Howlesen Hill, a small community ski hill located in Steamboat Springs, CO, just received an extremely generous gift.
Smartwool, the popular clothing company known for its merino wool base layers and socks, provided a $1.5 million gift to Howelsen Hill via their parent company, VF Corporation. Smartwool was founded in Steamboat Springs in 1994 and wanted to ensure Howelsen Hill would continue to operate for the surrounding ski community.
The $1.5 million grant was made through The VF Foundation, a private grant-making arm of VF Corporation. The funds were provided to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC) and will assist Howelsen Hill in replacing is aging Barrows Chairlift.
“Howelsen Hill Ski Area is a community treasure and at the center of Steamboat’s recreational heritage. This gift will not only aid SSWSC in inspiring people to participate in the outdoors but will provide a substantial economic impact to the city of Steamboat – making the mountain easier to access for visitors and residents.”
– Gary Suite, Steamboat City Manager
The Barrows Chairlift, a double chairlift that serves the east side of the mountain and provides summer access to the alpine slide, is set to be replaced. The chairlift has had its issues in recent years, from electrical problems to one of its lift towers sliding downhill. In its place, a new, fixed-grip triple chairlift will be installed to provide more reliable access.
The Steamboat Springs City Council had previously approved the replacement of the chairlift and solicited bids. The new chairlift is expected to cost around $3 million, with SSWSC providing $1.5 million, and the city providing the remaining amount primarily from lodging tax revenue.
This is huge news for North America’s oldest operating ski area. While the ski area has had some troubling times recently, it has a storied past and has sent over 90 athletes to the Winter Olympics. Best of luck to Howelsen Hill and the local community in moving forward with their new chairlift project.