Aspen Highlands extends its steeps |

Aspen Highlands extends its steeps

ASPEN – The drool factor at Aspen Highlands is growing by leaps and bounds this summer.Thanks to the sweat off the brow of about 20 workers, some of the steepest skiable terrain on the mountain is growing.One crew planned to punch through the last few feet of thick woods to complete a 1-mile road that will some of the steepest trails to be extended by up to 1,100 vertical feet.Other crews, mostly composed of ski patrollers with a keen eye for ski lines, are strategically removing trees to open up routes down steep, heavily wooded new terrain.One of the most difficult jobs is being tackled by a crew for chairlift manufacturer Poma. They are working in terrain so steep that heavy machinery cannot be brought in to dig holes for towers for the new Deep Temerity chairlift. So they dig the old-fashioned way, by shovel.”The public’s not going to understand the effort it took to do this project,” said Mac Smith, Aspen Highlands’ ski patrol director and supervisor of the lift construction and terrain expansion. “So you just hope they enjoy it next winter.”The new chairlift will allow skiers and riders to make quicker laps in popular areas like Highland Bowl, Temerity and Steeplechase. It will extend the bowl by 1,100 vertical feet. The lift will add several hundred vertical feet to some trails in Steeplechase.For Smith, installation of the Deep Temerity chairlift culminates a 30-year-old dream. He helped survey a lift line that Aspen Highlands founder and former owner Whip Jones planned to install. The chairlift was sitting on a dock in Seattle when the order was canceled because of the drought winter of 1976-77, Smith said.The idea wasn’t until after the Aspen Skiing Co. acquired Highlands. And by all rights, the project should have taken two years because of the trees that needed to be felled, skidded out and removed, plus the creation of the catwalk and preparation for the chairlift.Smith credited the dedication of the crews for completing Herculean tasks in a short time. For most of the workers, the project is more than a job, Smith said. Many of the summer employees are also members of the ski patrol, work elsewhere on the mountain during winters or are simply big fans of Highlands, he said. “That’s what you need, is people who believe in the dream,” Smith said.Vail, Colorado

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