Ski Basalt? Study to show feasibility |

Ski Basalt? Study to show feasibility

Ski Basalt could someday be a relevant motto.

New life has been breathed into an effort to consider establishing downhill skiing on the slopes directly south of Basalt High School, as well as a winter sports center. The idea has been kicked around for about three years but this time money has been raised to conduct a feasibility study.

Dale Potvin, a member of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and a Basalt developer, was credited by Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens for getting the idea rolling again.

Potvin stressed the planning is in a very preliminary stage. In fact, a committee must still decide this winter whether or not the idea is worth pursuing.

But Potvin couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for the concept. His vision is for lift-served terrain that could have a beginner slope, possibly a half-pipe for riders and gates for slalom training.

The base of the slope could be home for a winter sports center that is headquarters for cross-country skiing and other snow sports.

“I think it’s a wonderful concept for the midvalley,” he said.

Equally enthusiastic is Victor Gerdin, a planner for the Aspen Skiing Co., who is contributing time to Basalt’s exploratory effort.

Gerdin said a Basalt facility could be a resurrection of the type of small, inexpensive ski area that’s disappeared in the United States over the last two decades. He believes it’s no coincidence that the number of people taking up skiing and riding has gone flat at the same time those small mom-and-pop ski areas disappeared. He said the number of ski areas has dropped from more than 500 to less than half of that in the last two decades.

The Basalt terrain has great potential because it is all north-facing and therefore holds the snow better, said Gerdin. And although its length isn’t great, the width would allow multiple uses side by side.

“There are a lot of things that work perfectly in its favor,” said Gerdin.

A small snowmaking system would be a critical part of the picture, according to Gerdin. And he said a small chairlift rather than a Poma or platter-pull would be best for beginners and riders, although a Poma would be considerably cheaper.

Potvin has raised about half of the $5,000 needed for feasibility studies. The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s board of directors voted last month to contribute $1,500.

Toby Morse, the club’s executive director, said the board supported the effort because of its potential to “get kids out on the snow.”

Many downvalley kids participate in the club’s weekend programs, but logistics makes it difficult for them to ski on school days, Morse noted. A Basalt facility could encourage more participation in snow sports and attract newcomers, he said.

“I hope it happens,” said Morse.

Lights would be contemplated at the Basalt facility to accommodate late afternoon and evening uses.

Potvin said a critical element in the feasibility will be a survey and title work to determine ownership. It is believed that some of the targeted land belongs to the Roaring Fork School District, some belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and some is private.

People who would like to support the study with cash contributions can call Potvin at 920-2300.

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