BEAVER CREEK — When the news started rolling around the valley about Vail Resorts’ plans for a new, six-seat lift uphill from Beaver Creek’s base area, the reaction was uniform — this is a good thing.
“Oh, nice!” was the simple response from Adam Bristow, owner of the Vail and Beaver Creek division of Black Tie Ski Rentals.
Vail Resorts officials announced Monday that the current Centennial lift would be replaced with a new, six-pack lift in time for the 2014-15 season. That project will mirror the company’s big project at Vail for this season, replacing the old Mountain Top Express quad with a new six-pack lift from Mid- Vail to the top of the mountain.
Since the new lift will run along the same alignment as the existing lift, the U.S. Forest Service last summer approved a “categorical exemption” from any new environmental reviews of the project, meaning Vail Resorts can start work without any further approvals.
Bristow said he’s ridden Chair 4 a couple of times since Vail Mountain opened last month and likes it quite a bit.
“You can really see a difference with the lines on busy days,” Bristow said. “It’s been cutting down on crowds and the maze isn’t nearly as crowded.”
Bristow expects the same results at Beaver Creek. So does Vail Resorts.
At Vail, Chair 4 can handle 3,600 riders per hour when the lift is fully loaded — the same per-hour maximum as the Gondola One lift between Vail Village and Mid-Vail. The new Centennial lift will match that number. Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown said the higher-capacity lift out of the Beaver Creek base will increase the resort’s “uphill capacity” by roughly 30 percent.
Buzz Busby, the general manager of the Coyote Cafe, sees every day what goes on at Centennial from his place, which he described as a “short pitching wedge” from the lift.
“I think it’s incredible news,” said Busby, adding that Centennial is the “life’s blood” of Beaver Creek.
“It’s where everything begins,” he said.