Snowmass Town Council approves Skico’s proposed on-mountain summer amenities |

Snowmass Town Council approves Skico’s proposed on-mountain summer amenities

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
Aspen Skiing Co.'s proposed alpine coaster on Snowmass Mountain will be the fourth alpine coaster approved in the White River National Forest. Vail Mountain opened its coaster, pictured, last summer. Breckenridge and Copper Mountain received approvals but have not added the rides yet.
Townsend Bessent/Vail Daily |

Snowmass Ski Area is on track to undergo a multimillion-dollar makeover this summer, as the town on Monday approved Aspen Skiing Co.’s plan to add on-mountain attractions that include an alpine coaster, ropes course and new hiking and biking trails.

At a Snowmass Town Council meeting, the council unanimously approved a second reading of the ordinance outlining Skico’s intended summer uses and development on the mountain.

Skico Vice President of Planning and Development David Corbin, who presented before the council, elaborated on the potential for “year-round and seasonal overnight camping facilities, such as mountain huts or similar structures available for public or private use,” as proposed in the planned-unit development.

“The huts are intended to offer guests during winter and summer months, who may not have the proper equipment or sufficient stamina to use the backcountry hut system, a similar on-mountain overnight experience,” Corbin explained. “Huts are planned to be simple structures capable of sleeping 10 to 20 people with bedding and various supplies provided, such as kitchen facilities for food and beverage preparation and service.”

He said Skico has identified three locations as possible hut sites: the Dikes, the forested area between Slider and Turkey Trot, and the Elk Camp Saddle between Sandy Park and the Hanging Valley Wall.

Following the public discussion, Corbin told the Snowmass Sun, “In terms of feasibility, I’d speculated we would look at the Dikes first.”

At the meeting Monday, the council and Skico representatives also looked at “the conflict between biking and hiking,” which Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler called “an ongoing theme here in the village.”

“We continue to expand the mountain-biking program up on the mountain, which I think is great; it does bring summer guests and it does bring vitality into the village and we appreciate all that work,” Butler said.

“But as we build more biking trails, many of them come down the trail and may not or may head back to Base Village. … But they also access some of the trails that are multi-use for biking and hiking. And logic suggests as we add more biking trails, we’re doing nothing within our own village to add more hiking trails that are contiguous to the mountain biking. And it would appear to me that every time we add more trails, we’re increasing the possibility of conflict between biking and hiking.”

Corbin agreed to work with the town to minimize this conflict and potentially “add additional hiking trails” if needed.

“We’re happy to take a look at that,” he said. “It’s something we can easily do on the private lands” approaching the Tom Blake Trail.

Currently, the plan calls for 2.4 miles of hiking trail reroutes to “improve guest experience,” and 14.4 miles of new bike trails.

Corbin told the council last month that Skico hopes to begin construction of the on-mountain attractions, which also include a canopy tour and a climbing wall, “as soon as the snow melts” in June.

The proposed amenities, estimated at $8 million, are part of an ongoing effort to increase summer tourism at ski resorts throughout Colorado.

In addition to these features, the ordinance passed Monday included plans to replace the temporary ski patrol hut located at the top of the Sam’s Knob lift with a new and improved facility.

“The building’s main floor would be approximately 1,050 square feet and the basement would be approximately 950 square feet,” according to the Forest Service scoping document. “A 450-square-foot deck would be constructed.”

The main floor of the patrol building would have a public “greet” room, kitchen, dispatch office, accident investigation station, patrol director office and conference space.

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