Colorado is home to a handful of the most reputable freestyle snowboarding and skiing competitions, holds some of the most sought-after ski resorts, and holds the title as the #1 most visited state in the US for ski-vacations (according to Colorado Ski Country). Now, Colorado Ski Country announces a multi-million-dollar improvement plan for some of the resorts that scatter across the mile-high state.
Some level of reconstruction will be evident on over 15 mountain resorts. Various areas of improvement include new high-speed lifts, terrain park improvements, guest activities–such as zip-line tours, and snowcat adventures, –dining facility enhancements, advanced technology for snowmaking, and grooming on trails, an increased rental fleet with superior gear, and overall implementation of new technologies to make the skier experience more enjoyable.
The mountain resorts featured include: Aspen/Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch, Echo Mountain, Winter Park, Crested Butte, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, Wolf Creek, Steamboat, Eldora, Silverton, and Arapahoe Basin.
Take a look at the detailed improvements throughout the 15 resorts, as well as a photo gallery of some enhancements:
Aspen/Snowmass’s Buttermilk Mountain will have a new lift and gladed terrain this season. The new Tiehack Express lift, a Leitner Poma high-speed quad, will replace both the Eagle Hill and the Upper Tiehack lifts, cutting the combined ride time from 18 minutes to just under seven minutes. New construction has already begun on the project, and a complete installation is expected for the resort’s December 2011 opening. In addition to the new lift, there will be some additional gladed terrain in the area.
Copper Mountain is replacing the High Point Lift in West Village (formerly Union Creek) with a new lift that will provide improved service for all levels of skiing and riding ability. The Union Creek High Speed Quad, manufactured by Doppelmayr USA, will have a new alignment to help improve skier and rider circulation in and out of West Village. In conjunction with the new lift, the addition of a new trail connection from the east will make the circulation much easier from the Catalyst Terrain Park and the beginner and intermediate terrain in the area.
A new lift will reside at Loveland as that resort replaces Chair 4 with a new fixed grip triple from Leitner Poma, while Monarch’s renovations for next season will also include a new lift. A 450 ft. long conveyor lift on Snowflake is being installed in time for the resort’s opening.
For the upcoming season, Ski Cooper is installing a 770 ft. Magic Carpet to replace the Printer Boy Platter. This sizable improvement will be at the base area of the mountain, in the ski school and beginner skier and rider area.
Terrain Park Improvements
Some of the most creative accelerations of the off-season are taking place in the terrain parks of Colorado Ski Country. SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch is adding a number of new features to its terrain park for the upcoming year, including an underground gas tank, a six-foot tall satellite dish and log jibs. Leading the improvements in SolVista’s terrain parks is Ted’s Secret Stash, an all natural log park off the Jackalope run; and Progression Park, a beginner terrain park at the base area; and the newest feature The Tank, a former underground fuel tank that is eight feet in diameter, 30 feet long, and boasts a quarter-pipe on each end.
Another resort with new terrain park features is Echo Mountain. Echo has continued to improve its trails and park features for the 2011/12 season and is making its trails larger and the park more challenging.
Rounding off terrain park improvements, Winter Park’s Rail Yard Terrain Park’s Super Pipe “Dig-In” will be completed during the early season, which will result in the Half Pipe being opened by Christmas and will see a reduction of water and energy by using less manmade snow. The progressive terrain park system will also see another boost of new features this coming season.
Guests can now add zip-lining to the menu of activities at CSCUSA resorts. New and open for the season at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), is a Zip-Line Canopy Tour. This major addition to CBMR resort amenities will be open year-round, enabling guests to ski to it during the winter months.
In addition to Crested Butte’s zip-line, the Purgatory Plunge Zip-Line at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort opened in the off-season and will also be open year-round. The Purgatory Plunge gives guests the opportunity to soar from the Purgatory Village Tower over the ski beach at speeds of approximately 35 mph.
Monarch Mountain is expanding their fleet of touring snowcats with the purchase of a new one for the 2011/12 season. This new snowcat has the capacity to comfortably fit 14 skiers and riders in the cabin.
The Vista Ridge Ceremony Site was completed this summer at SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch. A scenic wedding site that overlooks the Continental Divide, Vista Ridge has a 360 degree view of the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. The mountaintop venue is accessed by chairlift, located adjacent to an aspen grove, and offers full ski-down capabilities for those looking to participate in winter nuptials.
Wolf Creek is building a new race hut to replace the one under the Raven Lift. Participants in the resort’s popular Fun Race Series will enjoy the benefits of an upgraded facility to house the race equipment, announce times, and serve as the official finish line for the races.
At Aspen/Snowmass, Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) is beginning construction on a new Elk Camp Restaurant. The new restaurant, expected to be open in 2012/13, will replace Café Suzanne and will be located adjacent to the top of the Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass. The Elk Camp Restaurant will provide seating for up to 300 guests and include summer and evening event space. The project is scheduled to be LEED Certified and to implement advanced heating systems with other green materials to beat local energy codes by an estimated 30 percent. Elk Camp will be ASC’s fifth LEED certified building, following closely on the heels of Sam’s Restaurant (Gold) and Holiday House (Platinum).
Also at Aspen/Snowmass, The Merry-Go-Round restaurant, situated mid-mountain at Aspen Highlands, is undergoing a major remodel to make the building more energy efficient as well as enhance guest comfort and food quality. The reopening is scheduled for opening day of Aspen Highlands on December 10, 2011.
At Crested Butte, renovations to the Paradise Warming House, the mid-mountain cafeteria style culinary facility, are underway. The resort is redesigning the food line, creating new signage and giving the facility an overall updated look that will further enhance the guest experience.
Restroom improvements have been underway at Ski Cooper, as the resort is installing a vaulted toilet at the bottom of the Piney Basin Triple Chair. Wolf Creek on the other hand, has renovations underway for Treasure Lift’s water free, composting restrooms in preparation for next season. This structure also houses a coffee café, offering homemade pastries, coffee and teas throughout the day.
In Steamboat, the resort is creating a new bar, located in the Cabin Restaurant at the Steamboat Grand. The newest après ski hot spot just across from the Gondola Square base area, it has a unique menu featuring Kennebec Chips with Sriracha Aioli, the Deconstructed BLT (pork belly, tomato jam and arugula, charred on a cedar plank), and Buffalo Carpaccio.
Copper Mountain will enter 2011/12 in partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (U.S.S.A.) to develop an on-snow training center at the resort. To support and develop the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper, the resort is implementing a new automated snowmaking system, as well as safety, communications and timing equipment necessary to develop a unique training venue. The on-snow training center will operate from November 1 – December 10 each winter season, and will bolster the U.S. Teams’ ability to train for speed events before the competitive season begins.
On-mountain improvements continue at Crested Butte as the resort is enhancing its kids’ trails. These are trails that ski instructors bring their students through that add excitement to the lesson, whether it’s winding through trees, over humps and other terrain, or going around obstacles. The trails have become extremely popular with younger guests and also correlate to Crested Butte’s Kids Trail Map.
Winter Park is also enhancing its beginner trails. Beginners will now have an easier trail to the Village at Winter Park with the opening of the new Sorensen Trail Bypass.
Loveland is adding snowmaking capabilities to Twist at Loveland Valley and Firecut at Loveland Basin, which will expand the resort’s early and late season race training opportunities.
Eldora Mountain Resort has invested heavily in upgrading its snowmaking system which will enrich the on- snow experience in the upcoming season.
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is upgrading its expert terrain via a winch-cat that will provide high-angle grooming. Some expert trails will be groomed or partially groomed using this technique, which will provide a great experience for expert skill level skiers and riders.
Wolf Creek’s grooming fleet of snowcats has a new addition this season, bringing one of the first Finnish snowcats to the US, the Formatic. This heavy equipment is used to smooth terrain and help pack down the powder during storm cycles.
Continuing to improve the versatility to its slopes, Steamboat Resort will be upgraded its snowmaking, while also adding a new snowcat to its slope grooming fleet.
Winter Park is also adding a new snowcat for superior groomed runs. Other capital at the resort has been re-invested into improving existing infrastructure and services.
Crested Butte significantly enhanced their demo and learning rental inventory for the upcoming season. The resort bought all new demo gear for its higher end fleet, as well as a brand new Learn to Ride fleet, including women’s and children’s gear.
Along with Crested Butte, Monarch is planning to expand their demo and rental gear offerings. The resort has set aside funds to devote to new rental and demo equipment in hopes of encouraging participants to try out these new items.
Wolf Creek Ski Area’s rental department continues to upgrade its offerings by adding gear to its already extensive collection of boots, skis and snowboard equipment. Along with newly purchased alpine skis, snowboards, boots and poles, Wolf Creek is bringing in a line of Nordic skate skis and classic touring skis to its fleet.
Thanks to the Red Bull Cold Rush, Silverton has brand new carpeting in the base tent for the 2011/12 season, while Monarch has invested in renovating its parking lot to allow for further ease of access and create a more user-friendly parking area.
Loveland’s Ptarmigan Roost Cabin, which sits at the top of Chair 2, is getting a facelift for 2011/12. The resort will be adding restrooms – the first on-hill facilities at Loveland – and restoring the original fireplace. Additionally, the E-Tow Cabin, between Chair 2 and Chair 6, is receiving a massive overhaul including a new interior and an expanded deck. Further cosmetic upgrades at Loveland taking place throughout the off-season will be noticeable to guests at the base areas of both Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley.
Steamboat Resort is installing heated pavers throughout Gondola Square base area so that guests will no longer need to trudge through snow and ice as they walk to the slopes and the Gondola. In addition, the multi-year Promenade project continues to make headway, connecting the base area with Ski Time Square, and includes a new permanent stage facility in Gondola Square which plays host to the resort’s free spring concerts.
In 2011/12, resorts continue to use technology in unique ways that streamline and enhance the way they interact with skiers and riders. Arapahoe Basin is upgrading its e-commerce store with a new RTP E-Store. This new site will better serve guests’ needs and allow Arapahoe Basin to offer more of its products online.
Aspen Skiing Company’s ongoing energy efficiency project, whereby the resort has been replacing incandescent bulbs with efficient and aesthetically acceptable fluorescent or LED bulbs, will reach completion on December 31, 2011. On this date, all incandescent bulbs will have been completely banned and replaced, including in every building, from on-mountain restaurants to hotels, and from executive offices to parking lots.