Colorado ski areas improve for coming season |

Colorado ski areas improve for coming season

A helicopter assists the construction of the new Avanti Express lift on Vail Mountain by flying parts from the Chair 11 staging area in July. Avanti, also known as Chair 2, is being replaced with a high-speed, six-passenger chair for the 2015-16 winter season.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — Across Colorado, various ski resorts are investing in infrastructure and amenities for guests — on and off the slopes — that will be debuted in the coming ski season.

The improvements range from major investments in new chairlifts and terrain enhancements to additions to on-mountain dining and culinary offerings. Below is a summary of the many upgrades at Colorado resorts that guests can enjoy during the 2015-16 ski season.


This summer, Vail Mountain replaced Avanti Express Lift (Chair 2) with a new, high-speed, six-passenger chair. Avanti Express is a primary lift on the front side of Vail Mountain. Upgrading the lift will reduce wait times and improve reliability. A loading conveyor and gates will improve efficiency and increase capacity by up to 30 percent, according to the resort. In Vail, as well as in Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, Vail Resorts will debut EpicMix Time, an app that provides crowd-sourced, real-time liftline wait times to guests. Leveraging recently developed technology, EpicMix Time will calculate and display up-to-the-minute chairlift and gondola line wait times across 55 lifts and gondolas.

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Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek continues improvements to its snowmaking systems to ensure the best surfaces regardless of snowfall conditions. Last season, the trail Gold Dust Trail was equipped with 24 fully-automated fan guns. This winter, 23 fully-automated fan guns will equip Red Tail and Centennial trails, two of the most popular intermediate runs on the mountain. Snowmaking guns will also be added to enhance the “Snowmaking Refresh” fleet and tasked to add a dusting of snow atop the groomed trails.


Breckenridge will lay a mile of new snowmaking pipes on Lost Horizon and Barton Breezeway trails on Peak 6. Adding snowmaking to this lower-mountain terrain will help get the new area open in the early season regardless of natural snowfall.


The Keystone Lodge and Spa will undergo its own rejuvenation where the hallways will have a new feel after being re-carpeted and the woodwork and room doors being replaced. In addition, the guest rooms on all six floors will be upgraded with new soft goods (pillows, bed spreads, etc.)

Arapahoe Basin

Arapahoe Basin is remodeling its ticket office into a complete guest services center. The season pass office will be expanded to accommodate a higher volume of guests, and the ski area will establish a call center to handle snowsports reservations and guest inquiries over the phone. Guests will also be able to enjoy a new stage and music venue that will be on the ticket office steps, which will allow A-Basin to expand its music offerings in winter and summer.

Aspen Snowmass

Aspen Skiing Co. will replace and realign the High Alpine lift at Snowmass Ski Resort, install snowmaking equipment on two existing trails and implement additional trail and glade construction projects. The new high-speed quad has a ride time of 5.6 minutes, down from an 11 minute ride on the old chairlift. Guests to Aspen Highlands will enjoy a remodel of the mid-mountain Cloud Nine restaurant. The $1.1 million restoration will also include kitchen enhancements.

Cooper (Ski Cooper)

This season, Cooper is expanding Katie O’Rourke’s, an Irish-themed pub which features a full wait-served menu and plenty of microbrews. This expansion will nearly double the current size of the pub, adding about 450 square feet of seating area.

Copper Mountain

Copper continues to update its award-winning geo-targeted mobile application, Sherpa. Sherpa tracks a user’s runs, speed and vertical feet covered during their day on the mountain. New for the 2015-16 season, Sherpa offers trail recommendations. The app looks at data from a user’s previous skiing or riding patterns and recommends new terrain based on that user’s habits. In addition, Copper will have several new food and beverage options for the 2015-16 season. This includes Starbucks Coffee, Mahi Fish Tacos and the relocated Belgian Bean.

Crested Butte

New for 2015-16, Crested Butte is building a culinary outlet at the Ten Peaks area. The new restaurant and bar will have a 2,400-square-foot deck and a 700-square-foot bar area, providing views, drinks and food. In addition, the WoodStone Grille will have a new look and new menu. Last winter, Crested Butte opened roughly 50 acres of skiing in an extreme terrain area known as Teo 2. The area sits within the resort’s current ski area boundary and by building an egress road and doing snow safety work in the area, the resort received approval to open it to skiers and riders for the 2014-2015 winter season. Teo 2 is part of a proposed expansion at the resort that will hopefully add more than 200 acres of both advanced and intermediate skiing, along with two new lifts, on the far eastern side of the mountain.


Loveland Ski Area will re-align Chair 2, the main chairlift at the base of Loveland Basin. The original chairlift will be shortened to drop skiers and snowboarders off at the base of Chair 6. The newer upper section will serve the Bennett’s Bowl and Ptarmigan Roost areas.

Monarch Mountain

For the 2015-16 season, Monarch is installing a new yurt in the base area and will house the mountain’s cat skiing operations. This 700-plus-square-foot yurt is locally made in Colorado and will host cat skiing guests for their morning briefing, and for lunch. Monarch is expanding the area in the lodge used by large ski groups. With the additional space, Monarch’s team of group hosts will be able to better help groups get ready to hit the slopes in a designated room.


New for 2015-16, Powderhorn will unveil the Flat Top Flyer, a Poma high-speed quad chairlift replacing the Take Four lift. The new lift, whose initial capacity is 1,800 riders, will cut ride time in half to approximately six minutes while offering comfortable seats and footrests for lift riders as they ascend 1,600 vertical feet.


Purgatory is installing a new high-speed detachable quad chairlift to replace the original Legends Lift 8 located on the backside of the ski resort. The new lift will take skiers and riders to the summit of Purgatory in just five minutes. Additional terrain is being added in conjunction with the lift project, including two advanced trails to the west of the new high-speed quad. Snowmaking equipment will be installed at the bottom of Lift 8, providing more consistency and better coverage at the bottom terminal.


Silverton Mountain will be upgrading and expanding its demo fleet of K2 ultra-fat Powabunga powder skis. They will also issue all mountain staff the fattest K2 powder boards possible to prevent injuries from wading through waist deep snow all season.


Sunlight is remodeling its restaurant interiors and upgrading the kitchen with new appliances. Also, Sunlight’s retail shop is expanding. The resort has upgraded the power supply to its chairlifts, giving guests a smoother chairlift ride and creating the possibility for a mountaintop restaurant in the future.


Steamboat is doing extensive improvements to several of its on-mountain food and beverage facilities. Gondola Joe’s will be expanded to offer more space for eating in, and the Four Points Lodge will receive upgrades to the back of the house. The Rendezvous Lodge will receive a facelift with a new exterior design and interior upgrades. In addition, Steamboat will incorporate RFID technology into its lift tickets, multi-day passes and season pass products using the QuickTrax card.


Telluride Ski Resort is adding new tower mounts to Hoot Brown Park, the resort’s largest terrain park, that allow the resort to easily relocate snow guns from other areas of the mountain for improved snowmaking within the park. The park is also getting a few new custom made features.

Winter Park

New for the 2015-16 season, Winter Park is introducing RFID technology into its lift tickets, multi-day passes and season pass products using the QuickTrax card, which will be reusable over multiple seasons and can be reloaded online or over the phone, allowing guests to bypass the ticket office.

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek’s most notable on-mountain project for the upcoming season is completing the Race Hutch building, which is integral to the operation of the Wolf Creek Fun Race Series. Improvements are also being made to the ski and snowboard rental department with the introduction of a fleet of premium demo skis, snowboards, boots and an online reservation system.

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