Can you dig it? Skico builds superpipe on Buttermilk
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The recently completed trench at the bottom of Buttermilk is likely to save the Aspen Skiing Co. 4 million ” gallons that is.
The Skico opted this year to dig a regulation-size halfpipe, known as a superpipe, in the ground just above the Bumps Restaurant rather than build it entirely out of snow.
The new halfpipe is more than 400 feet long with walls that are 22 feet high. Its dimensions are well beyond the 300-foot length and 18-foot walls that are required for a regulation superpipe, Greg Boyd, Skico’s terrain park manager, said.
“It’s underrated in snowboard magazines, because they still feel funny about Aspen, but our halfpipe is one of the best around,” Boyd said.
Hans Hohl, Buttermilk mountain manager, said the water needed for the snowmaking required to fill the new halfpipe will, at 10 million gallons, be substantial. But it’s considerably less than the 14 million used to build the above-ground superpipe last year.
“Our goal is to try and have it open for the Christmas holidays,” Hohl said.
The superpipe and the terrain park will be open to the public all winter, except in the weeks leading up to the ESPN Winter X Games during the last weekend in January. During that time, crews will be prepping the terrain park for use in what’s generally considered the most important extreme winter sports competition in the country.
The new halfpipe is considerably closer to Bumps than the old pipe, which Hohl says will make for better viewing. He said the new position also works better for the course and terrain park design ESPN wants for the X Games and fills an unused section of the hill.
A small channel lined with rocks runs down the center of the halfpipe to allow water to drain as snow melts. The sides of the halfpipe are designed to move the water into the channel and down the hill, Hohl said.
The halfpipe is the only feature in the terrain park to be made permanent, although the Skico had considered building up other features, as well.
“For the lower section of the park, we’re locked in with X Games right now, so it wouldn’t make sense, but eventually I’d like to make some improvements to the upper section,” Boyd said.
Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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