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Outdoors/Adventure

Delay in chairlift delivery pushes back opening of new Hatcher Pass ski area

This Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 photo shows the top of the triple chair lift being installed at the Skeetawk alpine ski area in Hatcher Pass near Palmer, Alaska. The nonprofit ski area run by Hatcher Alpine Xperience has pushed back its opening due to equipment delays. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

PALMER -- A new ski area at Hatcher Pass now won’t open until mid-February due to delays in equipment delivery.

Skeetawk, operated by nonprofit Hatcher Pass Alpine Xperience, planned a December opening. That timeline has shifted because Midwest flooding pushed back the schedule for the manufacturer of the chairlift that will ferry skiers and snowboarders up runs, according to Amy O’Connor, the nonprofit’s executive director.

The manufacturer informed Skeetawk officials 10 days ago that a gondola construction project in Illinois was significantly delayed by flooding over the summer, O’Connor said.

“We were the next one in line,” she said. “Life happens.”

Skeetawk will open a sledding hill and groomed terrain park in December. The delay also prompted the lift manufacturer to add mountain bike attachments to the chair for free -- a cost of $35,000 plus shipping expenses, O’Connor said. The area plans to offer mountain bike trails next summer.

Skeetawk is still offering season passes, but they will cover the rest of this season and also next season, she said. Nearly 40 people already bought passes.

The nonprofit has hired a mountain director: Brian McGorry, an outdoor safety expert with ski patrol and wilderness guiding experience.

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