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THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

The student news site of Aspen High School

THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

The student news site of Aspen High School

THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

Ski Resort Changes to Expect for Next Season

The+Snowmass+Master+Development+Plan+seen+in+a+map+of+the+mountain.
Courtesy of The Aspen Skiing Company
The Snowmass Master Development Plan seen in a map of the mountain.

In the Summer of 2024, expansions to the Snowmass ski area will begin. These new additions will aim to maximize skiing time for visitors and reduce long lift lines.

High-speed ski lifts are a positive for ski resorts, however, when they result in congested base areas and longer lift lines, it takes the efficiency and joy out of the commodity. This current season, the Snowmass ski resort has been faced with a significant increase in congestion within the resort’s base area. primarily due to an increase in the tourist population and only two lifts at the base of this expansive terrain.

To ensure that Snowmass moves skiers and snowboarders up the mountain as efficiently as possible, The Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) envisions two new lifts out of the base area: 1) a new gondola to replace the Village Express lift and 2) a new high-speed quad starting from the Snowmass Mall and ending at the top of Coney Glade that will replace the existing Coney Glade chair. This new quad will be named Coney Express. In addition to these new lifts, there will be an increase in skiable terrain across the mountain. No new acreage will be opening, however, more trees will be gladed out, opening more in-bounds terrain that in the past was unskiable.

In 2022, the Snowmass Master Development Plan (MDP) was submitted to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and in January 2023, the USFS approved this plan. This was an essential step in the large expansion as SkiCo leased land from USFS to run a business on the mountain. Therefore, every development on Snowmass, as well as other resorts in Aspen, has to get approved in order to evaluate the environmental impact that it will have on the area.

The Coney Express is SkiCo’s number-one priority for the 2024-2025 ski season. By increasing the out-of-base capacity from the Snowmass Base Village, these projects will help to alleviate the morning rush that can occur on the resort’s busiest days. Along with this lift expansion, there will be a total replacement of the Cirque T-Bar as well as upgrading the Village Express from a six-person chair into a 10-person gondola. These improvements will not be finished by the next ski season, however, there are plans to complete them in the future.

Along with these lift upgrades, there are many new trail improvements. The new glades proposed by the MDP include new areas such as a trail from The Edge to the High Alpine Restaurant. This will minimize skier cross traffic and will connect Baby Ruth to the Hanging Valley Glades. Additionally, there will be five new trails off the Alpine Springs lift (which has also been proposed to be upgraded to a six-pack but has not been approved yet), and there will be an expansion to the Sneaky’s Glades on skier’s left on Sneaky’s off the Big Burn lift. These new trails have only been approved by the USFS because the area is part of an Environmental Impact Statement claiming that the proposed area consists of diseased trees. Eliminating these trees will reduce wildfire risk while simultaneously adding additional terrain to an area that is in-bounds.

Snowmaking changes are also a part of the proposed amendments of the MDP. SkiCo plans on moving operations to a higher elevation in order to escape high temperatures at the lower elevations of the resort. The change will be easy and beneficial as no new water rights or agreements with the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District will be required with the plan, which would add 146 acres of coverage to the preexisting 329 acres of snowmaking coverage.

Overall, SkiCo plans to maximize the acreage given to them by USFS while simultaneously reducing congestion in the Snowmass Base Area. Construction will begin over the Summer of 2024 but until then, objections and suggestions from the public about the expansions are welcome.

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About the Contributor
Elsa Tullar, Editor-in-Chief
Elsa is a senior at AHS and is one of the Editor-in-chiefs for the Skier Scribbler.  This is her third year participating in the journalism program and has enjoyed exploring different leadership positions and styles of writing.  Elsa is an avid skier and pickleball player and will do anything to get a plate of tacos.  Additionally, Elsa enjoys spending her time being active outside and educating young students about journalism and the environment.

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