Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening

From Rocky Mountain Outlook.

According to its redevelopment plan, Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is on the road to open by December 2020.

The resort has received approval from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) last spring, to replace its potable water system and refurbish a sewer line. The company is hoping to complete this $4 million project this spring and if receiving the OK from AEP, they will begin constructing a new day log and lift system this summer.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

Located 30 km south of Nakiska Ski Area on Highway 40, the resort has been closed since 2004. Today, KPOW cat skiing operates at the resort and they have been doing so since 2011.

Some private investors have been getting together for this plan and Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners have created a master plan.

On its first phase, the plan will make use of the resort’s existing ski terrain and refurbish five chairlifts. Many of the lifts will also be realigned to improve the resort’s fall line for a total lift capacity of 2,500 skiers.

This first part of the plan includes a building of 36,000 square feet that will be used as a day lodge at the base of the resort that will contain tickets, rentals, guest services, public toilets, lockers, ski school, a restaurant and a bar. The resort will install a magic carpet for beginners and a tube park for enthusiasts.

Chris Chevalier, president of Fortress Mountain Ski Resort said: “We’re excited, it’s been a long road, but shovels are in the ground and we’re moving forward, “and “we want modern amenities, but with the touch of the old Fortress.”

With the top elevation of 2,500 the resort’s longest vertical run will be about 700 m when avalanche conditions permit. This will be rival Sunshine Village’s Delirium Dive.

When the resort is all built out, it will have nine lifts across three ridges allowing skiers and boarders to access 2,200 acres of skiable terrain.

The final phase of the master plan envisions a second base lodge, a mountain top restaurant, overnight accommodation for approximately 100 guests, employee housing and a potential Nordic ski facility. All this will depend on capital and skier demand.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

However, it is not the intention of Fortress to compete with mega resorts like Whistler, Sunshine Village or Lake Louise.

“The Red Mountains and the Whitewaters and the Castle Mountains, they’re special, and if we can do that, but with our own feel, then I think we’ll be successful,” said Chevalier.

Compared to other resorts that have failed to materialise such as Jumbo Glacier Resort in BC, Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is making progress thanks to have been previously developed, as there is around $40 million of existing infrastructure already in place.

To fund the first phase of the redevelopment of Fortress, the company raised more than $5 million from private investors through the Alberta Investor Tax Credit program.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

Launched in January 2017, the government-funded program offers investors a 30 per cent tax credit if they provide capital to small businesses in non-traditional sectors, such as technology, health and tourism.

“We were one of the first companies to be given a check mark that were an eligible business,” said Andy Waddell, Fortress’s chief financial officer.

Waddell said that the tax credit has helped a lot as typically ski resorts and golf courses cannot attract enough investment compared to the tech industry.

Most of the investors are from Calgary and they are investing in the resort as they are passionate about it and about skiing.

“They want to be part of a team and part of the excitement,” said Waddell. He also said that part of their business plan is to attract the hordes of skiers and boarders that typically go to British Columbia to ski.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

“Fifty per cent of Albertan ski days are outside the province,” said Waddell. “That’s a huge number of skiers that leave Alberta to ski simply because Alberta’s ski hills are full.”

The company also hopes to attract new Canadians to the sport with their gentle ski runs at the base of the resort and with the tube park. They also expect to have lots of skiers return to the mountain where they’ve learnt how to ski or board.

The once busy ski resort in Kananaskis Country has a long history dating back to 1967 when it was called the Snowridge family ski area.

By the 1970s, it was purchased by the Aspen Ski Company, which changed its name to Fortress Mountain to reflect the name of the rocky monolith that towers over the resort’s slopes.

In the 1990s it was the turn of being sold to the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), that owns six resorts throughout North America, including Nakiska and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. At that time, it seemed the resort got a renaissance when Freestyle Alberta used it as a training centre, but with the lifts nearing time to be replaced and with less skiers visiting, RCR announced the closure of the area in 2004. The resort has not operated since.

In the year 2005, Banff Rail Co. bought the resort, but it could not reopen it and in 2007 the resort was abandoned after the province withdrew the lease from the owner after failing to repair an unsafe bridge, maintain the buildings and paying rent and taxes.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

After being dormant for three years a new group of investors bought the lease in 2010 and a year later KPOW cat skiing started operating with a single 14-passenger Pisten Bully snowcat.

The resort has been used as a backdrop for some of Hollywood’s blockbusters such as ‘Inception,’ ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain.’

Under the new ownership the resort has hauled away dozens of truckloads of rubbish from the site and an inspection of the access bridge deemed it safe for travel.

Fortis has installed 30 new power poles to supply the resort with commercial power. Even all this looks promising, there is still lots of work to do, but all is in track to open the resort in December 2020.

“We’re excited,” said Chevalier. “It’s been a long time coming.”

More info:

Rocky Mountain Outlook

Fortress Mountain

The-Ski-Guru TRAVEL can organise your bespoke ski trip to the Americas, Alps or Japan, including for those going from Britain to Europe, booking your Eurotunnel trip, and for all trips: lodging, lift tickets, rentals, ski school, and all you need for an excellent vacation. Go to https://www.the-ski-guru.com/travel and upload your information – this page will be updated soon with more travel ideas. Check our February offer for Zermatt staying at the Chalet Zen or Penthouse Zen, our amazing Ski Safari in the Dolomites , stay at the San Lorenzo Lodge White Deer in the Val Pusteria of Sudtirol, in the Hotel Petrus in Riscone, for skiing Kronplatz, or check our Easter offer to Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Sölden to ski with your family. You can ski to have lunch in the Rifugio Sofie in Seceda, Val Gardena, in the Dolomites.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. KAPOW Snowcat Skiing Operation.

You can start thinking about your trip, by reading the articles on the Planning your Ski Trip tab.  Or how to pack for your family ski trip.  If taking your furry friend abroad to the continent, read about the new Pet Travel Scheme update from DEFRA. Check out our tips for driving to the mountains.  If flying and renting a car in Europe, beware of the extra charges they will pass to you if you want winter tyres, snow chains or ski racks. If driving, check the winter tyres news for Europe and North America.

Or you can read our last news on equipment as seen at the London Ski Show. Also, the new range of skis of Black Crows, one of our favourite brands. Shred-Dog is a definitely favourite brand for parents of growing kids. And check the new Mohawk helmet with augmented reality. You can see my review of the Head Nexo Lyt 100 boots for women.  A new app, Ski Tracker Pro offers you a one month free download if using a promo code.

We have already covered many news due to this latest spat of snow storms in Europe, as the hotel that was hit by an avalanche of 300 meters of width in Eastern Switzerland. In the same place, a couple days later, a second avalanche affected the structure of the Säntis Suspension Railway. And two ski patrollers got killed setting avalanche control charges in the French resort of Morillon in the Grand Massif. Also two workers died in Jammu in the Gulmarg in India, when they’ve fallen from a cable car during a mock rescue drill.

Lots of snow makes you wonder how the resorts deal with the avalanche danger. Here you can read the interview to Coco Torres, former Head of Operations of Las Leñas, in Argentina, as how they dealt with avalanches at the resort. 

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. KAPOW Snowcat Skiing Operation

Or perhaps you may choose to read the Ski Resort NewsSki Passes News, and the Must-Read Guides to Lech,  Zermatt,  CourmayeurVal di Fiemme and Crans-Montana. Coming soon will be the guide to St Anton. Or  watch an amazing heli flight over the Mont Blanc Massif. Also see tips on how not to be scammed when booking a ski chalet.

You can also read what’s new at Les Trois Vallées and the last article on what is new at the Tirol ski areas, in Les 2 Alpes,  in Cervinia, in La Plagne, in 3 Zinnen Dolomites ,  in Adelboden, Lenk and Kandertal, in Gstaad, in Chamonix,  in Georgia’s Gudauri Resort and in the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn. And how the US Ski Team has chosen Alpe Cimbra to train for the following four ski seasons as their European home.  Here is the link to our post on the My Voucher Codes ranking of best European Ski Resorts.  

Crested Butte will have a new chairlift to replace Teocalli lift for the 2019/20 ski season. Jay Peak is officially for sale.

You can plan where to eat in Aspen Snowmass or which events to attend on-mountain while there.  And Cortina D’Ampezzo is getting ready for this winter and the 2021 World Ski Championships. 

Another classic resort, such as St Moritz has been in the news for its famous Cresta Run be opened again for women after a 89 years ban.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. KAPOW Snowcat Skiing Operation.

Also, you can read how Grandvalira will be staying together as one lift ticket company and how they are adding Ordino Arcalis to  this offer. Grandvalira is opening now all of its six sectors.  And also read how someone tried to sabotage some lifts in Vallnord’s Pal Arinsal. And as if it is starting to be a trend, there were two lifts sabotaged in Passo Rolle, in Val di Fiemme, Trentino. Fortunately they were repaired in record time to open to the public. It seems also that the deadly fire in a Courchevel employee housing building was arson. Uber has launched its service UberSki in some resorts in France, after having done so in the United States.

Also, Mt Hood Meadows was forced to evacuate one lift with 150 skiers and boarders due to a power failure. And the same was the case in a lift with 140 skiers/boarders in Whitefish, Montana. A last one to report was now in Stowe, VT, with more than 150 stuck skiers and boarders that have to wait up to two and a half hours to offload. Recently a British skier was killed after suffering a cardiac arrest on a chairlift falling 32 feet to the ground in Méribel resort in Les Trois Vallées. You can see our recent article on how avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland the past week. And read more what is the real risk of avalanchesThree Germans have been killed by an avalanche near Lech and a fourth is missing. Two were caught in an inbounds avalanche near Kachina Peak in Taos and taken to hospital. 7 were killed as a helicopter and a light aircraft crashed over the Ruitor Glacier near la Thuile in the Italian Alps. Two were killed by an avalanche in St Christoph-en-Oisans in the French Alps.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

Or read about the latest investments in Whistler Blackcomb. Or see how Taos is going against the industry trend, and instead of merging with the two biggest oligopolies in skiing at the moment, it goes and buys an airline to get more bums in resort. Or how Jackson Hole is appealing to families and beginners – it is not only a resort for expert skiers anymore. Another great area for families is Stubaital in the Tirol. And a new coming ski area that got funding for its first lift is Skeetawk in Alaska.  Courmayeur is opening this season two new trails, one that is 70% steep – not for the faint-hearted! Or read how a group of experienced industry insiders got together to purchase Tamarack Resort. And how Peak Resorts finalised the acquisition of the resorts of Snow Time. You can also check how Vermont’s ski passes are the most expensive in New England. And talking about Vermont, you can read on how Killington is planning to change its North Ridge triple chair with a fixed-gripped quad.

Also read how one employee of Aspen Ski Co got caught in an avalanche but got out unscathed while scouting terrain for the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. Or how the a gondola of the new American Eagle lift from Copper Mountain crashed into the snow in a trial run. The resort confirmed that the chondola will be fixed before it’s opening day. Plus this week, some gondolas got tangled in Hochzillertal. And there was a gas explosion at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof that injured six, before its opening date.

You can keep up to date on how are the sales for the EPIC and IKON passes are doing here. Read how Emma, the first Digital Mountain Assistant, is launched in Keystone now and will be rolled to eight other resorts this season.  Breckenridge and Keystone are one of the resorts with the longest ski season in the United States. And even read about the new incorporation to the IKON Pass: Valle Nevado. Here is also a post on the South American resorts.  

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. KPOW Snowcat Skiing Operation

Or you can see the inspiring story of the “Cholitas” – the indigenous Aymara ladies who are attempting to climb the highest peak of the Americas – the Aconcagua at 6,962 meters/22,840 feet.

Also, Rob Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam donated 2 million USD in grants to support mental and behavioural health programs in ski towns of North America. And see how Aspen Skiing Company released its sustainability report 2018.   And also check Aspen’s Give a Flakecampaign. The Audi Power of Four Mountaineering Race is coming back to Aspen. And the ’12 hours Head NonStop’ is going back to Sierra Nevada.

And here is a summary of a report by LISTEX on the State of the UK Snowsports Market. The US had it first National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Day with 6,200 lessons given.

And what Switzerland could look by 2060 due to climate change.

Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.
Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. KPOW snowcat skiing operation.

Or check out how now with the EPIC Pass you can ski in Europe, specifically in Les Trois Vallées and the resorts of Skirama Dolomiti in Trentino’s Italy. Or see our review of L’Héliopic Hotel Sweet & Spa if thinking in staying in Chamonix this winter. Or check out the new Snowpine Lodge in Alta, Utah opening late January 2019. And for those that thought that skiing in Whistler was only for the rich and famous, now the new Pangea Pod Hotel offers them a chance to stay in the cheap in the new cool hotel in the middle of Whistler Village. Those going this season to Avoriaz and wanting to be by the slopes, can stay in the pop-up Flying Nest hotel.

Featured Image: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is eyeing a 2020 opening. Photo: Fortress Mountain Ski Resort. 

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