Skico crosses fingers for Deep Temerity lift | AspenTimes.com
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Skico crosses fingers for Deep Temerity lift

The Aspen Skiing Co. may be in position by next summer to build a much-anticipated chairlift that would extend the accessible slopes in Highland Bowl, Temerity and Steeplechase, according to managing partner Jim Crown.He said the Deep Temerity lift, also known as the Deep Steeplechase lift, is one of the last remaining capital projects the Skico needs to complete at Aspen Mountain, Highlands and Buttermilk as it prepares to set its sights, and concentrate its dollars, on Snowmass.The company also needs to replace the cabins on the Silver Queen gondola at Aspen Mountain “probably” within the next year or two, Crown said.The Skico plans to spend $40 million in on-mountain improvements at Snowmass Ski Area if its proposal for Base Village advances. But the big investment at Snowmass wouldn’t preclude the company from adding finishing touches to the other mountains, according to Crown.”We hope to be able to build the Deep Temerity lift – the Deep Steeplechase lift – if things prove out. That’s not final but we hope to achieve that,” he said. “The best case is we’d be building that a year from now, summer of ’05.”The Deep Temerity lift would be a fixed-grip double chair rather than a high-speed quad to avoid dumping too many skiers and riders on the terrain at one time, according to Bill Kane, vice president of planning and development.The chairlift would unload passengers on the top of Loge Peak, near where the Loge lift ends. The lift line for Deep Temerity would be “straight down” Kessler’s Bowl, a trail in Steeplechase, according to Kane.The bottom terminal of the lift would be about 800 feet below the Grand Traverse, the cat walk that skiers and riders take back into the guts of the ski area and the lowest point where they can now go.The appeal of the proposed chair is it adds some of the best skiable terrain that exists anywhere and it would allow skiers and riders to make “laps” quicker at Highland Bowl, according to Jim Stark of the Aspen Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service. He is in charge of the local review of the lift.The proposal provides “good bang for the buck” because the lower bowl could be opened for skiing without clearing trees or altering the terrain, Stark said. “It’s amazing how much terrain is in there,” he said.Another big advantage of the proposed lift is shortening the amount of time required on the cat walk when leaving Highland Bowl. A new cat walk would be created below the existing one.The presence of the chairlift could also spur greater use of runs in the trees between Steeplechase and Highland Bowl, trails like Temerity, Hyde Park, Mushroom and Lucky Find, according to Stark.The lift would add terrain to Kessler’s Bowl and Snyder’s Ridge but wouldn’t really affect the other Steeplechase runs, he said. The lift would be 4,380 feet long and climb 1,800 vertical feet in extremely steep terrain.”That would be the steepest lift in our fleet, maybe in North America,” said Kane.The Forest Service will likely require that construction be done by helicopter, Stark said.The lift was conceptually approved by the Forest Service in 1997. The proposal has changed to shift the bottom terminal closer to the bowl to take advantage of the great success of the skiing there since the extreme terrain opened.The Forest Service determined that the altered proposal would have fewer impacts than the original plan. For example, shifting the lift line onto Kessler’s drastically reduces the need to cut down trees, Stark said.The Forest Service is conducting what it calls a supplemental information report on the lift rather than conducting a more extensive environmental review. An extensive review was conducted on the original proposal, Stark noted.A major step in the current review is submitting information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze whether the proposed work would have any potential effect on lynx habitat.That step, which has been required for projects in national forests since last year, is generally proving to be time consuming for projects in the forest, according to Forest Service officials.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com — see Deep Temerity on page A7– continued from page A1


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