State’s ski resorts frugal this year
Two more Colorado resorts are following Copper Mountain’s lead by adding six-person chairlifts this summer.
Keystone and Purgatory are the latest resorts to install the monster lifts, dubbed six-packs. Those new lifts highlight spending at the state’s 25 resorts, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association.
Keystone, operated by Vail Resort Inc., spent $3.1 million to replace the Ruby lift on the mountain’s backside. The new lift is twice as fast as the old one – with an uphill capacity of 3,600 riders per hour.
Purgatory, now known as Durango Mountain Resort, added a six-pack lift that will haul riders to the top of the mountain in about six minutes, or about half the time of the old chairlift. The lift will serve some of the most popular beginner, intermediate and expert terrain on that mountain.
Colorado Ski Country touted its member resorts’ investment of $111 million in capital improvements for the 2000-01 season in a news release Thursday. But on closer examination, resorts are investing very little in high-profile mountain improvements such as chairlifts.
Besides the two six-packs, the only other major lift being added in the entire state is at Vail. A new high-speed quad there will serve 125 acres of intermediate terrain in Pete’s Bowl.
Most of the money is being spent by resorts on base area improvements or more mundane mountain operations, such as Snowcats, snowmaking systems and fancier ticket offices and day lodges.
In some prior seasons – when skier and snowboard rider visits were still on the increase – numerous resorts added chairlifts, often more than one. But most Colorado resorts have seen their business sag during the last two seasons.
The Aspen Skiing Co. is among the resort operators making relatively modest investments this offseason. The improvements listed through Colorado Ski Country include renovations to The Little Nell Hotel; additional terrain in Highland Bowl and expanded Snowcat service there; and a remodeled rental shop at Buttermilk.
At Snowmass, the Skico is adding a kids’ training area with a new platter-pull lift, increasing the uphill capacity of the Elk Camp lift by adding chairs and expanding snowmaking in the Alpine Springs area.
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