Three new runs cut on Vail Mountain for Golden Peak expansion
Vail Mountain’s expansion up the slope on Golden Peak has taken shape, as timber removal is mostly complete on three new ski runs.
Those runs will be used as ski racing competition venues and practice areas, but Average Joe Epic Pass holders will get a chance to ride them at some point, as well, as part of the Forest Service’s March agreement to allow Vail Mountain to expand its boundaries by 68 acres. The Golden Peak runs will be Vail’s first expansion since Blue Sky Basin, and their completion represents a long-awaited goal that son of Vail founder Pete Seibert calls the completion of Golden Peak.
And now that the runs are cut, it’s obvious to see what Seibert has in mind with that statement, as the downhill course enters an already existing track in a seamless transition on the skier’s right side of the slope. That downhill run will bypass the new lift, so it won’t see the repetitive slalom lap training that will likely occur on the other two new slopes, said Greg Johnson, of Vail Resorts.
Those other two other runs will finish at the new lift, so they can be used for ski lanes and even a competition slalom course, Johnson said.
“Both of those two trails that come back down to the bottom of the (new) lift work really well from a training standpoint, for (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail), with the skier’s left trail probably being a little easier than the skier’s right trail,” Johnson said. “And that’s good, having some variety in the ability level on the trail lets the club train different athletes in different places.”
Johnson is Vail Mountain’s vice president of operations and also worked on Beaver Creek’s newest ski racing venue. However, before he started working on that project, plans had already been in the works with Aldo Radamus at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail for the Golden Peak project.
Johnson said it’s great to see Golden Peak working out the way it is.
“Aldo Radamus and I did the original plan maybe 10 years ago,” Johnson said. “And for the most part, the trails have very much stayed consistent with what we had envisioned back then for the club and for the athletes.”
Into existing track
In juxtaposing Golden Peak’s current appearance alongside the map issued in the Forest Service’s March approval of the project, you might notice the skier’s right run taking a more direct entry into the existing track. Johnson said that part of the trail leads into the existing section called “Boo Boo” the way he had always envisioned.
“We always do a bit of field fitting out there after the approval process,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty close.”
That run is called Boo Boo for the mistake or “boo boo” that was made dozens of years ago in cutting the lift line that will service the new Golden Peak runs before a lift had been approved for the area.
“It was intended to happen a very long time ago,” Johnson said.
Now about to be installed, the lift will be a Doppelmayr two-person T-bar.
“The lift line has been surveyed, and we’re about ready to get a contractor in there to start doing the lift foundations,” Johnson said. “And then snowmaking installation will start.”
Another difference you might notice is the absence of the moguls course lower down the slope on the skier’s right side. As part of the decision, a slope stability study is required before that section can be built.
That analysis is expected to happen this summer, Johnson said.
“We don’t expect that to be completed in time for construction of the mogul venue this summer,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to know what the outcome of the mudflow analysis is and what steps we might have to mitigate as a result of that, so we’ll have to work with the Forest Service and (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) to see what the next steps are.”
Aside from the mogul venue, however, everything else looks to be on track for the 2019-20 season, Johnson said.
“That’s the plan, to have all of it up and running this winter — new snowmaking, the lift — available to the club for training,” Johnson said.
Those units are all deed-restricted, meaning that only people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week can live there. That keeps the apartments out of the short-term rental pool and available to local residents.