On the Hill: The lowdown on the lift up | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: The lowdown on the lift up

Allyn Harvey

The Snowmass Sun reported this week that Snowmass Ski Area is pushing completion of the new Village Express lift to the limit.In just three weeks, representatives of the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board are expected to conduct a load test on the new, yet-to-be completed six-person lift. There’s still a lot of work to do before Village Express is ready for its first run from the bottom of Fanny Hill to Sam’s Knob.”We are on for the lift,” Snowmass General Manager Doug Mackenzie told the Snowmass Sun. “A lot of things didn’t go as planned, but we adjusted.”On Tuesday, the last eight (out of 20) towers were helicoptered into place. And crews are expected to complete work on the terminal on Sam’s Knob in the next few weeks. Then the cable will need to be strung and the whole thing will need to be wired for power.Hopefully, all the fits and starts and delays at Fanny Hill weren’t caused by the massive Base Village development, which planners at Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. managed to screw up by failing to complete the paperwork needed to gain a critical approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. How embarrassing it would be for Skico to drop the ball on Base Village, and then, watching it roll away, drop the ball on Snowmass.The Skico is going to have an awfully difficult time getting passengers up the hill without Village Express, because the only rides from the base still intact are the Two Creeks and Burlingame lifts. Burlingame is a two-person chair that was famous back in the 1970s for its 40-minute waits. Two Creeks is the chair that starts in the middle of nowhere and leaves you in an even less convenient spot. A reality that makes it hard to justify charging close to $100 for a day of skiing.But On the Hill’s money (though nowhere near $100, mind you) is on Village Express to be completed. Crews there have managed to dodge the Base Village bombshell and deal with an international shortage of cement to get this close. It’s hard to imagine them “pulling an Intrawest” and letting this ball slip out of their hands as well.