By KAYLEE WALDEN/Montana State News
Disabled skiers and riders will have a much easier time accessing the eastern slopes of Bridger Bowl next winter season.
Bridger officials last week announced plans to make the mountain more handicap accessible and beginner friendly by installing two chairlifts. The current Alpine lift, a bright red, iconic double-chair that has made its rounds since 1967, will be taken down. In its place a pair of new triple chairlifts with loading carpets will be constructed to better service the Alpine terrain area.
Eagle Mount, a nonprofit organization that helps disabled and handicapped people enjoy the mountain, supports Bridger’s decision to replace the lifts.
“Right now, paraplegics can’t ski the terrain accessed by the Alpine chair because the lift cannot accommodate their ski chairs,” said Diana Proemm, the adaptive sports director at Bozeman Eagle Mount. “Many disabled skiers are limited to the Powder Park lift, which only services a handful of trails,” Proemm said.
Jodi Hausen, Eagle Mount ski volunteer for children and teens thinks that the new lifts will be beneficial to the safety of handicapped skiers and snowboarders.
“Some kids are apprehensive about getting on the small double chair, and it’s difficult to load with the bar in the middle. A triple chair will be much more accommodating,” said Hausen.
The new lifts will also improve safety for everyone on the mountain by decongesting runs and making collisions less likely. Another reason for the renovation is to move the lift towers, and skiers, out of the path of avalanches that frequently come down from the upper mountain ridge.
Eagle Mount brings dozens of skiers and riders to Bridger each year; easier loading and more spacious seating areas on the new lifts help to improve their outdoor experience.
Construction on the two new lifts and removal of the current one will commence once winter ends and are projected to be up and running by the time ski season starts again this November, according to Bridger officials.