Vail on track for ‘alpine coaster’
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL ” Even as homeowners challenge plans for an “alpine slide” at Beaver Creek, Vail Resorts is moving forward with a plan to build an “alpine coaster” on Vail Mountain.
The coaster would be part of Adventure Ridge, which is at the top of the gondola at Eagle’s Nest on Vail Mountain.
The gravity-powered coaster would have steel rails that would carry two-person sleds on a 3,000-foot-long track down 300 vertical feet, said Don Dressler of the Forest Service. It would have lots of curves and would go through some trees, he said.
The coaster would be elevated off the ground and used in both summer and winter, Dressler said. The track ” which would be west of Chair 26 ” would be a permanent structure.
There would be some kind of conveyor to bring the cars back up to the top of the course, Dressler said.
“The intent is to have it constructed this fall,” Dressler said, adding that that timeline is subject to the Forest Service approvals.
The slide would be built on Forest Service land.
Adventure Ridge offers tubing, ski-biking and ice skating in the winter and disc golf, volleyball and trampolines in the summer.
There’s an alpine coaster at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Park City Mountain Resort in Utah also has one.
“It’s been a huge success,” said Krista Parry, a spokeswoman for Park City.
The Park City coaster opened in September of 2006 and operates in both summer and winter, Parry said. It’s about 4,000 feet long with and ranges from about 1 foot to 10 feet above the ground, Parry said.
“You can get the sensation of flying down the mountain even if you don’t have skis or a snowboard on,” she said.
Bill Suarez, owner of Billy’s Island Grill in Lionshead, said anything that can bring more people to Lionshead ” at the base of the gondola ” is a good thing.
In the winter, Adventure Ridge attracts people to his restaurant, he said. People even come from Beaver Creek to Adventure Ridge and then eat at Billy’s, he said. The coaster could bring more people in the summer, too, he said.
“It’ll help,” he said. “It’ll bring more people, just like the miniature golf course does and the climbing wall does.”
Within the next few days, the Forest Service will start gathering public comments on the proposal, Dressler said. An environmental review and a final decision on the proposal will follow.
The Forest Service is revamping its policies to allow for “nonsnow” activities such as the alpine coaster at ski areas, Dressler said.
“Under the old policies, this type of proposal would not have been considered,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Vail Mountain acknowledged the proposal but declined further comment.
Vail Resorts wants to build an alpine slide, for use in the summer only, in the Haymeadow area of Beaver Creek Mountain. Area homeowners have filed a lawsuit challenging the slide.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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