A backside ski lift for Tahoe Donner Downhill

While riding the Eagle lift a while back I encountered an in-the-know fellow who mentioned a proposal kicking around for a backside lift from the base of Walt’s or Hans Down to the Sno-Cat garage at the crest of Skislope.

I think this is a good idea for two reasons. First, we cater to beginners and this would create several runs for them between the current green and blue runs in steepness. Secondly, the downhill area’s backside – almost half of the ski area – is extremely hostile to pole-less snowboarders and beginning skiers due to the long flat return to the Eagle chair. A lift would allow beginners to do multiple backside runs, longer than the ones off the Snowbird chair, and return to the front side from the top without thrashing their way a half-mile or so along Mile Run.
Chris Green of the Planning Committee has also been looking into it for capacity reasons. The Snowbird chair is so impacted on weekends and holidays that the quality of experience is starting to diminish.

The existing Mile Run is colored gray, new runs enabled by the proposed lift are colored green.

The existing ‘Mile Run’ is colored gray, new runs from the proposed lift are colored green.

This does not necessarily involve a multi-million dollar detachable chair. A number of mom-and-pop areas have installed used fixed-grip ski lifts for only several hundred thousand dollars. One example is Montana’s volunteer-run Turner Mountain Ski Area. In 2001 Turner Mountain purchased a 1200′ foot used double lift for $220,000 and installed it using mostly free volunteer labor. Another example would be Colorado’s Silverton Mountain, which installed a used ski lift from Mammoth to offer lift-served, extreme backcountry skiing.

This project would increase TD Downhills claimable verticle by 120′.

Contact: Chris Nelson, John Reece