Aspen Lift 1A listed among the icons

Staff report
A crew uses a crane in January 2015 to remove the gearbox from the bottom terminal of Lift 1A at Aspen Mountain. The 44-year-old lift was repaired and keeps rolling.
Aspen Times file photo |

Aspen Mountain’s Lift 1A has taken its lumps the past couple of seasons.

Officials with the International Ski Federation have been down on the lift and the surrounding base area for not being up to its standards. It has threatened to yank the conditional approval of Aspen as site of the prestigious World Cup Finals in March 2017 if the lift isn’t replaced.

Aspen Skiing Co. has secured approval from the U.S. Forest Service to replace the lift, but Skico officials say they need to learn more about surrounding base area developments before they will make the multimillion-dollar investment.

The 44-year-old lift also got a black eye last season when it was shut down for about two weeks after a tooth broke off on a gear. Skico searched high and low to find a replacement part and ended up replacing the entire gearbox.

But the lift also has its fans. Skico Vice President of Mountain Operations Rich Berkley quipped after the lift was fixed last January that it was ready to roll for another 40-some years.

Earlier this season, Lift 1A received recognition in an article about “The 5 Most Iconic ‘Old School’ Chairlifts in the USA” by ski-related website Lift 1A didn’t crack the top five, but it was the only other lift to score an honorable mention.

“Lift 1A would be a prime time player if its destiny was not in serious question,” Unofficial Networks said. “The FIS has requested that Aspen Snowmass’ Skico take down the lift prior to the World Cup Finals in March of 2017. So go ride one of skiing’s last vintage vestiges while you can.”

Given Lift 1A’s precarious position, the top iconic lift, as seen by Unofficial Networks, is Pallavicini at Arapahoe Basin. It’s a double chair that rises 1,300 feet to the ski area summit. The lift is called Pali and those who ride it all day are Pali-heads.

No. 2 on the iconic old lift list was Wildcat at Alta, Utah. No. 3 was the last remaining single chair in the Continental U.S. at Mad River Glen, Vermont. Next was the Mayday Triple Chair at Sun Valley, Idaho, and rounding of the top 5 was the Silverton Chair at Silverton.

Check out what the website had to say at


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