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Iron Mountain?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hey all,
I posted this about a year ago and got minimal responses so I'll try again [img]smile.gif[/img]

I remember back in the 80's/90's there was a resort in the Tahoe area called Iron Mountain. I think it was off of highway 88 before you get the Kirkwood. Does anyone remember anything at all about this place? There's gotta be a few people who've been here :| I don't remember it at all because I went when I was a kid. I think dchan said the same thing.

Last I heard of it was in 2000...I guess someone was trying to get it started up again and was going to do major rennovations to the place including adding housing and stuff near there and offering season passes @ $200 for adults...but that was last I heard of it. Other than that, I can't find any info on it, nor can i find an old trail map of it...

i just remember that i went there the second time i went skiing because 88 up to kirkwood was closed because of avalanche issues that day. Brings back memories of the times when my family and I went up skiing about 4 times a year...now I go about 20-30 days, but they don't go at all the memories...

If anyone has any info on this place, if you could post it, i'd appreciate it [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #2 of 7
"California Downhill" a ski guide book written by Stephen Metzger in '86 has this to say about Iron Mountain.

Whatever Happened to Iron Mountain?

The 1985-86 season saw nothing but trouble for Iron Mountain. Opening day its lift broke down, stranding skiers for nearly three hours at the bottom of the mountain (except for those who hiked out). Finally, the lift began to inch forward, and cold frustrated skiers were returned (at first only on every third chair) to the lodge and parking lot at the top. There they were greeted with free hot chocolate ladled from huge buckets, an open bar for all ticket holders, and five complimentarylift tickets per skier to be used later in the season. All well and good, but Iron never got its lift problems straighten out. Sometime early in the season, Iron's liability insurance was cancelled and most holders of comp tickets never got to use them. At press time the Amador County Chamber of Commerce was hesitant to speculate as to what the future might hold for the resort, all Iron's phone numbers had been diconnected. The "irony" of it all is that Iron Mountain's motto that season was "Ski Waitless" We'll wait and see.

Hope that helps - spin
post #3 of 7
Here is more info. "Skier's Guide to California Volume 2; Central Sierra and Southern California" published in 1991 and written by Nadine Nardi Davidson has a copy of the Iron Mountain lift map. I do not have a scanner, but I could use a friends if you really want it. This book also has about three pages on Iron Mountain, including some basic stats.

1100 acres
20% beginner
60% intermediate
20% advanced

base elevation 6500
summit 7800
vert 1300
longest run 2.5 miles
anual snowfall 400 inches (yea right, with a 6500 ft base?)
five chairs - 3 doubles 2 triples

sounds like a good spot for some winter alpine touring - spin
post #4 of 7
Hey mello boy. I have a little info on iron mountain for you, but not too much.

Last year on the way back from an epic day at the WOOD, my friends and i stopped to check out what was going on with Iron Mountain? Low and behold, there was a man that was milling around the property with a huge dog. He came over and introduced himself as the caretaker of the property. He proceeded to inform us that the owners are trying to get finacial backing to reopen the mountain. As of then there was no projected opening date or anything. Basically the mountain just sits there with all that great snow and goes untracked. Which leads me to my second part of my story.

We then beat around the bush a little bit and came to the conclusion that it just had to skied again. He offered to let us use the mountain anytime we wanted( it was already March). He just wanted us to come and find him and check in so to speak, before we started hiking or sledding. No problemo .We thanked him profusely, and told him we would be back soon.

A few weeks later, we new there was a nice storm coming, and it was time to get out the sleds!! We fueled them up and we were on our way. I think we pulled in around 8:00, and it was still snowing slightly, with a foot and a half of fresh on the ground. Sweet!!!! I instantly spotted the caretaker and he greeted us very reseptively. He also had a snowmobile and a pair of tele skis. That day might have been the best day of skiing I had ever had. I'm sure u can just picture unlimited freshies, no ski patrolers, no out of bounds signs ect.

I hope they never open up Iron Mountain again!! That may sound selfish, but can you blame me?

I can still use it again this year, and would be willing to consider taking a few guest. Of course i would have too ask my new best friend the caretaker first. He told us that we were the only ones allowed to acsess the resort(except a few of his close buddies), so please dont try to swindle your way on and ruin it for the few lucky ones. Contact me first, i we can probably work something out. No poachers allowed!!!!! Thanks Trees are my friend
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
kirkwood man,
sounds good [img]smile.gif[/img] i'd like to go back there one of these days and relive the painful memory of my second time skiing...in a blizzard [img]smile.gif[/img]

you know, it might make a fun barking bears trip too if there aren't too many ppl and there's good snow [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #6 of 7
December 03, 2000, Sunday

HEADLINE: Skiier works to revive Iron Mountain

SOURCE: Scripps-McClatchy Western Service



An Amador County businessman is battling the U.S. Forest Service for the right to revive the long-dormant Iron Mountain ski area near Kirkwood.

Pat Owens said he's ready to plunge $1.5 million into refurbishing the five-lift, intermediate ski area, which hasn't hosted skiers since 1995, and said he could have it open
as early as next winter.

But the Forest Service, on whose land part of the resort is located, says history shows Iron Mountain will never be successful, and wants to remove the land from a
category that designates it as a winter recreation site.

Owens and his supporters say Iron Mountain was poorly managed by its previous owner, and Owens should have a chance to resuscitate it, with an emphasis on low-cost
family skiing. "Bigger resorts have gotten so expensive. I feel they've lost sight of the sport," Owens said. "We'll never be a Heavenly or a Corkwood, but I feel we can be a
good family ski resort."

Owens said he's already spent some $600,000 to revive Iron Mountain, which began life as Silver Basin in 1972 and has only operated 14 of the past 28 years.

Since acquiring the resort for about $300,000 in a foreclosure sale in early 1999, he's cleared some back taxes, upgraded power generation facilities, commissioned
feasibility studies and purchased two used quad chairlifts from Mammoth Mountain.

But he said Forest Service officials are determined yank the property's recreational designation.

Judy Yandoh, district ranger for the El Dorado National Forest in Pioneer, Amador County, is adamant that Iron Mountain should never be allowed to reopen.

"Based on previous history and economic viability studies, we decided the area would never be economically viable," she said.

"To keep issuing permits for it to keep operating as a ski area makes no sense."

In her 12 years in the district, she said, Iron Mountain has gone through four bankruptcy filings, and each has taken an inordinate amount of staff time to oversee.

"They don't pay their liability insurance, the lifts don't get maintained, they start to take shortcuts," Yandoh said.

She said that operating in the shadow of Kirkwood and other Tahoe resorts ensures that Iron Mountain will never have a fighting chance.

Owens is a life-long skier, but has no experience in operating a resort. He said he made most of his money doing seismic retrofitting of buildings and bridges.

And some ski industry experts say Owens may be getting in over his head.

"The economics of the ski industry aren't favorable to this kind of enterprise," said Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association.

"Iron Mountain is at a lower altitude so they've had some marginal snow years. Their equipment is antiquated and everyone else has been upgrading their facilities over the
past 10 years," he said. "A lot of smaller resorts are struggling to match their big brothers."

Norm Sayler, who for 43 years has run Donner Ski Ranch, a small ski area on Donner Summit, said he thinks Owens is badly underestimating what it would cost to operate
Iron Mountain.

"I don't think he could do it for less than $5 million or $6 million," said Sayler, who recently put his resort up for sale after struggling for decades to make it profitable.

"The public is very demanding. They don't want old-time resorts anymore," he said.

But Charles Goeldner, a professor of business at the University of Colorado and a long-time observer of the ski industry, said small size doesn't necessary doom a ski area.

"I think there's a place for small resorts," he said. "But they have to be very well-managed and they have to have a critical amount of skier visits every year."

Owens dismisses the skeptics, saying that experienced consultants he's hired tell him a resort like Iron Mountain could be a profitable concern.

He said he is buying up land around Iron Mountain for real estate development, something ski area experts say is essential for a resort to thrive.

He also plans to offer season passes for as little as $200, a tactic that has boosted revenue and skier traffic at resorts around the United States, said Ted Farwell, an Idaho
ski industry consultant.

Bogus Basin, a ski area that serves the Boise, Idaho, market, saw its season pass sales soar from about 5,000 to 25,000 when it cut its prices to $200, Farwell said. That was
enough to allow the resort to cover its operating expenses for the whole season.

California's explosive population growth and the fact that no new ski areas have been built in the state in more than 25 years, show there is place for another resort,
according to a report by Economic Research Associates, a well-known resort planning consultancy.
post #7 of 7
Is the area east or west of Kirkwood? Is the drive from Sacramento the same route to Kirkwood?

No matter the location though it sounds like the opposition from the Forest Service is unjustified. With an existing land-use designation, the local & Sacramento citizens should help with the politics and President Bush's administration. What has happened to the Republican mantra of economic development and job creation in CA?? The FS comments are ridiculous. The new owner will have more modern lifts that won't break as much as the older lifts did.

The other oppposition from the CA Ski Area Assoc. is obviously because the larger resorts and smaller competitors (i.e. Donner Ski Ranch) don't want to risk losing budget conscious families as customers. As lift ticket prices soar, the big resorts are in danger of losing new generation X-skiers and boarders.

If Iron Mt. has some decent access to water for snowmaking, they could get through the lean snow years.

I hope that Iron Mtn. will be reborn again!

Until then, Poach all the powder!
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