Skico changes lift plan for Snowmass Ski Area | AspenTimes.com

Skico changes lift plan for Snowmass Ski Area

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Skiing Co. has decided that getting to the top of the Big Burn in just two lift rides is important after all.

The Skico unveiled a revised lift plan for the Snowmass Ski Area on Wednesday which now includes a high-speed quad from the bottom of Fanny Hill to the top of Sam’s Knob.

From the top of the Knob, skiers could then slide down to the Big Burn lift and reach the top of the popular terrain on the Burn in two lifts.

Currently, the journey to the Burn requires three lift rides, and the initial plan submitted as part of the proposed Base Village project would still have required three rides from the bottom of the mountain.

“We really now feel that it is appropriate to bring this lift to the bottom,” said Bill Kane, Skico vice president of planning and development, in Wednesday’s meeting with the Snowmass Planning Commission.

The board is reviewing the Base Village conceptual plan, which has been submitted by the Skico and Intrawest, which are partners in the venture.

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Kane said the Skico received 40 “sharply focused” letters from customers expressing “significant concern” with the previous lift plan. “In our view, it is good business to listen to customers,” Kane said.

The Skico’s original plan would have required skiers arriving at Base Village to ride a short open-air lift to the Snowmass Village Mall and then board a new lift to the top of the Knob.

Under the revised plan, a 9,120-foot lift will rise out of Base Village and climb to the top of the Knob, offering skiers a nine-minute ride. The lift will include a midway unloading station at the top of Dawdler to allow beginning skiers a chance to get off and ski easy terrain.

The new lift plan also does away with the proposed cabriolet lift, which was an open-air gondola connecting Base Village to the mall. In its place, the Skico is proposing a simpler “pulse tram” lift with enclosed six-passenger gondola cars.

The eight cars on the 1,300-foot long lift would be set equidistant apart on the cable, which allows the pods of gondola cars to slow down for loading and unloading at the bottom and top terminals, and then speed up between the terminals.

Both the high-speed lift to Sam’s Knob and the pulse tram gondola are on the skier’s left side of Fanny Hill, along with a new “kid’s corral” with “magic carpet” lifts.

Left unchanged from the Skico’s original proposal is the eight-passenger gondola from Base Village to the bottom of Elk Camp. That lift would allow access to a new “beginner’s park” on a widened Turkey Trot trail just above the Cafe Suzanne restaurant, as well as provide summer and nighttime access to the area.

The Skico has also cancelled its plans to remove the Coney Glade lift, at least for now, in response to customers who want to see the lift left in place, despite the fact that the new lift to Sam’s Knob makes it somewhat redundant.

For its part, the planning commission was not impressed with the new location of the bottom terminal of the pulse tram, saying that it was not in a prominent enough location to attract people to ride it up to the mall.