Massanutten Announces Expansion Plans: New Lift + New Trails
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bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
710 posts
JimK - DCSki Columnist
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,739 posts
Wow is right.  Those two new trails (1 and 2) off the experts quad chair involve untapped terrain that I've wondered about for years.  Being able to ski the liftline and the new one to the lookers right should offer a couple more nice advanced trails!  Also, starting from the top of the experts chair and using a combo of new trails 4 and 6 (if they link up) could make for a nice long blue square trail??  Looks like all this will be a few years in the making and I'm sure they'll have to support the new trails with new snowmaking infrastructure.
wgo
one month ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,380 posts
Fantastic! This is really exciting news. A run under the experts chair and to skier's left of that chair have been on my wishlist for years but these plans go beyond that.
wgo
one month ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,380 posts
The new terrain for this season under lift 5 was open for a bit last season after some natural snowfall. I wonder if it will get some snowmaking this year?
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marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

OMG!  How neat!  I had seen the news about the change for the former J-bar terrain but not this.  The instructors have been eying the terrain to looker's right off Lift 6 for years.  That explains the mention of increasing snowmaking infrastructure on the upper mountain.  That was supposedly just so DJ and Paradise could be blown at the same time.

I skied the short "trail" #5 under Lift 5 last winter after a snowstorm.  Definitely need to know how to ski steep bumps.  I followed one of the L3 instructors for a run and he's the type who likes to go FAST.

I wonder if the new blue trails will have lights?

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts
I decided to attend the 50th Celebration dinner in Nov.  Will be there for a few days so if the weather's good may be going for a hike to see what there is to see on the upper mountain.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Finally got around to reading the details about the timing of the trail additions.  Part of the plan for the upper mountain is to replace Lift 6 with a detachable high-speed quad in 2023!  That's when the work needed to make the lift line into a trail will get done.

Now the renovations to the Mid-Mountain Grill to add indoor restrooms and kitchen facilities is making far more sense.

We are excited to announce major terrain expansion in the coming years!

New for 21-22 season is a new conveyor lift and expanded beginner terrain and opening new “most difficult” terrain under the existing lift 5 lift line.

2022 is where the real excitement begins with the addition of two new trails, a new “More Difficult” trail and a new “Most Difficult” trail with both being served by lift 6.

The 2023 season will see the installation of a new detachable quad lift to replace the existing quad lift 6 to the peak and a new double black diamond “Most Difficult” trail under the lift.

Exciting as that is, we are still not done yet with the summer of '24 seeing two additional “More Difficult” trails, with one connecting Paradice to Mass Transit and another new trail off of lift 5.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
230 posts
This is very exciting. My one trip to Massanutten almost 8 years ago was a great day doing laps on DJ and Paradice, so expanding just makes me want to go back more.
wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
230 posts
They probably mean December 2022 though, right?
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
710 posts

wfyurasko wrote:

They probably mean December 2022 though, right?

 For new trails 1 and 3, I'd guess you're right

... unless Massanutten has them just about finished and managed to keep them secret!

Woody

wgo
one month ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,380 posts
Would they be able to get away with using portable snow guns for trail 3, or would this require new fixed snow guns? They would need to make sure that the bottom part of the liftline run is covered as well, even though the liftline run is not scheduled to open until the year after trail 3.
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

wgo wrote:

Would they be able to get away with using portable snow guns for trail 3, or would this require new fixed snow guns? They would need to make sure that the bottom part of the liftline run is covered as well, even though the liftline run is not scheduled to open until the year after trail 3.

 Since Yee Ha is initially covered with portable guns, and doesn't seem to need to much snowmaking after that to stay open, might be able to use portables for a connector trail that states shady.

The liftline would need fixed snowguns.  Too long and too steep to be messing with portable guns.

wgo
one month ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,380 posts

 

marzNC wrote:

The liftline would need fixed snowguns.  Too long and too steep to be messing with portable guns.

For sure. My point was that the new trail 3 is scheduled to be open the season before the lift 6 liftline run, but for the new trail 3 to be open the bottom part of the liftline run will also need to be open. For that initial season I am guessing they will use portable snowguns for the bottom part of the liftline, since the fixed guns will probably go in the same offseason as the new lift 6.


RodneyBD - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/21/2004 🔗
207 posts

I'm skeptical.

Massanutten as presently constructed only has five real ski trails.  They can't compete and peel off customers from SS, Wintergreen, 7S, Wisp and now Timberline.  Big round of applause for trying step it up.

The problem is they are going to have to spend money and blow snow.  Which they don't do.  Or at least haven't historically done.

I skied Massanutten 1/23/21 (thanks Indy pass!).  Whitetail and Liberty we're close to 100% open.  Wintergreen was well over 50%, they had the 6 pack running.  All the other's above were pretty much 100% open.

Diamond Jim and Mak Attack weren't open yet.  So again, they only have 5 trails, and two weren't open...  I hope they can hit the re-set button and do it but hard to envision with present management.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

RodneyBD wrote:

I'm skeptical.

Massanutten as presently constructed only has five real ski trails.  They can't compete and peel off customers from SS, Wintergreen, 7S, Wisp and now Timberline.  Big round of applause for trying step it up.

The problem is they are going to have to spend money and blow snow.  Which they don't do.  Or at least haven't historically done.

I skied Massanutten 1/23/21 (thanks Indy pass!).  Whitetail and Liberty we're close to 100% open.  Wintergreen was well over 50%, they had the 6 pack running.  All the other's above were pretty much 100% open.

Diamond Jim and Mak Attack weren't open yet.  So again, they only have 5 trails, and two weren't open...  I hope they can hit the re-set button and do it but hard to envision with present management.

 Do you know why DJ and Paradise has not had snowmaking operating at the same time in the past?  Do you how long it took Massanutten to plan, construct, and pay off the debt for the waterpark?  Do you know how much Massanutten has spent on upgrading lifts and snowmaking infrastructure in the last decade?  A 2-mile pipeline from the valley to allow an essentially unlimited water supply isn't a small investment.

Massanutten is pretty unusual because it's a timeshare resort that's been around for 50 years.  The ski hill was a key amenity from the very beginning.  The senior managers for Snowsports have all been working there for decades.  They are not going anywhere.  The lifties are locals, not J-1 visa holders.  Quite a contrast to the way Wintergreen slopes have been handled in the last 10-15 years.

What Massanutten offers to advanced skiers is an upper mountain lift that is not used at all by beginners or even very many intermediates.  That makes a big difference for families who can only ski on weekends or during holiday periods.  Lift 6 never has a lift line more than a few minutes.  The resort is good for families who live within 3-4 hours drive where only half the people ski/board.  It is a very successful 4-season resort.  But their primary market is not people who only want to ski off Lift 6 and don't care about the other features of the resort.

Cole53
one month ago
Member since 02/2/2021 🔗
12 posts
I wonder if the priority of certain trails being open would change when this proposed expansion will hopefully be finished in 2023. Would opening trail one or two become a priority over Mak Attack and Paradise. If I were to guess trails 6,2 and four would be the last for snowmaking.
Thefirewarde
one month ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
45 posts

wgo wrote:

 marzNC wrote:

The liftline would need fixed snowguns.  Too long and too steep to be messing with portable guns.

For sure. My point was that the new trail 3 is scheduled to be open the season before the lift 6 liftline run, but for the new trail 3 to be open the bottom part of the liftline run will also need to be open. For that initial season I am guessing they will use portable snowguns for the bottom part of the liftline, since the fixed guns will probably go in the same offseason as the new lift 6.

Trails 1 and 3 both show opening in 2022. I'm going out on a very sturdy limb and guessing there'll be permanent automated snowmaking of some kind on all three trails (counting the lower lift line as a trail). They must figure they'll be able to do most or all of the required dirt work for that stretch before the lift is replaced.

As for capacity, the more new snowguns they get, the more snow they'll be able to make at marginal temperatures. Adding more terrain means better options to get a good wind and more efficient equipment.

I think the whole thing is an excellent idea and I'll be curious to see how the details shake out.

crgildart
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 07/13/2014 🔗
767 posts
Another trail looker's right cutting around most of Southern Comfort would be nice.  Less traffic on SC and a quicker way for the non beginners to get back to the base. Looks like new cut #4 will do that looker's left for the most part..
nickhaas212
one month ago
Member since 11/13/2019 🔗
42 posts
While this is a wish/ compared to something that is realistic, it would have been nice to see MNut install either a 6 or 8 seater detachable with a mid-station at the point where lifts 4 and 6 meet. It could essentially be like a two-stage lift, even though not a true two-stage lift. Lower part for beginners and upper part for advanced/expert skiers. This would have allowed for more flow on SC and less hang-up near the lodge. You can also run the lower and upper lifts at different speeds. I know lift 4 was about 10-15 years old, but it kind of makes sense.
Thefirewarde
one month ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
45 posts
What would they gain from a two stage detach that they couldn't get from building 6 as planned and later upgrading 4?
nickhaas212
one month ago
Member since 11/13/2019 🔗
42 posts

Long-term, really just it would be more cash upfront with less cost from a new construction standpoint over the long haul.  Also, it seems unlikely you would build a stand-alone lift to only service one slope regardless of traffic. This would allow for them to make the case that the investment with the cross trail connectors services essentially two peaks and the base area of the mountain outside of the learning area. 

Thefirewarde wrote:

What would they gain from a two stage detach that they couldn't get from building 6 as planned and later upgrading 4?
Thefirewarde
one month ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
45 posts

Either you need an angle station to link the two lifts, or you have to substantially widen Southern Comfort (net benefit, but $$$) and relocate the snowmaking and maintenance shops (even more $$$). Either way, when you're done, you'll also have substantial additional maintenance costs compared to a standalone fixed grip and standalone detach. Either Southern Comfort can justify a detachable lift by itself and they'll upgrade it sometime after 2025, or it's fine for the foreseeable as a fixed grip and there's no sense making the big new expansion more complicated right now.

Also, given the required angle station, I don't know that a two stage lift would actually be cheaper than two separate lifts.

crgildart
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 07/13/2014 🔗
767 posts
Detachables are great when it's not crowded.  When it's backed up I prefer fixed if the seats are the same size.  I'd rather be sitting on the cable longer than standing at the base  longer waiting for a faster moving seat..
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Thefirewarde wrote:

Either you need an angle station to link the two lifts, or you have to substantially widen Southern Comfort (net benefit, but $$$) and relocate the snowmaking and maintenance shops (even more $$$). Either way, when you're done, you'll also have substantial additional maintenance costs compared to a standalone fixed grip and standalone detach. Either Southern Comfort can justify a detachable lift by itself and they'll upgrade it sometime after 2025, or it's fine for the foreseeable as a fixed grip and there's no sense making the big new expansion more complicated right now.

Also, given the required angle station, I don't know that a two stage lift would actually be cheaper than two separate lifts.

 I agree.

Might be just as cost effective to have a detachable for Lift 4 to get people away from the base faster.  Even with the conveyor loading, Lift 4 stops pretty often when beginners mess up.  People spread out after riding Lift 4 to Lift 5, Lift 6, or a run down Southern Comfort.  The area between the top of Lift 4 and the base of Lift 6 is really nice during the off season or when having a break at the Mid-Mountain Grill.  Now that it's open Fri-Mon, that makes staying on the upper mountain to avoid a crowd at the base lodge during busy days much easier.  Probably just as true during mountain bike seasons as ski season.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Wachusetts up near Boston invested in detachable lifts a while back.  It's a ski area that serves locals with essentially no lodging for travelers.  There is a lot of night skiing, with an emphasis on adult racing in the evenings.  What's unusual is that there is a long detachable chair that only serves two long green trails.  They don't have much more pitch than Southern Comfort.  That means beginners get in far more mileage than if that lift was a fixed-grip lift running slow enough that beginners could load without issues.

Wachusetts also invested in RFID early on.

I'm looking forward to having a faster lift on the upper mountain for midweek and weekend skiing.  Even if does mean there will be a blue trail so there will be more intermediates on Lift 6.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

I stopped by Massanutten at the end of a driving trip recently.  The RFID gantries are in the ground.

1635613198_vfexbfxctssx.jpg

Bonzski
one month ago
Member since 10/21/2015 🔗
553 posts

crgildart wrote:

Detachables are great when it's not crowded.  When it's backed up I prefer fixed if the seats are the same size.  I'd rather be sitting on the cable longer than standing at the base  longer waiting for a faster moving seat..

 Detachables are also more prone to being shut down during ice events where fixed-grips can continue ops.  Something that has to be considered when here in the mid-Atlantic and southeast.

Thefirewarde
one month ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
45 posts

Yes, but they're already committed to a detach for their most exposed lift.

In their shoes I'd use the data from RFID gates (are they checking upper mountain lifts also?) to help decide what lift should get sped up, if any. They also are about to have a bunch of fixed grip quad parts lying around spare, unless they sell it off.

nickhaas212
one month ago
Member since 11/13/2019 🔗
42 posts

Runs 4 and 6 should help this. However, do you think Mid-Mountain Grille/Lodge will start becoming crowded? SC is always crowded which makes for a tough time to get anywhere as it is landlocked next to the creek and parking lot. Having a detachable unloading/loading option may be helpful but not sure.

In my opinion, MNut just needs to figure out traffic on SC. Outside of loving Bryce a lot, this has made me steer clear of attempting to go there for day trips as it is overcrowded. While it is fun to do a bunch of hard stuff it is also nice to have variety in hard terrain and not just one or two blues and blacks. Hopefully all the upper mountain improvements will make it feel a little bit cozier like CV, TM, or Snowshoe. (Not trying to compare these resorts as they are not the same.)

Thefirewarde wrote:

Yes, but they're already committed to a detach for their most exposed lift.

In their shoes I'd use the data from RFID gates (are they checking upper mountain lifts also?) to help decide what lift should get sped up, if any. They also are about to have a bunch of fixed grip quad parts lying around spare, unless they sell it off.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Thefirewarde wrote:

Yes, but they're already committed to a detach for their most exposed lift.

In their shoes I'd use the data from RFID gates (are they checking upper mountain lifts also?) to help decide what lift should get sped up, if any. They also are about to have a bunch of fixed grip quad parts lying around spare, unless they sell it off.

 What do you mean by "exposed"?  Have you ridden Lift 6?  It's completely in the trees.  No wind issues at all.

I'll at Mnut again before the season starts.  Will ask about RFID for Lifts 5 and 6.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

nickhaas212 wrote:

Runs 4 and 6 should help this. However, do you think Mid-Mountain Grille/Lodge will start becoming crowded? SC is always crowded which makes for a tough time to get anywhere as it is landlocked next to the creek and parking lot. Having a detachable unloading/loading option may be helpful but not sure.

In my opinion, MNut just needs to figure out traffic on SC. Outside of loving Bryce a lot, this has made me steer clear of attempting to go there for day trips as it is overcrowded. While it is fun to do a bunch of hard stuff it is also nice to have variety in hard terrain and not just one or two blues and blacks. Hopefully all the upper mountain improvements will make it feel a little bit cozier like CV, TM, or Snowshoe. (Not trying to compare these resorts as they are not the same.)

 The new beginner terrain where the J-bar was removed is likely to make a difference for the numbers of beginners on Southern Comfort.  That area was the original beginner area when Mnut opened in the 1970s.  The pitch is between SC and Geronimo.

For the upper mountain, it's made a big difference that Mass Transit and Yee Ha are more likely to open sooner rather than later.  When you can stay on Lifts 5 and 6 all day, assuming lunch is at the Mid-Mountain Grill, then on a weekend it's possible to get in quite a bit of skiing without much time spent waiting in lift lines.  Especially when MakAttack is also open.

Given the nature of Mnut as a timeshare resort, I don't really expect the Mid-Mountain Grill to get all that crowded.  Helps that the hours are 11am-4pm.  At least that was the case last season.  There are a lot of families where not everyone is skiing.  Parents or grandparents hang out at the lodge.  So having lunch together at the main lodge makes more sense.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago (edited one month ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Forgot that the update from Mnut included info about the new beginner terrain.  The J-Bar was taken out in late spring I think.

Expanded Beginner Terrain

  • New 650’ SunKid conveyor lift will be replacing the J-Bar (last original lift). The new lift will service newly created beginner terrain for skiers and riders to enjoy. 
  • This area will be regraded for the new lift along with snowmaking improvements.
  • New LED lighting in this area and others will improve the nighttime experience and help reduce our carbon footprint. 

J-Bar used to be on the far left.  There was more pitch but not really enough for large features from what I understand.  Couldn't quite get up enough speed.  Although college competitions were held there several times over the years.  The magic carpet on the right of the picture is at the edge of the teaching area that's next to the ski school building.  The new magic carpet will be the third.

1635810050_omlutariwuhv.jpg

Thefirewarde
one month ago
Member since 09/17/2015 🔗
45 posts

My experience with detach lifts icing up has been either freezing rain on the haul rope or frost forming, neither were affected by trees or shelter. Also, they'll be clearing at least one side of the lift out at least a couple cats wide. Summit lifts catch freezing rain when the valley doesn't, that's the exposure I meant.


More beginner terrain is very good for getting beginners off SC.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

Thefirewarde wrote:

My experience with detach lifts icing up has been either freezing rain on the haul rope or frost forming, neither were affected by trees or shelter. Also, they'll be clearing at least one side of the lift out at least a couple cats wide. Summit lifts catch freezing rain when the valley doesn't, that's the exposure I meant.

 Ah, makes sense.

However, Massanutten rarely gets freezing rain in my experience the last 15 years.  It's more common that it rains in the valley while the mountain is above the clouds.  Being a "kettle" at the very end of the mountain chain, it's a bit different from a weather standpoint.  It can be in a "dry slot." 

I've had occasions when people from DC/NoVA decided not to make the drive for a day trip because of the forecast and I've ended up having a grand time all day long since I was already staying at Mnut for a few days.  They made a good decision as well, because the roads leading to Mnut were icy.

nickhaas212
one month ago
Member since 11/13/2019 🔗
42 posts

That is some good insight! I am hoping we can use both days with our Indy Passes there this year. Hopefully, things play out like you said as it is a good resort close to Richmond.

marzNC wrote:

nickhaas212 wrote:

Runs 4 and 6 should help this. However, do you think Mid-Mountain Grille/Lodge will start becoming crowded? SC is always crowded which makes for a tough time to get anywhere as it is landlocked next to the creek and parking lot. Having a detachable unloading/loading option may be helpful but not sure.

In my opinion, MNut just needs to figure out traffic on SC. Outside of loving Bryce a lot, this has made me steer clear of attempting to go there for day trips as it is overcrowded. While it is fun to do a bunch of hard stuff it is also nice to have variety in hard terrain and not just one or two blues and blacks. Hopefully all the upper mountain improvements will make it feel a little bit cozier like CV, TM, or Snowshoe. (Not trying to compare these resorts as they are not the same.)

 The new beginner terrain where the J-bar was removed is likely to make a difference for the numbers of beginners on Southern Comfort.  That area was the original beginner area when Mnut opened in the 1970s.  The pitch is between SC and Geronimo.

For the upper mountain, it's made a big difference that Mass Transit and Yee Ha are more likely to open sooner rather than later.  When you can stay on Lifts 5 and 6 all day, assuming lunch is at the Mid-Mountain Grill, then on a weekend it's possible to get in quite a bit of skiing without much time spent waiting in lift lines.  Especially when MakAttack is also open.

Given the nature of Mnut as a timeshare resort, I don't really expect the Mid-Mountain Grill to get all that crowded.  Helps that the hours are 11am-4pm.  At least that was the case last season.  There are a lot of families where not everyone is skiing.  Parents or grandparents hang out at the lodge.  So having lunch together at the main lodge makes more sense.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
230 posts
My trip to Massanutten was gray rain/snow from Alexandria to halfway down I-81 to Massanutten. Best bluebird day ever when we got there. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts

nickhaas212 wrote:

That is some good insight! I am hoping we can use both days with our Indy Passes there this year. Hopefully, things play out like you said as it is a good resort close to Richmond.

I'll be skiing at Mnut in January, including the MLK weekend.  Be fun to meet up.

I finally checked out Bryce using Indy the first year it existed.  A friend from DC got the spring Indy.  One weekend I was at Mnut, we met up at Bryce in the morning, then skied Mnut in the afternoon.  He stayed at my condo at Mnut Sat night, along with another DC friend.  Then he used Indy for Sun before heading home.  I think it's fair to say that Indy has meant more people are checking out both Bryce and Massanutten. 

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
15 days ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
2,596 posts
One of the things I learned at the Mnut Hall of Fame dinner last weekend is that the trail names for the new trails have all been picked.  Several honor long time staff.  Seats were assigned and the tables were labeled with trail names instead of the numbers.
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