Deep Temerity lift is inching toward reality
A new chairlift that would add epic terrain at Aspen Highlands will be difficult to construct and do little to enhance the Aspen Skiing Co.’s bottom line, but the guy signing the checks likes it anyway.Skico managing partner Jim Crown said he’s sold on the idea of adding the much-anticipated Deep Temerity chairlift, also known as Deep Steeplechase.”We’re still hopeful to break ground next summer,” Crown said after holding a meeting with top Skico executives earlier this week.The lift would allow expert riders and skiers to make “laps” quicker in Highland Bowl. Plus, it would add to the vertical drop in the already formidable terrain.”If there’s any one lift that skiers in the valley are waiting for, this is it,” said Victor Gerdin, a Skico planner.The project moved closer toward reality earlier this month when the U.S. Forest Service completed its portion of the review. The chairlift was conceptually approved in 1997. A team of Forest Service officials had to complete a supplemental report this year to make sure issues hadn’t changed.The new review produced no major hurdles for the project, according to Jim Stark, winter sports administrator for the Aspen Ranger District and the leader of that review.Stark said a biological assessment to determine if the project would affect endangered species was performed by a contractor for the Forest Service and has been forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The contractor found no adverse effects on lynx habitat or other endangered species. Once that work is endorsed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Skico will have the green light it needs from the federal government, Stark said.The new chairlift would add about 270 acres of skiable terrain to the lower portions of Highland Bowl, Temerity and the Steeplechase trails.”It allows us to take advantage of some of the most dramatic terrain in the complex,” said Bill Kane, vice president of planning and development for the Skico.The lift probably isn’t the type that will draw more skiers to Aspen Highlands, Gerdin explained. From that aspect, it’s an investment that doesn’t produce more revenue. But the lift enhances some of the best extreme skiing in the state.The bottom terminal of the chairlift will be about 800 feet below the Grand Traverse, the catwalk that takes skiers and riders from the steep and deep terrain back into the main part of the ski area. A new, shorter catwalk would be built to get skiers from the bowl to the base of the new lift.The top of the chairlift would be on Loge Peak, near where the Loge lift unloads. The lift line would be straight down Kessler’s Bowl, a trail on Steeplechase.The Skico plans to install a slower double chair rather than a high-speed quad so it doesn’t pump too many skiers and riders into the terrain at one time. The lift would be about 4,300 feet long and climb 1,800 vertical feet, requiring a seven-and-a-half-minute ride. It would be similar to the new FIS chairlift on Aspen Mountain, Gerdin said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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