Long-range vision for resort includes new lifts, a summer mountain coaster and new on-mountain restaurants
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Copper Mountain’s new long-range master plan for addressing deficiencies in its aging lift network includes removing and replacing seven existing chairlifts and adding four new lifts, as well as new conveyors for the teaching area at the west end of the resort.
With one of the planned new lifts going up Tucker Mountain, Copper will also relocate and expand its popular snowcat skiing operation to 500 acres on the south side of the ridge running between Tucker Mountain to Jacques Peak.
The overall idea is to increase out-of-base lift capacity and dispersal across the mountain, according to the resort’s newest master plan, accepted by the U.S. Forest Service earlier this year. Full implementation of the master plan would increase the ski area’s comfortable carrying capacity from 11,870 to 15,630 skiers per day. The plan and related documents and maps are online at this Forest Service website.
Summer improvements envisioned in the master plan include a mountain coaster, zip lines and a ropes course in an “Alpine Adventure Zone” around Solitude Station. Summer operation of the Excelerator Chair would provide lift service to some of the planned new mountain bike trails.
Some of the improvements outlined in the plan would require site-specific analysis by the U.S. Forest Service under federal environmental laws; others were approved under previous reviews, including the planned renovation or replacement of Solitude Station. A new on-mountain restaurant is planned at the current location of Flyers.
Planned lift improvements include:
- Replacement of the American Flyer chair with a new six-seat lift;
- An east-west connector lift between the Union Peak and Copper Peak areas;
- 300-foot extension of the Excelerator Chair to improve access to the bottom terminal;
- Replacement of the Alpine Chair with a detachable high-speed lift;
- A chairlift on Tucker Mountain;
- Realignment of the Storm King platter lift with a T-bar;
- Replacement of the Sierra triple chair with a new detachable lift, plus a surface lift from the Sierra top terminal to Union Peak Ridge.
- A new lift from near the lower Carefree trail to near the top terminal of the American Eagle to improve cross-mountain circulation.
The new master plan calls for about 90 acres of new terrain and providing lift access to about 260 acres of existing hike-to terrain, as well as 60 acres of new glades.
New snowmaking is planned on about 120 acres of terrain on critical connecting trails throughout the resort.
Trail widening and grading along with snowmaking projects specifically located on Upper Andy’s Encore, Oh No, and Rosi’s Run are planned in conjunction with the development of the Super Bee training venue for the United States Ski Team.