It’s shoulder season — summer is over, aspen leaves have turned a blazing yellow and winter is fast approaching. However, all is not quiet at Copper Mountain Resort.
Helicopters are dropping construction supplies high up on the mountainsides, and workers are pounding nails and drilling wood as they construct fences, pour concrete and install lift towers for Copper’s “High Alpine Project: The 12’s.”
“The 12’s,” as the project is known, is a multi-year effort to enhance 1,000 acres of ski terrain. The project’s name reflects the high-alpine terrain it encompasses — stretching over three towering peaks with elevations in excess of 12,000 feet.
Project developers had skilled skiers and riders in mind when designing The 12’s project on Tucker Mountain, Union Peak and Copper Peak. Their goal was to elevate the mountain experience for guests at advanced and expert levels.
“The 12’s allows this terrain to step into the spotlight and be featured at its fullest potential,” said Stephanie Sweeney, Copper Mountain public relations coordinator.
Copper’s commitment to The 12’s also equates to improved skiing in Spaulding Bowl and rock work within the Sierra area, allowing the high-alpine terrain at Copper Mountain to open earlier and stay open longer, Sweeney said.
Phase 1 of the project is now underway. It kicked off after a recent approval by the U.S. Forest Service — and includes the upgrade and replacement of the Storm King lift.
“The new lift will be faster and more efficient,” Sweeney said.
“The original Storm King lift had been in operation since 1985, so it was time for an upgrade,” she said. “Also, the original Storm King lift was a platter lift, so the new t-bar will double capacity with two guests able to ride at once.”
The Storm King lift and Celebrity Ridge, the new surface lift being installed near the top of the Sierra lift, are on schedule for completion for the 2013-14 season.
Phase 2 of Copper’s project will bring lift service to expert steeps in an area on Tucker Mountain that’s currently accessible only by snowcat. Once the Tucker Mountain lift is in place, Copper’s snowcat service will be relocated, Sweeney said.
Project organizers said The 12’s will not alter the natural layout or award-winning trail system that attracts skiers and riders of all levels to Copper.
The mountain is laid out from east to west, and the terrain naturally progresses from easiest to most difficult. The gentle terrain defining the west side of Copper Mountain provides a natural, progressive learning environment, while the east side of the mountain features long, steep runs.
“The 12’s provide our loyal guests, who love skiing and riding the high alpine, the opportunity to experience over 1,000 acres of advanced intermediate and expert terrain above tree line,” said Gary Rodgers, Copper Mountain’s president and general manager in a press release. “They will be amazed at the improvements we have made and will continue to make to enhance the high-alpine experience unique to Copper Mountain.”