Look for more steep and deep on Aspen Mountain
Although the fancy new Sundeck on Aspen Mountain is getting most of the attention for the coming season, a lesser-known change might provide a bigger thrill for expert skiers.
Assuming it eventually snows, fans of the steep and deep will have new terrain in an area known as the Bingo Glades, where they can take a plunge.
And what a plunge it is. The new terrain is to the skier’s right of Jackpot and is probably slightly steeper than that famed double black diamond trail, according to Steve Sewell, who took over as Aspen Mountain manager last summer.
The Skico removed some trees from the densely-wooded area and opened shots that will offer about 1,000 vertical feet of skiing, Sewell said. The Bingo Glades are on a north-facing slope so they should hold the snow well.
The idea, said Sewell, is to operate the new glades as a powder stash.
“We’ll monitor it and close it before you have bumps up to your knees,” he said, noting there are several others trails on Aspen Mountain for big bumps.
Aspen Mountain’s biggest change – the newly-constructed Sundeck – is scheduled to open Dec. 15. It will include a public cafeteria and public sit-down restaurant as well as bathrooms, skier services and a vast lobby where skiers can hang out.
“I happened to be up there this weekend and work is chugging along,” said Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello.
The $14 million project will include a private club that is scheduled to open in March.
Cloud 9 lift ready
The Skico’s other big ticket item for the 1999-2000 season is a $2.5 million high-speed, detachable quad chairlift at Aspen Highlands. The new Cloud 9 quad will replace the old chair of the same name and the Olympic chair. The Exhibition II chairlift was also torn out.
All three lifts that were replaced were all fixed-grip doubles that were, for many skiers and riders, dreadfully slow. However, the old Oly chair provided unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains.
The new chair was aligned to try to retain as much of that view as possible, according to Skico vice president of operations Mike Kaplan. The bottom loading area of the new lift will extend about 300 yards below Merry-Go-Round Restaurant and slightly more to the skier’s left than the old lift’s lower terminal.
The top terminal of the new lift will extend higher than the old Cloud 9, up to a bench just below the old Oly chair’s upper terminal.
Another change at Highlands will have skiers and snowboard riders saying thanks for simple pleasures. The Skico vastly improved the traverse coming out of the Y Zones, essentially extending a road from the Steeplechase cat walk to the bottom of Y-12.
“That will make it a lot easier, especially for snowboarders, to traverse out of the Y Zones,” said Kaplan.
In addition, the first phase of the base village being built by developer Gerald Hines will be finished. That phase includes the Highlands Center, the main building at the base, which will include the Skico’s skier services, mountain operations, ticketing and rental and retail shops.
A 450-vehicle parking garage is also ready for skiers.
New terrain park, more glading
At Snowmass ski area, skiers should find last season’s big addition even better. The Skico did some additional glading on Long Shot, the “semi-backcountry skiing experience” offered on Burnt Mountain.
The Skico’s Jim Mangan also designed a terrain park for skiers and riders on the Log Deck Trail under the Alpine Springs chairlift, according to Kaplan.
Buttermilk has one significant change for the coming season. Its mountain manager will be Ron Chauner, who will continue to oversee Highlands and add Buttermilk to his plate.
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