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January 3, 2013
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Snowmass ski area deserves extra credit for going downhill

SNOWMASS - A website that ranks North American ski resorts by the biggest lift-served descents doesn't appear to be giving Snowmass its due.

VerticalFeet.com has listed Snowmass fifth in North America for overall vertical feet from lift-served skiing. When the Cirque platter pull lift is operating, Snowmass offers 4,406 vertical feet, both Aspen Skiing Co. and VerticalFeet.com agreed. The long descent takes skiers and riders down Rocky Mountain High, onto the Big Burn and then to the base of Fanny Hill.

VerticalFeet.com ranks Snowmass one place behind Telluride. The website says Telluride offers the most vertical feet of lift-served skiing of any ski area in the U.S., at 4,425.

That's a claim Aspen Skiing Co. disputes. On its trail map this season, it says Snowmass has "the country's biggest lift-served descent."

Telluride Ski Resort won't argue. Its website acknowledges that it offers 4,425 feet of total vertical drop but 3,845 feet of lift-served vertical drop.

VerticalFeet.com says it offers "accurate, lift-served vertical feet totals for most North American ski areas and resorts," but somehow it fouled the assessment of Telluride. The operator of the site, who isn't identified, says he or she has visited many of the 130 ski areas on the list to personally try to verify the lift-served descent, but the website acknowledges that mistakes might have been made.

"This page is for your use and enjoyment," the website says. "Not responsible for any loss or damage due to inaccuracies (like failing a school report, losing a bar bet, or changing your ski club trip based on this info)."

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said websites such as VerticalFeet.com attract die-hard skiers and riders and people interested in the trivia of the ski industry. While it would be nice to see accurate information, he hasn't tried to contact the website operators to correct the mistake that bumps Snowmass to second in the U.S.

"It just seems petty for me to do it," Hanle said.

What is clear is that resorts in British Columbia claim the top three spots on the list. Revelstoke in British Columbia claims bragging rights for the most vertical feet of lift-served skiing, at 5,620. Blackcomb and Whistler are right behind, at 5,133 and 4,978 vertical feet, respectively.

After Telluride and Snowmass, rounding out the top 10 are Big Sky, Mont.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Kicking Horse, British Columbia; Beaver Creek; and Panorama, British Columbia.

Aspen Highlands came in 11th on the list, with 3,635 vertical feet of lift-served skiing. It's considerably more from top to bottom for those hiking Highland Bowl.

Aspen Mountain was 19th on the list with its longest run of lift-served skiing coming in at 3,267 vertical feet.

Way down the list around 80th was Buttermilk, at 2,030 vertical feet, right ahead of Sunlight Mountain Resort outside Glenwood Springs at 2,011 vertical feet.

The ski area with the least vertical feet of lift-served skiing was Sawkill Family Ski Center in Kingston, N.Y., with 70 feet. Another notable ski area is Yawgoo Valley in Rhode Island, with 245 vertical feet. It is the only ski area in that state.

Ski Snowstar in Hidden Lake, Iowa, boasts "the biggest vertical drop in a 52-mile radius," according to VerticalFeet.com. It has 262 vertical feet of lift-served skiing.

The historic Berthoud Pass ski area in Colorado offered 933 vertical feet before it closed in April 2001.

Arapahoe Basin in Colorado has the highest double chair in the world, which climbs to 12,478 feet. It offers 1,680 vertical feet. A 577-foot hike boosts the total to 2,257 vertical feet.

Alta, Utah, a legendary ski area, offers only 2,020 vertical feet of lift-served skiing.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 3, 2013 06:40AM Published Jan 3, 2013 01:19AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.