Naked Lady lift stripped down, ready to go
Snowmass Village correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS ” She’s been bypassed, ridiculed and essentially put out to pasture. Like any good woman who’s been ignored, this lady is packed up and ready to move on.
After years of under-utilization, Snowmass’ 27-year-old Naked Lady triple chair has been dissembled and sold to the Lutsen Mountains ski area in northern Minnesota. The lift towers were removed by helicopter last week during a period when the Sheer Bliss towers were also taken from the ground.
Next season, Snowmass will see a new high-speed Sheer Bliss replacement quad. The Naked Lady lift won’t be replaced, however, as Aspen Skiing Co. officials believe the terrain is adequately served by the Alpine Springs chair.
“As soon as (Alpine Springs) went in, we shut that lift down and just used it for when we were busy, Christmas or President’s weekend,” said Snowmass Mountain Manager Steve Sewell. “Even when the Alpine Springs line was out the maze, nobody would ride Naked Lady.”
If no one wanted to ride the old gal, at least someone was interested in buying the Riblet-made chair.
“We’ll definitely put it to good use,” said Tom Rider, one of Lutsen’s owners. Lutsen has a total vertical drop of about 800 feet; Rider said the lift (which is 1,125 linear feet in length) will have to be shortened.
But what hasn’t yet been determined is whether or not the Naked Lady name will stick at the new area.
“A lot of people here want to keep the name but we haven’t made a final decision,” Rider said, adding, that some believe, as with boats, it’s bad luck to change a lift’s name.
Founded in 1948 by a group that included Olympic bronze medalist Cindy Nelson’s father, George Nelson (a former 10th Mountain Division soldier), Lutsen sits on the shores of Lake Superior and offers plenty of advanced trails spread out among four separate mountains. Next winter’s lift tickets will cost $65, which Rider said was “highest in the Midwest.” Annually, the resort sees about 100,000 skier and snowboarder visits.
The Naked Lady chair will be the resort’s eighth lift and will make it easier to access some steep chutes, Rider said.
Snowmass’ Sewell said he’s pleased that the lift was able to be brokered through the Mad River Lifts company. It’s motor remains in “great shape,” Sewell said, as is the machinery.
“You can count the number of times on one hand that the lift was run,” Sewell said, adding, “It’s nice to be able to recycle.”
Unfortunately, the old Sheer Bliss chair didn’t attract as much notice as its three-passenger compatriot across the mountain. “We though we had a buyer from Russia” but that fell through, Sewell said. Instead the lift parts will be cut down and sold as scrap in Denver, though the Carbondale Community School will sell chairs from the Sheer Bliss lift as a fundraiser on Saturday (call 704-3284 to reserve one).
Snowmass’ new Sheer Bliss lift, which will serve 2,100 passengers per hour, should be ready to go by Christmas, Sewell said.
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