Board approves Golden Horn surface lift at Aspen Highlands
Pitkin County commissioners on Wednesday approved the construction of a surface ski lift alongside the Golden Horn run at Aspen Highlands that will mainly be used by local ski racers.
The 1,660-foot-long lift will run on the skier’s right side of Golden Horn and start at the top of the Five Trees lift from the Aspen public schools campus and end below the top terminal of the Thunderbowl Lift, said Tami Kochen, Pitkin County planner.
The springbox assembly, T-bar-style lift is necessary so racers from the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, as well as other teams, don’t have to waste time skiing both Golden Horn and Thunderbowl while utilizing the Thunderbowl lift, Kochen said. A similar surface lift existed in the same spot until 1997.
AVSC is funding the lift as part of a $15 million capital improvement campaign paid for by community donations, said Mark Godomsky, AVSC executive director. Part of that campaign also includes installing snowmaking guns on Golden Horn, he said. Between the increased snowmaking capacity and the new lift, local ski racers can hopefully avoid expensive, early-season trips to Summit County, he said.
“It’s an important thing for kids in the valley,” Godomsky said.
In addition, racers will likely be able to fit in twice as many runs on the racecourse as before when they had to use the Thunderbowl lift, he said.
Commissioner George Newman initially objected to the lift because it would not be in constant use and not be much benefit to the general public. However, when he learned it will be funded by AVSC, he said he’d support it.
The rest of the county board also supported the project.
Victor Gerdin, director of mountain planning for Aspen Skiing Co., said the general public will be allowed to use the lift when it is in use.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”