Skico rethinks proposed lifts | AspenTimes.com

Skico rethinks proposed lifts

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Skiing Co. is rethinking its proposal for new base lifts at the Snowmass Ski Area.

As part of its submission for a new Base Village at the bottom of Fanny Hill, the Skico, along with partner Intrawest, put forward a lift plan that has met with criticism.

As a result of the community feedback it has gotten, the Skico is taking another look at its options.

“There has been a lot of public comment and discussion,” said Paul Shepherd, an Intrawest vice president. “They are seeing what is absolutely the best course for them. We were satisfied with the application as submitted, but we respect anything they want to take a look at.”

Instead of reviewing its lift plan with the town’s planning commission on April 10 as scheduled, the Skico opted to postpone the discussion until May while it goes back to the drawing board.

Its original proposal included a new gondola to the bottom of Elk Camp and an open-air cabriolet lift from the bottom of Fanny Hill to the level of the Snowmass Village mall.

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The company also proposed building a new high-speed quad that would take off at the end of the mall and rise to the top of Sam’s Knob.

Several lifts were to be removed, including Assay Hill, Funnel, Wood Run and Fanny Hill. Also proposed to be eliminated was the Coney Glade lift, which generated an immediate outcry from the Snowmass community and prompted the Skico several months ago to suggest that Coney Glade might remain.

But now the company is also rethinking its base-area lift proposal, with a special focus on the Fanny Hill side and the cabriolet lift.

The cabriolet requires passengers to stand up in an open-air car. And it would compel skiers arriving at the new Base Village to walk to the lift, ride the cabriolet to the mall, and then get on the new lift to the top of Sam’s Knob. From there, they could ski down to the popular Big Burn.

Some criticized the plan because it doesn’t achieve the goal of getting skiers to the summit in two lift rides. Others pointed out that having only a gondola and a cabriolet at the bottom would minimize the convenience of ski-in, ski-out condos in Snowmass.

“As proposed, [the lift plan] will require all ski and board riders coming from lodging properties below the mall to remove their skis or boards to access the mountain on either the cabriolet or gondola,” wrote Larry Dempsey in a recent public letter.

Dempsey is the president of the Crestwood Condominium Association.

“In effect, the ski-out aspect enjoyed by occupants of properties below the mall for more than 30 years will be severely compromised,” Dempsey wrote. “Ski in/out is one of the unique and valuable features of most properties within Snowmass Village.

“We will rely on the Skico’s pledge that ski in/out access for all of the properties affected by Base Village will be `at least as good’ as we presently enjoy. The extension of the Sam’s Knob Express into Base Village may solve this issue for the lower village properties.”

According to Skico Mountain Planner Victor Gerdin, the company is taking another look at the many lift options it has for Fanny Hill, but is dealing with the constraints of a narrow slope and the desire for multiple uses, including having a good area for young skiers in the new children’s ski school center.

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