EAGLE COUNTY — With winter finally in the past this year — we hope — it’s time to think about summer at Vail and Beaver Creek. And that means it’s time to think about a combination of construction and fun.
With the clock ticking faster toward the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, there’s some hard work to do at Beaver Creek. Vail Resorts this summer is replacing the old Centennial Express chairlift with a new combination gondola-chairlift. The new lift will have one gondola cabin for every five lift chairs and will increase uphill capacity by more than one-third.
Other improvements include improving snowmaking on Gold Dust trail and Lower Larkspur and finishing the international broadcast center for the championships. Those and other projects will be finished by the start of the 2014-15 ski season.
Vail Mountain had its big lift improvements the past few seasons, including Gondola One and the six-place Chair Four. With full construction of Vail Resorts’ ambitious Epic Discovery summer program a year or more in the future, there isn’t much building going on this summer at the big resort. Still, guests will see a few new summer activities this year.
A 200-foot zipline and a beginner ropes course will open this summer. That happens next weekend, starting June 6. In addition, the first weekend will feature two lanes of snow tubing, in addition to a four-line zipline. The ziplines and ropes course opened in August, so if you haven’t been up since then, they’re new.
The Eagle’s Nest area is still a big part of on-mountain activities, so the miniature golf course and bungee trampoline at the base of Lionshead will be ready when the mountain opens.
Also opening will be the Berrypicker hiking trail that links Mid Vail and Eagle’s Nest, as well some biking trails. Lifts will start hauling bikes when conditions permit.
Vail will also open a pair of on-mountain restaurants next weekend, Sarge’s at Mid Vail and Talon’s Deck at Eagle’s Nest.
With the lift replacement work at Beaver Creek, the resort company will open the Strawberry Park lift, which usually isn’t open in the summers, on July 1.
And, while music, other entertainment and events abound in Vail — including a new bluegrass series in Lionshead — Beaver Creek Village is adding to its events offerings in the early fall, with two new events debuting after Labor Day.
New this year are a German Auto Festival, coming Sept. 12-14, an event celebrating the “engineering, design, quality, history and exclusivity of the German automobile.”
The next weekend, Sept. 20 and 21, brings the Rendezvous Music Festival, which is billed as a two-day introduction to a more ambitious festival planned for coming years. The best-known performer at this year’s event is Patty Griffin, who’s had a long career as a singer and songwriter. Other acts include Jason Isbell, a former member of southern rock band Drive By Truckers, and Jackopierce, an acoustic duo with a career dating back to 1988.
So it’s going to be a busy summer, both for construction crews and people who want to experience the resorts when they don’t have quite so much snow on them.