A little more terrain opening at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

A little more terrain opening at Beaver Creek

Scott N. Miller
Special to the Daily The new Stone Creek Trail recently approved by the U.S. Forest Service - marked by the lines on this photo - will let skiers more easily get into and out of some pretty challenging terrain at Beaver Creek. The new trails are open in the winter only.

BEAVER CREEK – Starting next year, people who ski the Stone Creek area at Beaver Creek will be able to get in and out a lot more easily.That’s good news for both a veteran ski patroller and a frequent skier at Beaver Creek.”It will become more patrolled and controlled,” said Edwards resident Mark Weinreich. And control is important to Weinreich, who was once trapped for a while by an avalanche in the Stone Creek area.Besides avalanche control, the new trail will make it easier for ski patrollers to remove an injured skier from the area on a sled, something that’s tough at best today.With Stone Creek a part of Beaver Creek, the ski patrol will also be able to act when people ski the area when it’s closed. The area now is outside the ski area’s boundaries, meaning people can go under closure ropes without penalty.Enforcing trail closures is important to ski patroller Dick Brooks, who spearheaded Vail Resorts’ application to create the new trails. Just as important to Brooks is the fact the new trails are somewhat hidden away, except in the winter, he said.

“It’s not accessible in the summer,” Brooks said. “We aren’t creating a place to ‘renegade’ a bike trail.”The U.S. Forest Service order that allows the new trail specifies that no construction will be allowed in the area when elk are having calves in May and June. And, Brooks said, the new trails won’t create much of a disturbance.”We worked really hard to make it a minimal impact,” Brooks said. The result was a pretty quick trip through the Forest Service’s approval process.”This was pretty straightforward,” said Peech Keller of the Forest Service’s Dillon office. “The action was fairly simple. There were no new lifts and it wasn’t going into a roadless area.”The end result, though, should be welcomed by expert skiers. “It’s good, challenging terrain. It makes Beaver Creek more appealing to more skiers,” Weinreich said. And more skiers go back into Stone Creek every year. According to the Forest Service report on the trails, only about 400 skiers ventured into Stone Creek in 1996. That number had risen above 1,000 by the 2002-03 season.

“It’s exciting back there,” Brooks said. “It’s what they call ‘extreme’ these days. It makes Beaver Creek a little more well-rounded as a resort.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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