More than 500 skiable acres, two intermediate-level alpine bowls, and 10 new trails are what Peak 6 at Breckenridge, Colo. has to showcase as the 2013-2014 season gets underway.
The expansion project – the first on U.S. Forest Service land in Colorado since 2008 and the first at Breckenridge since Peak 7 debuted in 2002 – is expected to reduce some of the crowding at the nation’s busiest ski and snowboard resort (1.6 million skier-days) and further the resort’s reputation for access to above-treeline bowls.
“The new expanded terrain on Peak 6 will feature high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing for our guests – a rare find in North America. This is an exciting season on the horizon for Breck and our company.” Gary Shimanowitz, director of mountain operations, told SnoCountry.com. Breckenridge is owned by Vail Resorts.
The resort recently released a copy of the Peak 6 trail map, showing two new chairlifts and some 143 acres of terrain that is accessed by hiking. Lift access comes from Peak 7, where a trail from the top of the Independence chair or a traverse off of Angel’s Rest trail provides routes into the new terrain.
Beginning in 2008, the project took longer than normal to get U.S. Forest Service approval, as local opposition raised issues of congestion in town, strain on infrastructure, damage to lynx habitat and loss of backcountry terrain.
“What hit at the local core was the loss of access to a side-country powder stash close to town,” Bob Berwyn, editor of The Summit Voice told SnoCountry.com.
The plan went through an appeal process as well as surviving legal challenges before gaining the OK from the national forest officials in 2012. Construction on the new lifts and cutting new trails took place this summer.
“I think both the Forest Service and Vail Resorts were surprised by the level of the critical response,” Berwyn said. “Some people thought Peak 6 would be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, in terms of overcrowding and environmental damage.”
The new terrain is projected to add 2 percent to Breckenridge’s skier-day totals. According to U.S. Forest Service statistics, Breckenridge’s 2,358 acres handles the highest density of skier and snowboarders – 700 per acre – in Colorado. Summit County remains one of the busiest regions for winter sports, attracting some 4 million visitors every winter.