Last season for the Beav’s longest lift? | VailDaily.com
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Last season for the Beav’s longest lift?

Matt Zalaznick
Westfall lift at Beaver Creek.
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So why waste it on a ski lift?

Well, Beaver Creek Ski Resort apparently wants you to be more productive, whether you tack the extra time onto your day on the slopes or save it for a longer dip in the hot tub.

This spring, the resort plans to replace the infamously long Westfall Lift, or Chair 9, with a high-speed quad to carry skiers and snowboarders more quickly to the main mountain from Red Tail Camp, in the Beaver Creek Valley where the Birds of Prey downhill course, Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl meet.

The Westfall Lift, built in 1980, is one of the resort’s originals.

“I try to avoid it,” says Avon skier Mike McBride. “If I’m going to ski something like the Birds of Prey, I go down and take Centennial.”

There are pros and cons – though mostly pros – to a quicker ride, McBride says.

“It’s going to be great to get up the hill faster,” McBride says. “The downfall of a high-speed lift, however, is that more runs will get skied off.”

The planned high-speed lift would cut what’s now a 13-minute ride in half, down to about six minutes, says Jim Roberts, director of mountain operations at Beaver Creek.

“This will make a big difference when we get the gondola in there,” Roberts says. “People will be able to ski down without having to go through the village.”

Beaver Creek’s gondola, which could cost about $30 million to build, is still only a concept. The resort envisions the gondola carrying skiers from a base in Avon up to the top of Strawberry Park, making stops at The Tarnes apartment complex and in Bachelor Gulch near the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Most skiers and snowboarders coming off the gondola at Strawberry Park – the top of Chair 12 – would take the Beano’s Trace catwalk into Larkspur Bowl. Skiers could then take either the Dally catwalk to Beaver Creek Village or a quick ride up the new high-speed quad to the main mountain, Roberts says.

“It will get people up on the mountain and keep them up on the mountain,” Roberts says.

“That would be a fantastic replacement because it services great terrain,” says Rick Messmer, of Wolcott.

The Westfall Lift, of course, leads straight to three of the steepest, double-diamond runs on either Vail or Beaver Creek Mountain: Goshawk, Peregrine and Golden Eagle, which is part of the World Cup downhill course.

“A new lift would make it easier and faster to get to the steepest stuff on the mountain – in-bounds,” says Messmer, adding the 13-minute does have an upside, especially in heavy snow.

“It gives you time to refresh your legs,” he says. “If it’s a giant powder day and you’ve been ripping all day long, it gives you a chance to get your legs back.”

But skier Doug Parrish, of Eagle-Vail, says he doesn’t get too anxious about the ride. Folks should just relax a little bit, he says.

“It is a long lift, but I don’t see why people should hate it,” Parrish says. “It would be nice if they replace it, but people just need to slow down a little bit in the world.”

What about Westfall?

Because the Beaver Creek ski area is in the White River National Forest, the U.S. Forest service has a role in the replacement of the Westfall Lift. According to the Forest Service, environmental disturbance should be minimal because the new lift will be built along the same track as the Westfall Lift. The old lift’s 24 towers would be replaced by only 18, which means less than 2 acres of ground would be disturbed, according the Forest Service.

The agency is now asking for public comment on the project. The deadline is Feb. 28. People interested in commenting on the plan should write to:

Dave Ozawa

U.S. Forest Service

P.O. Box 190

Minturn, CO, 81645

For more information, call Ozawa at 827-5167.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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