Bogus Basin has a fresh coating of snow, the snow machines are up and running and this non-profit ski resort targets Thanksgiving to open the season for skiers and snowboarders.
"It’s hard not to get excited when I look out my window and see this every day," said Brad Wilson, Bogus Basin's general manager. "I had to put the mountain bike away and now I’m ready to put the sticks on my feet."
Bogus Basin is 15 miles from Boise. The close proximity, coupled with the growth of the Treasure Valley has made this a very popular destination. As a way to get more people on the mountain, the non-profit resort completed 62 improvement projects at a cost of five million dollars heading into the ski season.
"We are seeing an increase in demand for skiing largely driven by the population growth," said Wilson. "We are trying to stay ahead of it, we don’t want to get behind and we don’t want to turn people away any more than we have to, we will probably be selling out of lift tickets every weekend this season again, but we are trying to get to the point where we don’t have to do that."
As a non-profit, Bogus Basin invests its earnings back into the mountain and they've done so with some massive splashy projects. The mountain coaster, a new high-speed quad, their snowmaking operation and turning the mountain into a summer recreation area immediately comes to mind.
But this year they did 62 smaller-scale projects that will attempt to make a trip to the mountain more enjoyable, safer and provide new terrain that always excites skiers and snowboarders.
Bogus finished paving the parking lot from the Simplot Lodge and added 50 more parking spaces, in years past the gravel parking lot would turn into a muddy mess with ruts developing when warm temperatures started melting the snow.
They added 30 percent more chairs to the lifts to help lines move faster. They bought new equipment to add to their fleet for better grooming and to clear the road, which makes the drive up and down safer after it snows. And they have new technology called the RFID Ticker Access which allows gates to open automatically if you have your pass.
"It will recognize it if it’s in a pocket and you go right onto the lift," said Wilson. "It gives us a lot of data too, telling us where people are and it’s going to help us as we are moving forward to figure out where we need more lift capacity and where do we need more trail capacity."
Bogus Basin has doubled its water pumping capacity which will allow all 50 of their snow machines to run at the same time, they have made improvements to the lodges, they have brand new rental equipment and they expanded their snowshoe trails.
They also added new terrain with an expert and intermediate trail that will provide another way for skiers and snowboarders to get from the backside to the front side after the traverse, which is my favorite spot to watch the sunset.
Bogus Basin built new lights on the backside that will add two more runs to their night skiing operation off the Superior Express, which doubles the runs on the backside and that's where I spend most of my time because I buy a night pass every year.
They also took several cat tracks and widened them to make new beginner runs in an effort to help people transition from the bunny hill to the rest of the mountain, which includes Sunset off of Morning Star which will have snow-making machines top to bottom and more lights.
"I think novice skiers will have a lot more terrain, they can spend a lot more time on the mountain and do a lot longer runs," said Wilson. "Ski school will take advantage of that and I hope folks coming up to learn how to ski and snowboard will get on those trails and really appreciate it."