Reprinted from Mountain High Snowsport Club Lift Lines, Emilio Trampuz, Editor
July 18, 2018. R.L.K. and Company, the Operator of Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, has purchased the iconic Summit Ski Area in Government Camp, Oregon. Included in the sale is Snow Bunny, a snow play area and parking lot, approximately 1.5 miles east of Government Camp. Both Summit Ski Area and Snow Bunny will operate under a special use permit issued by the Mount Hood National Forest.
Established in 1927, Summit Ski Area is the second oldest continuously operating ski area in the United States and the oldest ski area in the Pacific Northwest. In 1959 a T-bar was installed and in 1966 the present lodge was constructed. In 1980 the current 2,300 feet long chairlift was built. Jeff Kohnstamm, Timberline President and Area Operator, says, “We are very pleased with the acquisition and plan to operate Summit Ski Area as a family oriented, affordable, friendly mountain resort.” Kohnstamm sees Summit as a place to “break down the barriers to skiing and snowboarding surrounding accessibility and affordability“.
With Portland’s population growing rapidly and more people visiting Mt. Hood, Timberline also views Summit Ski Area as an opportunity to help address public transportation and parking needs while having a greater connectivity to Government Camp. In the short-term, R.L.K. and Company will roll out Summit with an updated brand and website. Summit will operate under its current footprint with ski and snowboard rentals, lessons, snow tubing, and an expanded food and beverage offering with some basic lodge upgrades. Timberline operates a free winter shuttle bus between Summit ski area and Timberline. The Alpine trail runs from Timberline to Summit ski area.
The long-term view for Summit includes exploring expanded product offerings for both summer and winter. John Burton, Timberline spokesman, said Timberline is looking into adding a chairlift or gondola that spans the two properties. “Does it just go to the bottom of Jeff Flood lift or do we take it all the way to the hotel?” Burton said. Of course, the prospect of a Government Camp/Timberline connection is far from certain. Putting in a new chairlift is a 5 to 10-year project, Burton said, and the first step is an environmental impact study that takes a minimum of two-and-a-half to three years. But the project is within the realm of possibility, he said, and Timberline wouldn’t need to acquire the land between Summit and Timberline to run a lift connecting the properties.