Shiny New Lifts, Renovations & Apps That Make You Go “Oooh!” Exciting new things to look for this season at your favorite ski and shred destinations By Lynnea Tamsen
It’s that time of year. Something in the wind changes, an electric buzz of anticipation charges the air, snowflakes start to stay put on the ground and visions of powder stashes and humming chairlifts dance in our heads. This time of year is why we live here. It’s what draws people to visit here. And it’s what makes “here” so amazing. The ski season is upon us.
And in honor of the best time of year, we thought we’d share some newsworthy changes to expect at your favorite Colorado resorts this season. From crazy-efficient express lifts to restaurant demos and renos to audio intelligence apps, the new features this season promise to deliver in an epic way.
What to expect!
1980’s four-packs are sooo out…six-packs are in!
We’re talking about chairlifts, of course. Originally built in 1985, the constantly-in-motion-and-utilized Mountaintop Express Lift (#4) has grown up and gotten with the times. Instead of maxing out at four passengers, the brand-new, high-speed lift now holds six people…increasing capacity by a whopping 33 percent, which is an increase of 3,600 people per hour. Which just so happens to be the same capacity of Vail’s celebrated Gondola One. If this isn’t enough to make an efficiency-minded individual drool, the new lift will also feature a unique loading setup you’ve likely never seen before. What to expect? The loading gates will have a right angle load and a loading conveyor system; a setup proven to reduce the number of lift stops and slows. And although European resorts have utilized this loading system for years, this will mark the first loading conveyor on a high-speed, six-person lift of its kind in North America (!)
Not quite brand new, but still worth honorable mention
Celebrating its second birthday this season, the stunning 22-foot half pipe showcased on the front side of the mountain is baaaaack! The pipe will be especially put to good use when the Burton US Open returns for its second showcase at Vail in March of 2014 (for those keeping tabs, this event was previously “owned” by the East Coast, so it’s an understatement to say it’s a big deal to have Colorado’s sweetheart mountain host)
Red Tail Camp be gone: sink your talons into this!
Though many a local may initially mourn the sun setting on a favorite on-mountain staple, never fear: Red Tail Camp’s replacement destination, Talons, promises to build upon what we always loved about its predecessor. Expansions and upgrades include the creation of 500 indoor seats, and 250 outdoor – yes, as in, on a sunny deck! – seats. Tally this up, and you have more than double the capacity of the structure there before. The dining menu has also grown up and expanded, offering creative European-inspired options (shaved smoked pork loin casserole, anyone?), as well as tried and true crowd-pleasing favorites (a “rustic thin crust pizza” always sounds good) and an outdoor smokehouse. And what on-mountain destination would be complete without an impressive bar situation? Talons’ will even be indoor/outdoor, to boot. Look for this new hot spot at the shared landing of Larkspur Bowl, Grouse and Birds of Prey
Movin’ on up (and down):
New escalators will be making their debut this season! For those of us who have always wished those never-ending staircases by the ice rink up to the snow surface next to the Children’s Ski & Snowboard School area would suddenly turn into moving steps for snow-weary feet, wish no more. The dream has come true. Shiny new escalators will be ready to roll from opening day onward!
There are exciting changes taking place at our sister resorts in Summit County too—if you weren’t tempted to head east before, these changes might be just the kick in the pants you need.
Now introducing…Peak 6!
It’s rare that a snow-lover hears of absolutely, hot-off-the-press, brand new terrain opening at one of their favorite mountains…but that’s exactly what Breckenridge skiers and riders have to look forward to this season! Ringing in at 543 additional acres – that’s a 23-percent overall increase to Breck’s skiable acreage: Peak 6 will open for the 2013⁄2014 season, on a date still TBA, based on construction progress and snow levels. Oh, and did we mention that the terrain will be the first above-tree line intermediate bowl, too (which is a big deal, and a rare find in North America)?! To start getting excited, visit http://www.breckenridge.com/info/peak-6.aspx#news#Top to track the latest hype, check opening date status, and reference the newly-minted Peak 6 trail map.
The most exciting new edition to Keystone this year is the addition of a Family Ski Trail and first-of-its-kind “Schoolyard”. In this new terrain zone, families and youth can play on features like “Magic Moguls”, “Rockin’ Rollers”, or “Tornado Ally”, which promote fun and on-snow skill progression…all in a safe space devoted especially to families. The Schoolyard is located on Dercum Mountain, and accessible via the Montezuma or Peru Express lifts. For a 2013-2014 season trail map, visit http://www.keystoneresort.com/ski-and-snowboard/trail-map.aspx (look for the school bus icon on the right-hand side for detailed location info)
The word “Sherpa”: not just conjuring up images of furry llamas anymore
Looking for the latest news, local wisdom, and insider information during your day on the hill? There’s an app for that! Copper is launching “Sherpa: New On-Mountain Audio Intelligence App” this season. This free download from the App Store is the first hands-free, geo-aware mountain guide, serves up coveted insider tips, and even can even send ski patrol your exact GPS coordinates with the push of a single button, if you find yourself in a pickle. The nifty features of this groundbreaking app are endless, so consult www.coppercolorado.com/winter/sherpa for all the details
A cool $7 million goes pretty far…
…When it comes to some hefty renovations to many of Copper’s key areas.
A quick rundown of the facelifts and improvements their nearly $7 million of investment dollars have provided:
Woodward Barn At Copper renovation – the favorite destination for lovers of the extreme(who have seen every single X-Games since its inception), Woodward has undergone some serious changes to open the door to sports beyond snowboarding and skiing. Sports including skateboarding, BMX, and slopestyle mountain bike have now been added to the family of options at Woodward…which means all synthetic snow surfaces were also replaced with a surface conducive to all types of wheels. A new beginner foam pit and pump track (designed to develop park skills) were also added
The Storm King – a springy, young T-Bar lift has taken the place of the tired, passenger-weary Storm King surface lift. This significant upgrade will provide a more enjoyable experience for shredders looking to access Spaulding Bowl, Upper Enchanted Forest, and Copper Bowl
West Ridge Platter – new lift a the top of Sierra lift (for easier access to Union Peak, Union Meadows, and West Ridge)
Renovations and Ridge Cats
This quaint, close-to-Denver ski area is getting its first on-hill facilities this season! Restrooms and limited food service will now grace the presence of the newly remodeled Ptarmigan Roost Cabin this season (located at the top of Chair 2). In addition, the lodge at Loveland Basin now has room for 320 more guests! Facilities improvements aside, the Ridge Cat Tours program is back in full effect for its second-ever season! Offering Loveland pass holders free trips up to the challenging North side of the Ridge (which is accessible only by foot or by snowcat), Ridge Cat is a stellar way to experience more extreme terrain and powder stashes. Ridge Cat will operate seven days a week, from approximately 10am-2:30pm daily, weather permitting. Oh, and the program is a first-come, first-served deal, so if you want in, be sure to get up to the pickup point north of North Gate 1. For the Ridge Cat Operations Map, navigate on over to http://www.skiloveland.com/ridgecat/default.aspx
Whew, whatta’ list! Something tells us that these renovations, upgrades, and cool new features will be changes that are easy to embrace this winter. Happy ski season!