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New Vail Mountain lift gets approval

Special to the DailyThe Forest Service has approved a new lift with a base in West Lionshead.
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VAIL ” Vail Mountain has lost one lift and won approval for a new one.

Within days of removing aging Chair 1, Vail Mountain has gained approval from the U.S. Forest Service for a new lift in West Lionshead.

The new lift would go from West Lionshead to the bottom of the Pride Express Lift, and would be a centerpiece for the planned development of the West Lionshead area.



The Forest Service said the new lift will help accommodate the increasing number of people who will head up the mountain from Lionshead.

“Adding a lift is actually being pro-active to solving a current and likely future problem,” wrote Maribeth Gustafson, forest service supervisor for the White River National Forest.



Either a high-speed detachable lift or a gondola can be built, with a maximum hourly capacity of 2,600 people per hour. The best place for the base of the lift is the old Amoco station, the Forest Service found in its environmental assessment, released in March.

The decision is subject to a 45-day appeals period. Vail Resorts also needs approvals from the town of Vail to build the lift.

The town and Vail Resorts are working on a plan for the West Lionshead area. Vail Resorts has already announced it is building the 108-condo “Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail” on the corner of the frontage road and Forest Road. April 2007 is being targeted for the beginning of construction, said Russ Forrest of the town of Vail.



Vail Resorts already owns the old Amoco station site, the Cascade Crossing Shopping Center, the Vail Professional Building, as well as the Lionshead maintenance yard.

Jack Hunn, senior vice president of development of Vail Resorts Development Company, said last year the redevelopment will probably include condos, public parking, possibly a bus hub and perhaps retail space. He said redevelopment of West Lionshead would begin in 2008 at the earliest. But it’s unclear when Vail Resorts aims to open a new West Lionshead lift.

“Receiving the U.S. Forest Service approval for the lift is indeed a key step in moving the whole process forward,” said Paul Witt, spokesman for Vail Resorts Development Company. “However, given that we still need town of Vail approval for the lift and there are many more steps to go through in bringing together all the ideas for the West Lionshead area, it’s too early to make any further comment at this point.”

Chair 1, the Giant Steps Lift, was removed last week. Its removal is part of the ski company’s Front Door project, which will bring a skier services building, homes, a plaza and a private club to the base of the Vista Bahn. The little-used Giant Steps Lift was a two-seat lift that went from Vail Village to the bottom of Chair 2.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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