GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service has reviewed and accepted Timberline's master development plan. Although nothing has been officially approved, Timberline hopes the plan guides improvements over the next decade.
Mount Hood has gotten busier and busier over the years. Timberline Lodge and Ski Area are prime destinations but Highway 26 and the road up to Timberline are now regularly choked with traffic.
Enter the concept of the master development plan, as laid out in a new Timberline presentation. Over conceptual renderings, Jeff Kohnstamm, president and area operator of the Timberline owner R.L.K. and Company, said the cornerstone is, “essentially a gondola that would go from Summit Pass Lodge to Timberline, great for getting to Timberline for skiing, to Timberline for sightseeing, but especially beneficial as an alternative form of transportation.”
The gondola is the star of this new presentation, but it is an idea that's been around for a long time.
Just a few years ago, Timberline had some rougher renderings to share.
Now Timberline owns Summit Pass Ski in Government Camp, the natural place to park and ride up the mountain.
“The current concept right now is a 10-person gondola to be about 2.5 miles long and it will originate down at summit pass base area,” said Timberline Director of PR and Marketing John Burton.
Burton said a gondola system could move from 1,800 to 2,400 people an hour up and down the mountain, whatever the season.
That would do a lot to ease traffic and the parking problem at Timberline that currently can be so frustrating.
Down below, Timberline said it will keep Summit Pass geared toward more economical family and beginner skiing, but the plan envisions developing an expanded Summit Pass Lodge, with parking and much more to offer.
“There will be skier services, ski patrol, retail, food and beverage, there will be a circulation plan for shuttles,” said Burton.
Again, nothing is set in stone. This is forest service-controlled land and respecting the mountain and Timberline's 85-year history means things don't happen quickly.
“This plan has simply been accepted and it's guiding Timberline's vision for the next 10 years and we're really excited about it,” said Burton.