Time to revamp Campground lift? | AspenTimes.com

Time to revamp Campground lift?

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

If the U.S. Forest Service approves a proposal from the Aspen Skiing Co. this summer, skiers and riders next winter could find a shorter Campground lift and two new routes to the bottom of the Sam’s Knob lift at the Snowmass Ski Area.

The Skico wants to remove the top of the Campground lift from the Knob and reinstall it about 900 vertical feet lower down the mountain.

The unloading station on the Campground lift will still be high enough for skiers to get off the lift and slide over to the base of the Sam’s Knob lift.

And because the Sam’s Knob lift is a fast detachable lift, the total time to get from the base of Campground to the top of the Knob even on two lifts will likely be faster than the current journey on the 16-minute long Campground lift.

“You are going to save a couple of minutes,” said Doug Mackenzie, the ski area manager at Snowmass.

And as part of the project, the gearbox, motor, cable, bullwheel and chairs would be replaced on the Campground lift, which was built in 1967.

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“It is time to upgrade it,” Mackenzie said.

As part of the project, the Skico plans to cut about two acres of trees to improve the access from the Wildcat and Campground trails to the base of Sam’s Knob.

“Those trails were originally cut to go all the way to the bottom of the Campground lift,” Mackenzie said. “When we put the Sam’s Knob lift in there, we never adjusted the trails to suit that lift.”

The new trail segments near the bottom of the steep pitch on the Knob will allow skiers to more easily reach the lift without resorting to cutting through the trees or using roads. The proposed trails will be about 75 to 100 feet wide and will also open up some additional gladed tree skiing in the area.

“The Campground run is going to be a great run, especially on powder mornings when you circuit back to the bottom of Sam’s Knob,” Mackenzie said.

The Forest Service is conducting an environmental analysis of the proposals and is seeking public comment. They are asking people to contact Jim Stark at the Aspen Ranger District at 925-3445.

Written comments are due by May 30.

If the Skico’s plan is approved, it will be perhaps the most significant lift and trail improvements this summer at the Snowmass Ski Area, and perhaps across any of the four Skico mountains this summer.

At Snowmass, the Skico will also be completing construction of a new snowcat maintenance shop building near the bottom of Elk Camp, as well as a snowmobile, ski patrol and restaurant services facility in the Divide section of the ski area.

The two facilities are being built in anticipation of the proposed Base Village project at the base of Fanny Hill. Today, the Skico’s snowcat, snowmobile and restaurant loading facilities are where the new village is proposed to be.

The lowering of the Campground lift off the top of the Knob is also being done in anticipation of a new Sam’s Knob express lift being built from the bottom of Fanny Hill to the top of the Knob, where it will unload alongside the existing Sam’s Knob chair.

To accomplish that, the Knob itself is proposed to be regraded and lowered about 15 feet. That work is not expected to occur this summer but possibly in 2004, depending on the Base Village approval process, which is in its final stages before the Snowmass Village Town Council.

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