Colorado's ski areas just keep getting better and better. Improvements for the season just ahead include an updated igh Alpine lift at Snowmass Ski Resort, some new "extreme" acreage at Crested Butte and a a new high-speed quad chairlift at Purgatory.
In a release, Colorado Ski Country USA detailed improvements at it member ski areas, including Copper Mountain, which will the Sherpa app, which lets users track their runs, speed and vertical feet covered during their day on the mountain. New for the 2015-16 season, Sherpa offers trail recommendations.
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. For more information, visit www.arapahoebasin.com.
Aspen Skiing Company 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. The new alignment will allow guests to ski from Rock Island, AMF, and the Cirque without dropping to the lower mountain to access the High Alpine area. Additionally, skiers and riders will now easily access Upper Green Cabin without a long flat traverse. This will improve the upper mountain circulation, and there is no change in access to the Hanging Valley.
Guests to Aspen Highlands will enjoy a remodel of the mid-mountain Cloud Nine restaurant. The legendary bistro will maintain its unique historic essence while opening up the space in order to improve restaurant flow and service. Improvements will include two functional dining rooms, now adjacent to each other, new restrooms and upgraded features such as a cozy fireplace. The $1.1 million restoration will also include kitchen enhancements. The bistro’s infamous character will remain the same and will continue to offer a selection of fine wine, champagne and refreshing cocktails, as well as the delicious fare it’s known for—fondue and raclette. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.
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, including Cooper's own 'Kerrigan's Irish Stout.' A new door will lead from the current bar area outside onto the deck where clear wind screening panels will be installed to ensure a calm atmosphere, and propane umbrella heaters will keep guests warm and cozy under Colorado’s bluebird skies. This expansion will nearly double the current size of the pub, adding about 450 square feet of seating area with great views of the slopes. For more information, visit www.skicooper.com.
In addition, Copper will have several new food and beverage options for the 2015-16 season. A full-service Starbucks Coffee is set to open on the 1st floor of the Mountain Plaza building. This location’s proximity to the American Eagle lift and convenience of Center Village will make it a perfect pit stop to and from the hill. Mahi Fish Tacos, located in Center Village adjacent to the Covered Bridge, will specialize in many different kinds of fish, but also features salads and quesadillas. Belgian Bean is relocating on-hill to the location formerly known as Flyer’s Soup Shack. Located just below the top of the American Flyer lift in-between the trails American Flyer and the Moz, the new Belgian Bean will offer “grab and go” service with Belgian waffles and a variety of coffee beverages. For more information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.
New for 2015-16, Crested Butte is building a culinary outlet at the Ten Peaks area. Surrounded by 360 degree mountainous views will sit a bar covered by a 34 foot retractable umbrella and walled by glass; Ten Peaks will be the new hot spot to eat and drink at the resort. The new restaurant and bar will have a 2,400 square foot deck and a 700 square foot bar area, there will be plenty of space to enjoy the sunshine and views with great food and drinks.
In addition, the WoodStone Grille will have a new look and new menu. Guests can enjoy an alpine menu featuring custom stone oven pizza, pasta, signature grill items and Colorado draft beers. Open daily for breakfast, après, and dinner in the Grand Lodge. Crested Butte is teaming up with local partner Montanya Distillers to bring some beach lifestyle to the deck at the Paradise Grill. New this season to the menu at Paradise will be Hurricanes and Huli Huli ribs.
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. The final form of Teo 2 will be determined after a comprehensive multi-year environmental review and public input process. For more information, visit www.skicb.com.
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. For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.
The 2015-2016 season marks the 25th anniversary of cat skiing at Monarch Mountain, with 1,000-plus acres of expert terrain featuring wide open bowls, steep chutes, beautiful glades, and a few friendly drops. 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+ square foot yurt is locally made in Colorado and will host Cat skiing guests for their morning briefing, and for lunch. Cat skiing guests at Monarch ski up to six hours per day and get an average of 8,000 to 10,000 total vertical feet.
To provide an improved guest experience, 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; this includes outfitting groups with rental equipment, processing lift tickets and answering any questions the group may have in a group-only area. Groups of 10 or more get special discounts on lift tickets, lessons and rentals. For more information, visit www.skimonarch.com.
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. The bottom terminal will be lowered by approximately eight feet to create much easier access to the lift loading area. For more information, visit www.powderhorn.com.
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 high-speed quad is being installed this summer and will cover a vertical rise of nearly 1,500 feet in just under a mile. The new lift will take skiers and riders to the summit of Purgatory in just five minutes, providing a much faster ride time, easier loading and unloading, and allowing for more skiing. Lift 8 provides access to intermediate, advanced and expert terrain, including gladed tree skiing trails located on the backside of the mountain.
Additional terrain is being added in conjunction with the lift project, including two advanced trails to the west of the new high-speed quad. These trails will feed into Ray’s Ridge at various locations along the trail. The top of Lift 8 will be re-graded to widen the unloading area and a new Legends Switchback will provide improved access to the bottom of Lift 8. The existing mid-way loading area of Lift 8 will be removed, creating a faster non-stop ride to the top. Snowmaking equipment will be installed at the bottom of the lift, providing more consistency and better coverage at the bottom terminal. For more information, visit www.skipurg.com.
To capitalize on the deep snow the El Niño pattern has traditionally brought to southwest Colorado, Silverton Mountain will be upgrading and expanding its demo fleet of K2 ultra-fat Powabunga powder skis to provide their guests the best skiing and riding experience possible. Silverton will also issue all mountain staff the fattest K2 powder boards possible to prevent injuries from wading through waist deep snow all season. For more information, visit www.silvertonmountain.com.
Sunlight is remodeling its restaurant interiors and upgrading the kitchen with new appliances. Guests will enjoy customized, made-to-order cuisine and be able to order food from the bar area. Also, Sunlight’s retail shop is expanding to allow easier access to and movement though the facility.
Additionally, Sunlight 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. For more information, visit www.sunlightmtn.com.
Steamboat is doing extensive improvements to several of its on-mountain food and beverage facilities. Gondola Joe’s, Steamboat’s most popular grab and go destination for breakfast and lunch in the base area, will be expanded to offer more space for eating in, as well as more behind-the-counter space to offer newly created menu options. In addition, the award-winning Four Points Lodge will receive upgrades to the back of the house providing more space for Steamboat’s chefs to create unique, flavorful and healthy menu items, and provide faster service for customers during lunchtime hours. The Rendezvous Lodge on the Sundown side of the mountain 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, which will be reusable over multiple seasons and can be reloaded online or over the phone, allowing guests to bypass the ticket office. All guests will also have the option to sign up for Resort Charge, which eliminates the need to carry cash or a credit card on the mountain. Resort Charge allows guests to make purchases at any resort operated restaurant, rental and retail location, ski and ride school, and more by attaching a credit card to their pass or QuickTrax card.
The RFID system will be installed in Steamboat at the gondola, Christie Peak Express, Preview, and Thunderhead Express chairlifts. For more information, visit www.steamboat.com.
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. Also, the resort is updating its snowcat fleet with the addition of a new PistenBully 600 snowcat that moves snow more efficiently and economically to better prepare for opening. For more information, visit www.tellurideskiresort.com.
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. All guests will also have the option to sign up for Resort Charge, which eliminates the need to carry cash or a credit card on the mountain. Resort Charge allows guests to make purchases at any resort operated restaurant, rental and retail location, ski and ride school, and more by attaching a credit card to their pass or QuickTrax card.
RFID installation at Winter Park includes the Zephyr Express, Arrow, Gemini Express, Challenger and Super Gauge Express chairlifts. For more information, visit www.winterparkresort.com.
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. Electrical conduit has been trenched along the side of the course providing power for the timing equipment, cameras and speakers. The Hutch has an observation area for the crew to view the racers and storage for poles, gates, safety fencing and banners.
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 that is dedicated specifically to this class of rentals. Guests will be able to reserve ahead of time and make a payment for this premium class of skis, boards and boots. For more information, visit www.wolfcreekski.com.