
1,233
0
In the hills around Seattle
iridebikes said:
... and that liability has become such an issue results in us not being able to ride and trails being shut down...
Actually it wasn't about liability that they were shut down, it was about Salamanders and "habitat destruction"???
I mean you can cut a ski run 100 feet wide from top to the bottom and clearcut square miles of hillsides but god forbid you ride a 24" wide path of rock and dirt on that same hill...
And the closer of those two areas as far as I know is still open with unofficial OK from the DNR. At least before the people started cutting all the new trail and building the new stunts which I've heard (but haven't seen with my own eyes) were built by cutting down trees which is exactly what they asked people not to do?
But this place is on DNR where as Snocrummie and the other exit are USFS land.
And there was a lawsuit against the Ski area related to the bike operations which was just one more thing stacked on top of the pile of reasons for them not to open.
The biggest reason they don't make any money is that they invest 0$ into developing a trail network. I and the many people helping me built very DH specific trails but this only catered to the 150 people (if that, I'd guess 100 would be being generous) mentioned above. If they would have developed "green" trails that mom and pop and the kids could ride it would have increased there recreational riders tremendously. I remember watching families get off the lift then walk there bikes down the first hill, then push there bikes up the next hill as the road was pretty gnarly for people expecting the Tolt-pipeline trail. I'm not sure that hill lends itself to that type of trail however without substantial machine built trail. And without Snocrummie being a "destination" I'm not sure they would ever attract that type business anyways?
 

trailhacker

Turbo Monkey
Jan 6, 2003
1,233
0
In the hills around Seattle
I'm not sure if you are saying thats too much or not enough? If its too much then you need to d othe math to see just how inexpensive that was. If too little I would have to agree even though they never really sold that many?
MMike said:
That too...an $80 season's pass... well who's fault was that?
 

MMike

A fowl peckerwood.
Sep 5, 2001
18,222
86
just sittin' here drinkin' scotch
trailhacker said:
I'm not sure if you are saying thats too much or not enough? If its too much then you need to d othe math to see just how inexpensive that was. If too little I would have to agree even though they never really sold that many?
No no....totally not enough!!! They were giving it away!!
 

juice

Monkey
Nov 11, 2003
189
0
Seattle
Rumors are really fun!

BBTC has talked with the Snoqualmie folks, and its purely a business decision. If they thought they could make money, they'd run the lifts for bikes in the summer. I'm personally convinced that the growth of our sport (DH and freeride) is enough that Snoqualmie will open up again in the next couple years. I know I keep saying this, butwrite them letters and tell them you'll spend your money up there!

There might be a little bit of truth to the lawsuit thing, but it still boils down to money. Ski areas get sued all the time, and they just need to factor that expense into the operation.

The beautiful thing about Snoqualmie is that some of that land up there is private and owned by them - enough to put in a nice bike park. There's a lot less red tape with private land, and they can do it if they want.

Lets see, in the last 4 weeks I've driven to Fromme, Seymour, Whistler and Blackrock in Falls City. I need something closer, gas is killing me. Snoqualmie, are you listening???
 

Borneo

Turbo Monkey
Mar 22, 2004
1,011
0
Duvall
It comes down to whether people will pay for a system that they enjoy or not. The "easy" trails across the street from the bike shack up there were wide XC trails in the winter and the lift served were too rocky and gererally gnarly for the masses. Suspension technology would undoubtably get more people up there nowadays. As well as the popularity of Whistler and the price of gas. But, it seems like the area has said "Show me you can support it and we'll build it." while the community has said "build it and we'll come". An impasse.
We seemed to have had our chance with the Pass and Crystal and we lost it. As for Mission, zdfg, that would even have less of a population base to choose from. It would have to damn good to get me to drive that far. When I could go a bit farther and be at the shore.
Somebody will step up sooner or later. The big bike phenomenon won't go away. But, it still is a very small portion of the mountain biking demographic. `
 

Dave_Schuldt

Monkey
Jun 13, 2004
343
0
Seattle
Bill S (I forget his last name), a higher up in the North Bend FS ranger district, told me last summer he wished there was lift served riding in this state. He thinks it will keep folks from building bootleg trails.
If there was a gravity place near by would more folks buy gravity bikes?
I think so.
 

NateH

Monkey
Feb 25, 2004
438
0
The most reliable thing that i have heard from booth creek (having worked for them in th winter) is that it is a matter of taxes. More specifically the bike park only comes out even at best so they are able to use it as a tax deduction of some sort on their winter profits. The last few year have been substandard winters as far as profits go so there is no profit to take a deduction from. I have a feeling it is more complicated than any one reason. Probably a combination of a bunch of the stated theories.
 

carbuncle

Monkey
Dec 2, 2004
364
0
Edmonds, WA
Even if the park was more like the new Cypress park than Whistler I would buy a season pass and be up there constantly. It would be great to have legal downhilling within an hour of Seattle, and the market is so different now! If they put an ad in decline and one in any other bike magazine there would be huge interest! I certain there are promoters around here who would be into putting on a slopestyle event, and GHY proved that the pros will come to Washington for a good event...
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
So evidently, from what most are saying here, the last go around was more about bad timing, than genuine interest on both sides to get a bike park up and running.

There seemed to be some problems with implementation the first time around. From what I gather, the trail building efforts were not properly funded, a diversity of trails to attract new riders was not considered, and a viable marketing program was not seriously undertaken to gain a wider interest in the services provided.

If a new demographic study based on industry interviews, perceptions, and scientific polling of the vast base of riders located in Washington and the greater Seattle area were undertaken that proved a profitable margin of ticket sales could occur than Booth Creek and The Summit would be open to reopening the park. Is this a correct assumption from those in the know?

From among those here, how high of a ticket price could you reasonably afford for a season which went from say, June-September? 4 months of good riding. Maybe riding chairs 4-10 times a month? 16-40 visits a season. That's a ton of riding. Would it be worth $250.00.

If 500 riders bought a $250.00 ticket for the first season that would be $125,000.00. If you charged $20.00 for a one time lift ticket and each week brought in 100 riders a week for 16 weeks that would equal $32,000. Concessions, bike rentals, helmet rentals might bring in another $10,000. The total income generated might equal less than $200,000, and then minus insurance, salaries, etc., but this would certainly be more than the $0.00 of operating income the pass creates for itself by sitting idle during the summer.

I, just by myself, have converted 4 former diehard climbing friends of mine to mountain biking in the last 12 months. From among those 4 they have accounted for bike sales of over $10,000.00 in a 12 month period. That's 4 people who didn't even ride 3 years ago when the park was up and running who would now buy a lift ticket. Among the 5 of us that accounts for 1250.00 in ticket sales that didn't even exist 3 years back. I'm sure most of you have a similar story.

I have enough time and interest that I could easily VOLUNTEER 10-20 hours a week 6 months a year to helping build trails and maintaining them. That lowers the initial start up costs that number crunchers feed on in business.
 

Skookum

bikey's is cool
Jul 26, 2002
10,189
0
in a bear cave
To respond seriously to this thread, i used to ride at Snoqualmie on average of 2 times a year when it was around. It was fun challenge back when i didn't have a bike or skills to ride down it. In fact it was the place that got me hooked into mt. biking.
Crystal was a joke.... they lifted up a third of the way up, and the trails were choppy straight and unfun.
What makes a trail fun for me? When it's not straight in a boring way, both swoopy and fast, not "just" uber technical, i don't like to stand on the brakes the whole time. (You know... a fun trail like RatPac) Can you get that at Crystal? Hell yah, can you get it at Snoqualmie? Not where they had the trails before (too steep of terrain).
My favorite trails were trail 13 and the trail right under Silver Fir, but then again i didn't have a big bike or full armor back then either... And if Snoqualmie opened back up would 13 be opened back up, uhm seriously doubt it...
Anyways as a prospective buyer of said 20 dollar lift tickets, if they re-opened Snoqualmie as is, i'd go back once, maybe twice a year. If there was more trails put in i might go more. If they re-opened Crystal as is, i wouldn't bother... but i've mantained and still say Crystal has limitless potential, being shaped like a bowl, you could have such a great variety of trails there. If there was promise of better things to come i'd show at either of these venues once or twice more to support them, and even though summer is bad to me for trail work (i slave on a roof) i'd even lend a hand a few times.

My opinion mirrors others... There are plenty of gravity adrenaline junkies around to make this happen. i think it can be a success more so than before. i think it would bring more people to mt. biking in general.

Rinse wash repeat........
 

FatalExposure

Monkey
Sep 2, 2005
127
0
I agree. Crystal is a much better location. I think that there is some potential at the Summit, and I have ridden most of those trails in the fall just training for skiing, so I understand the need for better trail development. Nonetheless, Crystal has the terrain, the vertical, and the views. I guess we'll see.
 

MUTOLI

Air Monkey
Mar 14, 2004
1,064
0
PNW
fatalExposure:
The friends you speek of that you converted over to mtn biking... One of the guys isn't Matt is it? I just met a guy yesterday at Tape that just got into it...big time rock climber he said. It's great meeting new people that are just getting hooked!!!
 

Borneo

Turbo Monkey
Mar 22, 2004
1,011
0
Duvall
If it helps, Scott Hageman was the Mountain Bike Patrol Director at Crystal when they were open. He's on the Woodinville City Council now so a # should be publically available to find him. He may have some answers.
Crystal would be better. But, only for weekends. Snoqualmie could actually be open weeknights and later, under the lights for bikercross series or slopestyle riding. Thinking a dirt version of City League ski racing. That's when convenience would help with location. Park it out and they will come.
 

MMike

A fowl peckerwood.
Sep 5, 2001
18,222
86
just sittin' here drinkin' scotch
I've siad it on numberous occasions...catering to the dirtbag mountain bike crowd is difficult. Hard to be profitable when your clientele doesn't have any money. The need to attract people who actually have money.....
 

Tootrikky

Monkey
Jul 31, 2003
772
0
Mount Vernon
Borneo said:
If it helps, Scott Hageman was the Mountain Bike Patrol Director at Crystal when they were open. He's on the Woodinville City Council now so a # should be publically available to find him. He may have some answers.
Crystal would be better. But, only for weekends. Snoqualmie could actually be open weeknights and later, under the lights for bikercross series or slopestyle riding. Thinking a dirt version of City League ski racing. That's when convenience would help with location. Park it out and they will come.
Crystal is on Indian land. Can't have a bike park without their approval first, and the bike park would be on their Elk's feeding grounds, and from what I hear (from pretty good sources) they already asked them as the Owner/higher ups there have been to Whistler in the summer and were excited about the growing popularity of lift access riding, but the tribe said.... no way.
 

carbuncle

Monkey
Dec 2, 2004
364
0
Edmonds, WA
From an economic standpoint, I've spent something like $4000 on bikes in the last 2 years, and about $2000 getting to Canada to ride this year. If I had a place nearby, I would surely ride more often there than going to Canada. And weeknights? Hell yes! Straight from work to the mountain baby! I'd pay $250 for a season pass to even a halfway decent local lift park. I think that Snoqualmie would just need to cater to a variety of people: downhillers alone will not keep it open. There needs to be "green" trails for families and beginners, intermediate "blue" trails for folks to get skills up on and introduce ladder work and tech features, and black and double blacks later for the hardcores. There are more intermediate all-mountain riders in washington than hardcore freeriding downhillers, mostly because our riding culture is coming late to the table with that. Build for the masses rather than the hardcores, and advertise in high profile magazines that kids and trailriders read, create curiosity and interest, and there is fully a market there. If I had big money I'd invest in it, and I do have time and tools and would fully invest time in working on it. For that matter if I had money I'd invest ina "Ray's Mountain Bike Park" style indoor facility somewhere down here in the flatlands, too. Mix up North Shore tech features and skatepark style bike only riding, maybe some djs...
 

thesacrifice

Monkey
Aug 4, 2004
452
0
360
Problem is, I don't see Snoqualmie attracting anyone but locals. Whistler is successful because it has a plethora of family activities AND it has world class riding. They've generated the income during the winter to build at ease during the summer. Anyone have info on the Diablo Freeride Park...their numbers etc...

I personally just need a local lift assisted trail like Dirt Merchant and I'd try to ride it every weekend!