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Beaver Creek improvements

Staff Reports

Perennial Beaver Creek skier Brett Hooper has looked over the edge of the Stone Creek drainage and been curious, but he’s never been curious enough to duck the ropes and dig into the untracked powder. The skiing looks good, but it also looks like prime avalanche terrain.As early as next winter, Beaver Creek hopes to open the drainage, which sits east of Rose Bowl, and carve out a few runs that would parallel Red Buffalo and Rip Saw. The drainage holds terrain that is very steep and dotted with cliffs.”I guess it’s nice terrain if you’re willing to take the risk,” says Hooper. “But I’ve always heard there was a pretty high level of danger so I’ve always stayed away from it. I’m actually kind of excited that they are opening it up. I want to check it out with having to worry about slides.”Adding the acreage is most likely about safety. Stone Creek is easily accessible from the skier’s-left of Rose Bowl, and inexperienced skiers can get lost and ski into the drainage fairly easily. In late February of this year a young boy from Texas became lost in Stone Creek. He was found by a group of backcountry skiers. The boy said he had fallen into a tree well, become separated from his group, and ended up lost and upset in unknown terrain.In addition to minimizing lost skiers, clearing the runs would ease ski patrol’s job of moving injured skiers from the area. But what it translates to for fans of the Beav is more great skiing.The expansion would require both tree cutting and earth moving but not much of either. A natural clearing opens up in the area, which is why it’s popular among backcountry skiers (and rope-cutters, too).Since trees must be cut, however, and since the land is leased from the Forest Service, Beaver Creek must undergo an application process.Resort officials are mums on the project, but the U.S. Forest Service is searching the area for snowshoe hair tracks a tip-off that Stone Creek could potentially be lynx habitat. The Forest Service’s review won’t be done until the summer, so giving the OK to the project will take a couple more months.Larkspur gets faceliftWhile Beaver Creek waits for the green light on Stone Creek, the Forest Service revealed that the mountain is readying itself for the replacement of Chair 11. The creaky, 21-year-old Larkspur Bowl triple chair will most-likely be swapped out for a high-speed detachable quad lift. The new quad will significantly boost uphill capacity from the current 1,800 people per-hour to 2,400. It will also decrease the amount of time you spend with your butt planted on those icy, cold seats from 12 minutes to less than six. The cost of the project hasn’t been disclosed.”Because the lift will be built with almost the exact same alignment, they won’t have to cut any trees,” says Forest Service Snow Ranger Dave Ozawa. “Since they’re not cutting any trees there will be very little environmental effect.”The resort and the U.S. Forest Service went through the public scoping process last fall and the project was approved in January, says Ozawa. The public scoping process is used to assess what kind of an impact a mountain improvement project will have on the environment. The Forest Service didn’t see any potential problems with the Larkspur lift upgrade. VTJed Gottlieb writes periodically for the Vail Trail and can be reached at wanderousjed@yahoo.com.


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