Mt. Shasta Ski Park Unleashes New Terrain for the North State Skiers and Riders…
Aa temperatures drop to below freezing in Northern California, the resort located at the base of the fifth-highest volcanic peak in the state is getting buried in fresh, white snow. This is precisely what skiers and snowboarders are looking forward to, especially since Mt. Shasta Ski Park has an exciting announcement to match what Mother Nature has to offer – welcoming the addition of the new Gray Butte chairlift this season.
For more than 20 years, local skiers and snowboarders have talked about how cool it would be to ride the terrain off the 8,108-foot peak next to the existing ski resort. From the top of the Coyote Butte lift, skiers and boarders gaze toward the pine tree-speckled peak and plot out the lines they would take down. This season, those dreams will come true.
“Robin Merloe owns the resort now, and it was her late husband Ray’s dream to see this come to fruition. This has been in the works for a super long time; we were looking at concepts going back to the 1990s and then started the approval process two years ago,” says Mt. Shasta Ski Park Marketing Director Grace Hornbeak.
The Merloes had been in the Mt. Shasta area for a long time and took over the ski resort in 2016. Whenever they sent out surveys or sought community feedback, carving out runs on Gray Butte was always at the top of the list.
“It was always Ray’s dream to do this, so it was Robin’s primary goal when she took over the resort,” Hornbeak explains. “We’re a community of skiers and riders who all wanted to see this happen, and build it out responsibly to the environment,” she adds.
Therefore, keeping land sustainability and preservation in mind, they started the permitting process for approval from the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors. In the last two years, its staff worked up timber plans, planned out the runs and hosted public meetings to ensure community involvement. The board granted Mt. Shasta Ski Park its expansion in early 2022, and the Ski Park spent the summer building out the trails.
Its crew – hired locally and from the Doppelmayr Transport Technology company – immediately started clearing runs and officially broke ground in early July.
While Gray Butte is on private land owned by the Merloes (located behind the existing Coyote and Douglas peaks), the resort does work closely with the U.S. Forest Service. A cat track between the Coyote and Gray Butte lifts connect the main ski area’s North Saddle.
Out at the bottom of Gray Butte, there’s also a little warming hut where people can sit inside for a second to get out of the elements. “It’s a cool little spot at the bottom; it’s nice to bring a Thermos and sit inside and warm up,” Hornbeak says.
It is a 12- to 14-minute skate or walk from there to the main ski area via a cat track from the North Saddle, but access to the intermediate, advanced and expert runs make it well worth it.
The new Gray Butte four-seater fixed grip quad takes skiers and riders to an area unleashing 450 acres of new terrain of backcountry access and lift-provided runs with names like Robin’s Nest, Blackbird, Ray’s Run and Mt. Shasta’s very first double black diamond called Richard’s Way, named after longtime Mt. Shasta employee and project manager Richard Coots.
Gray Butte’s addition also makes it easier to get to the ski area’s Backcountry Cabin, a rustic home made from wood milled onsite and complete with a kitchen, bunk beds and wood-burning stove.
“We’vehadthosebackcountrycabinsforacoupleofyears now; they used to be where the top terminal of Gray Butte is now. The construction crew literally just picked them up and moved them into the new area,” Hornbeak says.
The Ski Park’s Backcountry Cabin program will continue to offer guided mountain tours and reservations, as well.
“I’m most excited for Richard’s Way and the access to the 250 more acres of backcountry terrain,” she adds. “As an avid skier myself, this is going to be fun.”•
Mt. Shasta Ski Park • www.skipark.com