Henry Coughlan and Sam Schaafsma stain the deck of Ferguson Ridge’s ticket booth in preparation for the ski season. (KATY NESBITT/WesCom News Service)
FERGUSON RIDGE — A new rope tow is going in at Ferguson Ridge this fall, and volunteers are planning to have it fully operational when ski season opens.
The Eagle Cap Ski Club bought the equipment from Lookout Pass in Idaho for $1,200. It will replace a system that has run off a Chevy engine and transmission for decades in a wooden shack at the top of the slope. Ski Club Member Louis Perry said the rope tow was part of the equipment moved to Ferguson Ridge from the ski area’s original location on Ski Run Road outside of Joseph.
Wet weather held up some of the concrete work in early October, said Charlie Kissinger, Ski Club member, but mostly dry days the rest of the month helped volunteers get holes dug, concrete poured, and Sunday, the first of the towers was being aligned for installation.
Ferguson Ridge is like a lot of the West’s community ski areas with an all-volunteer staff. Children play along with their parents as they get the area ready for the coming snow. Dogs romp at the base of the slope during these days of preparation, but are not allowed during the ski season.
The area is served by the rope tow and a T-bar. Members of the Ski Club take turns assisting skiers onto the lifts, taking tickets, flipping burgers in the snack bar, renting equipment and serving as ski patrol.
Locals refer to it simply as “Fergi,” and on any given weekend day during ski season the line to either lift is not longer than six deep.
Ferguson Ridge is wholly dependent on Mother Nature to provide adequate snow, usually enough to cover the grass, to be open. Opening day is often around Christmas, but varies due to conditions.
Fergi closes when the snow is gone and the parking lot too muddy to navigate, usually around the first of April when “Fergi Days” is celebrated with games and races.
This past weekend, the decks of the ticket booth and the lodge were re-stained, slash was burned and the safety system was worked on. Meanwhile, a tribe of small humans ventured between the surrounding forest and the lodge for an afternoon snack. A few of the older children joined in the projects.
For more information and current snow conditions at Ferguson Ridge, visit www.skifergi.com.