MRA to Present Ski Area Restoration Project in Alaska

16 Feb 2011

In the News

Mountain Rider’s Alliance to present Manitoba Mountain Ski Area Restoration Project

Mountain Rider’s Alliance Project Manager, Dave Scanlan, will be outlining a proposal for the Manitoba Mountain Ski Area Restoration Project at the Girdwood Library on Thursday, February 24th at 6 p.m. Following the presentation, a question and answer session will be held and community feedback will be encouraged.

Manitoba Mountain is located at Mile 49 on the Seward Highway at the site of the Historic Manitoba Ski Area and the Glacier Ski Lodge that operated from 1941 to 1959. The earliest recorded history of skiing on the Kenai Peninsula was in 1790. Anchorage is located 90 minutes away and there is a population base of 325,000 within a three-hour drive. At a base elevation of 1,250 feet, this region of the Chugach Mountains receives an estimated 350-550 inches of snow annually.

Manitoba Ski Area is a MRA pilot project designed to be small on infrastructure and big on mountain. The proposed lifts are surface tows designed to give riders supreme access to and from world class high angle backcountry terrain, while at the same time providing excellent beginner, intermediate, and advanced inbounds skiing experience.

Additional plans include creating and maintaining Nordic, snow shoe, snow machine, and dogsled trail systems through the historic mining sites of the Summit Lake Recreation Corridor, helping to support the year round operation of Summit Lake Lodge.

“One of the Manitoba Mountain Ski Area Restoration Project’s primary goals is to bring economic stability to the communities of Hope, Sunrise, Moose Pass, and Cooper Landing by creating a centrally located destination to create local jobs and foster additional private sector economic activity by redeveloping the downhill, and Nordic ski opportunities in the Summit Lake Recreation Corridor,” states Project Manager Dave Scanlan.

Both wind and hydro energy creation opportunities exist in the area. The State of Alaska has set an ambitious goal to supply 50% of the state’s energy from renewables by 2025. This goal has been laid out in the new House Bill 306, passed in June 2010.

MRA is an emerging group of like-minded global ski and outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to sustainable, low impact ski centers with an emphasis on the community, environment and skiing. More information about the MRA is available at their website. MRA will be offering reasonably priced investment shares to both the local and global ski communities to help fund the revival of Manitoba Mountain.

“We have entered the preliminary stages of the permitting process and while we expect this to be a lengthy multi-year process, we are fully committed. We will be hosting many public outreach meetings to solicit the public’s comments and ideas to assist us in sculpting the best possible facility with community involvement,” said Scanlan.

Mountain Rider’s Alliance has forged partnerships with many respected organizations that share the same values. Some of these partners include Protect Our Winters, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Sustentator, High Fives and Ski Duck.

MARCH 10, 2011 More Community Dates Added

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60 Responses to “MRA to Present Ski Area Restoration Project in Alaska”

  1. Mediaman1212 Says:

    Get behind the movement toward sustainability, reduce carbon footprint, make skiing more affordable, fun and adventurous for all

    Reply

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Nice one, I have been wondering what you guys have been up to. The terrain looks all time!

    Reply

  3. Anonymous Says:

    A ski area at Manitoba Mountain? Manitoba sees dozens of skiers every week – why does MRA feel they need to develop an infrastructure on a peak that already has a strong backcountry presence? The Kenai Winter Access Plan was put in place only a few years ago and backcountry skiers managed to gain a few more acres in an area highly overrun by motorized users. Alaska skiers don’t need — and most of all — don’t want, a ski area at Manitoba.

    Reply

    • Anonymous Says:

      Please speak for yourseld wfinley. Myself, as well as most of my friends would be stoked to have an alternative to Alyeska. Not only is Manitoba higher in elevation, but it gets light in the winter months and as you know, clears out faster.

      Reply

      • Edddd26 Says:

        You forgot skied out faster too!

        Reply

        • Anonymous Says:

          The Chugach are huge. I highly doubt a couple surface lifts are gonna get the zone tracked out too fast

          Reply

          • Edddd26 Says:

            Chugach may be huge, Manitoba Zone aint that big

          • Edddd26 Says:

            Its the exponential thing, just think 5 people 5 tracks per run in just 10 runs thats 50 tracks. Thats just one group, with lifts maybe just 1 hr. That zone will be Icy bumps in a day. Then maybe no snow for 2weeks. Icy bumps for two weeks so you can maybe get 1-2 quality lift assist runs. Its all about the quality!!!!

          • Corky Says:

            Alyeska can get tracked out in a day as well. Pretty much any ski area can be icy moguls if it doesn’t snow for two weeks. At least the Manitoba proposal has the option to leave the area boundaries. Sugar Bowl offers, or did when I lived in Tahoe, the option to buy a single ride ticket up their Mt. Judah chair so you can leave the area boundary and access Donner Pass from the top. Never been there when the BC was tracked out and Donner is substantially smaller than the area that Manitoba can offer.

          • Edddd26 Says:

            Backcountry Access Gate, do you even ski? Because it is a free backcountry access gate right now. Like you said if you want to go ski icy moguls after its been tracked out just go to alyeska. Leave my powder alone.

          • Corky Says:

            Nope, I don’t ski at all. Never have. Thank goodness otherwise I’d run into people like you out there.

          • Edddd26 Says:

            So if you dont ski what is your interest in this proposal? Money?

          • Corky Says:

            Yup. Everyone stands to make a fortune on this.

    • AKgirl Says:

      I’m interested to hear more, especially if it is helpful for the locals.

      IMO, instead of a few saying that the entire community would be against it, I think all locals joining in at the community meeting would be a great way for the voice of the Alaska skiers to be heard.

      Reply

    • DScanlan Says:

      Wfinley, I have much respect for your ski adventures and enjoy reading your posts on TTips. There is a couple of reasons that we have chosen the Manitoba site. The first is because it originally was a ski area. Most people only know of the rope tow behind the lodge where a lot of peoples parents skied. Manitoba is where a lot of peoples Grandparents skied. The mountain also has perfect access and parking opportunities, and does not pose much of an avalanche threat. This being the case we will be able to safely operate with an extremely small staff.
      The other big asset is the quality of high angle backcountry skiing in the area. Unlike Alyeska none of this terrain will have the potetial to entrain the inbounds sking in the event of an avalanche that may occur outside of the boudaries. This will allow us to be able to keep our boundaries open in all weather conditions. Most importantly we do not want to take away backcountry skiing but we want to provide increased access to all of the terrain that lies in between Manitoba the Hope Junction, Silvertip Creek, and Johnson Pass. As I’m sure you know the ridge that goes from the top of Manitoba to the east up Juneau creek is shared by the Silvertip Creek Drainage and the Lynx Creek Drainage.
      For the powerhouse ski mountaineers as yourself we see the potential to do laps into this epic terrain within an hours hike and be able to ski right back to the highway to potentially pick up a shuttle ride back to the base area. The other access that we want to improve is to install a bridge at Mosse Creek that would connect to our nordic trail which would greatly improve the skiability of the Roaring Creek, Moose Creek, and Weber Creek Drainages. All of these could be accessed, through some technical routes, from the North West aspect of Silvertip Peak.
      So if you take all of the mentioned terrain and add in all of the tourable terrain in the nonmotorized Megatoba quadrant it seems like a backcountry skiers mecca for sure. As far as the noise factor we will be running on grid power so there will be no additional noise, and I’m sure you read, all lifts will be surface tows. This will be as far from Alyeska as you can imagine.
      I also think that it’s interesting that all of the topo maps still have Manitoba labeled as Manitoba Ski Area.
      I value your experience and expertise and hope that you will be able to attend our meeting in Girdwood.

      Reply

      • Anonymous Says:

        Thanks for the response Dave. I have a few issues with what you’ve posted both in the blog and in your responses.

        RE: Sustainability
        To start – you are calling for a sustainable ski area and go so far as to insinuate that it will be powered by wind and hydro power. SC Alaska has yet to see a viable wind farm. Fire Island is on track – but it’s a long ways away from completion and will only provide a tiny portion of energy (less than 4%) to the Anchorage area. Hydro is a possibility – but as you know hydro power is running into firm opposition from residents on the Kenai. Alaska’s push for renewable energy will eventually result in renewable energy – but that energy might come at the expense of areas like Watana Canyon. In other words – the idea of justifying a ski area through renewable energy is pretty weak.

        RE: Jobs
        You claim that this ski area will be a boon to local communities by creating jobs and “economic stability”. This is a pretty big stretch… even Arctic Valley – which is situated 20 minutes from a population base of 270,000 has trouble keeping its lifts running. What makes you think Manitoba would fare differently? The only way you’ll get this area built is with federal, state and local grants. Hatcher Pass has been trying to build a ski area for 20 years now – and the price keeps climbing (in 2008 it was $24.7 million). The truth is the only way you’ll get it built and keep it running is by taking subsidies from the communities you claim to be bringing economic stability to. Be upfront in the planning process about how you intend to fund this proposal.

        RE: Planning
        In proposing this area you’re also ignoring the fact that this area went through a detailed Winter Management Plan 5 years ago. During that planning phase the overwhelming community response was that Manitoba should be non-motorized backcountry ski area. It is one of the few easily accessible areas that is friendly to novice skiers – and friendly on high ave potential days. By pushing for a ski area in a place that recently saw lots of public input in regards to future management you are ignoring the will of those who showed up during the planning process.

        RE: Backcountry Access
        If you can get past the environmental, monetary and federal hurdles you appear to be attempting to sell this area to the local ski community by saying that it will be a gate to the backcountry. Please tell me how this will work? Arctic Valley won’t allow skiers to access their lift served areas during the week due to liability concerns. Alyeska has zero side country and only occasionally do we see areas like the head-wall opened (which could hardly be deemed sidecountry). Even world class ski areas like Alpental only allow sidecountry access after it is first deemed safe by ski patrol and you’ve skied it once with a ski patroller. The reality is that small resorts wishing to keep costs down will not be able to afford the liability coverage necessary for sidecountry access. More likely we’ll be looking at coverage similar to what we see at Alyeska and Arctic Valley – areas that have a strict no uphill and no sidecountry policy. Please be up front in regards to this issue – many skiers would have no intention of supporting a ski area that blocks all access.

        As someone else mentioned in these comments – backcountry skiing is sustainable. And given that virtually every backcountry ski area parking area in Turnagain and Summit are full on a sunny winter day it’s apparent that hundreds of area skiers like their runs without lifts.

        Reply

        • POTUS Says:

          The haters gonna hate. Personally I would love to show up on any given day, ditch the pack up top to make a few laps on the lift and then head into the sidecountry and/or the adjacent backcountry for the afternoon. All the resorts in BC do it, all the resorts in Europe do it. Believe it or not, you can get a wicked quad burn with the HELP of a lift here and there.

          Imagine traversing from manitoba up and over into the Johnson side of things in an hour or two…? Sign me up!

          Reply

    • jackson Says:

      I think you are speaking for a lot of people that don’t agree with you when you say”Alaska skiers”. Everyone that I have discussed this ski area plan with is all about it for numerous reasons. I think AK needs another option instead of the resort because Alyeska does have many limitations that a bc/side country skier doesn’t get to enjoy like they do in Jackson, Alta, snowbird and many other resorts in the lower. plus we don’t have as many people so it will always be fresh,even after a dry spell bcause you can just hike a little more. cheers!

      Reply

      • Edddd26 Says:

        Why not just hike in the first place and scrap the whole Idea. This is just another special interest telling us as skiers that we now have to pay to play. why destroy a quality BC zone so some out of stater can bank on it

        Reply

  4. longtimegirdwoodlocal Says:

    as a long time Girdwood local and backcountry skier I do not want Summit to be turned into another accessed by the masses for profit location. We lost the fine Winner Creek terrain and better snow to CPG, the great skiing on the sunnyside at Turnagain is now overrun with snowmachines and smells and sounds like a Nascar track. Summit has good terrain , generally lighter snow and some good options. It is both naive and unrealistic to expect that it could produce a”sustainable ski area” by tacking on a far longer drive from the the economic center of the state.
    Backcountry skiing is the sustainable form. I understand if Hope residents want to create jobs for themselves but after the first few grants dry up and the project gets shuttered they will be back where they started.

    Reply

    • DScanlan Says:

      Longtimegirdwoodlocal thank you for understanding why Hope residents would want to create jobs. Many people can’t fully understand what it is like living in our small towns. I have been a Hope resident for 11 years and it gets frusterating to see my long time local business owners no longer be able to keep their doors open during winter months. Even more frusterating is seeing young familes having to move in to Anchorage to find work and to seek out more social interactions for their childeren. We don’t have many opportunities for job creation. Yes I understand your skepticism in our sustainability. It will not be an easy road but I believe that if we stick to our core values of only doing things that enhance the skiing I believe that we will be able to meeting our operating expenses. We don’t need to pay people to pressure wash side walks and polish hand rails. So instead of rolling over and letting my town die we want to try and create something that will be a really fun experience for all outdoor users.
      It is indeed a longer drive from the economic center but an hour and fifteen minute drive is still pretty close proximity if you compare this to the drive time to many of the ski areas in the lower. That being said we really want to give the people on the Peninsula a place to come ski for less than $60.

      Reply

      • Edddd26 Says:

        Less than $60?! Dude its free now why start charging for more people and less quality

        Reply

        • Edddd26 Says:

          Do your core values also include stealing powder from local backcountry skiers and then trying to sell it back to them. No amount of economic or cultural growth is worth that.

          Reply

          • Edddd26 Says:

            Then when this place goes under who are they going to ask to foot the bill. Thank god for taxes

          • Edddd26 Says:

            “primary goals is to bring economic stability”, Not verbatim but Sounds like the main goal of this project to get dollars.

    • Corky Says:

      Well, as a long time Alaska resident, i.e. I was born here, I like the idea of another option for “lift served” skiing. What masses are we talking about? I think that Alpenglow is a prime example that “the masses” are still gonna go to Alyeska. Whether or not Manitoba can be financially viable, well, I’ll leave that up to the money guys to determine. Until then, I am all for the proposal!

      Also, I think that saying anything about skiing is “sustainable” is simply ridiculous. Sustainability is a buzz word that is used to garner financial support from corporations and organizations that have some money. Nothing about skiing is sustainable. You drive you car long distances to pull out your plastic and epoxy skis, put on your plastic boots, grab your nylon pack and stuff it full of plastic and nylon equipment, throw your plastic skins on and walk up a hill.

      Reply

  5. HopeNot Says:

    Awesome! build lifts for backcountry skiers that are too lazy to hike to the ridge! This idea is LAME!

    Reply

    • Corky Says:

      The idea of lift accessed backcountry is not a new concept. Jackson Hole has open boundaries and their Tram allows you access to thousands of acres of terrain. Last time I looked, most of the folks skiing out of bounds there weren’t particularly lazy people. And I never found their lift served BC to be overrun because of the ease of access.

      Reply

      • Edddd26 Says:

        Id bet there would be a lot less tracks in cody bowl if there was no lift to the top and no “Backcountry Access gate”

        Reply

        • Corky Says:

          Yeah, I bet there’d be a lot less tracks on Rendezvous Peak if there wasn’t a Tram to the top. And I bet there’d be a lot less tracks in Teton Pass if there wasn’t a road to the top of it as well. Heck, maybe cars shouldn’t be allowed to park in Turnagain pass cause there’s so many backcountry users there that I have to hike and extra hour just to find untracked snow. Guess I just have never had a problem finding fresh turns in Jackson or here in Alaska. Maybe you should try exploring a bit.

          Reply

          • Edddd26 Says:

            so youd rather go find your self some Icy bumps and pay money for em have fun

          • Corky Says:

            Well, I have yet to ski icy bumps this year, even at Alyeska. Not sure where you’re skiing. Again, I think you should try exploring a bit.

          • Edddd26 Says:

            I put the idea of exploring upon you too. You just might get a feel of how small and interconnected that area really is.

  6. Matt Says:

    I think that a ski area in the anchorage area with a vastly different mission statement than the corporate norm will be a HUGE asset to the community and will greater define Alaska skiing culture for what it really is. If anything a ski area at Manitoba will increase access to ski tourers who like skiing steep terrain. Nice job guys!

    Reply

  7. Edddd26 Says:

    How about reducing a carbon foot print by no ski area at all. More lifts just mean more people and less Pow. Seems like a lose, lose situation

    Reply

    • Corky Says:

      You could reduce your carbon footprint by not driving to Manitoba and by getting rid of all the oil based ski equipment you own. Easy. Not to mention you would no longer be “stealing” the powder from other users.

      Reply

      • Edddd26 Says:

        I dont care about reducing my carbon footprint the only thing I care about is skiing pow and your trying to take that away from legitimate backcountry users by creating a FEE area

        Reply

        • Corky Says:

          Well then, you won’t mind driving to Girdwood with your pitchfork to voice your discontent.

          Reply

        • Corky Says:

          What makes you a “legitimate backcountry user” and not people who are interested in seeing what this proposal is all about? Perhaps you could hop down off that soap box and explain it to me.

          Reply

          • Edddd26 Says:

            The legitimate users are the ones out there havin fun and skiing pow. Not the ones trying to scam skiers by creating a fee area and ruining it for everybody else.

          • Edddd26 Says:

            I forgot to add under the guise of sustainability too.

          • Corky Says:

            So anyone that uses a lift to access the backcountry from time to time is no longer a “legitimate backcountry user”? And how would I be scamming skiers if I am interested in this proposal? I would be paying to ski there to.

          • jackson Says:

            you are looking at this ski area the wrong way, it is going to enhance the backcountry ski experience in manitioba not steal pow from bc users out there. there will be no lift lines and plenty of open pow turns for everyone. If you are really a legitamate bc user then you will be able to hike further than the last person and enjoy even more of the manitoba zone. the kenai mtns. are not that small and with such a small pop base, there will be plenty to go around so relax!

          • Edddd26 Says:

            Enhance the back country skiing experience ?! By what adding a fee area, lifts ,and asphalt parking lots.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    can you explain the ties between a rope tow(s) and economic stability for the 4 or 5 communities closest to the location? what has been done to involve residents of those communities so far? what information about the project has been presented to those communities and by what means and when? what has the input from the communities been like? Hosting your meeting in girdwood means the residents of the communities you intend to stabilze economically must commute 100 to 150 miles round trip just to attend, yet will ensure you will be surrounded by lift dependent riders in an element of your peers. do you have a website that contains the same information you will be presenting at your girdwood meeting as well as contact information for comments and concerns? enquiring minds want to know!

    Reply

    • Anonymous Says:

      Next Thursday’s presentation will be the first of several. In April, we will be presenting the project to the communities of Moose Pass, Cooper Landing and Hope. We will be putting an announcement in the Turnagain Times with the exact dates.

      At the presentations, we will be going over the project in detail, including it’s economic benefits for the region.

      Reply

      • Anonymous Says:

        Not presenting this first to the communities you claim to want to help,as well as the fact those communities stand to be affected the most by your plan, does not seem to me to be laying a strong community based foundation.. when and where do you intend to have the information you referenced above posted on the web for public review?

        Reply

        • Anonymous Says:

          We will post information online after the presentations.

          We chose Girdwood as it is centrally located to those coming from Anchorage as well as from the Kenai. Also, there is space at the library conference room for up to 100.

          Reply

          • Anonymous Says:

            hmmmm, not sure what map you are looking at, but centrally located between anchorage and kenai , girdwood is not. girdwood is where your fan base is.

            and after which presentations do you intend to post information online? your first meeting is next thursday, and you mentioned additional meetings will not be until some time in April., so how long do those not attending your girdwood meeting have to wait before there is some concrete information available online?

            as you may sense, i am eager to hear how your vision will provide “economic stability” to several communities on the Kenai.

            you have also failed to answer a number of significant questions i posted above.

            who is REALLY going to benefit from this plan?

            right now this sounds like another ski bum pipe dream by a group that feels it has decided what is best for the rest of us without any input gathered. this meeting is not about seeing what the public thinks about the idea, but rather to show the public what you intend to do.

            you want to be “green” and “sustainable” and reduce “carbon footprint”??? then put the rope tow in the front range Anchorage, where the largest population base in Alaska wont have to drive over 150 miles round trip to ski.

            i guess expecting more from a group of Non-Alaskans,(except one) trying to push their agenda on actual Alaskans, would just be feeble minded.

            get back to me when you have some actual facts

          • Corky Says:

            Please don’t speak for all of us “Alaskans”. There are others involved and interested that have just as much a privilege to access the Manitoba region as folks on the Kenai.

          • Anonymous Says:

            Facts will be presented at the meeting. The purpose of this blog post was to announce the meeting.

            At the meeting(s), community feedback will be encouraged.

            We hope you can join us.

          • Edddd26 Says:

            funny how they chose a thursday night the night of the local Town League races. I will be there but I know plently of others involved in the races who wont get a chance to speak their mind

          • Anonymous Says:

            We have the Library until 10pm and hope some town leaguers will stop by after their race.

          • Corky Says:

            It’s also the same night as State High School Nordic Championships and at least a few folks that I know who are for the proposal will be in Fairbanks for the races, including myself. Sometimes things can’t be scheduled to fit everybody’s needs. It’s called life! You should get one.

  9. Edddd26 Says:

    Sounds to me just like another sacrifice to the sanctity of this sport so that a few dollars can be spent, a few people can get those dollars but in that process we have to start the degradation of the environment. Pretty much in my opinion violating the right of the backcountry skiing community to experience what skiing in Alaska is. Its not about having to stand in lineto shell out a 35 dollars for a “Community Priced ticket”, then stand in line to ride a lift to the top and get avalanched out by some yahoo with no experience who is following tracks. If I want to go do that I go to Alyeska. If I want to go backcountry skiing I want to go to the Kenai.

    Reply

  10. Matt Says:

    It seems to me that some of the elitist ski touring community in the room needs to reevaluate their priorities slightly. All i am hearing here is me, me, me and i, i , i in every argument. If you want people to be raised into a skiing culture that isn’t dependent on a culture of greed then community based facilities should be an obvious priority. I enjoy ski touring as much as anyone but i still want a good place for my kids and my parents to be able to ski without being taken by whatever idea of skiing resorts seem to have in mind. Take a chill pill kids, look at the bigger picture.

    Reply

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