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Beaver Creek eyes new terrain, lifts

Vail Daily fileBeaver Creek's slow, three-seat Rose Bowl lift may soon be replaced.
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AVON, Colo. – If all goes as planned, Beaver Creek Resort could add more terrain and two new gondolas sometime in the next 10 years.

Tom Allender, a senior planner with Vail Resorts, held a public meeting with Don Dressler, U.S. Forest Service district ranger for the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, Thursday evening in Avon to show early plans of what Beaver Creek Resort officials would like to see at the mountain.

The plan, the Beaver Creek Resort Master Development Plan, is a general concept of where the resort is headed in terms of development in the future, Allender said. The U.S. Forest Service would accept the plan, but it doesn’t mean anything could get built until more specific plans are submitted for approvals by the Forest Service.

“This doesn’t allow us to implement anything until we submit site-specific plans,” Allender said.

That said, Beaver Creek has its sights set on upgrades like a high-speed quad lift in the Rose Bowl, replacing the slow-moving three-seater there now. That lift replacement would also include about 3 acres of new advanced-intermediate terrain, Allender said.

The World Cup Birds of Prey Downhill could also include women someday, if plans to cut out trees near the current men’s downhill course go through. The new women’s downhill course would be about a six- or seven-acre area, Allender said.

Chair 12, the Strawberry Park Express, could also “conceivably upgrade to a gondola,” Allender said. The gondola would lead skiers and snowboarders to a new restaurant up top, too.

Not far from there, at the McCoy Park Nordic Center, would be another high-speed quad lift that would require “very little tree-cutting,” Allender said. Adding such a lift would allow Beaver Creek to add about 130 acres of beginner to intermediate terrain in the McCoy Park area, which means the resort would have to shift the Nordic Center around a bit.

“At the top of the (Strawberry Park) gondola and where the Upper Beaver Creek Express (Chair 18) is, we would have great new beginner terrain up there,” Allender said.

There’s also an opportunity for another intermediate trail south of the Strawberry Park chair, or potential gondola, for another intermediate trail there.

Chair 2, the beginner lift to the east of the Buckaroo Gondola, would also be upgraded to a triple or quad.

There’s also big opportunities for new ski trails in the Bachelor Gulch area of Beaver Creek, mostly due to the need for mountain pine beetle-affected tree removal there, Allender said.

The Centennial Express, essentially the main lift at Beaver Creek that gets heavy use, is also set to upgrade to either a gondola, six-person lift or eight-person lift, he said.

None of these plans are written in stone, however. Allender said that with each site-specific plan application, things could easily change.

Dressler said the plan, which is a requirement for the special use permit Beaver Creeks operates under, helps the Forest Service see how projects fit into the scope of the resort. It’s a flexible document that operates like a road map for the next seven to 10 years. Dressler expects Beaver Creek to submit a final draft by April, which would take about four to six weeks for the Forest Service to accept, he said.

“When Beaver Creek gives us a proposal to upgrade a chairlift, we want to know what that does to the (overall) mountain,” Dressler said. “That’s what this document helps provide.”

About 20 people at Thursday’s meeting were interested in what the overall mountain could look like, too.

Snowboarder Mike Hardaker, who calls Beaver Creek his home mountain, said he’s been riding Beaver Creek for the last 10 years and wants to know what the next 10 will bring.

“I’m excited to see what the future possibilities are,” Hardaker said. “I’d love to see them expand the terrain there – I think it could use some more challenging terrain.”

lglendenning@vaildaily.com


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