EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - When the lifts stop running at Vail and Beaver Creek, it will signal the end to the 2012-13 ski season but also the beginning of an on-mountain construction season featuring several big projects.
Vail and Beaver Creek are entering the first of many summers of construction as the resorts prepare both for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, as well as the building of Vail Resorts' Epic Discovery projects. While Epic Discovery isn't set to begin until the summer of 2014, enhancements at Vail Mountain's Adventure Ridge summer activity area are scheduled this summer.
Improvements at Beaver Creek's Red Tail Camp are already under way. Construction there began last week to take down the existing building and replace it with a new, larger building.
"For Red Tail, last week the building was cleared of its contents. We're working on clearing the site right now which includes demolishing the entire existing building," said Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown. "Construction is expected to take place through early November. A new 500-seat restaurant of approximately 18,000 square feet will replace Red Tail Camp. The new building will be located down the hill from its current location in order to provide easier access."
The U.S. Forest Service public comment period for other proposed projects, including the Chair 4 replacement at Vail, ended March 29. The Forest Service has not yet issued an approval, but Vail Resorts is ready to begin construction to replace the Chair 4 detachable quad to a six-person lift as soon as an approval is issued and the subsequent 45-day appeal period passes, said Vail Mountain spokeswoman Liz Biebl.
"Chair 4 is still in the approval process, so we don't know yet when we would start construction," Biebl said. "Assuming it goes through, we would start immediately."
Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor for the White River National Forest, calls the projects "a commitment to enhancing the guest experience for our forest visitors."
"Our partners in the ski industry offer the public an amazing opportunity to experience the National Forest while providing economic strength and stability to our local communities." Fitzwilliams said. "The public input part of this process is key to our understanding of any concerns regarding this proposal."-
The increase in lift capacity at Chair 4 is in response to the increase in capacity that Gondola One provided when it opened last November. The new gondola brings 40 percent more skiers and snowboarders to Mid-Vail than the Vista Bahn chairlift that it replaced did. A six-person Chair 4 is expected to increased the uphill capacity to the top of Vail Mountain by about 33 percent.
Enhancements at Adventure Ridge were approved last August and projects are expected to be open to the public by mid-summer, Biebl said. The improvements include a four-line, 1,200-foot-long zip line, three lanes of summer tubing and two aerial challenge courses featuring ladders, rope bridges, swinging logs and cargo nets. The resort is also constructing a large climbing wall.
"We're hoping to start construction as soon as possible," Biebl said. "A lot of it depends on weather, but we're hoping for the zip lines (to open) by mid-July, and obviously if we can open up things earlier, we certainly want to."
Biebl expects the summer tubing to be open by mid-July, and the challenge courses are tentatively scheduled to open by early August, weather permitting.
Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said the Adventure Ridge enhancements scheduled this summer are "a significant first step in elevating the summer experience and making the National Forest more accessible to our guests."
The construction happening at Vail and Beaver Creek this summer is part of a company-wide capital projects plan that will invest $130 million to $140 million into its resorts in 2013. Vail Resorts' CEO Rob Katz called the level of capital investment in 2013 "unprecedented" during a second quarter earnings report with media and investors last month.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.