High Alpine quad opens Dec. 11 | AspenTimes.com

High Alpine quad opens Dec. 11

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The new High Alpine chairlift on Snowmass ski area opens Dec. 11.

With snow in the forecast, Snowmass' newest chairlift will start turning on Dec. 11, providing a faster ride to some of the ski area's most loved runs.

The new High Alpine chairlift has been under construction since last winter, and after passing its load test two weeks ago, it will start turning at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 11. The high-speed quad reduces ride time from 11 minutes to 5.6 minutes, even as its route has been lengthened and relocated.

Stretching 5,300 feet, the upper terminal of the new High Alpine is slightly higher and to skier's left of the patrol shack at the top of the hill. The bottom terminal is now on the other side of the High Alpine restaurant on the lower Green Cabin run.

The improvements this summer also included new snowmaking guns on the Green Cabin run that have already been up and running. The total project, which also involved glading of some tree trails in the area, cost the Aspen Skiing Co. $8 million.

“It’s exciting to have something new and different up here.”Whitney GordonManager, Gwyn’s High Alpine

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As for what runs in the area will open this weekend, Steve Sewell, mountain manager, wasn't sure as of Dec. 8, when he was headed up the hill to check out conditions.

"Green Cabin is a go for sure," he said. "I'm anticipating the majority of Alpine Springs. … I won't know till I get my eyes on it."

This weekend will also be the opening weekend for Gwyn's High Alpine restaurant, which is hosting breakfast as part of the lift's opening celebrations. Gwyn's posted photos of the lift's progress to its Facebook page throughout its construction.

"The glading is going to make the terrain up above that much better," said manager Whitney Gordon, adding she was glad that ski school kids will be able to access Green Cabin now because the lift will have a security bar.

Some locals were worried that going from a double to a high-speed quad would drive too many people to the lift, but Gordon noted that capacity won't get that high because of how far apart the chairs are spaced. The new lift will make it easier to access Green Cabin and will do away with the climb to the gate to Hanging Valley Wall, although skiers and riders will still have to hike to access terrain there.

"It's exciting to have something new and different up here," Gordon said.

As of press time, the National Weather Service was calling for snow on Dec. 11 and 12, with temperatures in the 20s.

The High Alpine ribbon cutting and first chair loading will be at 10:30 a.m.

jill@snowmasssun.com