Purgatory Plans To Add New Chair, Backside Terrain
A new "low intermediate" area on the backside of Purgatory Resort is in the works, including a high-speed chair and easier snowmobile access from the front.
The U.S. Forest Service has completed its scoping process and public comments will be taken until April 12. Officials at the southwest Colorado resort they are not sure when construction will begin.
Called Ice Creek, the new area sits on the northeast corner of the resort just east of the Hermosa Chair/Lift 3. Plans will have 45 acres of new trails -- four named trails that are all rated blue -- and a 3,400-foot detachable triple chair.
Located in scenic Hermosa Park, the new area will link with the frontside via both the green-rated traversing trails off the top of Lift 4 and easy routes off the top of Chair 1. That interconnect serves Purgatory's purpose in the project to expand terrain that can be handled by lower-ability skiers and riders. The mountain has more than half its existing 105 runs rated green or blue.
"There is currently a deficiency of low-intermediate ability level terrain at Purgatory, which results in low-intermediate ability level guests skiing too fast on beginner and novice-level terrain or skiing uncomfortably above their ability level on intermediate terrain," the resort stated in its USFS application. "Furthermore, warming temperatures continue to affect the ability of the Columbine beginner area to meet the learn-to-ski demands due to poor snow conditions at this lower elevation (approximately 8,750 feet above sea level)."
In addition, the base of the new Ice Creek Chair/Lift 11 will be close to the base of Chair 3 and at the about the same elevation, so and skiers and riders should able to move from one to the other both at the base and as their trail networks intertwine.
Part of the project will be to address heavy snowmobile use in Hermosa Park. A new snowmobile access road will be cut from the current staging area off the upper parking lots on the front to Hermosa Park, where guided tours and public access is very popular.
Concerns include the new snowmobile road's effect on wildlife habitat and the construction of a new lift without mention of carbon offsets in the face of climate change.