Frost Fire Ski Resort has branched out with a new name, more recreation choices, and new hours. Although not officially open yet, the resort is going through some major changes and renovations. According to Kristi Wilfahrt, the interim foundation director for the Pembina Gorge Foundation, Frost Fire is now Frost Fire Park.
By Lisa Nowatzki
The inclusion of the word “Park” has to be included in the title because Frost Fire is no longer a one season resort. The Pembina Gorge Foundation, in conjunction with the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, is working on completing the first three of seven downhill mountain bike terrain trails. The final four trails are slated to be completed sometime before the end of the summer/fall of 2018.
The central piece of equipment still under construction for the mountain bike trails and snow skiing is the new quad seater, 57-seat chairlift. Wilfahrt hopes for a tentative completion date around the end of October and the beginning of the skiing season. When completed, the park will be open three to four seasons each year.
Wilfahrt described the past year as great from a community support vantage but disappointing from a financial standpoint. When the resort was purchased, the team originally allowed $1,000,000 for maintenance and updating the chairlift system. However, when the system was finally taken down for maintenance, several of the chairlift towers leaned over or fell over.
The chairlift system was purchased as a used system back in the 1980’s. The system was originally made in the 1950’s. Wilfahrt said that chairlift systems are only designed to last about 30 years. The Foundation had to decide between another used system costing from $600,00 to $700,000 and a new chairlift that would cost about $1.3 million. In the end, a new system seemed the best option.
Wilfahrt hopes that the new lift will be ready for next year’s ski season. She also hopes that the ND Parks and Recreation will be done with all seven mountain bike terrain park trails by the end of next year’s ski season so that the park will be fully operational for mountain bike rides in the Spring of 2019.