Sugar Bowl Expands Terrain

New chairlift opens up options for deep trees and backcountry access

Sugar Bowl's new chairlift makes it easy to ski all of this beautiful pow. PHOTO: Sugar Bowl

WORDS: Julie Brown

Sugar Bowl Resort outside Truckee broke ground this week on a new chairlift that will give skiers lift-served access to 1,000 feet of direct fall-line terrain through sheltered pow, cliffs, and deep trees. Sugar Bowl expects to open the Crow's Peak chairlift as soon as next season.

Skiers used to hike to the top of Crow's Nest Peak to access the protected glade skiing in the Strawberry Fields, but you had to bank a sharp right up high to get back to the closest lift.

“It opens up about a thousand vertical feet of northeast facing trees,” says Jon Rockwood, head coach for Sugarbowl’s Snow Ranger program. “Anyone from Daron Rahlves to mom and dad can love it. It’s just spaced tree skiing at its finest.”

Days after the Forest Service approved the new chairlift, helicopters flew up the bullwheel and top lift shack. PHOTO: Sugar Bowl

Some are saying this is the best ski resort expansion to happen in Tahoe since Squaw Valley built its Silverado Chair in the '90s, which opened up a haven of cliffs and cirques that get absolutely destroyed in less than 15 minutes on a powder day. But Sugar Bowl is not Squaw, and the tracks will hopefully stay fresh under Crow's Peak for at least twice as long.

The Forest Service approved the expansion last week, and Sugar Bowl started construction on the Crow's Peak lift immediately, flying the bullwheel and upper lift shack up earlier this week. The new lift, which is a fixed-grip Doppelmayr triple, expands Sugar Bowl's terrain by 150 acres to a total of 1,650. The $3 million project is part of Sugar Bowl's effort to make capital improvements on its mountain. Sugar Bowl also recently acquired Royal Gorge, the largest cross country ski resort in North America.

About four years ago, Sugar Bowl installed the Summit Chair, a quad that takes skiers up 400 feet to a backcountry gate from which you can ski down to Donner Lake. Skiers will also be able to access the backcountry from the top of the Crow's Peak lift, says John Monson, Sugar Bowl's director of sales and marketing.

In addition to the steeps and backcountry, the new lift will also open up two new groomed runs. And because the lift is so sheltered, Monson says it's likely to run on storm days. We'll see you there when it snows.

Daron Rahlves and Strawberry Fields forever. PHOTO: Sugar Bowl