Getting to the steeps in the East Ridge area of Sunlight Mountain has meant a long traverse in and a long traverse out, but a plan under review includes a chairlift to eliminate all that cross-hill travel.
The second phase of expansion at Sunlight Mountain Resort is up for U.S. Forest Service review. If approved, work would begin this summer to install base and summit terminals for the new East Ridge fixed-grip quad -- to be completed in summer of 2021.
Already, Sunlight crews spent last summer thinning the forests in and around the East Ridge steeps of Alligator's Alley, from Perry's Plunge to Devil's Dare. That work has opened up 100 acres of hike-to terrain past the existing east boundary (skier's right).
The proposed chairlift would give skiers and snowboarders direct access to the East Ridge -- including the new 100 acres -- without having to head to the base and take two lifts to get back to the summit.
"These new runs mean our local skiers and riders have even more powder to explore and exploit, and it's all just one chairlift away," said mountain officials.
Rangers from the Aspen-Sopris District of the U.S. Forest Service are seeking comments on the proposal before Feb. 23 in order to determine if the Sunlight second and third phases meet federal guidelines.
This expansion comes as Sunlight's closely held ownership continues to make the mountain profitable with mainly local and regional customers. The city of Glenwood Springs and its hot springs offer a springboard to Sunlight, just a half-hour drive away. And, skiers and riders who want a change from the glitz of Aspen-Snowmass can find a quieter alternative at on Sunlight's 700 acres -- and still use the Ikon Pass.