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Mountain News: Old-timers help defeat plans for new ski lifts

Compiled by Allen Best

VAIL, Colo. — At least for a while, Vail’s famous Back Bowls will be spared the more-and-faster routine that some think improve the snow-riding experience. Bowing to public opinion, Vail Resorts has shelved a proposal to increase its uphill lift capacity.

A vast area, Vail’s original Back Bowls is served only by one ski lift, an aging three-seater that is clogged by lift lines of up to 45 minutes on powder days. The ski company talked of replacing this old lift with two detachable quads, in effect nearly quadrupling uphill capacity.

But despite popular sentiment for at least some more-and-faster changes, the sentiments of a few old Vail hands seem to have tipped the scale. "If you increase the number of high-speed lifts in this area, this very special area will be skied out in one hour," wrote Pep Gramshammer, 71, a former Austrian ski champion who was among Vail’s first hoteliers.

A former mayor, Kent Rose, had similar comments protesting changes that would have shortened the already ephemeral but pure powder skiing experience. Instead, the change would bring on more "snowmaking, groomed slopes, hardpack and moguls," he said.

Vail Resorts officials indicated they may yet replace the triple with a high-speed quad, but when the triple needs substantial repairs.

Aspen trying Jackson Hole trick for open space bucks

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen is now borrowing from Jackson Hole in trying to raise money for open space preservation. The idea is to get local lodges to tack on a $2 fee per night. They did this by putting oversized postcards of imposing mountain scenes into hotel rooms, and on the back information that $2 per night had been added to the bill as a way to contribute to the Jackson Hole Land Trust. In four years the program raised $150,000.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, the Aspen Valley Land Trust wants to recruit properties that would be willing to add a similar, optional fee onto the price of a room. The idea is also that this feel-good program leads to additional contributions, explains The Aspen Times.

Air is mandatory at new Snowmass area

SNOWMASS, Colo. — A new 35-acre section of cliffs and glades at Snowmass is X-rated. "These sections have mandatory air – your feet are going to come off the ground. There’s no easy way down," explained John Brennan, Snowmass snow safety specialist.

The Aspen Times says that although free riders have been finding cliffs to huck, i.e. jump, down for several years, this is the first time any of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s four mountains have opened sections exclusively for those of the extreme set. Even so, the section will be opened only after storms and only on guided tours.