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Thursday February 14, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

It's one of the strangest ski areas we've ever visited. Now it is set to rise from the ashes...

The moth-balled Canadian resort in Alberta near the resort of Nakiska, was home to some of the events in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

It used to be a thriving resort - one of the closest to Calgary and packed with well-heeled from the city.

And then in 2004 it suddenly closed.

The company that owned the resort announced that it was pulling the plug and it would close for good two weeks later.

It came as a total surprise to everyone.

One minute it was a bustling ski area and then it wasn't.

Fortress Mountain, Alberta, CanadaFortress Mountain, Alberta, Canada














On the final day of the season eight teenage children were caught in an avalanche as people made their last turns.

Two of them died.

For many it focused the tragedy of the closure.

"It was a terrible and tragic end for the resort. We were all so sad to see the resort shut and it closed in such a tragic way," said one of the people that used to work in the resort, Mountain Mel.

Mountain MelMountain Mel















Mountain Mel worked at the resort at the time.

It then re-invented itself as a movie location:

Blockbusters such as ‘Inception,' ‘The Bourne Legacy' and ‘Brokeback Mountain' were filmed on its land.

It became a cat skiing area only and when the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, visted four years ago he was fascinated by a tour of the ghost resort and finding out about its history.

Read here for the full and fascinating story of Fortress Mountain:

Fortress Mountain, Alberta, CanadaFortress Mountain, Alberta, Canada

Fortress Mountain, Alberta, CanadaFortress Mountain, Alberta, Canada

Fortress Mountain, Alberta, CanadaFortress Mountain, Alberta, Canada










James was told plans were afoot to re-open but wasn't convinced.

It seems his natural sceptism was well-paced back in 2015, but perhaps not anymore.

According to its redevelopment plan, Fortress Mountain Ski Resort is on the road to open by December 2020.

The resort received approval from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) last spring, to replace its potable water system and refurbish a sewer line.

The company is hoping to complete this $4 million project this spring and if receiving the OK from AEP,  will begin constructing a new day log and lift system this summer.

Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners has created a master plan.

On its first phase, the plan will make use of the resort's existing ski terrain and refurbish five chairlifts.

Many of the lifts will also be realigned to improve the resort's fall line for a total lift capacity of 2,500 skiers.

This first part of the plan includes a building of 36,000 square feet that will be used as a day lodge at the base of the resort that will contain tickets, rentals, guest services, public toilets, lockers, ski school, a restaurant and a bar.

The resort will install a magic carpet for beginners and a tube park.

"We're excited, it's been a long road, but shovels are in the ground and we're moving forward, and we want modern amenities, but with the touch of the old Fortress," said Chris Chevalier, president of Fortress Mountain Ski Resort.

The final phase of the master plan envisions a second base lodge, a mountain top restaurant, overnight accommodation for approximately 100 guests, employee housing and a potential Nordic ski facility.

All this will depend on capital and skier demand.

"We're excited," said Chevalier. "It's been a long time coming."

It has a history dating back to 1967 when it was called the Snowridge family ski area.

In the 1970s, it was purchased by the Aspen Ski Company, which changed its name to Fortress Mountain.

In the 1990s it was sold to the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR).

After its closure Banff Rail Co. bought the resort in 2005, but could not reopen it.

Here at PlanetSKI we have decided we're going to make every effort to be there as, and if, the first lifts roll.

Hopefully in December 2020.

James made a pledge with Mountain Mel that he would be on the first lift...

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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