Buckle up, Snowmass: Skico, town plans for on-mountain summer attractions approved on first reading

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
The Elk Camp area, pictured, will be "the hub for the summer activities" on Snowmass Mountain, said mountain manager Steve Sewell.
Courtesy image/Aspen Skiing Co. |

Aspen Skiing Co. and the town of Snowmass are one step closer to transforming Snowmass Ski Area into a summer adventure center.

At a Snowmass Town Council meeting Monday, the elected officials approved a first reading of the ordinance detailing Skico’s intended summer uses and development on the mountain.

The ordinance also included plans to replace the ski patrol hut that’s located at the top of the Sam’s Knob lift with a new and improved patrol facility.

Skico hopes to commence construction of the new summer attractions, which include an alpine coaster, canopy tour, ropes course and a climbing wall, by June.

“As soon as the snow melts. We hope to begin all these in this summer, and if possible, have them all concluded and constructed by winter.”David CorbinAspen Skiing Co. vice president of planning and development

“As soon as the snow melts,” David Corbin, Skico vice president of planning and development, told the council.

“We hope to begin all these in this summer, and if possible, have them all concluded and constructed by winter.”

Corbin and Snowmass Mountain manager Steve Sewell, who presented Skico’s plans before the council Monday night, said they hope to operate the alpine coaster during the winter season as well, to which Snowmass Town Councilman Tom Goode expressed skepticism.

“To me, it sounds a little hairy to get on a coaster in the winter,” Goode said.

“I question the winter operation of something like this.”

Sewell assured the councilman that the technology in assembling the coaster, which a leading coaster construction company in Germany is manufacturing, is both safe and “in contrast to an old alpine slide” made from plastic.

The track of the alpine coaster, which Sewell described as “the big, thrilling, exciting attraction” on Snowmass Mountain, is proposed at 5,700-feet.

The course is expected to wind through the trees between Gunner’s View and Sandy Park, with a seven- to nine-minute ride time.

The canopy tour will offer a guided, group experience, with eight zip lines, two sky bridges and nine tree-based platforms.

“It will be very unique to the state of Colorado,” Sewell said of the design.

The high ropes course, located in the trees above the Meadows Carpet lift, will offer five paths of varying difficulty, ranging from “very easy” to difficult.

The climbing wall, proposed at 40-foot-tall by 60-foot-wide, will be constructed by a group out of Boulder and will offer a “very realistic” rock formation appearance.

The proposed attractions are part of an ongoing effort to increase summer visitation at ski resorts throughout Colorado, Snowmass Village being one of them.

“For years we’ve been talking about bringing forward summer activities,” Corbin said.

“In essence, we’re trying to add to our summer draw, as you all know.”

He added that Snowmass’ visitation during the summer is “still mere fractions” compared with the winter season.

As a whole, the Town Council seemed pleased with Skico’s plans and the future on-mountain attractions in Snowmass.

“I think it sounds exciting,” Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said.

At the end of the meeting, Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler joked, “I’ve decided that Tom Goode is going to be the first on the alpine coaster.”

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for April 3.