Skico eyes new Tiehack lift at Buttermilk | AspenTimes.com

Skico eyes new Tiehack lift at Buttermilk

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The Aspen Skiing Co. is seeking approval from the U.S. Forest Service to replace the two aging, slow chairlifts at Tiehack with a high-speed detachable model.

The Skico has proposed several improvement projects at Buttermilk, including the new chairlift, according to a notice from the White River National Forest supervisor’s office. The Forest Service is seeking public comment on the plans.

The Skico also is seeking approval for final improvements at Snowmass Ski Area. Earlier this winter, Skico Senior Vice President-Mountain Division David Perry said the final pieces of the puzzle needed at Snowmass include a new restaurant at the bottom of Elk Camp, a replacement chairlift for Sheer Bliss and a replacement or major rehabilitation of the Big Burn chairlift.

In a prepared statement on the Buttermilk proposals, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Irene Davidson said the proposed projects “are in alignment” with the White River National Forest Plan, a land-management guide. She said the Buttermilk plan will also enhance visitors’ experiences.

“The proposal is crafted to enhance operation and maintenance of the ski area and improve both winter skier and snowboarder use as well as summer recreation opportunities,” the Forest Service statement said.

The proposal includes constructing two reservoirs for snowmaking operations and installing snowmaking equipment. A skier overpass is being sought at the intersection of Teaser Trail and Homestead Road to improve safety and flow.

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The new chairlift at Tiehack is the marquee item on the list. Currently, two double chairs serve that side of the ski area. The ride time for the upper Tiehack chair is listed as 12 minutes on the Skico trail map, but it seems longer.

The Forest Service statement was vague on whether a high-speed quad or double chairlift is being sought by the company. Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle couldn’t be reached for comment. It couldn’t be determined how quickly the Skico would like to install the chairlift, if it is installed.

The Forest Service will accept comments from the public through Jan. 21. Written comments should be addressed to Maribeth Gustafson, Forest Supervisor, c/o Roger Poirier, Winter Sports Program Manager, White River National Forest, PO Box 948, Glenwood Springs, CO 81602-0948; FAX (970) 945-3266 or by e-mail to wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us.

The agency anticipates analyzing the Skico’s proposal through an environmental assessment rather than a more detail environmental impact statement.

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