Beaver Creek opens with new combo lift |

Beaver Creek opens with new combo lift

Melanie Wong
A view of the Combination lift shows a cabin and chair side by side in Beaver Creek on Tuesday. Skiers and snowboarders will have the choice to ride either on the way up, but downloading can only be done via the gondola cabin.
Townsend Bessent | |

Loading Beaver Creek’s new lift

“The key to loading is to wait until the gates open, then push yourself onto the belt and let it take you up,” said Phil Patterson, Beaver Creek director of lift maintenance.

Just give yourself a good push, but don’t worry about shuffling forward.

“These are very commonplace all over Europe, but we don’t see them as much here,” Patterson said.

If you’re unsure, don’t worry. Look for the “yellow jacket” staff and lift line employees, who will be glad to help you.

BEAVER CREEK — At the top of the brand new Centennial Express Lift at Beaver Creek on Tuesday, it looked like the dead of winter — there was a thick blanket of powdery snow visible from the gondola cabin all the way up, and more snow was coming fast in the form of a white-out storm.

“Looks like winter,” laughed Phil Patterson, director of lift maintenance at Beaver Creek.

Enthusiastic skiers and riders will agree today as the new Centennial Lift, a combination chair and gondola lift, roars into official action on the resort’s Opening Day. A lucky 10 people are the first to ride up the gondola — they were the fortunate finders of the “golden cookies,” which were placed as inserts in select editions of the Vail Daily over the past few weeks.

The 10 winners get to ride up for first tracks in cabin No. 15, which received a special 2015 wrap that will remain on the cabin for the rest of the season.

“We’re expecting pretty significant snow. It’s still early to tell, but there could be a foot of snow, as a first shot.”
Joe Ramey
National Weather Service forecaster

In typical Beaver Creek style, Opening Day festivities include three “cookie times” — the first at 9 a.m. along with free hot chocolate, the second at the World’s Best Cookie Competition in the Village at 2 p.m. and the third at 3 p.m. Day 1 skiers and riders will also rack up special pins for heading up the new combination lift.

Mountain express

Resort officials said the new combination lift will have benefits for everyone from beginners to speedy powder seekers. The 10-person gondolas will load from a separate line than the 6-person chairs, which load from a gated area and conveyor belt system.

“For people who are going to want to lap the lift, they can hop onto the chairs quickly and go,” said Jen Brown, of Beaver Creek communications.

She added that ski school will have the option to take the gondola up without slowing down the lift line, then download the same way with ease.

Winter storm watch

Through Tuesday, ski patrol and mountain operations crews were busy setting up fencing and netting around the resort despite heavy and steady snow. Beaver Creek is included in an area that is currently under a winter storm watch until noon today, according to the National Weather Service.

While Beaver Creek isn’t in the heart of that storm, forecasters say some mountain areas may have gotten up to six inches by this morning.

Beginning today, the snow is supposed to stop for a few days, with milder temperatures through the weekend, with highs in the 40s.

“That cold air that has been in place since last weekend should be lifting, and we’ll have relatively mild conditions through the rest of the week,” said National Weather Service forecaster Joe Ramey.

However, powder lovers shouldn’t despair — another major winter storm is predicted to hit the area Monday and Tuesday of next week.

“We’re expecting pretty significant snow,” said Ramey. “It’s still early to tell, but there could be a foot of snow, as a first shot.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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