Screen-Shot-2020-01-03-at-5.10.32-PM With a high point of 12,840 feet, Imperial Express, the highest chairlift in North America, opened after extensive avalanche mitigation work was done. Courtesy Breckenridge Ski Resort

On Dec. 20, Breckenridge Ski Resort announced on its social media channels that Imperial Express, the highest chairlift in North America reaching 12,840 feet, was officially open for the season. It came with the caveat that opening such high-Alpine terrain is “no small task.” 


While skiers and riders are eager for more terrain following a big storm — like the one Breckenridge got the week prior to opening Imperial — Breckenridge Snow Safety Supervisor Duke Barlow explained that the process for opening a high-Alpine lift takes a lot of avalanche work. 

“Everything is more challenging up there, and it takes an extraordinary effort from a number of departments, from snowcats establishing a route up a ridge to enable lift mechanics to access the top of the chair via snowmobile, to ski patrol conducting avalanche mitigation work safely in a high-Alpine environment,” Barlow wrote in an email.

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