Copper Mountain celebrates 40th anniversary
Ryan Summerlin December 6, 2012
Copper Mountain Resort celebrates its 40th season this weekend with discounted lift tickets ($40 of course) and a ‘far-out anniversary bash.’ Revelers are encouraged to bust out the ’70s threads (and lingo) and show up ready to ski and party.
In true Copper style, the 1972 vibe will be rolling all weekend, and $40 lift tickets are available online now or at the lift ticket office today through Sunday. Also featured the entire weekend are: $40 Woodward Intro Sessions at the Barn; $40 Ski & Ride School lessons; $40 off youth group lesson packages; two sport ski or board rentals for $40 per day at Copper Sports Center; demo ski rentals for $40 per day at Copper Rocker; spend $40 at a Copper retailer and get a free commemorative koozie; and, when you dress in “full ’70s attire” receive 25 percent off meals at any Copper restaurant. That’s a lot of deals and some real motivation to bust out the costumes.On Saturday, the festivities begin at 2 p.m. with cake and costume contests. Celebrate the vibe with Super Diamond, the Neil Diamond cover band, at 3 p.m., free in Burning Stones Plaza. Prizes and giveaways for best ’70s costume include gear, skis, Copper Cash and passes. Also on Saturday is a scavenger hunt on the mountain – searching for a “ruby anniversary ring” and other prizes, and the Groovy Chase 5K Snowshoe Race (www.gobblerchase.com).The North Face Park & Pipe Open Series (PPOS) superpipe qualifying rounds will be taking place Saturday, culminating in the finals on Sunday. In addition, U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Snowboarding athletes will gather at Copper Mountain on Saturday for the annual team-naming event at 2:45 p.m. in Burning Stones Plaza. Guests can enter to win a private meet-and-greet with America’s snowboarding and freeskiing Olympic hopefuls at www.facebook.com/CopperMtn, www.facebook/US-Freeskiing and www.facebook.com/ussnowboarding.Around the Village, take advantage of 72-cent beers outside Endo’s from 1-5 p.m. and $40 bottle service at Escobar. Vintage candy is for sale at Sugar Lips plus $19.72 family packs including 24 mini-donuts with fancy schmancy toppings and two large hot cocoas. Lefty Lucy is playing at Jack’s for aprs. McCoy’s Mountain Market is offering free lollipop shot glasses with every $19.72 purchase, and 72-cent fountain drinks with any purchase. Funky Finds will have $4 rhinestone/sequin headbands and 72-cent hair accessories, plus other costume items for the concert.Rooms are still available for this weekend through the Last Chance Lodging deal (www.CopperColorado.com).
Chuck Froelicher and a group of 16 investors formed Copper Mountain Associates in 1968, purchasing the 280 acres at the base of Copper Mountain from Eugene Sanders, who was alleged to agree to the purchase only if Chuck Lewis would be in charge of developing the ski area. In a 1971 U.S. Forest Service study of 2,500 acres, the government said, “If there were a mountain that had terrain for skiing it would be Copper Mountain. It is probably the most outstanding potential ski area in the Arapahoe National Forest, and possibly Colorado. … The mountain has good snow and sparse tree cover created by old burns, which offers a tremendous opportunity to create natural-type runs that blend in with the surrounding countryside.” Copper Mountain opened with snowcat operations in the winter of 1971. Construction of Copper’s mid-mountain lodge, Solitude Station, began on July 4, 1972, and was completed by Copper’s opening day in early December of that year. During the previous century, the junction between the Tenmile and Gore mountain ranges, where copper was discovered and miners and trappers traded with the Ute and Arapahoe, thrived under the inspiration of founder Judge John S. Wheeler.According to old timers, Chuck Lewis was the real brains and vision behind Copper Mountain. “It is unbelievably amazing how closely the present-day Copper Mountain aligns with the original master plan,” said Chris Colman, Copper’s director of planning, who served as a project manager for Solitude during the summer of 1972.Colman said that, aside from a few modifications such as lift technology changes and an alternate location of the Shuttle Road, today’s village area and mountain maps closely resemble the original master plan. “I think Chuck Lewis would be proud of what this place has become,” said Colman. Lewis formed the Thick and Thin Lumber Company to mill trees from trail cutting into the lumber that was used to construct the original buildings. The cover of Copper’s first trail map proclaimed: “Copper Mountain’s for the Powder Buffs,” and described amenities that Copper planned to offer in the years to come: a complete village complex with condominiums, lodges, shops and restaurants, a ski school, an 18-hole golf course, convention center and more – and all of these amenities are available today and appeal to an enormous range of guests.In the first year of operation, the daily lift ticket price was $7.50 and season passes went for $140; these accessed five lifts servicing 20 numbered runs (later they would be named through a trail-naming competition), and 120,463 skiers rode the lifts that year. Copper Junction was open for lodging and retail for the 1973 winter season.Snowboarders wouldn’t be allowed until 1987, beginning with the Copper Mountain Snowboard Series, currently the nation’s longest-running amateur snowboard series. Lewis served as president of the resort until 1982. Super Bee lift – Colorado’s first six-passenger, high-speed lift – opened more of the east side of the mountain in 1988-89, and the resort installed Excelerator lift and built Copper Station and Copper Springs Lodge that same year. Copper constructed two more chairlifts, Mountain Chief in 1995 and Black Jack in 1997, adding 600 acres in Copper Bowl and Tucker Mountain. According to the resort, skier visits jumped from 770,973 during the 1994-95 season to 967,074 during the 1995-96 season. In 1997 the resort was purchased by Intrawest. The construction of the Village at Copper in 1999 marked the beginning of the area’s current landscape.”For me it’s really been about the people,” said Colman, who has 40 years of service at Copper. “It’s [about] working with folks that are passionate about the mountain lifestyle,” he said. “The natural beauty of the place even today still kinda knocks my socks off.”
Summer 1971- Mountain construction begins.Winter 1971 – Copper Mountain Resort opens with only snowcat operations.Winter 1972 – Copper Mountain opens for skiing (no riding until 1987) with 5 lifts and 20 trails. Fall 1975 – First snowmaking at Copper Mountain ResortWinter 1983-84 – Year of huge snow, 432 inches, 151 inches in December aloneWinter 1987 – Copper hosts the first annual Copper Mountain Snowboard Series, which currently stands as the nation’s longest running amateur snowboard series.Spring 1988 – First halfpipe at Copper Mountain built in Union BowlWinter 1995 – Copper Bowl opens.Winter 1998 – Copper Mountain opens the Super Bee, Colorado’s first six-passenger, high speed lift. Copper also makes significant snowmaking improvements and opens the Excelerator lift, Copper Station and Copper Springs Lodge.Summer 1999 – Ground is officially broken on the new Village at Copper. Winter 2002 – The opening of Passage Point marks the completion of the Village at Copper. Winter 2004 – The Cirque opens, offering Copper’s first quarter-share platinum-rated property.Winter 2009 – The resort opens Woodward at Copper, a snowboard and ski training facility dedicated to park and pipe progression.Winter 2011 – Copper partners with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) to create the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center, an exclusive on-snow alpine ski racing venue designed to provide full-length downhill training by early November each season. This is the only training facility of its kind available worldwide during this time of year.Summer 2011 – Copper upgrades the High Point Lift (1976) to the Union Creek High Speed Quad.Summer 2012 – Copper installs the Alpine Rush Zip Line, where guests can soar 30 mph, 30 feet above West Lake year round.Winter 2012 – The Grand Prix elevates to World Cup status, bringing international recognition in ski and snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle competition to Copper Mountain Resort.