Arizona Snowbowl Impements Uphill Travel Pass

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Arizona Snowbowl has implemented a new uphill travel policy that allows users to travel up the mountain during non-lift operating hours.

Uphill Travel at downhill ski resorts is a way for users to travel up the slopes under their own power and then ski back down. Uphill users have grown in numbers in recent years, prompting ski resorts to implement policies to regulate the activity.

Among the changes to the resort’s policy is the requirement to obtain an uphill travel pass. The pass is free and can be obtained at a community information meeting or by visiting guest services. There will also be a reflective arm band that users must wear when on the mountain. Both the pass and the armband must be with uphill users when accessing Arizona Snowbowl permit areas.

The last of three community information meetings that Snowbowl has scheduled will be held tonight, December 7th at 6:30pm at local brewery Dark Sky Brewing, located at 117 N Beaver St in Downtown Flagstaff.

On the Mountain Safety Page of their website, Snowbowl lists all the changes and policies surrounding uphill travel. Choose the Uphill Access tab. Here are the highlights:

  • Access is allowed from 5p to 8a. Users are asked to be off the slopes by 8a.
  • There is a designated parking lot for uphill users, Lot 6.
  • A kiosk located in Lot 6 will highlight uphill rules, routes and updates.
  • Dogs are No Longer Allowed.
  • Terrain Park is always closed during non-lift hours.
  • Armband must be worn and pass must be in possession at all times.

Jon Gauld is the Safety and Risk Management Coordinator at Arizona Snowbowl. Gauld told WinterReview at a previous community meeting that many resorts around the country are prohibiting non-lift access due to safety concerns. Grooming operations include heavy machinery and a practice called “Winch Cat Grooming” includes highly tensioned cables that could injure or kill skiers that are unaware of their presence. Snow cat and grooming machine operators can also find it difficult to spot skiers that don’t steer clear of their machines. Snowbowl will close trails to uphill use where winch cat grooming operations are present.

At the public presentation Gauld noted the possibility of dogs chasing machinery as one of the reasons for the policy change surrounding furry friends on the mountain. However, he went on to say that the biggest reason for the change was pet waste that was not being cleaned up by their owners.

The ski resort operates on public lands permitted by the National Forest. The ski lifts, groomed trails parking lots and access road are all included in that permit. According to their website:

“Arizona Snowbowl operates under a special use permit from the Coconino National Forest. We enhance the use of your public land. Please keep in mind that uphill travel is a privilege and not a right on USFS permitted land by providing access to the Peaks, plowing the roads, sharing our parking lots, and supporting Flagstaff culture of outdoor recreation.”

An extensive list of uphill travel policies at other North American ski resorts can be found here.

Tim Allen can be reached by email at tim@winterreview.com.

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