Plans for a new chairlift and a long-term master plan for Bruce Willis’ Soldier Mountain were unveiled last week in Fairfield, and the ski area’s managers say they want to keep the Camas County resort an affordable family alternative to Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain.
Founded in 1948, the resort is entering its second season under the movie star’s ownership. Located in the Sawtooth National Forest 12 miles northeast of Fairfield, it operated under U.S. Forest Service regulations.
Soldier Mountain Enterprises representatives hosted an informational meeting Wednesday night and showed plans for a new chairlift.
The lift will not add vertical drop to the ski hill, but will divert snowboarders and skiers to the north, where four intermediate/expert runs receive little use.
Mountain manager Matt Baxandall said the current lift facilities do not encourage skiers to explore Soldier’s northern terrain. He said the new Monument Peak chair, if built, would be 4,300 feet long with a vertical rise of 1,125 feet. It could carry 1,800 skiers per hour.
Soldier Mountain Enterprises also unveiled plans for a new master plan. While some people expected the new plan would add chairlifts to the undeveloped back mountains, those features are absent. Instead, the plan calls for continued back-country skiing on those slopes via Sno-Cat, and improvements to the base facilities.
Baxandall said the overall plan is to keep Soldier Mountain an affordable place to ski and to encourage the back-country experience for skiers and snowboarders.
But not everyone is pleased. Snowmobilers who have used the area feel they have been displaced since Soldier management introduced Sno-Cat skiing in the uncharted territories of the area’s back peaks.
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