More tree skiing if plan gets approved. (Aspen-Snowmass/Facebook)
No mountain in the West is known its steeps more than Aspen Mountain. Now, the resort wants to add more precipitous terrain off its summit.
Plans are in to the U.S. Forest Service to open up 153 acres to the east of the 11,200-foot summit of Aspen Mountain. Half of the new area would be glades, and a new chairlift would go in to serve the trails.
The Forest Service has put the plan out for public review this spring, and the resort hopes to get its OK in 2018. Pitkin County officials will also get a look at the plan.
Located to skier’s right of Walsh’s Run, the proposed expansion named Pandora has been a favorite “side country” stash for skiers and riders who get to it through a gate at the top of the Silver Queen gondola. Return has been along the traverse Lud’s Lane.
The proposed chairlift would be 4,300 feet long and rise1,260 in vertical, and would allow for lengthening of Walsh’s, Hyrup’s and Kristi double-diamonds off the summit.
The company’s application with USFS notes that glades are a key component: "While the cleared trails remain popular, an increasing number of users enjoy gladed terrain within more natural settings. This trend is evidenced by the increased use of side-country terrain — the areas immediately adjacent to the ski area boundaries.
"This project proposal for Aspen Mountain addresses that trend and offers more unique, lift-served gladed terrain for advanced intermediates and experts that enhances the existing options available to Aspen Mountain users," the application states.
The proposal is part of Aspen’s master plan that the USFS required updating from the 1997 version to a 2017 document.
Also in the proposal is expansion of snowmaking on the upper reaches of Aspen Mountain. Like most Rocky Mountain resorts, this season’s low snowfall highlighted the need to make snow over as much of a mountain. Consequently, Aspen Ski Corp. wants to install snowmaking from 10,600 feet to the summit to assure coverage on the uppermost trails and slopes, such as Silver Bell, Dipsy Doodle and Buckhorn.