Looking at the Pembina Gorge from top of Frost Fire. (Frost Fire/Facebook)
Skiers from Winnipeg to Grand Forks are going to have to look a little further to find a ski hill this winter. Frost Fire in northern North Dakota positioned 100 miles from both cities, will not be running their nine ski slopes this coming winter.
The Pembina Gorge Foundation, which purchased the ski area this past June, recently announced the decade’s old chairlift they had hoped to upgrade and repair this summer actually needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of $1.35 million for a new one or up to $700,000 for a used one. They purchased the ski area from its original owners for around $1 million with help from state and local government agencies and private donations seeking to attract more tourism to the northeast corner of the state. They had planned on spending $80,000 for repairs on the old chairlift and didn’t have funds needed for a replacement. Money raising efforts by the Foundation are ongoing.
Plans call for offering tubing, the beginner’s hill, a snowboard terrain park, cross country skiing and snowmobiling this winter, according to the Foundation. Construction began this summer on a 35-mile mountain bike terrain park at the ski area. Long range plans call for bringing kayaking, canoeing, educational programs, fossil digging and a campground to the Pembina Gorge Recreation Area.
“It’s unfortunate, the condition of the chairlift,” Foundation Board Director Pat Chaput said in a news release. “The Board of Directors and development team didn’t anticipate the need to replace the entire chairlift.”
Safety was a primary concern, and the Foundation wants to “find the right solution fiscally,” added Foundation President Rachel Gornowicz in the same release. “Frost Fire will be back safer, stronger and better than ever.”
They hope to be fully operational next summer, according to the news release.