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Ski area improvements at Colorado Ski Country USA resorts, Part 1

Improving snowmaking at Telluride for the 2014-2015 season.
Improving snowmaking at Telluride for the 2014-2015 season.
Colorado Ski Country USA

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA), which represents all of Colorado’s ski areas except the Vail Resorts (Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail) just released a summary of all its member resorts’ ski area improvements for the 2014-2015 ski and snowboard season.

Since there are quite a lot of improvements this year, we’ll break this into two parts. Part 1 will focus on terrain and snow condition improvements as well as improvements in lessons and programs for children. Special thanks to CSCUSA for compiling this list for us!

First, there are a few anniversaries of note this season: Winter Park celebrates its 75th on Jan. 28 with a weeklong series of events starting with a celebration at Winter Park Resort and capping off with Mary Jane’s 40th birthday party. Wolf Creek is also celebrating its 75th year this season and will host a Retro Day to commemorate the anniversary (stay tuned for more on Retro Day here). And, Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs recognizes the 100th anniversary of ski jumping at the ski area.

Terrain & Snow Condition Improvements
New at Aspen/Snowmass beginning Dec. 19, Snowmass will feature four lanes of lift-served snow tubing built for ages 4-14 at the new tubing facilities at Elk Camp. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

Last summer, Crested Butte thinned 10 acres of trees, improving access to forested skiing. This summer, the improvements continue as resort crews partner with the local US Forest Service District to identify new areas for glading. Intermediate skiers looking for more gentle gladed terrain should get ready to weave through the trees in the East River area and off the Teocalli Lift. For more information, visit www.skicb.com.

Eldora Mountain Resort has added two new Kassbohrer grooming machines to the existing fleet of five groomers. Combined with 100 percent snowmaking coverage on all groomed territory, the new grooming machines improvement will ensure a consistently high-quality snow surface for all ability levels. For more information, visit www.eldora.com.

Loveland Ski Area has invested in snowmaking upgrades at Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley to improve efficiencies and productivity. Loveland’s location on the Continental Divide provides cooler temperatures that allow the ski area to make snow early in the season and help it keep snow in good condition all season long and well into spring. For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.

Powderhorn’s mountain operations crew is widening the Equalizer trail for the 2014-15 season. The crew is also tackling the meticulous job of brush cutting Cannonball, Bear Claw, Wonderbump, Racer’s Edge, Lower Showdown, Powderkeg, Kiddy Keg, Misery and Whistle Pig trails, with more to come. For more information, visit www.powderhorn.com.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is adding more snowmaking equipment to the front and backside of the mountain. The resort is adding 11 new energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns, and a state-of-the-art, high-output fan gun, making the mountain operations team more efficient during the early season to establish a solid base that lasts throughout the entire ski season. For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.

Ski Granby Ranch is adding two new runs on West Mountain, improving access to Dean’s Glade on West Mountain, reopening the Poma Lift which gives access to Lone Pine Bowl, and adding a new gladed area off Bronc Rider on East Mountain. For more information, visit www.granbyranch.com.

Joining Steamboat’s grooming machine fleet this season is a new Bison Sherpa winch, which Steamboat says is the first of its kind in Colorado. The Bison Sherpa is the new generation of winches from Prinoth with 5.3 tons of pulling force and an automatic pulling force control system. The Bison Sherpa augments the Beast, which started grooming the slope’s mid-winter last season and will be used to tackle some of Steamboat’s steepest terrain and portions of its terrain parks. The resort’s fleet, operated in two shifts, re-surfaces approximately 600 acres nightly to a premium corduroy finish and encompasses 21 machines, including nearly half of the fleet utilizing Bison or Beast groomers. In addition, Steamboat’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system is being upgraded this winter with more than two miles of pipe, more than 11,000 feet, across See Me, Upper See Ya, Sitz, top of Vogue to Jess’ Cut-Off and Sitz to Boulevard. Two new 12 ft. by 16 ft. blockhouses at Jess’ Cut-Off and the Christie Peak Mid-Station will provide new valve stations for intersecting pipe lines in those critical areas. The new lines will significantly accelerate the resort’s ability to produce snow as tower guns can be spaced 75 feet apart to more efficiently cover the trails. Over the past six seasons, the resort has installed nearly 18 miles/46.5km of water and air pipe for snowmaking. These improvements are all designed to further efforts to use less electrical energy and water in production while being more efficient when producing the early season snow base. For more information, visit www.steamboat.com.

Telluride has invested in new snowmaking equipment, which will allow for greater snowmaking capacity in high traffic areas off of Lifts 4 and 5, accessing the beginner and intermediate areas in the heart of Telluride’s trail system. Telluride’s new snowmaking system includes 38 new high efficiency Snowlogic snow guns. These snowmaking snow guns require 90 percent less energy to operate than other models. For more information, visit www.tellurideskiresort.com.

Wolf Creek Ski Area is adding a new refurbished Elma Lift, a fixed-grip triple chairlift. The Elma lift will provide skiers a way to get back to the base area from the bottom of the Alberta lift and eliminate the long traverse across the mountain from Park Avenue to the base area. It will also incorporate great beginner terrain along with some excellent intermediate terrain in an area that is currently underutilized. During times of avalanche hazard reduction when the Alberta Lift opens later than the other lifts, the Elma Lift will allow the public to return to the Treasure Stoke Quad and the lower Waterfall Area while waiting for the Alberta Lift to open. Wolf Creek Ski Area hosts a number of Fun Races throughout the ski season. These races are free and open to skiers and boarders of all ages and abilities with a dual race format. The course is set up in a modified giant slalom, which begins at the top of the Charisma trail and ends at the Race Hutch. The existing Race Hutch, located near the bottom of the Charisma trail, will be replaced. The new building will be approximately 18 feet by 20 feet and located below the current Race Hutch location. It will store all the timing equipment, fencing, poles and all associated racing tools. For more information, visit www.wolfcreekski.com.

Lessons and Kids’ Programs
Arapahoe Basin will unveil a new Kids Center in the spring of 2015. The A-Basin Kids Center will be more than 7,000 square feet and will add to the convenience of the base area. The Kids Center will be partially powered by solar energy, and will be decorated in the spirit of A-Basin’s on-mountain ecology education displays such as Ace’s Wild Adventure, and trails like Moose Hollow and Lynx Lane, where signage informs guests young and old about the flora and fauna ecosystem on the Continental Divide. Guests can follow the progress of the construction on the A-Basin Facebook page by clicking here: http://bit.ly/abkcphotos. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/A-Basin-WhatsNew2015.

Aspen/Snowmass will reveal The Hideout, a new multi-million dollar children’s center at the base of Buttermilk. The Hideout will give children and families a facility with improved access for drop-off and direct access to the mountain. The 7,500-square-foot-facility will offer a fresh new approach to kids programming by mixing indoor play with ski instruction. The Hideout is included in Phase 1 of the Buttermilk base area improvements along with parking lot and drop-off/pick-up improvements. Phase 2 will see a new Skier Services building for ticketing, rental retail and additional amenities. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

Loveland Ski Area is adding a second Magic Carpet surface lift at Loveland Valley. Loveland Valley is a unique learning area with a base lodge, equipment rentals and other amenities, and is used by beginners and those looking for a slower pace while visiting Loveland Ski Area. The Valley is adjacent to Loveland Basin and is accessible by a short shuttle ride. This new magic carpet will be open to the public and will provide access to gentle terrain for first timers. For more information, visit www.skiloveland.com.

The new Burton Riglet Park at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort will anchor the development of a multi-faceted ski and ride terrain-based learning facility in the base area. The Burton Riglet Park allows the youngest of riders, ages 3-6 years, to experience sliding on snow and get a jump start on learning while having fun on the slopes. For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.