Rose Bowl could get faster lift |

Rose Bowl could get faster lift

Lauren Glendenning
Vail CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor | Daily file photo

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Beaver Creek Resort took its first official step Friday toward upgrading its fixed-grip triple-chair Rose Bowl lift to a high-speed four-seater.

The resort submitted a proposal to the White River National Forest, which will now take comments from the public for the next two weeks.

Don Dressler, the winter sports administrator for the U.S. Forest Service’s Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, said the new lift would cut the ride time from 11 minutes to five minutes.

“That’s a big part of why this project is important,” Dressler said. “When you reduce the lift time, not only are you improving the overall experience for the guest, but we think we’ll get better utilization of the existing terrain there and improve skier circulation.”

Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown issued a statement Friday about the proposal, saying the upgrade would improve the guest experience as well as shift density from the front side of the mountain.

“A high-speed quad would provide a better experience for lower-level intermediate skiers and snowboarders and ski school through ease of use and the convenience of a high-speed quad,” Brown said.

When Vail Mountain first proposed upgrading its High Noon Express chairlift, also known as Chair 5, some skiers and snowboarders welcomed the idea while others criticized the plan and said it would affect the powder conditions in the area. They claimed the powder would get “tracked out” too quickly because of the increased access.

Similar arguments already were being made Friday for the proposed Rose Bowl lift. Several Vail Daily readers commented on the proposal on Facebook on Friday, citing snow and large crowds as reasons to keep the slower lift in place.

“Snow stays so nice because it’s so slow. Hope they leave it that way,” wrote Jeff Jorgensen, of Edwards.

But slow lifts and world-class resorts don’t go together, Art Kelton said at the grand opening of Vail’s new high-speed Chair 5 in December. The changes, he said, are part of the natural evolution of the sport of skiing.

Dressler said he’s had more positive comments on Vail’s new Chair 5 than can count. And a sampling of skiers and snowboarders riding the new Chair 5 about a week after it opened had rave reviews about the improved skier circulation and lack of crowding at the base of the lift.

“People who come to these resorts year after year love to see improvements,” Dressler said.

‘Minor environmental effects’

Vail Resorts spent about $80 million on resort improvements across its five resorts in 2010, and proposals for Vail and Beaver Creek alone show the company is committed to investing in upgrades for years to come.

Dressler and Tom Allender, Vail Resorts’ director of resort planning, announced in December a slew of upgrades proposed at Beaver Creek that include a new women’s downhill racecourse, snowmaking infrastructure, trail widening, a new Red Tail Camp restaurant and a new 150,000-gallon water tank and pump station, to name a few.

Those upgrades specifically relate to the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships to be held at Beaver Creek, but the projects also are focused on improving the guest experience at the resort, Brown said.

The new Rose Bowl lift, if approved by the U.S. Forest Service, would increase capacity from 1,600 people per hour to 2,400 people per hour.

Because the new lift would be replacing an existing lift, Dressler said there would be relatively minor environmental effects.

The high-speed quad would require some tree cutting in certain areas of the lift line, especially between the Ripsaw and Spider trails at the narrowest portion of the lift line, Dressler said.

“We don’t know the number of trees yet, but it would be a minor amount of trees,” Dressler said. “About three-quarters of an acre of tree clearing.”

There also would be some ground disturbance during the lift replacement, including grading with bulldozers for the top and bottom lift terminals and new lift towers.

Dressler said he’s taking comments until Feb. 12. The Forest Service will then take all of the issues raised into consideration before issuing its decision.

If the lift is approved, Beaver Creek officials have indicated they want to start building this summer and have the lift operational by the 2011-12 ski season.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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