Aspen Skiing Co. looks to add 100 acres of glades, 60 acres of cut trails to Aspen Mountain terrain
Aspen Skiing Co. is considering the first addition of terrain at Aspen Mountain in decades.
Skico recently prepared an updated master plan for Aspen Mountain that features the long-anticipated expansion into the Pandora’s terrain to skier’s right of Walsh’s trail, which is near the top of the mountain.
Skico is contemplating adding 100 acres of glades and 60 acres of cut trails, according to a Nov. 6 presentation to the Aspen City Council.
Either a fixed-grip or high-speed chairlift would be added to serve the terrain, which is within the Aspen Mountain special-use permit but hasn’t previously been actively managed. The ride would take four to eight minutes, depending on the lift selected, according to David Corbin, Skico’s senior vice present of planning and development.
Support Local Journalism
“The lift will be very similar to what you see at Temerity at Highlands,” Corbin said.
The Pandora’s terrain “adds a whole new aspect to that mountain for people to enjoy,” Corbin added.
There is no timetable on the expansion, which would add about 1,250 vertical feet of skiing and riding on the mountain’s east side. The new terrain would be a mixture of expert and intermediate. In addition to new terrain, the Walsh’s, Hyrup’s and Kristi trails could be extended farther down slope.
Skico officials spent 2015 and 2016 clearing ownership issues on private land needed for the expansion. Aspen Mountain is a jumbled mixture of public and private lands.
“We’re finally there,” Corbin said, “and ready to advance a plan.”
Skico recently submitted an update to its 1997 master plan to the White River National Forest. Corbin said Skico officials hope to meet within the next few weeks with the U.S. Forest Service to determine if all information has been submitted to allow a review to proceed.
The Forest Service requires the master plan, which is a wish list or blueprint, for future improvements. The plan also will be submitted to Pitkin County for review, Corbin said.
Even if the Forest Service endorses the master plan, Skico must still apply to pursue individual projects such as the Pandora’s expansion. Those proposals get reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Aspen City Council will get an opportunity to submit comments to the Forest Service and Pitkin County as part of their reviews.
Skico officials have declined in the past to put a timeline on the expansion into Pandora’s because it depends on a number of factors. Those include the length of review, capital improvement funds and other priorities, which include replacement of Lift 1A and expanded snowmaking.
Councilman Ward Hauenstein said he looks forward to the expansion into Pandora’s. It will add terrain that is currently gated and popular among side-country skiers and snowboarders just outside the managed terrain.
“I remember when Walsh’s was out-of-bounds skiing,” Hauenstein said.
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Vail, Beaver Creek and Eagle Valley make the Vail Daily’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.