Just got this bit of good news for skiers and snowboarders from Roger Phillips of the Idaho Statesman, our sister paper in Boise:
By Roger Phillips
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
If your idea of a good day skiing and snowboarding is a lift ticket, a burger at lunch and a post-ski brew, you won’t be disappointed by Tamarack’s resurrection.
The resort reopened for skiing on Dec. 20, just in time for a wave of storms that dumped feet — not inches — of fresh powder on the Central Idaho mountains.
Jon Bussell of Boise learned to snowboard on Tamarack’s slopes. He returned to the resort during the holidays to hit the slopes again and liked what he saw.
“They’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “There hasn’t been a whole lot of change.”
Financial fall doesn’t affect fall line
Tamarack’s financial troubles have been well documented, and no one knows what lies ahead as the resort works through bankruptcy court and into new ownership.
But the Tamarack Homeowners Association has spearheaded the effort to get skiers back on the mountain.
The goal, according to homeowners association director Tim Flaherty, is to show the ski operation is still viable.
The association quietly worked behind the scenes and ensuring the lifts were being maintained during the nearly two-year layoff, Flaherty said. The lifts passed all inspections in the fall and were ready to haul skiers this winter when the association got approval from a bankruptcy judge.
Two of the resort’s lifts —Wildwood and Buttercup — are owned by Bank of America and won’t operate this winter.
But the lifts that access about 80 percent of the mountain are operating.
Tamarack’s long, scenic runs are being groomed, and the mountain looks and feels much the same as it did in 2009 before the resort closed.
The base area also looks about the same. Canoe Grill and the Seven Devils Pub are serving food and drinks, and the Sports Dome has ski and snowboard rentals and a retail shop where you can even buy Tamarack souvenirs.
There also are overnight accommodations.
The grocery store and day care are closed, and you will have to get to Tamarack on your own. The charter buses that once ran between the Treasure Valley and Tamarack will not be running this winter.
The resort’s giant halfpipe is on hold, but Flaherty said terrain park riders haven’t been forgotten.
Crews installed seven rails and three tabletops, and built several jumps.
There are also terrain park features for beginners.
A local destination
During the real estate boom of the mid-2000s, Tamarack spent millions trying to lure destination travelers to the resort and get celebrities like tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf to invest there.
The homeowners association has a much more modest goal for this season, which is scheduled to run into early April. The resort just wants to break even, and it’s focusing on local customers to keep the lifts operating and the slopes dotted with skiers and boarders.
Tamarack rolled out the welcome mat for local skiers in the preseason by offering a discounted season pass, which now costs $299.
Tamarack also dropped its daily lift ticket price to $46 for an adult day pass, making it the cheapest among Brundage, Bogus Basin and Sun Valley.
Uncrowded slopes, plenty of powder
Tamarack is operating four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, and holidays.
During the three days the lifts don’t run, the powder is going to pile up on the slopes as storms roll through.
“It’s going to be a powder skier’s mountain,” Flaherty said.
Time will tell how busy those slopes will get, but Bussell said he didn’t feel remotely crowded during the holidays.
“One thing that’s missing that I don’t miss is the crowds,” Bussell said. “A couple times on the runs you look behind you and look in front of you and you have the mountain to yourself.” But Bussell hopes uncrowded doesn’t mean deserted, and Flaherty said the holiday visits met the association’s expectations and they are pleased with the season so far.
Bussell said he thinks as word of mouth gets out, the skiers and boarders will return.
“For Tamarack’s sake, I hope people give it a shot again,” Bussell said.
Getting there: Take Idaho 55 about 86 miles to Donnelly. Turn left onto Roseberry Road and go 4 miles; turn left on West Mountain Road.
Go 3.5 miles to the Tamarack turnoff. It’s about 95 miles from Boise. Plan about two hours driving from Boise and possibly longer if roads are icy.
Terrain: 32 runs. Five lifts, two high-speed detachable quads, one fixed-grip quad and two surface lifts, 2,800 vertical feet, 900 skiable acres.
Slope difficulty: 15 percent beginner, 44 percent intermediate, 41 percent advanced.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday plus holidays.
Daily lift ticket prices: Adult (18 to 69) $46, Junior (12-17) $36, children
(7 to 11) $22, ages 6 and younger and 70 and older are free.